All domains are not equal. Some names will improve your web site’s ability to draw new and repeat visitors and other names will fizzle. Choosing the right domain name extension is important but there are also crucial differences between names with the same extension.
If you plan to purchase a domain name at registration cost then you will be sifting through many names and making short lists of the names you consider favorably. Your short lists should contain names that you like. These lists should also contain names with more positives and fewer negatives in terms of the characteristics listed below.
These rules have changed over time. As more names are taken more compromises must be made unless you have the funds to make a large offer to the current owner of your perfect domain name.
(1) Preferred domain name extension
.COM – ’nuff said. You can do very well with another extension but the road to success will be longer than if the same name had a .com extension. Someday this rule may change but it hasn’t yet.
An example I will repeat throughout with variation is as follows: If you own GolfClubs.com I predict that you get some of the traffic from people looking for GolfClubs.net who forgot you had a .net.
(2) The shorter the better
Short, meaningful names are very difficult to find at registration cost. Finding a name that consists of a word or words totaling 8 characters or less is a positive. Notice I didn’t say a name consisting of any 8 characters – words.
(3) Hyphens are an issue
The common wisdom still says that you must avoid hyphens in your domain name. For example if you own GolfClubs.com I predict that you get some of the traffic from people looking for Golf-Clubs.com who forgot to type the hyphen.
It seems odd in a way. Names with the words running all together are the standard even though they can be difficult to read. Adding hyphens makes the intended words stand out better. But the hyphens make the name a bit more difficult to type and to verbalize.
(4) Avoid numbers
A common example is to use the number 4 in a name to make the point and to stand in for the word “for” in names such as 4GolfClubs.com.
Words that contain numbers have lower resale value and usually will bring problems when developing and promoting a web site.
(5) Focus on your keywords
Your keywords must convey what people should expect to find if they visit you web site.
Notice that a name with the right keywords in the wrong order may score higher by some measures. But it won’t work out in the long run. Therefore ClubsGolf.com is probably a poor choice.
Don’t use an easily recognizable trademark of another company in your domain name. Its their property not yours.
A lot of words are trademarked for specific products or services. Use Google, Yahoo and Bing as tools to research this topic and educate yourself. There are services that will help you avoid buying a name with a trademark. I’m not a lawyer and this is a big yet important topic – don’t ignore it.