What makes a good business domain name?

It's hard to succeed in business nowadays without a website. And for a website you first need a domain name. Preferably a carefully chosen domain name. Because your domain name shapes your business image and influences how easily people can find your site. So, before deciding on your domain name, consider these eight tips:

1. Make it short and easy to remember

A good domain name should be easy to remember. Many people will have forgotten a name like uppernorthstreetgymandsauna.nl before they've had chance to visit the site that goes with it. Short and snappy is what you want.

2. Use your company name

Ideally, your domain name should match the name of your company. Then there's less for your customers and business contacts to remember. However, a matching domain name isn't such a good idea if your company name doesn't fit with our other tips.

3. Avoid confusion

Don't go for anything that's hard to spell. And replacing words with numbers, as in 4youroffice.nl, often confuses users. You'll get fewer visits, and make a less professional impression.

4. Don't use hyphens

Hyphens are best avoided. Why opt for outdoor-cooking.nl if outdoorcooking.nl is also available? And, if outdoorcooking.nl is taken, you're better off with something completely different. Otherwise people are going confuse your site with the one that doesn't have a hyphen in its name.

5. Choose your extension carefully

Your domain name extension needs to be in line with your business aims. For a Dutch business interested in the Dutch market, .nl is the natural choice. Research by SIDN has found that the .nl extension has the most positive image in the Netherlands. On the other hand, a .com address is likely to make sense for a company with international ambitions.

6. Make it search-engine-friendly

Matching your domain name to your business name is the obvious way to go. But sometimes a bit of lateral thinking pays dividends. If lots of people are googling "shoe mender in Littleton" and you run a shoe repair shop in the town, littletonshoemender.nl is likely to prove a winner. Because all those people doing searches are going to see your site near the top of their hit list.

7. Get yourself more than one domain name

You don't have to make do with just the one domain name. Of course, you want a unified presence under a single banner. But additional names that redirect to your main domain can be useful. If, for example, your website is at blackbag.nl, you might want to register blackbags.nl as well. And set it up so that anyone who puts 'blackbags.nl' into their browser gets directed to the address without the 's'. You could do the same with black-bag.nl and black-bags.nl too. Otherwise, someone else might register those names and pick up 'your' traffic.

8. Avoid other people's brand names

Don't try to cash in on another brand's success by building that brand's name into your domain name. Chanelfashiondordrecht.nl, for example. It doesn't look professional and you run the risk of being sued by the brand owner. Sometimes, a domain name that's like an existing brand gets registered quite by accident. After all, great minds do think alike. However, awkward clashes can usually be avoided by doing a bit of research. Is the name you've thought of in the Trade Register or a trademark register, for example?

Finding it hard to come up with a good domain name that isn't already taken? Try using the suggestion tool on sidn.nl.

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