Semantic domain names. Do they work?

With the number of domain name extensions growing all the time, there are more and more options for putting together a name that works. Creative pairing of name and extension can produce some neat-sounding combinations. Examples include whereiam.at, vi.be and wemovesh.it. (Yes, they really do exist!) It's a good way to make your site stand out... but there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.

Thumb-wemoveshit

You've got to smile

Clever semantic combinations make people smile. Who doesn't enjoy seeing names like the examples above? A name and extension that say something together have added meaning and added emotional impact.

Creatures of habit

On the face of it, that sounds great. But internet users are creatures of habit. Not long ago, I was talking to a man who once owned the domain name congratulate.me, which sounds like a Dutch invitation to celebrate. The ideal address for announcing an upcoming birthday bash, this man thought. Until his mailbox started overflowing with messages from puzzled friends and relatives who couldn't couldn't find anything about the party at congratulateme.nl or congratulateme.com. Old habits die hard…

Read the small print

Often, people who go for semantic domain names don't actually know what their chosen extensions imply. Every extension has a meaning of its own: .me and .it are the country-code domains for Montenegro and Italy, for example. And the well-used .at and .be belong to Austria and Belgium. So, if you're thinking of using an extension like that for your business, don't forget that you'll be subject to the terms and conditions laid down by that country's registry and/or government. Some country-code domains insist that you have an address in the relevant country, or that you identify yourself in person.

From semantic to phonetic

Another thing that shouldn't be overlooked is the irresistible rise of voice-controlled navigation. About 20 per cent of all internet search commands are now spoken. By 2020, the figure is likely to be 50 per cent. But very few people try saying a domain name to a search engine before they go ahead and register. What actually happens if you tell SIRI or Google Home to go to wemovesh.it, for example? Does the search engine take you to the right site? Or does sh*t happen?

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