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Domain name: 8 tips for choosing the right one

by Sorbaioli
Domain name: 8 tips for choosing the right one

It’s decided, you’re going to launch a site. You want to do things right, and deploy a website based on its own domain name. But which name to choose?

What should you watch out for to be sure of finding “the” right domain name?

What are the implications for your “branding”? And on your natural referencing?

1 / Before choosing a domain name, do a creative brief

On the web, the domain name is like the sign that hangs above a physical store: it is the very name of the store. However,  you should not choose your name lightly.

It is therefore strongly advised to start by writing down a creative brief before embarking on the actual domain name search.

To do this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • what is the mission of your brand?
  • who are the customers you want to convince?
  • in which countries do you plan to operate (to avoid having a domain name that would mean something else in another language)?
  • who are your  competitors, and how do you want to position yourself in relation to them?
  • what would be the 5 – 10  adjectives  that best characterize your brand?
  • are there any particular words you would like to see in your domain name?

Once you have answered these questions, it will be easier to find domain name ideas that will stick to your business and will differentiate you.

2 / Your domain name must be explicit, short, easy to remember and pronounce

What is a good domain name? The answer is not so obvious… On the other hand, it is true that the best domain names have several common characteristics:

  • facilitate the understanding of the activity: a good domain name makes life easier for the Internet user, and helps him to understand in a second what the site offers. For example, flavor-beer.com is more explicit than sakrash.com (which means hops in Uzbek).
  • short, with good readability: it is common today to add the address of its website on its business cards, its catalogs, flyers, or even in its TV spots… This is why you need a name of field that can be easily read, and preferably short to facilitate memorization.
  •  easy pronunciation: on many occasions (eg word of mouth, radio spot), your domain name will be pronounced orally. Make sure to choose a web address that can be easily spelled out, without too many hyphens. Imagine a radio spot announcing “find our offers on green dash energy dash direct dot fr”… Quite simply incomprehensible…

In any case, avoid playing on ambiguity (eg betting on the shells of a very well-known brand, with a domain name such as “abibas.com” or “adidas.info”). This will be perceived as dubious by Internet users, who will not give credibility to your site, or even classify it in the “proven scam” box.

3 / Basically, you need a domain name that is available

It’s obvious, but worth mentioning in this post: you can only grab a domain name if it is available. That’s why  when thinking of different possible names, keep a registrar handy and check immediately if the name you are thinking of is free.

  • No need to tie knots in the brain,
  • spend hours brainstorming,
  • if in reality the domain name you want is already taken

If the exact domain name you want isn’t available,  see if you can handle variations.  Moreover, most registrars will proactively offer you others.

Also remember to check the availability of the domain name you want on social networks. You don’t want someone already creating Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. accounts. with exactly the name you have chosen! This would only confuse Internet users, who may take you for someone else.

4 / You don’t necessarily need to add keywords to your domain name

There was a time when it was advisable to choose domain names incorporating a keyword inside, such as “www.serrurier-paris.fr”. Today,  it is no longer a technique that works.

Google is not fooled and already in 2012 Matt Cutts announced that the weight of these “optimized” domain names would be greatly reduced. We can legitimately think that in some cases, having such domain names can even be counterproductive for your natural referencing.

Generally speaking, when choosing your domain name,  think “brand” first before “SEO” :

  • natural referencing practices are evolving,
  • but your domain name remains.

Afterwards, including a keyword in your domain name can’t really hurt, as long as your brand doesn’t suffer, and your domain name remains short, easy to remember and pronounce.

If it is an e-commerce or dropshipping site focused on a niche, having a keyword in its domain name can be a clever maneuver, to immediately inform the visitor (and Google at the same time) about the nature of the products you sell, the market niche in which you are positioning yourself.

5 / Avoid hyphens in your domain name (if possible)

If your domain name is two words (like www.examplesite.com), you might want to separate the words with a hyphen for readability, like www.example-site.com?

Be aware that this is not always the best option:

  • having multiple dashes is reminiscent of spammy sites,
  • and this can make your domain name difficult to pronounce and remember.

For this reason, as a general rule, you should not use more than one hyphen in your domain name (if you really must include one).

6 / Forget “exotic” extensions (.biz, .info, etc.)

For your domain name, you should always favor “known” extensions such as .com or .net.

When you register a domain name, the registrar will often offer you the option of purchasing additional extensions like .biz, .info, etc. . Be aware that owning these “exotic” extensions will have little impact, whether on your branding or your SEO.

Even if you imagined creating “satellite” sites to create a network with a view to netlinking and strengthening the SEO power of your main site, it is unlikely that you will be able to make your effort profitable. Because they are less known, these domain name extensions receive much less traffic than .com or .fr domains, and can be more easily associated for Google with a spammy site.

Nevertheless, once you decide on a .com domain name, buy all its variants. This will protect you against possible copycats in the future:

  • Buy extensions like .net,
  • domain names with additional keywords like (name)shop.com and (name)store.com.
  • domain names with common misspellings

7 / Have you thought about buying a domain name?

If none of the domain names you covet are available and the variants are not convincing, you can always  turn to buying an existing domain name.

There are several  domain brokers where you can buy domain names in  multiple categories at varying  prices.

  • if you want a domain name that is already “old” and which is also “generic” (eg formation-marketing.com), the prices can be quite high (several thousand euros).
  • on the other hand, if you opt for a recent domain name, and more “niche” you can get by for less than a hundred euros.

You can also contact the owner of the domain name you want directly to make him a buyout offer. You can find their contact details on a WHOIS like that of AFNIC.

8 / Choose a domain name that will not hinder your long-term projects

Before buying the first available domain name, ask yourself “what will my brand/site look like in 1 year?” and in 5 years? “.

If you know that your long-term goal is to create an e-commerce site as large as Amazon, you cannot choose a domain name centered on a product category like “bebepoussette.com”. This would automatically lock you into a certain industry, and you won’t be able to offer other types of products.

Ditto, if your domain name evokes a strong positioning, this will prevent you from “pivoting” your marketing approach (eg: “touta100euros.com”). It is not rare indeed that a site starts with a specific positioning based on simple assumptions, which it must then adapt once it knows better the needs of its visitors.


The domain name of a site is of strategic importance; it is the very name of the store, which will endure over time and differentiate the merchant from his competition.

This is why the domain name must be explicit, short, easy to remember and to pronounce. Do not hesitate to “test” the domain name you are about to use to ensure that it will resonate with your future visitors.

Despite what some say, do not look at all costs for a domain name optimized for natural referencing: your brand is even more important than SEO.

As you come up with potential domain names, check that these are available.

If you can’t find what suits you, and you can always turn to buying an existing domain name.  Although more expensive, this option allows you to get a head start in terms of SEO and access to very generic domain names, impossible to acquire in any other way.

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