In business, your name is everything. Business owners spend a significant amount of time and money creating a name that reflects who they are and what they do. As often the first thing customers encounter, your name is unavoidably linked to your brand, identity and reputation. So why not pay just as much attention to your domain name?

[easy-tweet tweet=”Your name is unavoidably linked to your brand, identity and reputation” hashtags=”Domain”]

From extension names to number usage, security issues to hyphens – there are many things to take into consideration. But before rushing to buy your domain, keep our five top tips in mind to ensure your domain name is the perfect fit for your current and future needs.

1. I spell po-tay-to; you spell po-tah-to

If we were face-to-face and you said your domain name, would I be able to write it down? This may seem like a silly question, but it’s surprising just how many businesses fall at this first hurdle. The best way to ensure there is no miscommunication is to do exactly that. Some call it the ‘Radio Test’ – ask a selection of people to listen as you say your website address and have them write down what they hear.

Say your business is called ‘Fifty Times Better’ – that could be written in a variety of ways: www.fiftytimesbetter.com, www.50xbetter.com or how about www.50timesbetter.com?

This simple example shows how important it is that the verbal version of your domain name is well understood.

2. wHy mAk3 ThIng5 c0mpLicAt3d?

Although you want your domain name to give adequate information about who you are and what you do, it’s not the place to try and squeeze in as many key words as possible. Don’t overdo it – using too many words can make it difficult for people to identify even one! As we’ve already seen, numbers or hyphens in your domain name can prove confusing when conducting the Radio Test, not to mention that Google actually penalises domains that include too many hyphens. Shorter and symbol free names are catchy, easily recognisable and understandable, making it easier for your audiences to find you.

3. Prevention is better than the cure

Taylor Swift is an award winning singer-songwriter said to be worth at least $200 million. However, if you search for her official Twitter handle it is not simply ‘taylorswift’ but ‘taylorswift13’. The ‘taylorswift’ account is suspended, but Taylor Swift herself is still yet to take control of her handle.

You may be thinking that your business is too small to start seriously thinking about a domain name. But as a business grows and attracts more attention, it becomes more susceptible to ‘cyber squatters’ – and if your business is doing well, it’s unlikely they will give it up without a fight.

We suggest that you register your domain name under several variations to protect your brand. The bigger you get, the harder you can fall and the more people that may be looking to trip you up! United Airlines learnt the hard way when a parody Twitter account sarcastically replied to grievances from angry customers. Registering multiple domains beforehand can save you a lot of time, money and stress that will come with having to try and buy them back later on, or worse, if your customers think these fake accounts are yours.

4. Don’t get lost in translation

Remember, what makes sense in your native language may have a completely different meaning in another. A good example of this is when over the Christmas period, Ford released a car called the Pinto. The ad campaign included the slogan ‘put a Pinto under your tree’ – which to you and me is a nice play-on-words. For Portuguese speakers however, the word ‘pinto’ has a completely different meaning and this proved incredibly problematic (I’ll leave you to find out why). Do the research – make sure meaning travels across as many markets as possible.

5. Keep the future in mind

If your ambitions are global and you’re thinking about long term development, it’s worth thinking about the markets where you’re likely to do business in the future and secure your name with different country domain extensions. There is an extensive list of global extensions you can procure. Of course this does take a level of future planning, however if you don’t do it early, the day you want to branch out, you may find it’s already been taken and naturally – it’ll be for sale for a very high price. Only recently did Apple lose a trademark fight over the name ‘iPhone’ in China. Make the small investment now to avoid scrambling later.

[easy-tweet tweet=”We suggest that you register your #domain name under several variations to protect your brand”]

So that’s our top five tips to choosing a domain name. Now is the time to protect your virtual identity. In this digital age, a good name is no good unless you also have a good domain name attached to it.