If you are selecting a new website name, which one should you choose? Here are some tips and guidelines for choosing a website name:
A) Shorter website names are better because they are easier to remember, and they are easier to communicate to others. (However, all the really short names are taken).
B) It can be useful to have one keyword in the name to benefit from some extra search engine traffic. However, some companies will use relatively short names that have no keywords and no other meaning, and then build a brand around it. (Think “Google” or “Kodak”). That works great as long as you can gain enough attention to get people to look for that name. (Which would generally require a big marketing budget).
C) If your own personal name is available, that may be useful for certain professionals, artists, or anyone who wants to publish a website using their own name. In fact, if your personal name “is” still available, you SHOULD buy it! For less than $10/yr you would have the opportunity to build a website for your name at any point in the future.
D) What about choosing “.com” “.org” “.net” and all the other “top level domains”? (The top level domain, or TLD, is the last part of the website address). In simple terms, “.com” is the best TLD. But if you are a non-profit, you should get “.org” since that is its intended function. If you buy a website name with anything other than “.com,” just realize that you will lose visitors to your competition because, out of habit, visitors will type your name and type “.com” at the end. By the way, even if you are a non-profit, you should buy “.com” as well as “.org.” You can “redirect” the .com use of your name to your .org website. For example, if your non-profit is named “ABC,” you should by abc.com and abc.org and redirect abc.com to abc.org. What that means is every person who types in abc.com will be sent to abc.org. In fact, it is not uncommon for a business to buy their domain with a number of endings, and even common misspellings of their website name and redirect them all to their primary website. (Actually, there are other strategies that get more complex, but that is beyond the scope of this article).
E) What about buying a website name with hyphens? If you have the option of buying abc-business.com or abcbusiness.com, the non-hyphenated version is best. Hyphenated website names are not the first choice one would make, but they can provide website names that might not otherwise be available. A disadvantage is that if your business name is ABC Business, and abcbusiness (no hyphen) is not available, if you buy abc-business.com (hyphenated) and promote it, some of your potential visitors will end up going to the non-hyphenated website. Alternatively, if both versions are available, you can buy both, and redirect one to the other, to exert greater control over your business name.