Getting a great domain name for your business is obviously quite important, one issue however remains. What happens if someone already owns the .com version of your business name? In most instances I would advice that you register a domain name that is the same or similar to your business. Granted, this is not always possible but get creative.
Perhaps you have a cafe called “Cups’n Cake” in Connecticut. But you can’t register cupsncake.com because it’s taken. Go ahead then and add something onto the domain like cupsncakeCT.com as an example. In general, it’s best to go with a branded domain name that matches (or closely matches) the business name.
Google ranks brands better and has publicly stated that they will rank a brand when possible. This is not to say keyword rich domain are bad, it’s just that they are not as important as they used to be. A good example is the Dandy Horse Bike Tour company in San Francisco.
Instead of using something like DandyHorseSF.com or DandyHorseTours.com they use biketoursSF.com as their domain. This is because they’ve been in business for years and registered this keyword rich domain back when such a thing mattered.
Today, it’s more effective to get a branded domain and to make sure your page title contains your relevant keywords.
Branded domains for Businesses
Business, bloggers and online store creators should focus primarily on building a helpful brand. As such, get great domain name that reflects your brand. In the past keyword focused domain names were preferred by Google and other search engines but are now penalized for over optimization.
This is because creators would simple build low quality websites that would rank well because they had a keyword rich title. This provides a poor user experience for users of Google and is why Google now prefers focused brands on a specific topic.
For example, blogger Chris Guthrie paid $10k for the domain MakeMoneyontheInternet.com which was penalized for over optimization. He had to then re-brand his website and wasted thousands of dollars and hours of time.
When to use exact match keyword domains
In general, you should build a brand. But that is not to say exact match domains never make sense. If we look at something like CreateaClickableMap.com, it’s a keyword rich title that lives up to it’s name. This is an excellent website because it matches the purpose of the website.
This is why biketoursSF.com is a good domain. While you should avoid spammy looking, over optimized domain names when possible; it’s still a great option if you’re providing a service that clearly and specifically matches that domain name.
When to avoid exact match keyword domains
A domain name should be brand or clearly reflect the purpose of the website. The reason why domain names like SugarDetoxforChildren.com or MakeMoneyOnTheInternet.com are such bad domains is that they are spammy and over optimized for a single search term.
Something like “sugar detox for children” should be a comprehensive page on a medical website. Not a stand alone website pushing some weird ebook. You want to avoid exact match, keyword heavy domain names unless your website is specifically about a topic in an authoritative way. Similar to how “create a clickable map” is an outstanding domain and website because the service matches that domain name perfectly.
Google Expert, Authority and Trust (EAT)
Google also has an EAT initiative that they use when evaluating websites. EAT stands for expert, authority and trust. If your website is about potential search visitors health or money you’re going to want to optimize for Google EAT through demonstrating expertise.
Google is becoming more sophisticated and wants to rank brands and trusted authorities for various keywords and phrases. If your business is in a health or money vertical then you’ll need to demonstrate your experience and credentials.
So consider a business domain name that helps establish your professional experience, a domain name that people would trust.
What to do if you can’t get your brands domain name?
If your brand trade marked then you have some legal protection from preventing other websites from using your brand. They can technically register your brands domain name, but they are not allowed to use it.
When it comes to copyright and trademarks it gets complicated. But in general, you’re not allowed to register and use a domain name with a trademark in it. I for example, it’s risky to use a domain name like FiverrForTheWin.com as Fiverr is trademarked.
They would be within their right to have me cease and desist from using that domain. In fact, this happened to Pat Flyn whos’ original website was IntheLead.com which had to be rebranded as GreenAcademyExam.com (you can learn more about that here).
So if your branded domain is taken (maybe you have a common business name like Joe’s Pizza) then you have a few different options.
Use an alternative extension
You may have to use an alternative domain extension or buy your desired domain name from the company that has registered it. Some domain extensions we like for business would be the .co domain extension or a .shop extension if you’re an online store.
Add devices to the domain name
A device is to add numbers or abbreviations onto the domain to help get a similar domain name to the one you want. A great example is how Dandy Horse added the SF to the end or “bike tours.” This helps make the website more relevant for specific search terms related to the San Francisco area.
If your business is specific to a region then consider adding abbreviation or using a hyphen. Though a hyphen is a last resort as it’s a very uncommon practice to use hyphens when registering a domain name.
Contact the domainer and buy your .com
Sometimes you may have no choice and will simply have to buy the domain name you want from a domainer for an inflated price. While not ideal, sometimes you have no choice if there is a domain name you really want.
To buy a domain from a domainer first search to see if there is a splash page for the domain. A splash page is just a one page website that has some ads and is also advertising that the domain name is of sale. A last resort would be to do a WHOIS search in order to find the email of the person who registered the domain name.
Abbreviate your domain
You can always abbreviate your domain name into something shorter and more usable. In many instances, this shortened domain name is actually better than the original. For example, EntrepreneursOnFire.com has been rebranded as EOFire.com.
The latter is shorter and much better in my professional opinion. The new domain still makes senses and it’s easier to type in. With your domain name, think of other more creative ways to shorten your domain to something new.
Domain names and your business name conclusion
Domain names can be an annoying and confusing aspect of getting your business online. You have a lot of different options from branded domain names to alternative domain extensions. Whatever you decide to do, focus on something more brandable with a few keywords in it than an overly optimized domain name.
When you’re ready, visit Namecheap.com to register your business domain name.
David UtkeDavid Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 20k+ YouTube subscribers!
.co vs .com – Which One is Best for SEO?
Both are top level domain extensions are a good choice for websites. The .com is the legacy extension but the .co is a viable alternative.
Names for Websites – The 3-2-1 Technique
How do you come up with a good name for a website? Let's break down some techniques and online resources for branding online.