1. Make a longlist of possible domain names
There are lots of tools available to help you choose a domain name. For .nl, we've created a suggestion tool that will provide dozens of ideas based on any keyword you enter. For .com, Domain Scope is a useful and reliable aid.
2. Is the domain name memorable?
It's best to go for a domain name that people can tap into a search engine without much risk of going wrong. Suppose that someone hears your name from a friend or on the radio: could they remember it and spell it correctly the next day? A good example of a name that works well is Zalando.
3. Does the domain name look good on Google?
Internet users are much more likely to see your domain name in a list of search results than to type it. People search for the products and services they want, then select a provider from the results. An appealing domain name can be the difference between your business getting chosen and getting passed over. Tip: make a dummy page to show what your domain name will look like on Google. Does it catch the eye?
4. Is the domain name distinctive?
Check whether anyone else is using a domain name that people might confuse with yours. You don't want to lose trade to similar-sounding rivals, and you don't want to get sued for trademark infringement. It's particularly important to distinguish your business from others in the same region and industry.
5. Is it clear what my business does?
Although it's not as important as it used to be, a domain name that says what you do helps people find you and recognise that you provide the product or service they're after. On the other hand, a very generic name will get in the way of building your brand. For example, bathery.nl is likely to work better than bathroom.nl.
6. Are the .nl and .com versions of the domain name available?
Ninety-five per cent of all Dutch business websites have a .nl or .com extension. Users often type those extensions automatically when entering a name. Consumers also trust them more (see Trends in Internet Use 2018). A .com name is useful for international trade, while .nl will boost your search ranking in the Netherlands. So it makes sense to register both versions of your chosen name.
7. Does the domain name suit me, my business and the target audience?
Suitability requires careful thought. Choose a domain name you can keep as your business matures. One that matches the image you want to cultivate. A jokey name may be fun at first, but what about the long-term implications for the way people see you? What impression do you want to make? Serious and businesslike, or relaxed and casual?
Once you've come up with one or more domain names that fit the bill, we advise registering them straight away. You don't want to lose that 'ideal name' to a more decisive rival. The average business domain name is created six months before the business is registered with the Chamber of Commerce. With several domain names in the bag, you can take your time deciding which to use.