There is rarely a day that passes that we don’t get asked for our feedback on the best domain name for business sites, personal blogs, hobby sites, and the like. This guide will show you how to choose the best domain name and what factors should be considered prior to purchasing.
- Global TLD vs. Country TLD
- Exact Match Domains and SEO
- Branding & Memorable Domains
Global TLD vs Country Code TLD
If you are searching for a new domain name you have likely come across the term, TLD. It stands for Top-Level Domain and is essentially what comes after the name that you choose, such as .com, .net, .ca, etc.
There are two main types of TLDs which include global TLDs (gTLDs) and country code TLDs (ccTLDs). Some examples of country code domains include .ca, .us, and .eu. There is an increasing amount of countries that are allowing public registration of their country code domain.
Did you know? The dot me (.me) is the Montenegro domain but has been quite popular for personal websites.
Global TLDs on the other hand include the popular guys – dot com, dot net, and dot org. These were the first three global TLDs available for public registration without restriction. There were also .mil, .gov, .edu, and .int, however these are not available to the public. There are a few extra global domains that have been introduced somewhat more recently which include the .info, .biz, .name, and .pro. The .info and .biz are the more popular of the two.
There are also two country code specific domains that are treated like global domains in the eyes of Google and other search engines – the .tv (Island of Tuvalu) and .co (Columbia). The reason for this is because they resemble real-world applications. (Television for .tv and Company for .co)
Great, but why do I need to know all this? Understanding the difference between ccTLDs and gTLDs is important when thinking about your target market. Do you have a product or service that you are/can offer internationally? Or is your website for a local business that will target local traffic?
For example, if you are a local business in Halifax and target Nova Scotia or a Canadian market, it would be extremely unwise to purchase a .be (Belgium) domain name even though your business name might be available in this extension. The reason for this is because your website will rank better in local searches for that particular country. In this example you should purchase a .ca or a global domain name, though a .ca should result in slightly better Canadian search results on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
Exact Match Domains and SEO
An exact match domain (EMD) is a domain name with keywords that reflect the nature or services of your business rather then the name of your business. For example, windowrepairs.com is an EMD for the search phrase “window repairs” while halifaxwindowrepairs.com is an EMD for the keywords “Halifax window repairs.”
If you’re considering an EMD, you must consider what keywords your potential visitors will be searching for and therefore what keywords your business will target either locally or globally. For example, if you have a window repair business operating in Halifax, Canada, some potential keywords are: window repair, window repairs, car window repairs, home window repair, halifax window repair, etc. This is valuable to know before proceeding with buying your domain name.
Exact match domains get a small bonus from Google in their search results. This has been tested and accepted in the local SEO world, and knowing this can influence what domain to purchase. For example, if your business is named The Ross Brothers, instead of purchasing therossbrothers.com, you might want to consider rosswindowrepairs.com. It will be easier to rank for window repairs if the words are in your domain.
Aside from the slight bonus EMDs provide, you can read more details generally about search engine optimization and how to rank your website here.
All of that said, it is important to remember that you are dealing with and targeting real people and not search engines. Do not buy an exact match domain just for the sake of it or if it sounds or looks spammy or unnatural. rossbrothers.com is much more attractive to users than bestwindowrepairsinhalifax.com simply from the length alone.
Additionally, if you offer more than just window repair services, then you’re better off with rossbrothers.com and using pages other than your homepage to target specific services, like rossbrothers.com/window-repairs and rossbrothers.com/painting-services-halifax.
Branding & Memorable Domains
Forget almost everything about EMDs if your trying to build a brand around your domain name. Compare bestwindowrepairsinhalifax.com to something like windrep.com. The latter is much more memorable and brand-able than the EMD. On top of that, most of the popular domains operate on dot coms (.com) as it is the most trusted domain in the eyes of surfers. Building an international brand around one of the unique country domains or even a .biz or .info can be more challenging. That said, it takes a lot of hard work, a great product or service, and a little bit of luck for your branded domain to “explode” as you dreamed it would.
It’s not hard to think of some of the unique and popular domain names. Google.com, Facebook.com, Kijiji.ca, Skype.com all come to mind immediately. Many people have decided on a business name or name for their product/service based on the availability of catchy sounding, short, and potentially brand-able domain names. I don’t think that’s a bad practice at all, in fact it’s very beneficial to have a catchy domain that will be easy to build a brand around.
Getting creative with your business name can have major benefits when choosing a domain, especially if you are operating and competing internationally. Take skype.com for example. One of the initial names for the project was Sky Peer To Peer. I’m sure skypeertopeer.com was available if they wanted it, but instead they got creative and shortened it to skype.com (after trying to get skyper.com).
Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly difficult as more and more domain names among the global tlds get registered. I dare you to try to find a catchy 5-letter domain in the .com space. It’s difficult and frustrating at best. What’s a business to do? ccTLDs to the rescue!
If you operate solely in Canada, don’t shy away from the dot ca space. And if you’re in other countries, think similarly about your local country code TLD.
Alternatively, newer global TLDs like .co are getting a lot of attention. According to search engines, they operate as a global domain and are similar enough to .com to have trust in the eyes of the average internet user. Consider registering a dot co for your next project.