The best URL you can get is a short .com that is relevant to your business, easy to remember and easy to pronounce. #1 rule – it should be something you like the sound of. It’s YOUR brand.
- Most generic short .com addresses are taken
- If you have the opportunity to purchase a short and relevant .com, your heart will probably stop when you see the price.
The good news is that having a .com by itself does not push your search ranking higher. A .com does not out rank a .xyz or a .co.uk or a .biz or a .marketing, .music, .shop – you get the idea. Search ranks are built on many other factors including brand reputation, page speed, content and links. While the search engines ultimately don’t care what your URL is, people do. Readability, recall and recognition are critical factors to consider.
Because of the importance of a having a good URL, attention and creativity for your branding is more significant then ever. Digitization standardization has forced a higher standard of brand quality. If you already have an established business name, your domain options are narrower. It’s best to secure your website’s domain name before settling on a brand name. Since you’re unlikely to get a straight .com like ‘joeskitchen.com’, lets see what alternatives are available.
Lets imagine we’re helping Mary pick a domain. Mary owns an antique store. It’s a small local business in the old part of town where all the trendy kids hang out. In one scenario, Mary already has a brand name. Her shop is called ‘Mary’s Antiques’. Because Mary is such a popular name, she’s out of luck with a marysantiques.com. If she really wants the name, hyphens might seem like a good idea, but they should be avoided. Marys-antiques.com is way too close to the .com, she’ll always lose traffic to the .com without a hyphen and any advertising she does will be lengthened by having to add the word ‘dash’ or ‘hyphen’. Hyphens are easy to forget about and hard to remind people of. Mary has better options.
Local (.co.nz or .com.au)?
If she’s only selling locally and her country code is available, a country code can be a good alternative choice. There are downsides. Country code domains such as .co.nz, .com.au or .jp are more expensive to renew. They have less appeal with people outside the country they are from, and some country codes, like .co.nz can be clunky to say. The confusion is made worse by variations of local url’s. Along with .com.au there is also .au, and along with .co.nz there is .nz and .kiwi. The search engines might know better, but if your customers are typing in the url directly, they may not differentiate so well and end up not visiting your site, or at least having a higher chance of frustration when they visit a different site and have to do guess work as to which is the right extension. If you’re running a shop and a would be customer is already frustrated when landing, that’s not so hot. Localization is far more important when picking your web server than it is in your URL. If localization is really important to you, you can also add it in a subdomain. If you own fredsgarage.com, without any extra cost, you can add variation to the url. You can have usa.fredsgarage.com, or nz.fredsgarage.com. You can also add the country code in first line, eg. fredsgarage.com/usa or fredsgarage.com/nz.
Industry extensions and .com alternatives
If Mary is sending antiques around the world, or for some reason she doesn’t want to feel too connected to a country, there are some other options. Mary could go for an extension that matches her purpose, something like marysantique.shop, or her industry, perhaps marysantiques.art. These are nice extensions but they aren’t ones people are fluent with. Going with one of these extensions would be helped by any advertising effort including the url in full. Mary could also go with a new general extensions like .xyz, where she would have a much higher chance of getting her url. While the .xyz extension and extensions like .tech or .art are on the rise, they’re also a little less trusted by end users and better suited to companies that have customers who are used to being online. Eventually .com alternatives will become more mainstream, but for now, they are still behind.
Now we enter the scenario where Mary hasn’t settled on her business name and instead is looking to come up with something based on availability. If your business is tired and that’s part of your motivation to go online, this may also be a good excuse to re-brand. The investment in a solid brand will pay off, online and offline. Back Mary, if she is starting fresh or rebranding, there are a few more options.
She can go with something longer but familiar, like marysoldtownantiques.com. On the up side, she’s more likely to score a popular extension, even a .com. On the down side, a longer name is more difficult to show in branding. In most cases, it’s better for her to go with something shorter. Because of the limitations of availability, Mary may consider getting creative with her name, perhaps creating a brand based on two significant words, such as marantiques, or otantiques (OT = old town). When combining two words together or creating a new word, test it out with people and see if they can pronounce the brand name well enough and if it make sense to them.
How did we come up with BizAntix.com?
BizAntix is a combination of ‘business’ and ‘antics’.
The word business is far too long and boring, we needed more edge, and we got that with shortening it to Biz. From there we had to come up with a good combination word. ‘BizTac’ ‘BizPunk’ ‘BizStrat’ were considered along with many others. In the decision process, we constantly searched for .com availability. We knew the first word should be business (biz), but the second had to be a suiting descriptor of what we did. Antics came up, and as meaning attention-drawing, wildly plaful, funny or foolish, outrageous or amusing behavior, we thought it was suitable for our brand!
We want to poke fun at the holes in business practice, we want to be an agency brand that calls it straight, has fun with presentation and points out the bullshit touted by marketers and other agencies. We liked the word antics, but would need to see if it was a word that people knew well enough.. Was the word common enough? For this we went to Google Books Ngram Viewer. Google Books scans books from a given time frame for frequency of the word you’re searching for. We were happy with the overall usage trend of the word. Collins dictionary agreed, placing the word in the top 30,000 most used in English, out of 171,146 English words, that’s not bad. According to Susie Dent, a word nerd, the average passive vocabulary of an English speaker is 40,000 words, while their active vocabulary was 20,000 words. Most people would know the word.
We then checked for variation availability and found BizAntix.com was also available. We liked having an X, both for the edgyness it gave the brand, the added uniqueness and for how it looked in our logo. We know a lot of people are likely to search ‘bizantics’ so we secured both bizantix.com and bizantics.com along with several other domain variations.
Most importantly, you need to pick something you like. It’s your work, it’s your business, its YOUR name. If you don’t feel good putting on that branded shirt, it doesn’t matter what others think, of the brand name. After that, whatever extension you decide to go with, ask people what they think, try to keep it short, and aim for something memorable. Pick an extension that sounds good with your name. If you can get a .com, that’s ideal, otherwise don’t despair, you have plenty of viable options. URL’s that aren’t taken are cheap. Invest in a few variations of your website url if you can. BizAntix owns a few, including bizantics.com