10 Things You Must Consider When Choosing Your Domain Name

Your domain name is your URL. It can be up to 67 characters in length and you can also include numbers and hyphens. Domain names can cost from as little as a few GBP a year depending on the extension you use and the likely popularity of the name. Choosing your domain name can be lots of fun as well being equally frustrating and painful. These handy tips will help you when choosing your domain name to make there’s no regrets later.

Where to start

Begin by summing up what your website is going to be about in 5 words. Then brainstorm these words, looking at ways you can combine them and work them together into something that makes sense.  There are several places online to check whether your ideas for domain names work.

A personal favourite is 123-reg.co.uk as it also gives suggestions for variations on your domain name as well as examples of different extensions that you could consider. However, before you go and buy your domain name, also think about hosting – it can make your website a lot easier to manage if you buy your URL and hosting from the same place. Whilst price is important, good hosting is essential so I would choose hosting first and after experimenting with various URL ideas, buy them from the same place. Take a look at ‘What is Hosting?‘ for more information about this.

Think you’ve come up with a good name? Before you click on any ‘buy’ button, make sure you ask yourself these 10 important questions:

1. Does it match your company / brand name?

With websites being the first port of call for people to go to when they’re searching for more information it’s important that your URL has some correlation with what your company or brand name is. For example, if your company name is Digitally Sorted these would be examples of names that could work, in personal preference order from best to worst:

  • DigitallySorted.com
  • DigitallySorted.net
  • DigitallySorted.co.uk
  • Digitally-sorted.com
  • Digitally-sorted.co.uk
  • DigitallySortedServices.com
  • DigitallySortedYou.com

If you try and reduce the ‘Digitally Sorted’ element down, it loses its sense of ‘what’. For example, ‘DSServices’ could relate to anything.

2. Does your URL say what it’s about?

If your URL describes what service or product you’re supplying then you’re onto a winner. This also makes it easier to remember. Single words make for great URLs although the availability of these are becoming less and less. There is a current trend for tech companies especially, to embrace one word names, such as Huddlah (sports community), Boxed (letting you buy goods in bulk from your phone), Estimize (crowdsourced earnings estimates for stocks), Watsi (crowdfunded low-cost, high impact medical care for those that need it most), Kiip (gives you vouchers for free products when you use certain apps), Lyft (easy to access, cheap taxi service).

There is also the trend to combine words together to form names and URLS, such as Coinbase (making it easy for users and businesses to use Bitcoins), WatchSend (helping developers understand how their apps are used), FlightCar (rent your car whilst you’re on holiday) and Homejoy (cost-cut home cleaning services).

3. Is it easy to remember?

Is it a made up word or a combination of words that already exist? Does it sound like something else? Whilst the URL may be easy for you to remember, other people may have difficulty so something as simple as possible is best. Having a random word as your URL is definitely worth it if you have time and investment to put in supporting brand development and awareness. Companies such as Google, IKEA, Starbucks, Skype, Amazon, Yahoo etc have all spent money on their branding.

4. Is the domain unique?

The domain name has to be unique in order for you to purchase this. However, is it similar to another website that’s out there at the moment? For example, if your service is organic health and food products and www.PlanetOrganix.com is free, then you may find yourself accidentally driving traffic to your competitor.

5. Is the .com version available?

There are so many new extensions becoming available such as .ventures, .company, .photography, .gb.net etc and the general rule is that the more unusual the extension, the more likely the domain name of your choice is available. However, the .com is the most common domain extension, driven by the fact that it was the first domain to be used commercially. Try if you can, to get your hands on a .com domain name as many people still believe this is the only extension available. If that’s not available, .net is the second most commonly used extension.

6. Is it easy to type?

This may sound silly but if your URL needs a lot of thought before the user types it in, due to length, unusual characters, use of unmemorable sounds or words then you may lose a good proportion of your visitors. There have also been studies in ‘awkward’ letters detracting from easy writability; these include letters such as ‘q’, ‘z’, ‘x’, ‘c’ and ‘p’.

7. Will other people like it?

Don’t forget that even though its your company and domain name, other people are your main target – after all, you’re already sold on what you’re going to be writing about, your service, product etc. Does it make sense in other people’s minds? Ask friends and family around you what they think of it.

8. Are you trying to be too clever?

If your company name is Made For You and the url www.madeforyou.com is taken, as are all other versions, think twice about getting too clever and replacing letters with numbers or adding hyphens. Whilst www.made-for-you.com works, www.m4de4y0u.com will be extremely hard for your potential customers to remember.

9. Does your URL infringe any trademarks?

Be sure to steer well clear from any already trademarked names, even if only part of the name is used. Whilst internet domain name law disputes are often full of grey areas, it’s not worth getting into a legal dispute over and these can be costly.

10. Does it still make sense as a URL?

Don’t make the mistake that some companies have done by not viewing their name as a URL. The Tech recylcling company, IT Scrap didn’t check what their domain name would look like and so it is unfortunate that it reads www.itscrap.com

The same is with:

www.whorepresents.com – Who Represents; a database of talent representatives

www.penisland.com – Pen Island; a pen company

www.therapistinabox.com – Therapist in a Box; a product offering emotional healing

www.powergenitalia.com – Powergen Italia; an Italian electronics company

And even if you think your name sounds ok, make sure you check it against the endings of your web address. As well as .com URLs, more are available such as .info, .net, .me, .name etc. Otherwise, you may end up with something like this:

www.budget.co.ck – Budget Car Rentals in the Cook Islands

www.swissbit.ch – Swiss Bit; for electronics

 

What is hosting?

Digitally Sorted TSO Discount Offer What is Hosting

In order to have a website that’s accessible via the world wide web, you need to have hosting. For individuals and smaller organisations leasing ‘space’ from web hosting companies is the most cost efficient and most easy to manage option.

So what is hosting?

Hosting is where your website will ‘sit’. Any images and content that you upload to your website will be stored with your hosting provider. It’s what gives the body of your website substance as it were.

If you’ve got personal websites or small business websites, then hosting can start from as little as a few pounds a month. Most hosting companies offer better deals if you buy annual hosting and this can start from £14.99 with companies such as TSO Host. Their Lite deal, for example, lets you host two websites, have 10 mailboxes and also has a one-click WordPress Installation functionality.

As well as using a hosting provider, many small businesses often have their own servers and can provide hosting for you, even if it’s not their main product. From a personal standpoint, managing your own hosting means that you have access to it as and when you want. In addition, many hosting providers have excellent customer service and can talk you through most problems.

 

How to train your website – LESSON FOUR: Health & Welfare of your website

Having completed Lesson Three: Exercising your Website, you know your website is getting all the exercise it needs. But even so, is it healthy? You may be putting a lot of effort into all this ‘exercising’, but how do you know whether it’s beneficial for your website?

Website Health CheckUp

In order to check up on the health of your website, you need to have some kind of tool that is collecting data so you can establish a) if there’s traffic going to your website b) which parts of the website are doing well c) which parts of the website aren’t doing as well as they should. There are many free tools for this, with one of the most popular and easy to install being Google Analytics. Once you have Google Analytics installed, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your website statistics at least every month or so.

There’s no point looking at each individual data strand separately – these mean nothing unless compared to other data points. And the data should be analysed over time so you can look at the trends over time.

Here’s your checklist for what to look out for in Google Analytics *:

AUDIENCE What does it mean? Why is it important?
Unique Visitors The number of individual visitors to your site. This is most useful viewed over set periods of time so you can take note of trends and increases or decreases in your website’s traffic. This is best viewed in conjunction with the number of visits.
Visits This is the total number of visits to your website. This records each and every time a user lands on your website, even if they visit it more than one. Understanding how many visits your website is getting in total can help you gain an idea of how many people are visiting your website more than once.
Pages  / Visits The average number of pages each user is clicking onto. This tells you how many different pages each visitor is clicking to. This helps you understand whether your website is encouraging users to travel through your website.
Average Visit Duration The average amount of time that the user is on the website on The amount of time users spend on a website is  a good indicator of how engaging your website is.
Bounce Rate The percentage of users who land on the homepage and leave straight away without looking at any other part of the website. The higher the bounce rate, the more people are leaving your website as soon as they land on the homepage. This often happens when people don’t know where they’re clicking to.
% New Visits The percentage of new visitors who visit your site. As well as retaining existing visitors to the site, increasing your reach is important too and this will help you determine whether your ‘exercise’ is paying off.

 

TRAFFIC SOURCES What does it mean? Why is it important?
Search Traffic The percentage of people who visited the site through a search engine Are people finding your website using the keywords that you’ve optimized your content for? Data around this will also tell you what keywords people are using to find your website.
Referral Traffic The percentage of visitors who landed on the website after coming via a link from another site. These count as inbound links and the better quality the website, the  more favourably search engines view your website.
Direct Traffic The percentage of visitors who arrived at the site directly, by typing in the URL. This will tell you how many already know about your website (they may even have visited it before) and that they remember the URL or have this saved somewhere for quick access.

 

CONTENT What does it mean? Why is it important?
Content This shows the pages on your website that have the most visitors. This helps you understand the pages that are generating the most page views. And also the pages that aren’t doing so well. If you can work out why some pages are getting more views than others then you’re onto a good thing.

 

Don’t forget, you should also keep a close eye on how your social media updates and emails are doing too. Was there one tweet that had more replies than others? Or a Facebook status that didn’t get any Likes at all? How does it compare to other Facebook statuses that had several Likes? It’s also a good idea to look at timings too. For example, what time did you sent out that email? Was it the best time? Are most of your target audience even awake and checking their emails at 7am on a Sunday morning?

The most important thing to remember is to QUESTION EVERYTHING. Pretend you’re a kid again. Ask WHY. A lot.

Question EveryThing

Having successfully completed Lesson Four and established a healthy website, you can start thinking about what accessories you need for your website > 

 

* This is a healthcheck for traffic and user interaction on the website, and assumes that elements such as site structure and SEO is all already sorted.