Setting up a new business is a uniquely challenging process, and decisions made before the company even exists could materially affect its long-term fortunes.
One example is the brand or business name you choose. It can’t be too similar to competitors, but it also shouldn’t be too lengthy, obscure or hard to pronounce/spell/remember.
It should ideally include reference to either your industry or geographic location – or both if possible.
Crucially, it needs to have a suitable domain name available to purchase.
Few entrepreneurs realise how important it is to choose a business domain name which suits their new company, yet search engine optimisation hinges on it.
If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, it’s the process of ensuring a website achieves the highest possible ranking result in search listings. Domain names are a key element of this.
These are our tips on how to choose a business domain name which won’t let you down…
Build your brand around the website
This might sound like putting the cart before the horse, but it’s actually a pragmatic step.
If www.yourbrandname.co.uk is already taken, don’t call your company Your Brand Name. If www.anotherbrandname.co.uk is available, Another Brand Name is a safer bet.
Consumers expect company websites to match their brand, and will often enter a presumed URL into their address bars without even checking whether it’s correct.
If your preferred address is reserved, it might not be in active use. Many firms own ‘parked’ domain names they don’t use and may be willing to resell – though you’ll inevitably pay a premium.
Choose a familiar top level domain
Website addresses consist of four distinct components.
There’s the HyperText Transfer Protocol used to send data via the World Wide Web. Next comes the actual website name. Finally, there’s a top level domain, known as a TLD.
This is the final part of a URL (website address). Ours finishes in co.uk, indicating we are a company based in the United Kingdom.
The global business default is the .com TLD, which has been unofficially adopted by American companies but is also favoured by some British brands.
The co.uk and .com TLDs have the best reputation among domestic search engines, though other good choices include .biz (a newer term for a business) and .org (for an organisation).
Avoid quirky TLDs (.xyz, .fun), which are often used by scammers and ranked negatively by search engines. The same is true for overseas TLDs, which also rank poorly in UK search results.
Keep it short and sweet
Although a great deal of traffic will arrive on your website through search engines or existing bookmarks, some people will manually type the address into their browser bar.
Brevity is key here. Longer domain names increase the likelihood of a typo sending people to another site or bringing up an error message, especially when using mobile phone keypads.
While www.vintagecarpartsofnorthallerton.co.uk might be great for a Yorkshire-based car restoration specialist, www.vcpnorthallerton.co.uk would be easier to type, remember and dictate.
Abbreviations may improve a URL’s readability and recall, albeit at the cost of sacrificing an element of descriptiveness.
Finally, if your preferred domain and similar alternatives are all unavailable, think creatively.
Domain names can’t include symbols, so DIY titans B&Q ingeniously decided to register the diy.com website instead.
Is there anything you could do to position yourself as an expert in your chosen field, boosting SEO and setting your brand apart from more generic competitor names in the process?