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A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Domain Name

June 22, 2022
Carynn Tey
6-8 MIN

Websites are a staple for most modern business activity. They serve as key touchpoints for customer interaction and can be used for any number of things—consumer education, advertising, crowdsourcing, feedback, customer service, and more! The beautiful thing about implementing a website is that you have full control over its functions and great freedom to apply a wide variety of business-boosting applications.

Choosing the right domain, however, does require some forethought. You’ll want to pick an extension and an address that make sense and are easily memorable.

Choosing the right domain extension

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Choosing the right domain extension (also called a top-level domain) is fairly simple, even though it may seem unclear what the distinction is between them. A domain extension is the string of characters that follows the web address that’s commonly in plain English. Common extensions include .com, .net, .org, .co, .edu, and .gov.

These domains, once you understand them, indicate the kind of website you’re browsing and the type of resources you’re likely to find. Below is a table of the most popular extensions and the kinds of organizations they’re used by.

Some domain extensions like .org or .net used to be restricted to certain organizations but are now generally free for use. Nonetheless, your website’s visitors may still associate those extensions with specific website types so you should strongly consider whether they’re applicable to you. It may be hard for visitors to remember if a for-profit enterprise uses a .org extension because they’re so used to seeing .coms associated with commercial businesses.

Common Domain Extensions and Their Uses

The ones that are open for free use by just about anyone (.com, .net., org, etc.) are called generic top-level domains, or gTLDs. Those are probably your best picks. You shouldn’t stray from them without good reason.

Sometimes you’ll see ones that are associated with websites from a specific country (such as .sg, .th, or .hk). These are called country code top-level domains or ccTLDs and websites that use these extensions are frequently published in the native language of that country.

Those highlighted in green (.mil, .gov, and .edu) are examples of domains reserved for specific institutions. These are called sTLDs—sponsored top-level domains.

5 tips for choosing your domain name

Besides picking the best domain extension for your business, several other factors affect the usability and memorability of your website. These are some of the best tips and tricks for picking a domain name that’s instinctive and easy to recall.

1.           Stick to common domain extensions

Unique domain extensions are just not a good choice. People are very familiar with .coms and decreasingly so everything else. Using an offbeat extension makes more sense if you’re providing a specific service, typically informative.

2.        Incorporate keywords

These days, search engines use domain names as part of their process of evaluating the content on a webpage. At most, choose one lengthier word or two shorter words that connect well with your business.

Note: Your domain extension does not affect your rankings.

3.        Include your brand name

Your domain name should be easily associable with your brand. If your brand name is very long, try shortening or abbreviating it creatively.

4.       Keep it simple

Imagine if our website was buildingtheindependentworkercommunity.net. It might be memorable for sheer ridiculousness, but the average person would forget that domain within seconds. It’s unbranded, generic, awkward because it’s a .net, and far too long.

Lengthy domain names also introduce an additional problem with typosquatting.

5.       Set up reroutes

If you’re worried that your visitors might misremember your website’s address or that other addresses might be more memorable, you can simply purchase those domains and then set up redirects to your main website.

This is one method for protecting against typosquatting, although it of course comes at the cost of buying an alternate domain.

How to register your domain

Once you’ve picked a domain name and extension, registering is fairly simple matter. All registered domains are currently governed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Official domain registrars sign up with ICANN and must comply by their standards.

For your part, all you have to do is check the availability of your domain and then choose a registrar. Many registrars also have their own domain checking services.

The more trustworthy registrars might cost a little more but include privacy protection services in their base rate. Other registrars might accidentally publish your personal contact information in the official ICANN registry. Note that even though you can freely transfer your domain between registrars if you are unhappy with your service, you cannot transfer domains for the first 60 days after registration by ICANN policy.

Last but definitely not least, domains are registered for fixed periods and must be renewed. Forgetting to renew your domain registration is pretty common and you’ll want to check your specific registrar’s policy, but many will send you reminders and provide a grace period for you to resume registration.

The price you pay for a domain depends on several factors, including the extension you choose. These are the registrars we would most recommend:

1.           Domain.com (cheap)

Domain.com is a trusted registrar that offers cost-effective rates that are even cheaper with introductory pricing.

2.         GoDaddy (privacy protections)

GoDaddy is one of the most famous registrars out there. They’re extremely popular because their service comes with privacy protection included.

3.         Bluehost (free + wordpress)

Bluehost is partnered with WordPress and thus has automatic integration. Their services combined make it a breeze to create, publish, and then host your website.

4.        Network Solutions (long-term)

Network solutions is the oldest registrar around and that experience makes them an incredibly reliable provider. You can also register your domain for an extended period of time with Network Solutions if you really believe you’ve made the right choice.

The process of registering a domain is fairly simple, once you’ve landed on an address that you think suits your business well. Many domain registering websites also offer additional add-on features that help maintain the security and privacy of your websites, add e-commerce features, help with content creation and more!

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