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July 29, 2022

Tommy Tutone could easily get a hold of Jenny at 867-5309, but your business will need more than just a phone number. Before you build your website, you’ll need to register your domain. Knowing the domain naming best practices can help your business stand out online.

What is a Domain?

A domain is a web address that’s easy to remember. When people think of a website, they usually think of the domain. It’s the text you type into your browser when you want to go to a specific website. For example, Nexcess.net is our domain.

The actual address of a website is a series of numbers known as the IP address. But to make it easier on humans, domains allow us to type in words instead of those numbers.

A URL, or uniform resource locator, is a specific page within a domain. A URL will have the domain name in it but with other information to take you to the specific page. For example, the URL of this post is https://nexcess.net/domain-naming-best-practices.

The “http” stands for hypertext transfer protocol, a set of rules that transfer multimedia files through the internet. The “domain-naming-best-practices” tells you which specific page you’re looking at on the Nexcess.net domain.

When you put it all together, you get to the specific place you want to see on the web.

Think of it like this: The domain is like a big filing cabinet full of information, and the URL is the specific file you want to read.

Components of a Domain Name

Every domain has specific components. Knowing the names of those particular components can help you better understand domain naming rules.

  • Second-Level Domain (SLD): Second-level domains are the part of the domain that make it unique. Most businesses choose their company name as their SLD.
  • Top-Level Domain (TLD): Top-level domains are known as domain extensions. They’re the part of the domain with the “.com.”
  • Country-Code-Top-Level Domain (ccTLD): These are country-specific domains and are good to add if you want to market your business in a specific country. Usually, they contain two letters, like “.AU” for Australia or “.UK” for the United Kingdom.
  • Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD): Similar to TLDs, gLTDs are generic versions of the top-level domain. Some common gLTDs you’ve seen are “.gov” or “.org.”

Domain Naming Rules

The internet can seem like the wild wild west, with no sheriff in sight. But there are rules when it comes to naming your domain. And knowing those domain naming best practices can save you a lot of time and headache when it’s time to register your domain.

When naming your domain, remember:

  • Numbers. In addition to letters, domains can also contain all digits from 0 to 9.
  • Hyphens. You can use hyphens in your domain, but not at the beginning or end. You also can’t use two hyphens together.
  • Special Characters. You can’t use special characters like $ or &.
  • Length. Your second-level domain can be at least three characters and at most 63 characters.
  • Case Sensitivity. Domain names aren’t case-sensitive, so using upper or lowercase letters doesn’t matter.
  • Composition. Generic domain names aren’t allowed, and you can’t use a misleading domain name to attract someone to your site.

Domain Naming Best Practices

Now that you know the rules and what makes up a domain, it’s time to finally pick a domain name. Here are some things to consider before you stake your domain name claim.

Use the Right Name Extension

There are tons of domain name extensions out there. While “.com” is the most common, you could make your domain a “.pizza” if you wanted. And while it may seem fun and kitschy, remember your domain is there for your business. Most people will type “.com” at the end of a domain out of habit because it’s the most common extension, and most smartphones have a “.com” button. Plus, your website is there to establish you as a credible business. Extensions like “.ninja” may make it difficult for some customers to find or trust you.

Use Keywords

The internet is huge, and there are so many websites. Using keywords in your domain name is the best way to stand out. Pick keywords that relate to your industry or niche. These words will tell search engines what your business is all about. Remember that many, if not all, of the common keywords are already taken as domains. So you’ll need to be creative about how you approach this if you want to use them.

Don’t Be Generic

Unique domain names help you stand out online and from others in your industry. Take some time and discover what other businesses in your niche are using so you don’t pick something too similar. Also, watch out for trademarks. Ensure you aren’t using someone else’s trademarked term for your domain.

Short is Better

As you think about keywords and a unique domain, make sure you don’t go overboard. Short and memorable names are better than something long and overly specific. Try to keep your domain name under 15 characters, so your customers are more likely to remember it and less likely to mistype it.

Easy to Pronounce

Picking something easy to pronounce will help customers share your website and recommend your business. Plus, the easier it is to say, the easier it will be to share your domain in conversation or writing. If you plan to use your domain as part of your email address, you want to ensure you can communicate that email address when you share it with others.

Avoid Hyphens and Double Letters

While hyphens are technically OK to include, they can be a sign of a spam domain. And that’s not something you want your business to be associated with. The same goes for double letters. Think of your customers. Think about how likely they are to make typos when typing your domain. Hyphens and double letters increase this chance, which could send them to your competitors when they can’t get to your site.

Leave Room to Expand

You want your domain to convey what you do. And if your domain can give your potential customers an idea of what space you occupy in your particular industry, it can help you stand out among other businesses. But you don’t want your domain to be too specific.

Even if your business starts out focusing on a specific part of your industry, let’s say cheeseburgers, you may eventually branch out and offer veggie burgers. But that would be a difficult transition if your domain was MeatOnlyBurgers.com. Sure, you could transfer to a domain in the future if you need to, but that’s a huge hassle and can cause your business to slip in the search engine rankings.

Ready to Register a Domain?

Now that you know the domain naming best practices and what to consider when choosing yours, it’s time to finally grab that piece of prime internet real estate. We’re here to help! Our domain registration is a simple and easy process, and our fully managed WordPress hosting helps you build a website that works for you and not the other way around.

Lindsey Miller
Lindsey Miller

Lindsey Miller knows WordPress inside and out. She has been working with WordPress since 2010 when she started her first WordPress blog. Since then she has attended WordCamps all over the world and had the honor of speaking at many WordCamps and other WordPress events such as WooSesh and WordFest. She is currently the owner of Content Journey, a content marketing agency that focuses on increasing organic website traffic for their clients through SEO and blogging.