First – What is a Domain Name ?
According to Wikipedia – A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control on the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name.
My plain english version is – the name you give your website so it can be found on the internet. (technically there is more to it than that but this will suffice for our purposes)
1) Your Business Name or Your Name
Using your existing business name or your name can be a good choice (if available) and can go a long way towards branding. It can also be good for Search Engine Optimization.
Questions to ask yourself include; Is it obvious what my business name is/does ? or will you have to spend some time educating your customers on that. Joe Smith Enterprise doesn’t really say much about the business to anyone that doesn’t know Joe Smith.
Take the time and really put some thought into what you want your domain name to be. You may be living with it for a long time. Think about keywords or phrases that are related to your business.
3) Be Unique
You want your domain name to be unique and not easily confused with someone elses. For example I wouldn’t choose say utube.com as to be confused with the ever popular Youtube.com
4) Keep Name as short as possible
A short name is both easier for your customers to remember and tell others. I recommend names no longer than 20 to 25 characters if possible.
5) Avoid Slang
Many search engine robots and algorithms don’t like non-standard language so its better to avoid them all together.
If you have followed the above tips by now you probably have short unique domain name choices buzzing around in your head, excellent. Now give some thought as to how easily someone will be able to remember it. The easier it is to remember your domain name – the easier it will be for visitors to hop on your website.
7) Register Time Period
Most if not all domain registrars will register your name for a year. However some experts advise that search engines give more weight to domain names registered for longer periods of time.
So you may want to consider a lengthier period of registration of your chosen domain name.
The use of hyphens makes your URL more difficult to type in and harder to verbally tell a friend your address. While it has its place and can (and has) been used, try to avoid it if you can.
9) Copyright infringement
Be sure that your chosen domain name does not infringe on someone elses trademark. Doing so could mean a long and expensive lawsuit. Do your homework and research here.
10) Domain extension
The most commonly used extension is still .com but there are other choices as well: .ca .net .org to name a few. Most people will assume a .com extension unless otherwise specified. In Canada we are seeing the .ca extension becoming more and more commonplace. Say like the world-famous web design firm www.silver6.ca for instance. 🙂
One domain registrar that I have used with regular success is Namecheap