It is getting harder and harder to get a dot com domain name. And if it's even available for you, it's probably coming with a premium four-figure price tag. How disappointing is that?! I've been there and many of us have been there.
Heck, it's why there's a hyphen for skill-space.com.
I see a lot of people going through this themselves and there is a lot of conflicting advice on which direction people should go: just have a really long domain name to get that prestigious "yourcompanyname.com" or choose another extension.
This post will be focusing on what is the absolute most important considerations -- which does not include your domain name extension. Then, you can move on to reading What to Do When You Can't Get Your Dot Com which gives tips to provide some peace of mind with other extensions or tricks to still get your dot come domain name.
To quickly summarize my advice on the subject: do what you can to get your dot com but don't exceed 25 characters to get it (including the extension). At that point, move on to another extension.
the 4 must-haves: Focus on What's Most Important for Your Domain Name
That means: brandable, short, pronounceable, and unique.
You are creating a BRAND. That means you need to stand out and not be like anyone else. I know, I know, that's near impossible now. But you have to do what you can. Creating unique words or word combinations is ideal, without sacrificing instant recognition of what your brand/business is selling.
The shorter the better. Short domain names make for easy-to-remember URLs for people to type into the search bar. Plus, most people don't want to type in long complicated URLs that may or may not be misspelled causing them to retype the domain name into the search bar. The top URLs in the world are usually less than 10-15 characters, and this includes the extension (e.g., .com, .net, .org).
Of course, it's hard to get super short URLs, so this post will help you try to keep to our recommend 25 characters or less.
The top websites are:
- google.com = 10 characters
- youtube.com = 11 characters
- facebook.com = 12 characters
- baidu.com = 9 characters
- wikipedia.org = 13 characters
Examples of longer but approved-length URLs:
- Femtrepreneur.co = 16 characters
- SmartPassiveIncome.com = 22 characters
- Huffingtonpost.com = 18 characters
Exceptions to the 25 characters rule: some specialized niches are expected (or more forgiving) to have longer domain names. For instance, photographers doing NAMEphotography.com like elizabethbuerglerphotography.com. Her domain name is exceeding 25 characters, but it's kind of expected for the long word "photography" to be included when the name by itself simply isn't available.
This goes without saying that your website name needs to be something that can be pronounced by your average ideal customer/visitor.
Notice I didn't say: pronounceable by everyone. You might have a very niche-specific website in which you are using a key-term in your domain name. (This is a GREAT tactic, by the way.) At that point, all that matters is that the people who will benefit from your website will be able to pronounce your website, leading to them being able to remember it better.
Uniqueness relates to the fact that no part of your brand/business name or website domain name can be mistaken as another's trademark intellectual property. For instance, HowToSellOnAmazon.com is not unique and legal action could be taken against you.
But there are other cases where this is less obvious, like if you are using someone else's catchphrase or trademarked course name. For instance, Marie Forleo's B-School (short for business school). Marie Forleo may not have the domain name bschool.com, but her signature course and program is absolutely trademarked and no one else will have a leg to stand on if they try to create their own business online course for business owners nicknamed B-school at an URL located at www.bschool.com. Even if it was 100% accidental, a cease and desist order will ask the website owner to take down bschool.com and start over with a new name.
*Note www.bschool.com does exist but is different than Marie Forleo's B-School so it's in a grey area.
Other experts might include additional considerations when picking your website URL, but these four are your best starting point. If you feel I've missed an important point, just let me know in the comments.