Which extension should I choose for my domain name? Should I use hyphens and/or underscores? What about accented characters? Should I use an original or generic domain name? Should the domain name be composed of a verb, a noun or an adjective? … These are all important questions that many people ask themselves when choosing a domain name. Here is the advice of our SEO experts to help you choose the best domain name(s) for your website.
Choosing the right extension
With so many domain name extensions to choose from, which one to use? You can quickly get lost between the country-code domain extensions, the general extensions such as .COM .NET or .ORG and the new extensions that are launched almost every day such as .CLUB, .BLOG or .XYZ.
What you have to keep in mind is that most Internet users expect to see a web address ending in .COM, .NET or .FR. Most of the new extensions have not yet proven their worth and their relevance and viability are questionable in the medium term. As for the somewhat more exotic extensions, their main characteristic is usually that they are more expensive!
Our advice: opt for classic extensions that have proven their worth, i.e. top-level TLDs.
Purchasing a domain name
If the domain name you have set your sights on is already taken, it may be possible to buy it. You may even be able to find it on the Youdot platform. By opting for an expired domain name, you will also benefit from its SEO assets to optimize your ranking and thus increase the traffic of your website.
On Youdot, domain names are available for immediate purchase or for auction. It is also possible to make pre-orders on domain names that have entered into redemption (a 30-day period during which the former owner has the possibility to become the holder of the domain name again). As soon as the domain name is released, Youdot takes care of the reservation. From then on, if you were the only person to have pre-ordered it, then this domain name will be immediately attributed to you at the price of €20 (excl. VAT). If there is at least one other user who pre-ordered it, then this domain name will be put up for auction for a period of one week.
What about hyphens, numbers and accented characters?
Some language, such as French, uses vowel accents. Since May 2012, AFNIC has made it possible to register a .FR domain name with characters such as é, è, ê, à, ç … At the time, this opened up the field of possibilities by allowing everyone to position themselves on competitive generic expressions. For example, référencement.fr has become an interesting domain for SEO enthusiasts! Not to mention that one can register a version with a single accent as réferencement.fr or reférencement.fr.
The new characters accepted by AFNIC are the following:
ß, à, á, â, ã, ä, å, æ, ç, è, é, ê, ë, ì, í, î, ï, ñ, ò, ó, ô, õ, ö, ù, ú, û, ü, ý, ÿ, œ
Although this development opens the way to interesting prospects, it can quickly become a nightmare for people with limited budgets on the one hand, and a godsend for cybersquatting enthusiasts on the other. Besides, the .FR extension is not the only one, other international domain name extensions (IDNs) are also concerned, such as .EU, .COM and also .DE.
Anyone who registers a domain name with accented characters and/or hyphens should also consider registering the same expression without these special characters.
If you have the possibility to register the domain name with different variants, i.e. if these domains are available (or can be purchased) and you have the appropriate budget, you should do so.
Should I go with an original name or a name with keywords?
Regarding the choice of domain name, there is a question that often comes up among SEO specialists: should you put keywords in the name of your site? In other words, should the address of your site clearly evoke the theme of its content? Or should you be original and not pay attention to these considerations?
The answer to this question depends on your strategy. A domain name containing keywords can bring an SEO benefit, from a search engine perspective. However, be careful not to risk over-optimization. Google is always on the lookout! Not to mention that users can be suspicious of a very long domain name full of keywords.
The real advantage of having one or more keywords in your theme is that it will allow users to understand more quickly what your site is about. For example, if you have a site that precisely sells large size shoes, it might be relevant to choose a domain name mentioning it directly.
By opting for the keyword strategy in your domain name, you lose in originality and branding. It then becomes more difficult to make an impression with your brand name. This is all the more true if you are in a highly competitive sector. Take for example the case of a person wishing to open a beauty blog. The blogosphere is already very dense on the subject. You would then have to look for an available domain on this theme. The simplest thing to do is perhaps to choose a name that you will have invented for your blog, a name that reflects your own identity and style. As for the SEO aspect, perhaps you could also use an expired domain name from an old blog or site that dealt with this topic and make a 301 redirect?
Just look at Amazon, Apple, Spartoo, or StrawberryLust: these brand names have a strong meaning and have become established and recognized brands.
Needless to say, it takes a long time for a brand to be established and recognized. But the impact wouldn’t be the same if you were simply called “NYC SEO Agency”.
The choice of your domain name must be done in conjunction with the choice of your brand name. Unfortunately, this choice is often made afterwards, with all the -good or bad – surprises that this can bring.
Choose a simple name
The name of your brand, and of your website, should be easy to pronounce, and ideally easy to write. When you have to give your email address over the phone, for example, it needs to be short, easy to write and understandable by everyone. This will help you avoid typos from your potential customers. Better still, it should be understandable in all languages if you have international ambitions. Being original with a play on words may be a good idea, but it may be incongruous for someone who doesn’t speak the language. So call on your friends and ask them to write down the name you give them. If there are too many mistakes, you might want to go for a different name!
Intellectual property and domain names
When choosing a domain name, make sure that it does not interfere with a trademark that has already been registered. This could then strongly hinder your beginnings if the trademark in question notices it and asks you to change your domain name and your brand name. This also applies to blogs. This was the case for Natachouette, a French blogger whose blog was previously called “Chamallows & Co”. She was asked by a famous candy brand to change the name of her blog…
To avoid this kind of disappointment, do some research beforehand.
A touch of originality!
As mentioned earlier, originality has its place in your choice of domain name. So don’t be afraid to be creative. If the domain name contains a word or expression that clearly indicates the theme of your activity, that’s even better!
You should also consider the medium and long terms when creating your domain name. If the lexical field is too restricted and you extend your activity to wider skills, you risk not being recognized. And making a change of name (domain or brand) will then represent a huge expense… That’s why we made the comparison above with brands that have become famous like Google, Amazon Facebook, Apple or Twitter, who have opted for fancy names (see: why is Google called Google? ). Initially, these companies were startups which probably had the same problems as you do. We can say today that they made the right choice.
Choosing the right domain name is a very important preliminary step. Think about these 7 tips to choose a domain name adapted to your business.