One of the first things that aspiring business owners need to do is to come up with a name for their business. One of the major factors is the availability of the associated domain name. Indeed many businesses look for available domain names first, and then name their businesses based on the availability of an appropriate domain.
Your domain name(s) should match your business name. Try to maintain consistency across all of your registered ‘names’. If your business name and brand is XYZ, then your domain name should be XYZ.com.au (for Australian businesses). This should also extend to your email addresses (use domain-based email: [email protected]) and your other online properties: eg. facebook.com/XYZ, twitter.com/XYZ, instagram.com/XYZ, youtube.com/XYZ. Often it is difficult to achieve consistency across the board as many common names have already been registered, but try!
Get the right top-level domain (and register as many as you can). Businesses that are servicing a global market should register a .com domain name as this is the most recognisable international domain extension. This is a difficult task, as .com domains are unregulated and the vast majority are already taken. You you may need to purchase your desired .com domain from a domain reseller (or cybersquatter) at a premium. Australian businesses should register a .com.au domain which is available only to registered Australian businesses with a claim to that particular name. A .com.au infers a degree of quality to the customer as the domain registrant must be located in Australia and must have an appropriate business registration. Where possible, register as many top-level domains for your name as you can (eg. .net, .net.au, .co.uk, .co.nz) – this prevents others from using those domains.
Get a domain name that is short and ‘brandable’. The very best domain names are single words, they are unique, they are memorable, they are pronounceable, they are easy to recall, and they are easy to type into a browser – think Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Uber, Airbnb, eBay, Apple, etc. Steer clear of really long domain names. It’s fine to use multiple words, but avoid hyphens, abbreviations and numbers that can confuse customers. Be creative, but not too creative.
Get a domain that infers the type of good/service that you offer. Whilst short, brandable names are great, there is also a strong argument for including words in your domain name that make it clear what type of service or product you provide. That way, people will know just by looking at your domain what they’re likely to encounter when they come to your website – as a simplistic example, if you sell apples, better to have jimsapples.com than just jims.com. This is particularly important if you don’t have a huge budget for brand marketing (like the Ubers, eBays and Airbnbs of the world, which have become synonymous with the respective services they provide).
Include a keyword if you can. Another consideration is including a recognisable keyword in your domain name, that a searcher would use when searching for your business in a search engine. Domain names are a key ranking factor for Google, Bing and Yahoo! when returning search results to users. If you sell apples, and you have ‘apples’ in your domain name, then you may find that your website gets a higher ranking in search engines for ‘apples’ related searches (note that there are many such ranking criteria and your domain name is just one; it won’t guarantee you a high ranking).
Make sure you’re not contravening intellectual property. Before you go ahead and register your domain names, make sure that you’re not going to raise the ire of any established businesses with existing brand names and trademarks. Your best bet is to do a quick search of the IP Australia databases beforehand, otherwise you could be left with a business name and a bunch of domains that you can’t use – and potentially a lawsuit.