The first impression you make with your online presence is not the design of your website, how elegant your logo looks or how much content you have on your website.
The first interaction anybody will have of your online brand is your domain name – the online address that you give your website.
Your Domain Name is The Most Important Asset for Your Online Branding
The name you give yourself or your business online is therefore critical to how successfully you help people to identify with your service, product or cause.
If you get it right, you gain an immediate advantage in differentiating yourself from your competition.
If you get it wrong, its an uphill battle to drive traffic to your site and continuously grow your tribe.
3 Tests for a Great Domain Name
A great domain name may take you a while to come up with, or it may come to you in an instant. I have three tests that I put to any domain name I come up with to determine whether I should run with it.
The best way to determine this is to check what happens when you go to any of the domain name registrars (e.g. GoDaddy) and enter the domain name you are looking for.
- If its already registered, its not unique.
- If there are other names similar to the name you are considering that are already registered, its not unique.
My test for whether or not a domain is memorable is to try and imagine sharing your domain name with somebody verbally.
- Would you have to spell it out for them?
- Are there words in the domain name that sound like other words and could easily be confused.
- Does the name have any hyphens in it (avoid at all cost)?
- Is it easy to make a typo – and does that typo lead them to another page that has nothing to do with you?
All these questions are things you should consider when thinking about the “memorableness” of your domain name.
Finally, your domain name should have meaning – even if that meaning is not immediately obvious. Most of the time, the immediately obvious domain name for your service or product is unavailable, so being creative on this point could go a long way.
For example, one of my websites is a place for me to document my journey of learning about WordPress. I originally wanted to get a domain name like ‘WordPressMastery’, or ‘LearningWordpress’ but names like that are all taken at this point (and they were not as fun for me to use). So I remembered a term I had read about in the ‘computer geek’ world that was the concept of understanding something so thoroughly that it became a part of you – grok.
That word expressed how well I eventually want to understand WordPress, so I named the site www.igrokwordpress.com (which was available and didn’t overlap with any other names).
And just in case you are thinking that grok is an uncommon word and would violate my second test, consider that my target market for that blog is not just anybody – its “techno-nerdy” people like myself and so the likelihood of them knowing that word is quite high.