December 3, 2014 | Sarah Danks


This topic is anything but new — heck, it’s as old as the invention of websites — but it still warrants a discussion. Namely, how to go about, well, naming your website.

What got me thinking about this old topic is the article on tips for choosing a domain name I ran across this morning on Twitter. To recap, they list out ten things a business should/shouldn’t do when coming up with a domain name for a website. They mention remaining consistent with your branding, when to use (or not use) hyphens within a domain, how to incorporate numbers, avoiding copyright issues, etc.

This list of ten checklist items is pretty good — but we think there’s one missing tip, and it’s an important one. It’s this:

Beware how your domain name “reads.”

How my domain name…reads? What? Did it not make the A honor roll again???

Well, so you’ve got your business name. It’s all registered, stamped sealed signed. And now you’ve even managed to nab the EXACT domain name. Sweet. Time to build itscrap.com! See where I’m going with this?

It’s imperative to not only register a domain name consistent with your branding, that’s not too long, is easy to remember, AND doesn’t read like some item on list in a smarmy Buzzfeed article. I’m sure you’ve run across these before, but check out a stellar list of the worst domain names (ever).

Here are a few of my very favorites:

  • nobjs.org (yikes)
  • therapistfinder.com (ummmmm…)
  • lesbocages.com (double yikes)
  • powergenitalia.com (workout video? medical condition? super hero?)
  • wintersexpress.com (how do I get the personal trainer at the gym to show me THIS move?)

Another one not included on that list I really enjoy is goredforwomen.org. Oh, and a friend pointed this one out to me not too long ago: theironjen.com. Funny things about this domain: a) she’s not an IronMan; b) it looks like a grammatical error meets a bad domain name. Read it: “Their On Jen.” Yeeeeeesh. I’d like to buy a hyphen, please…

Sometimes, it IS best to change your website’s domain.

It doesn’t seem to happen very often (anymore), but businesses registering domain names for the first time really, REALLY need to be aware of how their domain name reads before they buy it. And, let’s say you did find the absolute 100% match but it reads “weird,” so purchase that one but also get the one that reads well. Then, simply redirect the reads-well one to the domain that “could put forth more effort in school.” Like these companies (finally) did:

  • sydneytherapist.com now redirects to surryhillstherapy.com
  • oddsextractor.com now redirects to betangel.com
  • nycanal.com has been changed to canals.ny.gov/index.shtml (hideous, but at least not dirty)
  • wtf.org now redirects to worldtaekwondofederation.net
  • mp3shits.com now redirects to legalmusiconline.info

But, what if the name of my company doesn’t “work” for a domain?

Sadly — or maybe on purpose — some companies’ names just don’t lend themselves well to domain names. For example:

  • therapist.com
  • bonappetit.com
  • cummingfirst.com
  • masterbaitonline.com
  • dickslumber.com
  • pantone.com (actually Pantone, but is it Pant One? Pan Tone?)

It’s not necessarily the fault of the business its name doesn’t quite…suit…but what can they DO about it? Well, for starters, grab up the “actual” domain name that works for you (i.e., thenameofmybusiness dot com), even if it doesn’t read well. Then, you can work on the “branded” domain name. Take Les Bocages, for example. A better-reading domain name would be les-bocages.com. Does it still SORT OF read like lesbocages? Yes, but it’s at least separated into two separate words. Or, how about changing nycanal.com to newyorkcanals.com instead? That domain taken? Well, let’s try ny-canal.com, at least.

Here’s the point: it’s PERFECTLY FINE to put a hyphen (or even two) into a domain name to make it “read” better…is it ideal? That depends! Would you rather have people sniggering behind your back at wintersexpress or would you rather have them look at winters-express.com?

It might not seem like a big deal, but I assure you, it can be! Don’t be a Buzzfeed article…think through your domain name — and especially how it READS — before you click that “purchase” button.

 


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