Guidelines for Selecting a Domain Name

16 Nov 2016

 

How the internet is constructed and functions is a mystery to many. And sometimes my website clients are surprised to learn that they will have a website host AND a domain host. Often the same company will host both website and domain, but just as often these two entities will "live" in different places on the web. Here's a metaphor I use to help understand how this works.

 

Think of your website as being a house -- a structure with many rooms (webpages) that have a certain architectural style and which is located in a certain city (the webhost). When I build your website, your house's city or webhost is Wix.

 

Now, for visitors to get to your party or stop by for coffee, they need a street address (domain name). With the domain name, visitors can come right up and park in front of the house, and knock on the door.

 

 

4 Main Guidelines for Choosing a Domain Name

 

The best domain names are simple and clear. If your address is 1MainStreet, you can see how easy that would be to find. If your address is 45723 - 110th Ave NE #37B, you can see how challenging that would be to remember.

 

Clever can work, but will likely take much more marketing time and money to become memorable. Clever is more than an address -- it's usually a brand, and establishing a brand name is an expensive proposition, especially for the low budget solopreneur. For most one-person businesses such as psychotherapists, sticking with simple and clear is usually the best choice.

 

Here are my 4 rules of thumb for domain names -- make them:

 

  1. short

  2. memorable

  3. easy to spell

  4. keyword anchored 

 

Short Domain

 

Admittedly, it's difficult to have short domains these days, as so many of the good ones seems already taken. SadSeattle.com is a good example of a relatively short domain, as is Amazon.com.

 

 

Memorable Domain

 

It's ideal to have something memorable so that people you don't even know can easily refer others to it. One thing that especially makes a domain memorable is that it has meaning to the user. SadSeattle wouldn't be as memorable to some as maybe ScaredSeattle, if depression isn't the issue, but anxiety is.

 

 

Easy to Spell Domain

 

Domains are often copied and pasted from some online source into a browser these days. But when spoken aloud or seen in a brochure, business card, or other print version, the easier to spell and type the better.  There are a million ways to make a typo and not get to the website if the domain has words beyond a 6th grade reading level.  

 

Depression and anxiety can more easily be misspelled than sad and scared, although even "scared" can be tricky -- my fingers keep typing sacred when I mean scared. I imagine SacredSeattle would get me to a very different website than one dealing with anxiety disorders! LOL

 

Therapists often end up using their personal name as their domain. Nothing wrong with that exactly, I've done that myself. But there are some extra challenges when you use your own name, including that of length, memorability, spelling, and more.

 

Let's say your personal name is Sara Smyth. If said at a noisy chamber of commerce meeting, or anywhere in passing, it could be mistaken for SarahSmith -- the more common spellings -- instead of SaraSmyth. And as is the problem with my name -- where Deah is usually changed to Death! -- mobile device autocorrections can get in the way too with words that are even slightly off a common spelling.

 

 

Keyword Anchored Domains

 

Including keywords is very important. SeattleStressRelief.com could be good because it combines the location with keywords for the client problem and desired result. AnniesAnxietyAid at least has a problem-centered keyword, but wouldn't be easy to spell or remember.

 

Some keyword research is a good idea to discover which terms are being used in your town when potential clients search for services like yours. It can be odd how things vary across the country.  Marriage Therapy, for example, has had at one time a higher number of people searching in the South, but Couples Counseling was the more often used phrase in the Midwest and West Coast. 

 

In general, Counseling seem to be usually better than counselor. Therapy is usually better than therapist. And Counseling and Therapy are usually better than Psychology or Psychologist. But this could vary in your specific location.

 

In a quick search just now, using webconfs.com/seo-tools/free-alternative-to-google-keyword-planner, I discovered that anxiety was a better keyword than anxious on a nation-wide basis.  

 

For more precise results, it really is best to use Google's keyword planner tool that is available only if you have an Adwords account (you can get one free and don't need to actually run any Adwords campaigns). But that tool can be quite confusing, and take some time to use and interpret with clarity.

 

In comparing anxiety and anxious using the Google tool just now, and limiting the research to just Seattle and King County, I got the same results. Unless you are going to put a lot of money into keyword advertising, you are probably okay using the free tool to identify good keywords for your domain name.

 

A little thought and research will go a long way in determining the best domain name for you.

 

 

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