Your domain matters. It’s the foundation of your brand online. It will be referenced in everything you do including business cards, social media posts, digital and print advertising, signage, media coverage, and beyond. Getting the best domain that you possibly can from the beginning is one of the smartest marketing investments you will ever make - and understanding this at the start of your business journey will empower your brand for digital success.
Whereas previously we have written about mistakes to avoid when registering a new domain and the reality of a domain's impact on SEO, in this blog we address how to find and successfully acquire the perfect domain for your startup or business.
How to Choose the Right Domain: Key Considerations Before You Register
- Brainstorm – With 340+ million domains already registered, more ideas on the whiteboard means more options. Get a group of your favourite creatives together in a huddle and start spitballing ideas, keeping the names that make an impression.
- Branding – Aim for something distinctive, identifiable and intuitive - and don't settle for something less than inspiring! What feeling or images does it give rise to? Is it evocative? Can you visualize it as a brand?
- Pronounceability – Easy to say names create positive associations and enhance memorability. What does it sound like aloud? Does it roll off the tongue? Would you remember it?
- Shortness – Not only are short names easier to type and spell, but they're also more likely to be shared in their entirety and not be shortened. This helps to increase your brand's visibility.
- Infringement – Always do your due diligence to make sure the domain you are registering is not under trademark or copyright by another party. If you're planning to do business in North America, a good place to start is by searching the Canadian Trademarks Database and the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Also, keep in mind that owning a trademark does not entitle you to the matching domain if it’s already registered.
How to Successfully Acquire It: Budget, Options, and Making an Offer
Now that you know the key considerations for registering a domain, the next step is to acquire it.
Budget - What can you afford to spend? If you want a .COM, you're likely going to need to buy it in a domain marketplace or broker its purchase. A .COM domain signals legitimacy like no other extension – and most companies will wind up acquiring them if they become successful. Realistically, however, most new businesses are not in a position to plunk down 5-to-7 figures for a domain, even if it represents a great longterm investment. Country code domains like .CA and new TLDs can also be great options depending on your target audience and the nature of your business, especially if you're a startup. Levering a new TLD in a novel way can even stand out standout, and oftentimes you can register an awesome name in an extension like .site, .cloud, .social, or .dev for a couple hundred dollars. The key point to remember is don't underestimate your domain's value as a business and brand asset - and be prepared to spend some money to lockdown something great. If your business doesn't work out, you can always resell a quality domain.
Start your search - With more than 500 extensions, plus all the classics like COM or .CA, finding your perfect web address begins with a domain search and seeing what’s available. There are dozens of domains available for almost every genre of business, professional service, industry or lifestyle pursuit. By way of example, if your vertical is tech, your options are diverse and include .ai, .app, .click, .cloud, .computer, .dev, .digital, .download, .io, .link, .mobile, .network, .online, .page, .site, .software, .space, .systems, .tech, and .technology among others.
Pro tip - Don't hesitate to register the available domains you are drawn to in domain search results. Domains are inexpensive, and it’s good to have options. Plus, if you don’t use them, you can always list them for sale or simply allow them to expire.
Make an offer on your perfect domain, with our expert help - Sometimes none of the available alternatives will cut it. When it comes to your domain name, it should feel intrinsically right and align with the personality and values you seek to evoke with your brand. If it doesn't, you will continue to feel that disconnect in all of your branding and marketing efforts.
Whether the domain you want to acquire is listed for sale in the domain aftermarket or independently by its owner, we recommend getting a research report and appraisal conducted by one our domain brokers for the cost of $50 before moving forward with negotiation or an offer. With years of negotiation experience and data from thousands of purchases, our brokers can determine the value of a domain so that your offer has the best chance of being successful, as well as swiftly and securely transacted.
We hope these guidelines help you to successfully find, acquire and make a name for yourself online. And remember, when you find a great domain, act fast to secure it. Happy domaining!