The Problem

So you just had that perfect idea for an online business and the next step is to choose the perfect domain name, right ? If you ever tried to do that on your own, you know it can be really hard. We know there are plenty of solid tools and solutions out there that will help you to come up with some name candidates. But how can you decide if it’s really a good one ? Or even, how can you tell whether it’s the best choice out of your shortlist ? You should be looking at some specific qualities before making those decisions.

Qualities Of A Great Domain Name

There are certain qualities of a domain name (or product or business names for that matter) which people either don’t know about or just neglect. These qualities not only help to create a brand around the domain name, but also make it insanely marketable.

Hear/Spellability

This is the famous radio test. How many times you pitched your website address to someone and they said: “what ?”, “come again, please ?”. Ring a bell, right ? The point here is if you need to spell it out for them, it’s sure a bad sign. After all:

If people can’t spell your domain name, they might end up at your competitor’s website. – Click to Tweet

One of the conclusion is that you should aim for simplicity. Great domain names are usually short and clear. So avoid numbers or punctuation (like dashes) as your resulting domain can easily be misread, misheard and finally mistyped by end users, meaning they will end up at an incorrect destination.

My name is Joarley and it’s a pretty uncommon name where I come from, Brazil (actually, it may be an odd name in any country for that matter 😀 ). It’s very annoying to have to repeat your name when you are introducing yourself to someone. Of course, if people eventually do understand the name, they hardly forget it, which bring us to the next quality …

Memorability

You might not know, but many web users tend to type domain names directly into their browser’s address bar, instead of going through search engines. Therefore, I can’t stress enough how important is that you ensure all your domain names are as easy to remember as possible, because:

If people can’t remember your domain name, how would they remember to visit the website or tell a friend about it ? – Click to Tweet

A memorable name is usually unique, brandable; as opposed to common or generic. You want to be able to stick your domain into the user’s head, and make the kind of impact they just won’t be able to forget. Clever associations with your business’s industry, or blend with a joke or funny fact for potential customers, can give you memorable names.

For example, if we were to start a business for selling shoes online. And if I told you that I came up with names such as ‘bestshoes.com’ or ‘buyshoesonline.com’, well, those are too generic, nobody would remember them. But something like ‘shoeaholics.com’ or ‘bucketfeet.com’ are very brandable and memorable.

Generic keywords are a red flag here. They are really hard to remember, as it’s tough for them to stand out in user’s brain. You want something unique, which means try to avoid those exact and partial keyword match domain names. It’s ok to include one keyword in your domain as long as it helps define who you are, what you do. It will even help on the SEO perspective. But I would stop right there. Stay way from keywords stuffed domain names. They do not perform well as in the past. Actually, search engines and users might even create a negative association with it.

Associations

Neuroscience studies have long taught us that about half of every buying decision is driven by emotion. How many times have you purchased a bottle of wine just because the name was awesome ? How could you resist to brands like: Sutter Home, Geyser Peak, Chateau Ste. Michelle.

There are three main types of association you may want to pay attention to:

  • Emotional associations – What feelings do these names evoke in your users ? Do these associations seems to be favorable to your selling point?
  • Image associations – With which images people seem to automatically associate your name ? Names with more meaningful images association are more memorable.
  • Competitor associations – Does your name remind of a competitor service or product ? You need to stay away from that, as you don’t want to give your competitors that kind of prestige.

Bonus Tip

If you are really serious about naming your domain and you are aiming at a broad and international audience, then you should consider also running a Indecency test. You want to make sure your domain name does not mean anything offensive or inappropriate in other languages. If you want to have some fun, check out these examples.

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Stay tuned. Next post will be a super helpful tutorial on how to test those qualities with very simple tools.

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