Your domain name may not seem like an integral aspect when you start your ecommerce business, but it can have a big impact on your success as an online retailer.
Shoppers access your website by using your domain name. For this reason, it needs to be clear and memorable to create a good first impression, making it easier for your shoppers to find your site.
Because building an ecommerce site requires so much planning and creative thinking, some entrepreneurs put little effort into picking a domain name. This is an important decision, though, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
What’s a domain name?
Your domain name is the website name that your potential and current customers use to visit your website. It can include both letters and numbers, and it ends with an extension like “.com” or “.org.”
Your site’s domain name is its one-of-a-kind identifier on the web, so no two names can be the same. When you create your ecommerce website, you’ll have to choose what to call it and then register it. A domain name usually costs $15 to $25 (USD) per year.
The domain name is one of the first elements of your website that visitors will see, and it’s what they’ll use to locate your site again if they want to return.
It should be compelling and recognizable, as it’s critical for your success as an ecommerce retailer. Furthermore, it should be a reflection of your brand, and the meaning behind it should be clear to anyone who sees it.
Tips for picking an ecommerce domain name
Choosing a domain name is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the early stages of building your ecommerce website from scratch and launching your business.
Changing it after your business is up and running can be difficult and confusing for your customers, so make sure that you feel confident in your choice.
To help you begin, here are 15 tips for selecting the right one for your online store!
1. Use your business name
If your business name hasn’t yet been claimed as a domain name, it’s the obvious choice. Keeping your domain consistent with your online store’s name will help immensely with your branding.
It’ll reinforce your business name for first-time customers so that they’ll be more likely to remember you in the future.
Using your business name also makes it easier for shoppers to locate your site again. As long as they don’t forget the brand name, they can immediately navigate to your website.
If you haven’t already decided what to call your business, try to choose a store name that also functions well as a domain. Streamlining your business and domain names is the easiest option for you and for your customers.
2. Understand the importance of brevity
Short, concise domain names usually fare better than longer names. It’s generally best to go with a domain that’s three words or fewer and under 15 to 20 characters. Domains can be up to 63 characters in length, but any URL that long will probably be rather clunky and confusing.
Long domain names are difficult to remember and don’t help with brand recognition. In contrast, shorter names tend to be much more memorable, so it’ll be easier for consumers to find your business online.
Furthermore, the shorter the domain name, the lower the chance of a customer entering a typo or a misspelling!
3. Make it an accurate reflection of your business
Your website visitors should be able to understand what you sell based on your domain name. Even if your domain doesn’t exactly match your business name, it should reflect your industry or branding.
Some of your site visitors will discover your ecommerce store through a Google search or social media link.
If they’re not already aware of who you are and what you sell, it’s important that they get to know your business right away. You don’t have much time to make your first impression, so your URL should be informative.
For peace of mind, you might want to run your domain name by friends or family who aren’t familiar with your business and ask them what they think the website would sell based on the URL.
If their guesses aren’t close, you probably need to fine-tune your idea to be a better reflection of your business.
4. Keep SEO in mind
Your URL is one of the best places to utilize SEO, or search engine optimization. This is the practice of appealing to search engines through keyword usage and website structure.
Google determines its rankings by assessing every page on the web for a wide variety of metrics. A great way to improve your site’s ranking is to add specific, relevant keywords throughout your website, and this even includes within your domain name.
You may not be able to use a keyword in a way that sounds compelling and natural. However, if possible, build your domain name around one of the keywords you’re trying to rank for.
Using a keyword here can also help you generate backlinks, which is another great method for boosting your search rankings. Other sites will be more likely to link to your pages when your URL includes a keyword that’s relevant to their content.
5. Ensure that the name isn’t difficult to understand
Your domain name should be immediately recognizable and understandable. Recall that the words in your URL are strung together without breaks. Your site visitors should therefore be able to differentiate between each word in the domain.
Most simple domain names are already taken, so it can sometimes be difficult to find a straightforward, clear URL that’s available. Try to refrain from using overly complicated or widely unknown words, though.
Keep in mind that people from all over the world may visit your ecommerce store. Avoid using highly localized or regional terms, as that may be confusing for those in other areas.
6. Verify that the name is easy to pronounce and spell
Use the correct spelling for every word in your domain. You might be tempted to use a slight misspelling of a common word for whatever reason.
However, there’s a good chance that shoppers will type in the normal spelling and navigate to the wrong site. Avoid using commonly misspelled words if possible as well.
Many ecommerce retailers only think about how their domain name looks. Pronunciation is an important consideration too, though. If shoppers aren’t sure how to pronounce it, your chances for word-of-mouth advertising drop dramatically.
7. Choose a name that stands out from the competition
Ecommerce is an incredibly competitive industry. New websites are launched every single day across virtually every industry, so standing out from your competition should be one of your top priorities.
Shoppers can discover your rivals through a simple Google search. If they don’t remember your URL or brand name, they may look for your products and end up on a competitor’s website instead.
Your domain should be special and eye-catching so that your brand stands out from other ecommerce stores in your industry.
Although using keywords in your domain can be good for SEO, you do have to be careful here, as it also runs the risk of being too generic. Your competitors are probably targeting the same keywords, so their URLs may be very similar to yours.
If you do want to include your main keyword, make sure the wording of the rest of the domain name is unique and creative.
8. Use words with positive connotations
Lots of words have strong connotations, so think about the immediate reactions readers may have when they see your domain name. There’s often a difference between the dictionary definition of a word and the emotions the word evokes.
Try to utilize words that have positive connotations. Most people trust their gut instincts. For this reason, using language that’s strongly associated with positive emotions can be great for your brand image.
9. Avoid using double letters
Double letters in your domain name greatly increase the chances that your visitors will make a typo. The last letter of one word and the first letter of the next shouldn’t be the same.
Consumers may get confused about whether the letter is doubled and have difficulty locating your website. Furthermore, URLs with double letters often look awkward and can be hard to read.
However, alliteration can be a highly effective way to create a compelling domain name. Consecutive words that begin with the same letter tend to flow well together and can be very catchy.
10. Pick a name that’s devoid of copyright issues
No small ecommerce retailer wants to face legal issues over their website. Before you buy your domain and launch your site, research your chosen name carefully.
Make sure that there are no other brands related to the domain name that may have a problem with your usage of the term.
If you’re based in the US, for instance, you can do a search with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to determine if there are any businesses that have trademarked your exact domain name or a variation of it.
I also recommend searching on Google and social media sites to look for brands with a similar name.
If you don’t do your research beforehand, you might encounter legal trouble as well as cause confusion for your customers.
When you’ve registered your URL and confirmed that there are no potential copyright issues, you should trademark and copyright your domain name. This will dramatically reduce the risk of you running into legal problems regarding copyright in the future.
11. Avoid using unnecessary characters
Unnecessary symbols can make your domain name look cluttered, and it may cause confusion when shoppers try to recall your URL. It’s generally best to only include letters.
A mix of letters and numbers can occasionally work well, but it can sometimes look messy or be difficult to communicate verbally. If you want to use numbers, run the domain name by friends or colleagues to see if they can interpret it clearly.
Avoid hyphens, too. Although hyphens create a good visual break between the words in your domain name, they can make it more difficult for consumers to rediscover your site.
Furthermore, when spelling your URL out loud, including the hyphen can be awkward. Returning shoppers may forget about the hyphen and navigate to the wrong page as well.
12. Give your business room to grow
Your domain name should be closely related to your industry and brand image so that people can get to know your business by reading the URL. However, it’s also important to consider the future of your business.
Think about where your business may be in a few years. Will you have expanded or changed your inventory? Will your industry have evolved?
Longevity is key for your domain name. You don’t want to have to change your URL in a few years as your business expands. Try to choose a domain that’s broad enough that it leaves you room to grow.
13. Determine what domain extension is best for your business
A domain extension is the final segment of the URL. Common extensions include “.com,” “.net,” and “.org.”
Extensions were originally intended to sort websites into different categories based on their purpose and function. Today, these categories aren’t so rigid, so you have more freedom in which extension you choose.
The most common extension is “.com,” which stands for “commercial.” Many people will type “.com” after every URL regardless of the site’s real extension. Using this extension will therefore make it easier for your shoppers to locate your business.
Nevertheless, you may also want to consider the “.store” domain extension, especially if the “.com” version for your desired domain is already taken. Consumers will expect to be able to shop on your website when they see this extension, and they won’t be disappointed!
Some ecommerce businesses purchase other common extensions for their domain name and redirect those pages to their main website. This is a great way to avoid confusion and draw more traffic to your site, although it can get expensive.
14. Try a domain name generator if you’re stuck for ideas
There are hundreds of millions of registered domains, so finding an available domain that meets all of the criteria we’ve outlined so far can be difficult. If you’re stuck, make use of a domain name generator for ideas.
You can encounter a variety of free domain generators online that will ask for your desired keywords and offer suggestions. You might not use any of the exact names the generator comes up with, but the recommendations may help to spark some creativity.
15. Once you decide on a name, act quickly
The last step in selecting your domain name is registering it. It’s a good idea to take your time when coming up with your domain name, because it’ll be a permanent fixture of your website. When it comes to registering it, though, you should act as swiftly as possible!
So many names are already taken, and other up-and-coming ecommerce businesses may be vying for the same URL as you.
One of the most frustrating experiences in the early stages of building your site is deciding on the perfect domain name, only to have the name become unavailable at the last minute.
As soon as you're certain of your choice, register the domain.
You could even purchase a domain name before you’re completely confident in it. Domains usually only cost around $20 (USD) for the year, so it may be worth it to buy a few options and then make up your mind.
The right name may not come to you right away, but avoid rushing the process. It’s a creative endeavor that takes time.
Try finding a few available options and then get feedback from trusted friends, colleagues, or industry professionals. Your feelings about the domain for your own business may not be the same as the reactions from potential customers.
For this reason, testing out your choices before committing to one can be helpful.
Your domain name is a key factor in building brand recognition and establishing a loyal customer base. Searching for a relevant, high-quality name that’s still available may be a time-consuming process, but the perfect domain is out there!