Your business’s domain name is important. It’s what your website visitors type into their browser when they want to access your website and stays at the top of their screen all the time they’re on your website. The chances are it will also form part of your email address. It almost certainly appears on your letterhead, your business cards and (if you have them) your company vehicles. It is such an integral part of your brand that you may end up promoting your domain name more than your business name so it makes sense to give it some serious consideration.

So what exactly makes up a domain name? Well – in very basic terms it consists of two parts:

  • A Second Level Domain (SLD) which can consists of letters (a-z), numbers (0-9) and hyphens. The SLD for this website is martindurham.
  • A Top Level Domain (TLD) – sometimes called a domain name extension – which is selected from a long list of possibilities (of which .com,, .org and .net are some of the most common). This website uses the TLD.

The complete domain name consists of the SLD, followed by a dot followed by the TLD. So this website’s domain name is

Consider basing your domain name on your business name (or vice versa)

If you’ve already got a business name then it makes sense to consider using that as your domain name. If you don’t already have a business name then it may be a good idea to consider choosing a domain name and then calling your business that.

Consider using keywords in your domain name

It may help people decide whether to visit your website if your domain name contains one or more keywords that explain what you do. For example, if I was a photographer then I might consider that would help potential visitors get a quick handle on what I do and stop people confusing me with another Martin Durham that offers gardening services (who might, in turn, consider registering

Consider using geographical locations in your domain name

If your business services a particular geographic region then it may make sense to register a domain name that includes that geographic region. For example, if your business operates in Yorkshire then a domain name of would probably stop someone in Cornwall or Scotland from spending too long considering your services but would reassure someone in Leeds that you might be the right business for them.

Consider using a brandable domain name

A huge number of businesses have business and domain names that are “brandable”, by which I mean that their business/domain name tells you nothing about what they do by itself but where they’ve built a brand to such an extent that we all know what that business/domain name stands for. I’m thinking Amazon, Google, Hoover, Xerox, IKEA, etc, etc, etc.

Check whether the .com domain name extension is available

In a perfect world you would probably own your preferred SLD with the .com extension. The biggest reason for this is familiarity. The .com extension is by far and away the most common domain name extension so if someone has an idea what your business or website name is then the chances are that they’re going to type that into their browser followed by .com.

Don’t get too hung up on the .com extension

If your first-choice SLD isn’t available with the .com extension.

Is it being used?

Are other domain name extensions available with your preferred SLD?

Consider buying multiple domain name extensions

Unless you have endless pots of cash there is no way you can own all of the domain name extensions for any particular website name but you might want to choose a website name where you own at least one of the most popular domain name extensions.

Try to make your domain name memorable

I’m rather hoping that is somewhat more memorable than

Try to keep your domain name (reasonably) short

You are going to type your domain name a lot!

Make your domain name easy to spell and easy to pronounce

You are going to say your domain name a lot!

Avoid hyphens and numbers

Just use the 26 letters of the alphabet.

Yes – you can use hyphens and numbers. Don’t!

Try to avoid double letters

People will mis-type domain names containing double letters!

Watch out for “awkward” letter combinations

Consider the legal situation

Whatever SLD you come up with, do some basic checks to test whether someone is going to throw the legal kitchen sink at you for trying to use it.

  • Could you register it as a business?
  • Has it been trademarked?
  • Is there an established business using it (or some variant)?

What next?

If you’re ready to register a domain name you could do worse than check out my step-by-step guide to registering a domain name.