On the hunt for that perfect domain name before moving on to small business web design? Do you perhaps feel pressured to get the best domain name, wondering which areas of the selection process actually matter? We've found that whether you're launching a business for the first time or you're a serial entrepreneur carving out a new brand, choosing a domain doesn't exactly get easier— in fact, the thought processes involved in choosing a domain are relatively the same no matter how seasoned you are. There are some factors that matter when settling on a new domain, and some that look like they should matter but don't—and instead can get in the way. Here's what matters when choosing a domain for your business.
TRUTH: .com domain names are generally the most trusted & accepted among the public.
If your favorite domain name choice is available on many of the common top-level-domains (TLDs like .com, .net, .biz, or .info), you should try grab your-preferred-name.com or a very-close-match.com that you can live with. Less appealing TLDs like .biz or .info are often thought of as spam sites (unfortunately there is some truth to this given their usefulness as throwaway domains). Even if your small business or startup is completely legitimate, you risk creating a sour first impression when users visit your small business website. Please note this advice only relates to brand perception and the benefits of owning a .com TLD end here.
FALSE: New, or less common TLDs, like .agency or .guru negatively impact SERPs.
Though choosing a .com domain for your business does in fact appear to be the most legit, this TLD is very, very old. The vast majority of the best matches for your brand are snatched up by other businesses or even squatters who try to resell at premium prices. It is simply a matter of time before registering a .com domain that is ideal for your business becomes impractical or impossible.
So here's where things get really interesting: many new top-level-domains have been added to the lineup in recent years, allowing much greater creativity and new possibilities when choosing a domain for your business. Google has weighed in on how they treat the new generic TLDs, with the main takeaway being they will not help nor hurt your rankings when compared to a .com domain.
TRUTH: Having the perfect domain name makes virtually zero impact to your bottom line.
When you start dreaming up a new business idea, it's all too easy to get caught up in perceived necessities, like having the perfect brand name, the perfect colors for your logo, and some shiny new business cards. While these things are nice-to-haves, they are, simply put, expenses—they won't actually earn you a dime until you launch. Do not fall prey to creating obstacles before you get your business idea out the door. Starting a business can definitely be nerve-wracking because no one wants to fail. Having a little bit of fear is completely normal, the cold hard truth is that your business will have already failed if you never launch. You can always go buy those ridiculously sexy business cards you've been lusting over later on.
TRUTH: Country code TLDs (e.g. .uk for United Kingdom & .sg for Singapore) are more relevant in their home regions.
Top-level-domains based off of country codes (ggTLDs) do in fact possess an edge over generic TLDs (gTLDs) in their respective regions. Your small business website's page relevance will need to still be a good match for user searches for the edge to matter. For example, if you buy a .my domain but your business doesn't operate inside Malaysia, then you're shooting yourself in the foot.
Pro Tip: Be careful not to mix up gTLDs that sound like they could be ccTLDs, especially if you desire the geo-targeting benefits of a true ccTLD. Some gTLDs appear extremely similar to ccTLDs (e.g. .london & .nyc) but in fact do not possess any geo-targeting benefits.
FALSE: Don't buy the .io TLD for your technology business because it's actually a ccTLD.
Though .io TLD is technically a ccTLD belonging to the British Indian Ocean Territory region, Google treats this top-level domain as a ‘gccTLD' to stop undesired geo-targeting. This is great news for tech-focused companies, given the strong resemblance to ‘I/O' and its already global use throughout the IT industry.
FALSE: Using a "keyword stuffed" domain will significantly help your website's SERPs.
In recent years, search engines have become increasingly accurate at judging the relevance of a website domain, its content, and a number of other signals when deciding where to rank a website. In short, Google Bot has become very good at smelling B.S. The hyper-improved accuracy is in no small part due to AI/machine learning. If the recent advancements on the web from learning algorithms are worth basing predictions off of, search engines like Google and Bing are going to become ever smarter over the next several years. Operating a relevant, conversion optimized website at your-brand-carpets.com will easily rank higher than a crappy competitor at carpet-cleaning-service-city-state.com. Try focusing your efforts on running the best, most relevant website you possibly can for your target keywords and your ideal visitors.
Have we missed anything? Have you found evidence that contradicts any of the above info about domains? Please leave a comment and tell us!