Domain names were not always for sale. They used to be free.
Until 1995, you didn’t have to pay for a domain name. That’s a full 12 years after Paul Mockapetris and Jon Postel invented the domain name system.
Today, you have over 1500 brandable choices on what goes to the right of the dot on your domain name. You don’t have to settle for a .com when you have more relevant options such as .STORE, .ONLINE, .SITE, and more.
There are over 366 million domain names registered today.
Oh, and we pay for them too. Someone even paid a whopping $49.7 million for a domain name.
Most domain name acquisitions go unannounced. But thanks to an SEC filing, the most valuable domain name acquired is Cars.com at $872 million.
Thus it’s safe to say that individuals and businesses are comfortable pulling out their wallets to buy domain names. That’s because they are extremely important to an online business. A domain name is your brand’s online identity. It’s one of the most effective marketing tools that can not only help you stand out but also help you build a credible online presence.
Your eCommerce business is no different. To survive the competition and make its mark, you’ll have to think about every detail of your business including its domain name.
Table of Contents
- The Domain Names Rush
- Choose Your Domain Name Carefully
- 10 Tips to Choose a Domain Name for Your Ecommerce Businesses
- 1. Put Your Brand On Your Domain Name
- 2. Make Your Domain Name Short, Simple, and Special
- 3. Make It Memorable
- 4. Avoid Special Characters: Numbers and Hyphens
- 5. Remember the Search Engines!
- 6. Avoid Legal and Copyright Issues
- 7. Make Your Domain Name Mobile Friendly
- 8. Choose Domain Extensions that Represent Your Industry
- 9. Consider Buying an Existing Domain Name
- Choose the Perfect Domain Name for Your Ecommerce Site
- Wrapping Up
Today, domain adoption is high.
We have two billion websites and thousands of new sites spring up every few minutes. However, about 400 million websites are active today. According to HostScore.net, in the first quarter of 2019 alone, .com and .net extensions had a combined registration of 154.8 million domain names.
So your choices are narrower. Today, more than ever, you need a unique domain name.
Luckily, you don’t have to lose your domain name idea. We have a plethora of domain name extensions available today. So you don’t have to rely on the 30-year-old extension, .com, to launch your online store.
Of the people who own domain names, more of them have more than one domain name.
In a study published by Namecheap, 54 percent of domain name owners have two to more than 100 domain names.
So, one website could have multiple domain names pointing to it. Consequently, it’s harder to find your desired domain names in .com, .net, .org, or other older extensions.
Hence, if you need a domain name today, you’d need to be more strategic than someone in the 1980s.
Unlike the year 1990, though, you’d be paying for your domain name. And if you’re like me, you want the most bang for your buck.
Although getting the most value for your money is hard as demand for domain names continues to climb. According to Namecheap, one person bought 121,880 domain names, and they have dozens of customers who have over 100, 500, and even 5,000 domain names.
With more people taking valuable domain names, how do you get one for your business?
The trick is to pay attention.
You can’t have a website without a domain name. However, domain names have evolved beyond the basic need to be found online.
Domain names have become potent tools for building a business, brand, and even driving sales. Names that are more memorable, shorter, simpler, and sharper also get a lot more visitors.
It’s easy to remember Bing, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Nike. People type those domain names into search engines without thinking about it.
When choosing a domain name, keep these marketing, sales, and psychological reasons in mind:
- A good domain name keeps your brand in the mind of your audience.
- It spreads the word about your business.
- It attracts walk-in traffic.
- Great domain names give a professional feel to your business.
- An excellent domain name inspires curiosity, which can convert to a sale.
Now, how should you choose a domain name that gets buyers to notice you?
If choosing the perfect domain name is this important, what should you consider when choosing one? Let’s explore the tips to help guide you.
In one study, 77 percent of buyers bought items based on their familiarity with the brand. What’s more? Over 90 percent of these buys shopped for those brands unconsciously.
I hold weekly interview sessions with founders, CEOs, and industry leaders. In one of those meetings, I had an hour-long chat with the founder and CEO of Distant Job, Sharon Koifman.
So I asked Koifman why he chose the name “Distant Job” for his business. He responded, “That was the available .com domain name.” Koifman immediately shook his head and said, “That’s utter nonsense.”
If you’re like most professionals, businesses, or startups, you already know it’s challenging to find a domain name that matches your brand.
That’s if you are ignoring everything and holding on to getting a .com address—at the expense of losing or diluting your brand name.
Your brand carries a lot of weight—protect it. That’s what your customers, clients, and everyone else knows. But more importantly, that’s what they’ll recognize and pay you for, without knowing it.
Remember the study I cited at the beginning of this section?
Consider using a top-level domain (TLD) that’s more indicative that you run an eCommerce business. Like a .STORE domain name.
For example, if your brand is Anthonia, you could use Anthonia.store for your domain name. At the time of this writing, that domain name is still available!
Why is this a fantastic domain name to use?
- It’s not taken
- The domain name is your brand name, so you don’t have to give it up
- It’s evident that it’s an ecommerce business
But what if you don’t have a brand yet?
Then you want to…
Whether you have an established brand, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who uses CR7denim.store or you’re just starting out, you want to keep your domain name short.
Short domain names are memorable and simple. Plus, a top-level domain that doesn’t force you to use a convoluted string of words makes your domain name special.
Regardless of what you do, aim to keep your personal brand or company name in the domain name even if it’s unknown yet. And if you choose a .STORE, then there’s a high chance that your first choice short and simple domain name will be available at a standard cost.
For ecommerce businesses, having a domain name on .STORE is perfect as their domain name communicates the most important aspect of their business immediately.
You’ll notice that this is becoming the standard practice of big brands. For example, the American media empire, Meredith Corporation, owns the online version of their publications, magazine.store. One of the world’s top airlines, Emirates, also uses emirates.store for its online merchandise store.
If someone cannot remember your domain name by hearing it once, you’ve got the not-so-great domain name.
Let’s say you sell homemade cookies. Finding that domain name in .com, .net, or even .co might be very hard or impossible. But you don’t have to give up on it.
Instead of misspelling it as homemadecookiez.com, with the “z” replacing the “s,” you can keep the spelling, you would go with homemadecookies.store, and you don’t have to change any spellings.
Keeping the correct spelling helps you avoid confusing anyone with misspellings.
For this, you can run a radio test.
Call your family and friends, say your domain name and ask them to write it down. If they wrote it correctly without any errors, then you have taken a good name.
Your goal with the radio test is to know if people will spell the name correctly when they hear it over the phone, on the radio, during a conversation, or in any casual situation.
Just like adjusted spellings of normal words, using numbers and hyphens makes your domain name complicated and difficult to remember. Your user will not know whether you mean six or 6 and something as small as that can mean losing potential customers.
Save yourself and everyone else the headache. Use a name that doesn’t need any extra effort to be written, pronounced, or remembered.
While a keyword-heavy domain name doesn’t guarantee high search rankings, having relevant keywords in your domain name definitely helps!.
It’s not just humans who need to know what your domain name is about; search engines need that knowledge. So find a domain name that’s relevant to your niche or business.
Sixty-three percent of top-performing domains have some keyword in them. In some industries, 76 percent of the top domains have the keywords in them.
Image Credit: Search Engine Watch
If you sell custom mugs, for example, you can use that keyword in your domain name. Let’s say your brand is Amy. You’d use Amycustommugs.store or Amymugs.store. Heck, you could even use Custommugs.store to own that keyword.
This is an essential SEO practice, but it can differentiate your brand and even rank you higher in search.
Do your due diligence. Make sure that your domain name isn’t linked to a registered trademark, business name or brand.
Use the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website to do your findings or get a lawyer to help you. It doesn’t help much that you’ve found a great domain name only to have to give it up because the name is a registered trademark.
You can take your copyrights verification a step further. Run a global check for your desired domain to ensure it won’t become a copyright infringement in any market you’ll be serving.
Saving your business any potential legal problems is a smart decision. Get all the help you can find.
If your visitors can confuse your domain name for a competitor’s, you may lose the case. Make sure your domain name stands out and clear.
Some brands explicitly prohibit people from registering domain names that contain their brand names. WordPress is a ready example.
In short, don’t use “WordPress” in your domain name. You’re welcome to use WP though. Do your due diligence. If your desired domain will contain Facebook, NFL, NBA, Nike, CocaCola, celebrity names, or any known brand names, verify if these brands allow such usage or not. And how they allow it if they do.
Apart from branding, put mobile-friendliness at the heart of your domain name. At 52 percent, more than half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices, so you want to position your domain name for that audience.
Although the number of website visitors from mobile has dipped a little, the figure remains high. Your users shouldn’t have to fall victim to autocorrect changes.
Domain names with a single word do better. They are less prone to errors. Think of Bing, Google, Facebook, and the like.
In contrast, lengthy domain name or those with special characters lend themselves to autocorrect changes. Think of names like marthastewarth.com or comic-con.org. Those names are awesome in themselves, but they leave a chance for typos.
Comic-con.org is even a bigger culprit. It requires users to switch from letters to special characters on their keyboards to type the domain name into their mobile browsers.
When deciding what domain name to use, type your choices into your phone to test how easy it feels before registering. This is a simple usability test to know how your audience will experience entering the domain name into a browser on their mobile.
Search engines attribute websites to their top-level domains. If you used a .co.uk, it gets the message that you’re targeting people from the United Kingdom. A .ca is for people in Canada or interested in topics related to Canada.
Hence, Google, Bing, and other search engines classify contents partly by their top-level domains. If your website is an eCommerce store, you’re better off using a .STORE instead of .com or other non-related TLDs. Using .STORE signifies that your website is an eCommerce store, whereas a .com domain name could be anything.
A domain name such as www.sweethome.com could be anything but www.sweethome.store indicates that it’s a store that sells home-related items.
Imagine you have a store in the heart of Manhattan. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the name Manhattan.store as your domain name?
Well, there’s a little problem.
But you can buy it if you want to have it. Having a domain name like that can give your brand a ton of advantage.
You’re “The Manhattan store.” Yes, the unrivaled Manhattan.store.
At the time of this writing, Manhattan.store is available for sale on GoDaddy.
Getting a premium domain name like this one can give you a ton of unfair advantage. It’s short and insanely memorable.
Choose the Perfect Domain Name for Your Ecommerce Site
You don’t have to use all the tips here.
Not everything applies to your situation. But the more you put to work, the better for your ecommerce domain name and business.
For example, you don’t have to choose an awkward-sounding domain name just to have your keyword. You can find a short, memorable, and creative name that’ll pique your buyers’ interest.
You can use a service like GoDaddy.com and other domain name services to register a suitable domain name for your ecommerce site.
A big advantage of using a .STORE domain name for an ecommerce store is that you can find unique domain names that match all of the criteria I’ve listed above. Plus, the domain extension quite naturally lines up with an ecommerce business.
When you choose domain names for your ecommerce businesses, make sure they represent your brand, and it’s easy for buyers to enter into a mobile phone. Cover the legal ends of your domain name and protect your brand from unnecessary legal disturbances.
It’s time to go and choose what you love. I wish you luck.