A domain name plays an important role in building and running a website. It serves a variety of purposes that are key to grow and maintain a webpage that without a suitable domain, your page is almost non-existent.
But apart from the page itself, using the right domain can also help your brand identity and business. Yes, you read that right. It can also help your business.
That being said, how can a good domain name help your site and your brand exactly?
Curious? But before we talk about that, let’s discuss first what a domain name is.
What Is a Domain Name?
Technically, a domain name is a unique human-readable identifier use to locate a webpage digitally. It was invented as an alternative to numerical IP addresses that are not only difficult but also complicated to even memorize.
It is because numerical addresses are a set of numbers, literally. Google’s IP address, for instance, is “188.8.131.52.” And without a domain name (Google.com, in this case), it would be difficult for everyone to visit the site.
But a domain name’s purpose goes beyond that. It can also help in establishing your site’s credibility, improves your brand’s identity and reputation, and helps boost your marketing efforts—which I will explain thoroughly in the next sections.
5 Types of Domain Name
Domain names are divided into five types as well. And each category represents a specific domain purpose.
- The top level domain name (TLD). The highest in the five categories, a top-level domain name is a set of letters (or words) placed at the end part of a webpage. And for that reason, it is also called domain extensions.
TLDs or domain extensions come in various forms as well. The most popular one, for example, is the “.com.” Other known domain extensions include “.org” and “.net.”
On the other hand, there are also domain extensions that depict a specific niche, which further helps boost a site’s identity and brand. Other TLDs of this type include “.biz,” “.yoga”, and “.blog.”
- The generic top-level domain name (gTLD). A generic top-level domain name is a purely thematic domain extension. In layman’s terms, gTLDs are terms that are related to—or describes—a certain niche or subject.
gTLDs are also divided into two categories: the sponsored and non-sponsored gTLDs.
- A few examples of sponsored gTLDs are .edu, .gov, .jobs, .mil
- A few examples of non-sponsored gTLDs are .info, .tech, .shop, .art. and .yoga
- Country-code top-level domain names (ccTLD). A country code top-level domain name, on the one hand, is an extension that depicts a certain country and can only be used by folks who are residing in that said country or territory.
Having said that, a few (popular) examples of ccTLDs are “.uk” and “.us.” The latter represents the United States while the former represents the United Kingdom.
But ccTLDs are not limited to countries only. Territories that are geographically separated but are still dependent on their parent country has their domain names too. A few examples are Christmas Islands’ “cx” and Norfolk Island’s “nf.”
- Second level domain name. The second-level domain name, on the other hand, is the word(s) next to the top-level domain name. In www.youtube.com, for instance, the second-level domain name is YouTube. In other words, it is the name of your site or brand.
The second-level domain name, however, is not “technically” as crucial as top and third-level domain names. But SEO- and brand-wise, this type of domain name is important.
Simply because it describes the niche of your site, as well as your biz. And without it, a potential customer would have a difficult time discerning what products or services you are offering.
- Third-level domain names. Also known as subdomain, the last of the five types are called a third-level domain name. Essentially, it serves as a means to structure a page’s, as well as an online store, content. It is also utilized as a way to categorize the website’s niche and language.
That being said, what part of a web address is the third level domain name?
It is the first part. In www.YouTube.com, for example, the TLD is the www which stands for “worldwide web.”
Moreover, a TLD is not limited to www only. There are other TLDs as well, though they are not as common as www. Here are a few samples:
What Makes It Important?
Now that you know what a domain name is, let’s talk about its importance not only to the site itself but also to your brand business.
1. Helps Potential Customers Find You. The very first and most crucial role of a domain name is its helps potential customers find your website easily. As mentioned, a domain name serves as a virtual address that customers can simply type on the address bar or search bar to locate. It replaces the complicated number sequences of IP addresses into human-readable addresses.
As such it would be difficult for your potential buyers or clients to visit your page without it.
2. Establishes Credibility. Credibility is important when it comes to business. And with how everything is turning digital today, the easiest way to prove to potential customers that your business is legit is to have a website.
A webpage with a registered domain name looks professional as well, compared to a free one that comes with an address like “www.wordpress.com/nameofyourbusiness.” It is particularly true for startups and small businesses.
And more often than not, unregistered domain names turn customers off, thinking that the business or the brand could not be trusted.
3. Brand Awareness. Aside from it helps to establish credibility, having a registered domain also boosts brand awareness. It is particularly effective if your domain name is also your brand or business name as it helps people to remember both your brand and your webpage.
A domain name also tends to set a customer’s expectation about the brand. If not registered and you are running a marketing campaign—say, a pay-per-click campaign—people would be wary of checking it out because the domain name is unregistered.
4. Boosts SEO. Digital marketing is among the top reasons why biz owners create a website. It is especially important for those who are running a digital shop.
Digital marketing, on the other hand, requires not only a simple website but a professional one. In other words, you would need to have a registered domain name.
Domain names play a crucial role in a website’s SEO as well. It essentially helps to improve page visibility, boosting its organic searches in return. And if, for example, your domain name includes a keyword with a high search volume, there is a high chance that your site will show up every time someone searches for that particular keyword.
But that is if you have done other SEO aspects right.
Premium domain names also tend to give a high turn-out. That said, if you are having a hard time coming up with the right domain name for your webpage, then you should check premium domains that are on sale.
How to Choose the Right Domain Name?
Now that you know the reasons why a registered domain name is important, let me give you tips on how to pick the best—if not right—domain name for your brand and webpage.
Because believe me or not, coming up with a unique and catchy domain name that is relevant to your brand is not an easy feat. It requires you to consider a variety of aspects that must be met to do your job efficiently.
That being said, here are a few aspects you should consider.
- Tip 1: Pick the appropriate domain extension. You already know how crucial a top-level domain name—commonly known as domain extension—to a website is. And while there are hundreds of domain extensions to choose from and will (technically) work on any names, the majority of them won’t help you brand-wise.
That being said, if there is one domain extension that can help you technically and business-wise, it would be the “.com” extension. According to Domain Name Stat, a total of 43% uses the said extension. And that is because it is common, as well as the easiest to remember and spell.
As such, if there are no other domain name extensions that you think would fit your brand, it is best to pick a “.com” over something else.
- Tip 2: Make it brandable. As said, domain names should reflect your brand. So, as much as possible, come up with something that is “brandable.”
What does that mean?
It means you must avoid using generic terms to describe your site and business. Instead, come up with something that is unique and, at the same time, relevant to your brand.
For example, if you are a freelance writer, it sounds more unique to use a domain like “johnnywrites.com” rather than the usual name and surname combination (ex: johnnysmith.com). The latter is too generic and “broad” while the former immediately gives the audience what the freelancer’s profession is, which is writing.
- Tip 3: Consider niche keywords. There are tons of websites offering the same products and services on the internet today. And to stand out among the crowd, it is wise to incorporate a niche keyword into your domain name as well.
Keywords are not only beneficial for driving traffic to certain content. It can also help drive traffic to your website through ranking in Google’s search engine ranking page. But then again, make sure that the keyword is relevant to your business.
- Tip 4: Avoid using a hyphen. Another handy tip to take note of is the usage of a hyphen. While it is grammatically correct to use a hyphen on certain words, it is best to avoid using it. In fact, it is best to generally avoid using non-letter symbols, including other numbers and other punctuations.
- Tip 5: Keep it short. Another important thing to consider is the length. Although there is no rule that limits you on how long your domain name should be, web professionals and experts recommend keeping it short as much as possible.
It is because, as mentioned above, a domain name should be easy to remember, spell, and pronounce. And a site name containing, say, more than four words, would be a bit of a hassle.
In fact, a research conducted by DataGenetics.com shows that the majority of registered domain names have a common length of about 12 characters. Thus, aim to have a domain name with at least 6 to 12 characters.
- Tip 6: Do a domain research. Coming up with a domain name is a very hassle task. Not only because you have to think of something brandable, catchy and at the same time relevant-to-your-business website name but also because most domain names now are owned.
Whether you are stuck or verifying a domain name’s availability, the best solution to that problem is to use a domain name generator and a research tool. To clarify, these are two separate tools. The latter lets you know a domain name’s availability while the former gives you a bunch of ideas.
That said, you can use a tool called Knowem to see whether a domain name you have come up with is already trademarked or not. If, on the other hand, you are stuck, you can use tools such DomainHole, Wordoid, and Lean Domain Research.
- Tip 7: Make sure it is easy to spell. Last but not least: keep it simple and easy to spell. Think of nicknames. Nicknames are often short and easy to spell and pronounce, making them easier to remember compared to a person’s biological name.
Domain names play several important roles. Whether it is for SEO, brand, or technical purposes, a website without a registered domain name is like a body without a skeleton. It will never work. As such, it is best to come up with a perfect domain name first before you plan ahead for your first business website.