Choosing a domain name for your business is one of the most important first decisions for your business. Before choosing a domain name let’s review a few things that are imprortant to consider.
Choosing a Domain Name
Your domain name will be used in all your marketing. Ideally, your domain name should be clear, include the name of your store and be easy to remember. Always remember that a large portion of your website visitors will still visit your website directly. A direct visit means that the customer typed your domain name directly into their browser on their computer or smartphone. If I type in EdwardsJeweleryStore.com directly into Google Chrome (my preferred web browser), that would be a direct visit. Having a clear domain name that includes the name of your store makes it easy for these direct visitors to find you.
If you choose a domain name that is not a common variation of your store name, it’s possible to confuse consumers.
For example, let’s say you own a store called “Smith Hardware”. There are a lot of hardware stores named Smith Hardware in the United States. Just Google “Smith Hardware” to see for yourself. That means that its unlikely you’ll be able to purchase SmithHardware.com. However, you still have a lot of options for quality domain names that include your store name. Maybe you are an Ace or True Value affiliated store. Consider using SmithAceHardware.com or SmithTrueValue.com as your domain name. Those would be great options from a marketing standpoint. If you don’t have an affiliation, then SmithHardwareNorwich.com (if you’re located in a town named Norwich) or SmithHardwareStore.com are great options.
One of the biggest traps of selecting a domain name is to use an abbreviation or misspelling of the store name. For instance, you may mistakenly consider SmthHdwre.com or Sm1thH4rd4re.com. Those options look more like passwords than domain names. I have also seen stores purposefully misspell their store name in their domain and use something like SmitHardware.com.
Additionally, do not use a hyphen in your domain name. Hyphens have low recall value. Humans remember words and phrases, hyphens and where they below are harder to remember. From a brand standpoint, it also cheapens your image in your marketing efforts. Imagine a radio ad saying visit SmithHardwareStore.com versus, visit Smith-Hardware-Store.com. Hyphenated domains don’t project the professionalism your store should convey.
Another potential pitfall is using a domain name that does not include the name of your store at all. Since “Smith Hardware” is such a popular name, perhaps you decide not to use the store name in your domain at all. You decide to have an unrelated domain name altogether like, HometownHardwareStore.com.
However, there is a problem with using an abbreviated domain, misspelled domain, hyphenated or an unrelated name. It is confusing.
Imagine you send out a flyer in the mail advertising your business. As a good marketer, you’ve included your website address in your mailer. As we know, consumers research local businesses online before visiting the store. The person reading the flyer is likely to type your domain name into their web browser, or type your store name into Google. Don’t confuse customers who intend to visit your website. With a misspelled domain like SmitHardware.com some visitors are sure to type in SmithHardware.com and end up on the website of a completely different business. Or they may Google Smith Hardware and see a link to HometownHardwareStore.com in the results. Customers may not realize that is the domain for your actual business.
Both of these events would discourage the potential new customer from finding your website.
Domain Names- Do’s and Don’ts
Your domain name is one component that search engines will look at when deciding where to rank you in search results. For this reason, it is important to choose a domain name with a few key characteristics. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when setting up your domain name.
Don’t use multiple domains. It may seem tempting to combine different platforms into one website. There are situations where this is a real consideration for small businesses.
For instance, you may prefer to use wordpress for your blog and then a wix website for your main pages. Or you may have a wordpress website with a separate Shopify site for your ecommerce catalog. (If you don’t know what these are yet, don’t worry, we’ll cover in the next chapter.)
Optimally, don’t do this at all. However, if you do need to, the worst mistake you can make is to set up two different domains such as, SmithHardware.com and ShopSmithHardware.com. Not only will this confuse consumers…Why does this store have two websites? But it will also confuse Google and hurt your websites ranking in search engines.
If you do decide you need to use two different platforms for your business. Create a subdomain instead of using two different domains. With our hardware example in mind, it would be better to set up your WordPress website on SmithHardware.com and your Shopify site on Shop.SmithHardware.com. Notice the difference? Theses are not two different domain names, they are both SmithHardware.com. The “Shop” in front of Smith is what’s known as a subdomain. This is much less confusing for customers and Google alike.
Another common mistake is to use a low quality TLDs. TLD stands for top level domain. A top level domain is the end of your website address. The most common TLD is .com. I recommend you stick with a .com web address. Customers trust things they are familiar with. If you absolutely need to use a different TLD use .net. Try to avoid low quality versions such as .biz or .us. These addresses are typically associated with unprofessional or even spammy websites.
When considering a domain name for your store, use something relevant, clear, correctly spelled and accurately matched to the name of your store.