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Tips for Naming Your Business and Why Your Domain is a Big Deal

By on January 27, 2011

HubSpot Founder and CTO, Dharmesh Shah recently published 17 suggestions for naming your startup. The article turned out to be tremendously popular resource for branding and those looking for startup naming advice.

The naming suggestions Dharmesh featured in his article include many important things to be considered such as:

  • Avoiding trademarks
  • Unambiguous when spoken
  • Checking social profile availability
  • Using important keywords
  • Proper capitalization
  • Seeking out timeless instead of trendy

I have been impressed with these and other straightforward recommendations for picking a great name and making it work as a strong brand online. Search Engine Watch recently reminded us that having keywords in your domain and staying with .Com are vitally important for SEO and a friendly URL structure.

I have also been disappointed with some nonchalant advice I have read lately, teaching some startup founders that your name isn’t really that big of a deal. I really don’t like to see poor branding advice alongside such great suggestions. It’s not the first time I have come across the sentiment that “your domain doesn’t really matter, just get started.” I think this attitude stems from laziness and lack of understanding of the domain industry and the aftermarket.

I work with and research domain names everyday, so I have a clear understanding of how powerful or detrimental the domain name choice can be for a startup.

Yes, your domain name can make or break your business. Maybe I should add this to my list of domain name myths. I will admit, there are lots of successful startups with funny domains (Google, Blekko, Reddit), domain hacks (Bit.ly) or domains that are traditionally thought of as inconvenient or odd. These websites tend to be heavily focused on technology or are solely web based applications. It becomes much more important to have a high quality, usable brand name if you are establishing a brick and mortar business, a lifetime business identity or a business with associated product or service names–physical or digital.

Don’t focus on trying to create a made up brand because all the good ones are taken, even most short two-word options. What you can do is focus on keywords. As I mentioned previously, it’s very beneficial to use real keywords and it may be much easier to find an available domain through this route.

Everything may seem to be working with haphazardly chosen, made up words or a trendy domain name. Those who choose these types of domains are missing out on opportunities for new customers and return visitors and are poised for an uphill struggle with their marketing efforts.

Is it wise to rely on web based promotion alone? You can get visitors from those clicking on your shortened links, emails and any backlinks you establish. Google will eventually show you mercy and you might even rank for some terms important to your business. However, a poor domain lends itself to many things that can have a negative impact on your business.

  • Brand recognition and memorability – This affects return visitors and repeat customers.
  • Type-in visitors – This is hard to measure, but more significant than most know.
  • Pronounceable and concise – How will people talk about your business? Word of mouth, sharing and writing about a business could be hindered.
  • Credibility – Maybe I’m bias, but some poor quality names are not taken seriously.

It comes down to being able to recognize a quality domain from one which may be limited by these poor traits. Unfortunately, this is not something that you can learn over-night. Knowing it is not easy should motivate you to spend more time researching potential brand names.

Look for private portfolios of excellent domains, expired or expiring domains and popular domain marketplaces. Premium quality domains found on the aftermarket are a better branding option than any domain you may try to register yourself. Quality .Com domains are worth investing in as they will continue to increase in value and will give your business a respected image and significant advantages.


About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA. Visit MarkFulton.com for information on freelance website development, SEO and consultation services.