How to pick the right domain name

How should you go about selecting the right domain name for your business?

Firstly, you need to find the free domain names available on the web. For this, you can take help of your web host. Some web hosting plans include a free domain name with their hosting plan.

So, once you know where to actually register a name, how do you pick the right one?

To help demonstrate some different selection methods I’ll use the ficticious example of P J Morris, a long established bookshop based in Ashford, Kent.*

In an ideal world where all possible domain names are available here are a few different ways of approaching it.

Firstly, you can just use the business name. Examples:

pjmorris.co.uk
p-j-morris.co.uk

This works well if your brand is already known to your audience. People in the town who already know the shop would recognise it online and easily remember the domain name.

If you’re looking to build a brand or attract visitors who are not familiar with your business, the domain would need to be very simple and memorable.

Some websites use abstract names, which don’t actually describe what the site has to offer, but they are very easy to remember, easy to spell and very brandable. Some examples of this might be Bing.com and Amazon.com.

Another approach might be to use the business’s activity as the main focus. Examples:

books.co.uk
bookshop.co.uk

(remember we’re assuming that everything’s available)

These two approaches can, of course, be combined to give the business’s name and its activity. Examples:

pjmorrisbooks.co.uk
pjmorris-bookshop.co.uk

Finally, you can use the business location in the domain name, either with the business name, the business activity or both. Examples:

pjmorrisashford.co.uk
pjmorriskent.co.uk
books-ashford.co.uk
kentbooks.co.uk
pjmorrisbooksashford.co.uk
pjmorris-books-ashford.co.uk

Using the business location may help match local searches but may also limit your business’s scope to local searchers.

In the real world, a new site for a book shop would have an enormous amount of competition so combining the name or activity with a geographical reference to successfully match more specific searches is probably a good strategy.

Some general tips:

  • It’s better to avoid using hyphens (-) if possible as people don’t remember them.
  • Try to keep domain names short. pjmorris.co.uk is easy to remember, talk about, give out over the phone and easy to include in any offline marketing, whereas, the other extreme, pjmorris-books-ashford.co.uk, becomes a bit of a mouthful and hard to use.

* Any resemblance to any real person or business of this name is purely coincidental.