Your domain name. It’s often the first thing you secure when starting a new project. It’s the core of your identity – Your Brand. There is a multitude of considerations you must parse though when buying a domain. Think of it as a checklist, and just about any missing check can be a dealbreaker.
This is typically the easy first litmus test to check out when you’ve picked what you think is a good domain. Is the same name available on major social networks or other sites or services you intend to utilize? It makes it easier on your audience if jumplittlepixel.com can be found at twitter.com/jumplittlepixel and facebook.com/jumplittlepixel (yes I know – I never secured this one.) and @jumplittlepixel on instagram.
That sort of solid, consistent branding makes it easy to find me wherever you go. If I was jump_littlepixel on twitter, and jump-little-pxl on instagram, there is a broken continuity there.
The words that make up your domain have some weight on your SEO value. Much of my site has to do with web design and development. The world pixel is often used on sites that feature that sort of content, so having it in my domain name helps. Having the words web and design in there would probably help even more, but the choice to go for jumplittlepixel.com was trumped by the next two points.
Having an easy to remember domain name is often key, especially if you’re doing billboard or poster advertising where the user is required to remember your website. Lets say you own business that sell high-pressure hydraulic hoses. Let’s say you really struck it rich and your name is Hector. You could go the safe route and buy HectorsHighPressureHydraulicHoses.com – or you could go for something shorter and to the point, like HectorsHydraulics.com
Having a domain that sounds hip or interesting is never a bad idea. Look at services like spotify.com and digg.com – their names just sort of ooze web 2.0 goodness. Does anything about spotify tell you that it’s a streaming music service? No, it just sounds cool, and so it gets a pass. Cool domains can really help if you plan to build your site’s following in the social space – just make sure those usernames are available on said social sites.
The Shorter the Better
Nobody likes to type more than they have to. The dawn of texting has quicklyacclimatedjust about everyone to shortened versions of words, and like in my mnemonics example above – hectorshydraulics.com is shorter to type than the alternative, but even better still would be something like hectorshoses.com – especially if you plan on doing traditional advertising.
Plurality and Other Top Level Domains
Ok, so you’ve picked out the perfect dot com. Depending on the intent of your domain, you may want to secure other top level domains of the same name, so that others can’t buy the .net of your domain and ride your coattails to glory. You may also consider at this time buying pluralized versions of your site, or if there is a common misspelling of your site because of consecutive letters (think superrad.com and superad.com)
Subdomains seem like an intuitive way to break up sections of your site – and to the average humanoid, they are, but jumplittlepixel.com, blog.jumplittlepixel.com and code.jumplittlepixel.com are seen by el goog as three different sites that have nothing to do with each other, and so you lose that synergy of combining those pages and having a site with what google sees as more valuable content.
Don’t: Dashes and Characters.
The logic here is that it’s extra work for the person to input the dashes or characters, especially if they’re on a mobile device or tablet. Increasingly, this is going to be more and more important, as mobile and tablet device useage skyrocket.
10 years ago, simply coming up with a great dot com was all you needed to succeed – but the game has certainly changed. Things that didn’t matter before, now make all the difference in the world. If any there is a time to sweat the details, this is it.
If you’re wondering where to register your brand spanking new domain name, you may be well aware of the issues GoDaddy experienced on September 10th which caused their DNS servers to become unresponsive for several hours. Simply registering your domain somewhere doesn’t mean you have to use their DNS servers.
I’ve been purchasing all my domains recently at NameCheap.com – as the name implies, it’s a cheap domain registrar. Most dot com’s run about $11/year and they give you free private registration for a year – and their user interface is dead simple and support is there when you need it.