Brand Strategy : Domain Names


Brand Strategy : Domain Names

If you are trying to launch a new brand or product, start with a domain name that you can own online. It’s always best for a brand name and domain name to be exactly the same to avoid confusion. Instead of being set on a particular brand name, make a list of possible names from brainstorming and then find out which ones are available. From there narrow down the list and choose the best name.

Short Domain Names

There will always be a big advantage to short domain names because they are easy to remember, whereas long names are easy to forget. Most viable ideas for domain names with four characters or less were taken back in the nineties. So avoid naming your brand without first checking its availability in the WhoIs database. This tool will let you know instantly which names are available and who owns them. Some owners who have parked domains for the future may be willing to make a deal with you. You might also try an alphanumeric name with six characters or less.

If the domain of your dreams has already been taken, try other extensions such as “.net” or “.biz.” Keep in mind, however, that .com is the most popular domain and has the mostdomain names credibility unless you plan on starting a nonprofit organization (.org) or a learning institution (.edu). You can also come close to your desired domain by adding a word associated with the brand. If you’re in the restaurant business, for example, and you wanted “Rocky Ridge” but it was taken, you might check something like “” Certain long domain names are ok if they can be easily read and broken down into two or three words, such as “” Such a name is particularly helpful if it encompasses your top three keywords.

Search Credibility

The closer you can get your domain name to match your brand name, the easier it will be for search engines to index your site. If you intend for your brand just to be marketed on a local level, consider using the name of your city or neighborhood as part of your domain, even if it’s a bit long, which can be an advantageous exception to the rule of focusing on short domain names. Search engines like to be more comprehensive than phone books when listing local businesses and including your locale helps identify your site with your region.

Avoid long domain names that read more like sentences or don’t readily make sense. The last thing you want to do is confuse the search engines. You can invent words or combine words that no one else has done before as long as the domain is easy to read and remember. Search engines will place more importance on your web page titles than anything, so don’t worry too much about how search engines view domain names. You should be more concerned if your target market will connect your brand with its domain name.

Multiple Domains

It’s perfectly acceptable and strategic to have more than one domain name for the same website. You may be able to own both a .com and .net for your brand’s domain. You don’t necessarily have to promote both extensions in your marketing, since all that matters is people find your website. One reason you may want to have multiple domains is if you are developing a national brand and want to have a separate domain for each state or major city. The same idea applies to international brands using different domains for different countries. However if you use multiple domain names, you must either have your web developer create a 301 permanent redirect so all of the domain names (URL’s) are directed to the same website or have different content on each of the domains. Do not get caught in the duplicate content trap! Lastly try to choose names that are instantly recognizable.

Ian ConklinIan Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America. OTR Web is a Value Added Partner with HubSpot.

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