When choosing a domain name for your business website, you must start by picking a top-level domain (TLD) that suits your company. The TLD — an extension that appears at the end of a URL — is especially important because it often provides a clue to an organization’s type.
The most commonly used TLDs include:
- “.com” – Most websites use the “.com” extension because it’s not restricted to a specific industry. This makes it the most common TLD and the one most people recognize.
- “.net” – Formerly used by network technology-based organizations, many businesses now consider “.net” a cheaper version of “.com.”
- “.edu” – This TLD is meant for educational establishments like schools and universities.
- “.org” – Many nonprofits use this TLD to distinguish themselves from for-profit organizations.
- “.gov” – United States government agencies and entities typically use this TLD.
While it may seem tempting to pick a more unusual TLD like “.blog” or “.food,” the “.com” extension often makes a better choice because it’s so widely used. For example, if you choose a TLD like “.tacos,” potential customers might view your website as less credible than one using the “.com” extension.
5 Tips for Choosing a Domain Name
Once you pick a TLD, it’s time to choose the rest of your domain name. If successful, this is the part people will most commonly use to identify your business.
Consider these five tips when selecting your domain name.
Incorporate Relevant Keywords
A domain name that includes keywords aligned with your business description can prove beneficial because it tells people the purpose of your website. In addition, keywords help search engines more easily identify a website’s main topics. If your site also provides high-quality content, search engines may even feature it within the first few pages of their search results — a coveted position that can drive more visitors to your site.
Combining keywords relevant to your business with other words also can help you overcome the common challenge of finding a good domain name that’s also still available.
Keep It Short
Ideally, your domain name should be no more than 15 characters or a maximum of two to four words. Why? People find it easier to remember shorter domain names.
A lengthy domain name also increases the risk of people accidentally making a typo when they try to enter it into a search bar, which will reduce traffic to your website.
Make It Easy to Type and Pronounce
Try to choose a domain name that people can easily type and pronounce. You’ll need to share it with potential customers face-to-face so you want something simple and memorable.
Avoid Doubled Letters
Domain names that include doubled letters can lead to more typos and, ultimately, reduced site traffic and revenue. If you choose “cakessss.com” as your domain name, for example, potential visitors might miss one or more instances of the letter “s” when typing that into a search bar.
Avoiding doubled letters also will make your domain name easier to trademark.
Consider How Your Business Might Expand
Successful businesses tend to grow. That means you should pick a domain name that resonates with your niche and brand, but won’t limit your website’s future expansion.
If you start a business that sells PlayStation® games, but you ultimately want to expand into other digital games, you should avoid a domain name that specifically relates to selling PlayStation games and instead choose a more open-ended option.
Choosing a restrictive domain name when you create your business website also might force you to move to an entirely new one in the future. That can feel frustrating after you spend time promoting your business’ original domain name.
Finishing the Process
After you decide on your website’s full domain name, you must take a few more steps to complete the process.
Verify Your Domain Name’s Availability
The next step involves researching the availability of your desired domain name. But, with approximately 140 million domain names already registered, this step can sometimes prove tedious and challenging.
To easily find both suitable and available domain name ideas, check out our free Domain Name Generator. This tool uses a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and human-centered strategies to produce thousands of memorable, catchy, creative, and available domain names. It allows you to search using key phrases and words you want your domain name to include.
Alternatively, you can use a WHOIS lookup service to search for and confirm the availability of a domain name. Many domain name registrars have their own, integrated WHOIS lookup service.
Purchase Your Domain Name From a Registrar
After confirming the availability of your desired domain name, it’s time to register and purchase it through a domain registrar.
Domain registrars — companies through which people must register domain names — operate under the approval of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They issue public notifications whenever someone acquires a new domain name from them. Some of the most popular domain registrars include Bluehost, HostGator, and GoDaddy.
GoDaddy also is one of the world’s biggest domain registrars, managing approximately 77 million domain names for more than 18 million users.
Registering With GoDaddy
If you opt to use GoDaddy as your domain registrar, follow these steps to register your new domain name:
- Visit GoDaddy.com and type the domain name you wish to register into the search box.
- Add your desired domain name to your cart. (If your desired name is available, it’ll appear at the top of your search results list. If not, go back to the first step and try another name.)
- Proceed to checkout, during which you’ll have the option of skipping or adding several other services to your domain name purchase. For example, these typically include privacy protection, security, and business registration services.
- Choose the duration of your domain name registration period, which can last between one and 10 years.
- Create a GoDaddy account on the next page and then enter your billing address and payment details.
- Check your email inbox for information about your new domain name along with a link to its control panel. GoDaddy uses cPanel as its control panel, which offers the web hosting client or owner a user interface where they can manage their website and shared server effortlessly.
Avoid Legal Issues
To prevent potential legal issues, don’t choose a domain name that’s too similar to those registered by other established businesses. Using a domain name generator is a great way to avoid this.
Secure Additional Domain Protection
Consider registering both the “.com” and “.net” versions of your domain name to protect your business from competitors who may use a very similar domain name. Without this added layer of protection, a successful business runs the risk of other companies trying to capitalize on its popularity by directing online traffic away from its website.
What if Your Desired Domain Name Isn’t Available?
You don't necessarily have to say “goodbye” to your chosen domain name if it’s already taken. You always have the option of offering to buy that name from its current owner if you find yourself in this situation.
If the current owner set their information as “public” in a WHOIS lookup database, you may contact them directly. If they instead set their information as “private,” you can try to find contact details on their website and reach out via those channels. But, keep in mind that the current owner may not wish to sell their domain name or might demand an exorbitant price.
The Key Takeaway
While it may seem a bit challenging to choose and register the right domain name for your business, try to keep it as simple as possible. Selecting an effective, memorable domain name can provide many potential benefits in the long run.