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12 Tips For Choosing The Best Domain Name For Your Business

12-tips-for-choosing-the-best-domain-name-for-your-business
12 Tips For Choosing The Best Domain Name For Your Business

Choosing a domain name is a key step in establishing your online presence and building your brand. It’s more than just an address; it’s a reflection of your identity.

When selecting a domain name, there’s lots to consider. How does the name sound? What emotions does it evoke? Should it include SEO keywords, or exactly match your brand name?

To help you find a relevant, affordable domain name, check out these 12 tips. Then, start an online store or personal website.

How to choose the best domain name in 12 steps

  1. Keep your domain name short, branded, and memorable
  2. Avoid hyphens and numbers
  3. Choose a .com domain extension
  4. Check for relevant top-level domains
  5. Include SEO keywords in your domain name
  6. Use a domain name generator for inspiration
  7. Research your desired domain name
  8. Pick a domain name that will scale
  9. Remember domain privacy and security features
  10. Check domain renewal options
  11. Look for pre-owned domains on marketplaces
  12. Buy multiple domain names

1. Keep your domain name short, branded, and memorable

If you have a brand name, the first step is to register the name as your domain. A branded domain name makes it easy for people to find you online and connect your business to your website.

Depending on the length and characters in your brand name, you may want to make a few changes when using it as a web address. Aim to:

  • Keep your domain name under 15 characters
  • Avoid words with complex spelling
  • Avoid unconventional spelling (e.g., “U” instead of “you”)
  • Avoid unintentional word merging (e.g., “Children’s wear” becomes “childrenswear”)

For example, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s online store uses the domain name thelacmastore.org.

This name matches the museum’s brand whilst also being short and easy to remember. It also avoids an unfortunate juxtaposition of letters when the store’s full name is written without spaces: thelacountymuseumofartstore.org.

LACMA store domain name and homepage

Some brands, like Biko, also get creative with their domain name by adding a contextual or qualifying phrase. The domain name ilovebiko.com puts shoppers in the right mindset once they land on the page, and is a clever way of including the brand in the domain when it’s not available for purchase alone.

Biko domain name and hompage

Above all, make your domain name simple and branded, so people can find you online.

2. Avoid hyphens and numbers

People mistype all the time. Lower the chances of visitors incorrectly spelling your domain name by omitting hyphens and numbers.

Avoiding numbers and hyphens also makes your domain name mobile-friendly. When typing a URL on a phone, you have to switch between alphabet and numeric keyboards—which leaves more room for typos, misspellings, and frustrations.

In your domain name, try to avoid:

  • Combining numbers and words: c00ld0main.com
  • Hyphens: cool-domain.com
  • Abbreviations: kldomain4u.com
  • Doubled letters: coolesttopdomain.com

One exception to these guidelines is if your brand name includes a number. Clothing retailer 3sixteen, for example, uses the domain name 3sixteen.com. It’s consistent across its branding, social media handles, and merchandise. So in this case, the domain name is identifiable and branded, making it less likely shoppers will get confused by the number.

3sixteen homepage with domain name

3. Choose a .com domain name

When it comes to choosing your domain extension, there’s debate on which one gets you more traffic. The .com extension is the most established and most credible, with around 70% of websites using it. Many smartphones also have a “.com” key, which makes it easier for visitors to type your domain.

That said, there are reasons to choose a different extension. For example, if you can purchase a .net extension for less than a hundred dollars while the .com version is selling for thousands, it may make sense to go with the former.

4. Check for relevant top-level domains

After searching the most popular domain registrars, you may find that your desired name is unavailable with the .com extension. If that’s the case, don’t stress. There are many other extensions or top-level domains that can give helpful hints about your website’s contents:

  • .“city”: A good option for brick-and-mortar businesses in a specific city, for example, .london or .boston.
  • .co: A global alternative to .com for all languages and cultures.
  • .org: If you have a nonprofit business, .org will help you stand out.
  • .shop: This is a clear and concise top level domain for ecommerce websites.
  • .store: A good option for small business owners and online retailers.
  • .trade: A good choice for wholesalers or B2B ecommerce stores.

If you’re selling in countries outside the US, try to find available country code top level domains (TLDs). For example, Indian clothing store Suta uses the .in extension rather than .com. The domain name is still clean and memorable and can be found without thinking about it.

Suta domain name and homepage

5. Include SEO keywords in your domain name

In your domain name, try to feature the primary keyword that visitors type into search engines to find your website. A keyword in your domain signals to search engines what your website is about.

Including a keyword may not always make sense; you might need to get creative with your domain name to make it work. Start with a few broad keywords that represent your products, then add your company name.

If you sell apparel, for example, the term “clothing” could work in your domain name. Try the formula [brand name] + [broad keyword] = [domain name]:

  • Sunday + clothing = sundayclothing.com
  • Diane’s + candles = dianescandles.com or candlesbydiane.com
  • Cosmik + masks = cosmikmasks.com

Stick to one or two keywords. More can feel spammy and drive people away from your site.

A great example of this comes from Verve Coffee Roasters, a coffee brand from Santa Cruz, California. It chose the domain name vervecoffee.com, which covers both the brand and the broad keyword. It’s also easy to remember for visitors.

Verve coffee domain and homepage

6. Use a domain name generator for inspiration

Feeling stuck on choosing a domain name? Pull ideas from Shopify’s free domain name generator. Plug in a keyword and the tool will return dozens of options for related popular domain names that you can use for your business.

Shopify domain name generator

7. Research your desired domain name

Once you pick a domain name, you’ll want to check if the domain is already registered. You can use Shopify’s domain search tool to see domain availability. Another common way to research domains is through a WHOIS lookup.

Before committing to a domain name, you’ll want to make sure that no other business is using a similar name. There are three ways to check:

  • Run a trademark search. Head to USPTO.gov and search the trademark database to see if anyone registered a similar name.
  • Check social media. Search Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and other relevant social media channels to check your name’s availability. This will come in handy when it’s time to start social media marketing, too.
  • Do a Google search. Last but not least, type your desired name into Google to see if another domain is closely tied to your brand.

8. Pick a domain name that will scale

When selecting a domain name, it’s important to think about your business’s future growth. Choose a name that is broad enough to encompass potential future expansions or diversification.

For example, a florist could be limited by a domain name like “cityflowers.com” if they later decided to expand beyond selling flowers. Instead, a name like “cityblooms.com” would accommodate a wider range of related products in future.

Notice how plant shop The Old Yew uses a domain name that reflects its brand rather than its products. This gives the store room to grow its brand in multiple directions.

Homepage of The Old Yew plant store with a background image showing the storefront.

If you’re starting a business, a Shopify subdomain makes it easy to get up and running with no domain costs. Shopify users can create free subdomains with the extension .myshopify.com.

As your business scales, invest in a dedicated domain to fully establish your brand’s presence online.

9. Remember domain privacy and security features

Most domain registrars have security features such as WHOIS privacy, which shields your personal information from the public database. This service typically replaces your details with the information of a proxy service.

Additionally, ensure your chosen domain comes with SSL encryption, which secures the data exchanged between your website and its visitors—key for building trust with your audience.

Consider registrars such as Shopify, which offer these features as standard to bolster your website’s security from the start.

10. Check domain renewal options

Be cautious of registrars that offer low initial domain prices—they may charge higher rates when it comes time to renew your domain.

Always check the terms regarding renewal fees and the process for renewing your domain. Set reminders for renewal dates to avoid losing your domain accidentally, which can be detrimental to your business.

Some registrars offer auto-renewal options, so you won’t lose your domain due to a missed deadline.

11. Look for pre-owned domains on marketplaces

Sometimes, the perfect domain name for your brand is already owned by someone else. In such cases, browse domain auction sites and marketplaces for pre-owned domains.

These platforms offer domains that are no longer in use but may carry more authority or SEO advantages due to their age and history. With some research, you could find a low-cost domain that offers excellent value.

If you decide to purchase a pre-owned domain, make sure to check its history to avoid any SEO penalties associated with previous misuse.

12. Buy multiple domain names

Once you’ve secured your first domain, you could benefit from purchasing any similar names. Owning multiple domains helps protect your brand, capture common misspellings, and cater to different geographic locations.

For example, if your business expands internationally, securing country-specific domains like .co.uk or .de can be beneficial. Additionally, owning common misspellings of your primary domain can prevent competitors from capturing your lost traffic.

With Shopify, you can set one address as your primary domain and have the others redirect to it, streamlining visitor traffic to your main site:

What to do if your domain name is taken

Sometimes, that perfect domain name you’re after is already registered by another business. In that case, there are a few options:

Try to buy it from the owner

Depending on how a domain is being used, it may be possible to purchase it privately. Some domains are owned by businesses with large portfolios of names and will be open to negotiating a deal.

If your domain has already been taken, try finding the owner’s details via the WHOIS database, then contact them to discuss buying the domain. Domain brokerage services are available to manage negotiations.

Opt for a variation

If your exact brand name isn’t available, brainstorm new names with variations on the original. You could switch things around and create a different version of your brand name. For example, if katysimons.com is taken by an IT consultant, try katysimonsprints.com or ksimonsillustrates.com instead for your illustration business.

You could also register a TLD based on where your business is located—whether it’s city-specific (.nyc, .cdmx) or country-based (.mx, .de). This could help you target customers in specific countries and boost your search ranking in international markets.

If you’re an online retailer, an easy variant you can use is [shop] + [brandname].com. For example, decor store Horne uses shophorne.com.

homepage of Horne with a lifestyle livingroom image featuring a blanket and the words, get cozy

If it’s possible to adjust your brand name, try using a business name generator to uncover variants of your existing business name with an accompanying available domain.

Try for a different top level domain

If your domain name is not available in the .com extension, get a different TLD instead. As long as the current .com domain isn’t trademarked or in a similar niche, you could register using .co, .shop, .biz, or other trustworthy TLDs.

To check for trending domains, head to a site like Domain Name Stat, where you can see the biggest selling and fastest growing TLDs to help you decide.

Table and piechart showing the most popular alternative domain extensions such as .xyz.

To see which smaller or niche TLDs to avoid, check Spamhaus, a tool that analyzes the top level domains with the worst reputations, so you can be sure to create a domain that’s trustworthy.

Spamhaus pie chart of the top 10 domain extensions associated with spam and malicious activity.

Using your domain name as a competitive advantage

A domain name isn’t just a web address in someone’s browser. It’s an extension of your company and brand. Domains play a critical role in how you position your brand and present yourself to the digital world, whether you’re blogging or selling products online.

Your domain name doesn’t need to perfectly match your brand name. If your ideal name isn’t available, choose one that’s simple, memorable, and reflects your website’s purpose.

Domain names FAQ

Which domain name extension is best?

The .com domain name extension is best for most businesses. It’s common, widely trusted, and easily recognized. When people can’t remember a URL, they often assume it ends in .com. However, other extensions may be more suitable for specific purposes. For instance, the .org extension is associated with nonprofits and charities, while the .edu extension is reserved for educational institutions.

How do I choose a good domain name?

  1. Keep your domain name short and memorable.
  2. Avoid hyphens and numbers.
  3. Choose a .com domain name.
  4. Include keywords for search engine optimization.
  5. Use a domain name generator for inspiration.

Is a long domain name bad?

Long domain names can be difficult for people to remember and type. If a domain name is too difficult to spell, it can create a bad user experience. Avoid complicated, long domain names, if possible.

How do you permanently buy a domain name?

No one can buy a domain name permanently. Domain name registration happens on a recurring basis—sometimes it can be one year, or you can prepay for a domain name for a longer period of time.

Is there a way to get a domain name for free?

Platforms like Shopify provide free subdomains, a web address that sits within the primary domain. When you set up a store on Shopify, you can create a free subdomain with the extension .myshopify.com. This allows you to have an online presence without any initial costs.

How much does a domain name cost?

Domain name prices vary widely, depending on factors such as the domain extension, popularity of the keywords, and the price offered by the domain registrar. Generally, standard .com domains can cost between $10 and $20 per year. However, premium domains that consist of highly sought-after keywords can be substantially more expensive, running into thousands or even millions of dollars.

This article originally appeared on Shopify and is available here for further discovery.
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