10 Mistakes to Avoid When Picking a Domain Name
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The choice of a domain name has an impact on your business's online presence. It affects your branding, impressions, and user experience. Therefore, you should be careful when choosing a domain name for your website or investment portfolio.
There are common domain mistakes that can make your domain valueless or less attractive to potential customers. This blog post will guide you through each pitfall and how to avoid it to ensure success in your domain investment journey.
1. Use of Numbers
Can you have a number in a domain name? Yes. But before you do it, what comes to your mind when you see this URL http://www.3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494.com/?
"Whoa, that's a mouthful!" Someone went a little overboard with the digits of pi and decided to turn it into a domain name. If you can type this URL without errors, you deserve a pie!
But using numbers in your domain name raises more questions than answers. Is it a "2" or "two"? Unless the number is part of the brand name (like worldcup2026.com) or popular numbers (like 360.com), you should avoid numbers in domains. While numbers can shorten a domain name, they can confuse potential visitors. However, you can register the two domain versions if your brand name has numbers. For instance, 5 Sons can register 5sons.com and fivesons.com and redirect the traffic from one to another. This will help you target those who mistype your domain name.
Unlike words, numbers don't convey a direct brand message. Therefore, your URL is unlikely to relay any message to potential visitors. Apart from that, numbers can complicate your search engine optimization efforts. Most browsers are now taking a mobile-first approach. Numbers are more tedious to type on mobile devices because they don't appear on the default keypad. Therefore, some prospects may give up typing your website URL.
Using numbers in your domain names can be a rigid approach. What if the tally increases or decreases? In the example above of 5sons.com, what if another son is born? Although this might look like a far-fetched case, it drives the point home— numbers can be limiting.
2. Very Long Names
Another common domain mistake you can make is to use long names. Although it is easier to find a long unregistered domain name, the demerits far outweigh the benefits. First, browsers record URLs in small letters and no spaces, making it difficult to read each word independently. You can bet no one will try to memorize a complex domain name even if they visit your site.
Direct traffic makes considerable traffic for all websites. The visitors usually bookmark or type the URL to access a site directly. This is called type-in metric. Type-in domain metric refers to a measurement of the direct traffic that a website receives when visitors manually enter the website's URL or domain name into their web browser's address bar. This metric indicates the number of visitors who access a website directly by typing in its URL, rather than clicking on a link from another website, search engine, or online advertisement.
Every extra character in your domain name means higher chances of misspelling or typos on the name. If you keep it short, you can reduce the chances of error and increase traffic. In search engine result pages, browsers truncate long URLs. Therefore, potential visitors will miss your full domain name, even if you want to communicate a message. Apart from your website, there are other places where you need your domain name. These include email addresses and banners. If the URL is long, it will likely look spammy or unprofessional when sending emails or sharing banners.
Branding a long domain name on social media can be hectic. Most platforms limit the number of characters you can put in your bio and username. Therefore, a long domain name could limit how you promote your site through social media. The maximum number of characters in a domain name should be 63 after a label (.). However, you can have a domain with up to 253 characters after including extensions and subdomains. The maximum number of characters in a domain name should be 63 after a label (.). However, you can have a domain with up to 253 characters after including extensions and subdomains.
Fun Fact: The longest domain name on the internet (with a single label) is http://TheOfficialAbsoluteLongestDomainNameRegisteredOnTheWorldWideWeb.international/
3. Hyphenating the Domain
"Hey, have you checked out my new site? It's www dot my hyphen dog hyphen leashes dot com!" (www.my-dog-leashes.com)
Does that look like something you would like to go through? Hyphens can complicate even a simple domain. Unless they are necessary, you should avoid hyphens in a domain name.
Hyphenated domains add extra words to your name. my-dog-leashes.com is not a 3, but a 5-word domain because you have to include the dashes when saying it. Most people also tend to forget the hyphens when typing the domain name. Therefore, you will lose some traffic to competitors if you use hyphens. When it comes to domain SEO, hyphens have no direct negative or positive impact. Browsers understand dashes as spaces between words in a URL. Just like using numbers, you leave potential visitors guessing whether it is a word or symbol. If you have to use hyphens, you can purchase the two domain name variations and redirect one to the other.
4. Wrong Extensions
Top-level domains not only indicate what your site deals with but also impact your website ranking. For example, if you are targeting people in a specific location, it is advisable to use a country code top-level domain.
Some businesses make the domain mistake of using the wrong extension because the primary ones, like .com, are taken. For example, a .store extension for a non-governmental organization will hurt your site's credibility. Currently, there are thousands of TLDs. Therefore, you should pick the one that best describes your business.
It is also advisable to purchase different TLDs for the same domain name. This protects your brand from trademark issues when someone wants to register the name with a different extension. However, you should only take a variation if it adds value to your business.
When selecting a domain extension, your growth projections should be a consideration. Some TLDs, like ccTLDs, can be limiting in terms of the target location. If you plan to expand beyond your current location, go for an extension that doesn't limit your target location.
5. Using Double Letters
Double letters can have an impact on how people type your domain name. It is possible to forget or mistype one of the letters, leading to potential typosquatting.
Typosquatting is a cyber-attack where malicious people register a slight variation of your domain name to prey on traffic. For example, because it is common to type the word “people” as “peopel,” cyber-attackers can register “peopel.com” to divert traffic from “people.com.”
There are, at times, different variations of spelling words with double letters. For example, experttravellers.com is incorrect in American English because the domain name has two "l" in the word traveler. In pronunciations, double letters are usually pronounced as a single letter. Therefore, it is challenging to share your domain name verbally.
Double letters are a no-no unless you are testing potential visitors' typing skills, which I doubt is a game you want. There is also the temptation of tweaking an already-taken domain name to cheat the system. But as you can guess, that is even worse.
6. Picking Trademarked Names
Imagine taking years to build a brand name. Then one day, you receive a legal complaint to drop your domain name because it is trademarked.
This happened to one of the AI writing assistants just recently. Jasper, formerly Jarvis, had spent a year building a brand that had gained hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Then came the dreaded day. They received an email from Disney about trademark infringement and threats of legal action. The company decided to drop the name after realizing things could get worse. Before getting involved in legal battles, you should thoroughly research the names in a domain. You can use https://www.uspto.gov/trademark to check whether a word is trademarked.
Most domain registrars use ICANN's Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy to resolve trademark conflicts. The regulations are part of the terms and conditions you agree to when buying a domain name. Although you can register a trademarked domain accidentally, the damage of dropping it can be detrimental to your brand. The only time you can defend such a domain is if you registered it before the trademark.
7. Using Complex Names
If you have watched "Mary Poppins," you can be tempted to register supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.com as a domain name. But you can tell it is not a good idea for many reasons. Using complex words or names in your domain name means the likelihood of missing some letters is high. Apart from that, no one is ready to cram all those characters in a domain name.
As Coco Chanel once put it, "Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance." You should make your domain name concise. It should convey the message using the fewest number of characters possible. If you feel your domain name is complex, consider registering likely typos of the name and redirecting to the correct version. This will help you to avoid losing potential visitors due to "404 errors."
One of the most effective tools to analyze the complexity of a domain is Bishopi’s domain analyzer. The tool gives you the number of morphemes, hyphens, and consonants in the domain name. You also get a simplicity score for the domain.
8. Ignoring Domain History
What roots are to a tree is what history is to a domain. Unless you examine the history of a domain, it is not something you will get on the surface.
Domain names are registered for a certain period, after which the owner should renew the registration. If a domain expires, the registrar releases it for registration by another user.
In good cases, you can inherit an expired domain name with a good link profile and reputation. On the other hand, some domains are dropped after malicious activities like phishing, malware distribution, copyright infringement, and spamming. Google team can manually penalize domains for malicious activities. the penalties usually last for a month, but in serious cases like online fraud, the name can be flagged permanently.
To ascertain that a domain is clean, you should check its history. You can access the historical files of a domain from archive.org, which is a free site. The platform gives you information about sites that have ever been built using the domain name. One of the most common domain name mistakes is picking a blacklisted or penalized URL. In such a case, browsers may never index or rank your site. Apart from that, your emails could be marked as spam.
9. Picking a Name Before Branding Strategy
Choosing a domain name before having a brand strategy is like putting the cart before the horse. You should develop a strong brand identity to ensure that the domain reinforces your image and messaging.
Creating a brand usually involves a lot of customer research which informs your product or service line, colors, logo, slogan, values, and mission. These elements come in handy when choosing a domain and designing a website.
The mistake of choosing a domain name before a branding strategy can also limit your creative possibilities. It means you must align the brand to the domain name instead of the other way around.
Brand consistency is one of the most essential aspects of building your business reputation. Therefore, you should strategize to ensure each element contributes to your brand identity.
10. Using Homophones
Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. For example, sun and son, flour and flower, or meat and meet. If you use homophones in your domain name, it can be confusing to your target audience.
When it comes to word-of-mouth referrals, it can be challenging if you have homophones in your domain name. Unless the other words in the domain name can clarify the most suitable alternative, you should avoid words with similar pronunciation.
Another mistake you should avoid when selecting a domain name is picking words that form a different word when combined. Let's take the example of itscrap.com. While the owner may intend to use the name "IT Scrap Services," it could also read "Its Crap!"
For now, let's not get into discussing Pen Island. You get the point. But what should you do if your domain name has a homophone? You can register the two versions of the name and redirect the "wrong" URL to the right domain name. With that, you can reduce the number of error 404 due to mistypes.
A domain name is an important element of your business. It affects SEO, branding, and marketing efforts. Therefore, you should take caution when choosing it.
The domain mistakes highlighted here have made some businesses drop their names or even face legal battles. Before you get into the murky waters, you should proceed cautiously and research thoroughly to avoid these domain name pitfalls.