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How to Avoid the Most Common Domain Name Mistakes
One of the most important decisions you'll make when it comes to your online presence is the choice of a domain name. You want something that not only reflects the nature of your business but also has all the essential qualities of a great name — nothing too complicated or too long. Yet, many companies end up registering domain names that can be extremely costly down the road in terms of reputation and brand damage.
Help your company avoid the same fate by knowing what not to pick as a domain name. Here are few mistakes you don't want to make:
1. Registering a Hyphenated Domain
If the .com version of the domain name you like isn't available, it can be tempting to choose the hyphenated version of it. For example, if you want to sell Disney-themed clothing but disneyclothing.com isn't available, you could potentially go for disney-clothing.com. Hyphenated domains are more likely to be available for purchase, but they can be counter-productive for a couple of reasons.
First, hyphens can lead to ugly looking domains, and ugly looking domains can leave a bad impression on visitors. Secondly, hyphenated domains with multiple dashes carry the risk of being penalized by Google, as a lot of such domains are booked by spammers for the sole purpose of standing out in search engines. Lastly, they're trickier to pronounce and remember – and may end up sending a lot of internet traffic to another business whose domain name is the same as yours, but without the hyphens.
2. Going for a Domain That's Hard to Spell
If people can't spell your domain correctly, it can result in lost opportunities or misdirected traffic. The idea that a domain name must be easy spell is often referred to as the radio test. Let's say you're listening to a travel podcast and the host mentions a booking website where you can save 10 to 20 percent on hotels in Paris, France. The fictional website's name is hoteldealz4paris.com. At the end of the episode, the host tells you to visit “hotel deals for paris dot com", and then goes on to explain, “that's hotel, deals spelled with a "z", the number four, paris, dot com".
How likely is someone to spell it right if the host didn't offer an explanation? Domains that are confusing to type or include numbers and weird spellings are likely to fail. In many cases you can cross domain names off your list just by conducting a quick test yourself. Ask yourself, “If I hear this domain name from a friend, would I be able to figure out its correct spelling?"
If you do choose a word that is commonly misspelled — like achieve, calendar, or separate — or a domain name that has a homophone (think four vs. for), it's a good idea to also register domain name variations. For example, you may want to register both achievegolfgreatness.pro and acheivegolfgreatness.pro to promote your golf coaching service.
3. Choosing a Domain Name That's Short But Meaningless
You may have heard that short and snappy names work best for a domain, and that's true — shorter domain names are easier to spell, pronounce and remember. However, it's important that you don't choose a name that is meaningless or one that doesn't accurately represent your brand. Domain names based on a combination of words, like penology.org and techster.info, rarely sound appealing.
Instead, take advantage of new domain extensions. For example, if you run a forest conservation company, you're likely to be better off with standfortrees.green or sustainableliving.info than a nonsensical domain name like treeester.com. With so many new extensions now available — like .pet, .ski, .pink, and more — you can likely register a great domain name. Why settle for a domain that has no meaning when you can choose a crisp, memorable and noteworthy domain name?
If you register a domain name that is too difficult to pronounce or interpret, word-of-mouth advertising won't be effective. Similarly, domains that are too long or sound unnatural will cause confusion and increase the chance of potential customers misspelling your domain name. Customers likely won't keep trying variations on the domain name they thought they remembered, so put some effort into domain name research.