How to Pick a Domain Name for Your Online Store
- What is a store domain name?
- Understanding domain extensions
- When is the right time to use subdomains?
- Subdomains vs. Subdirectories: What should you use?
- What is the best domain name for my website?
- How to register a domain name for my store?
- To sum up
There are millions of websites on the world wide web. To stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to make sure your brand is unique and memorable, and that represents your online business in the right manner. To put it differently, there are a few things that could affect your brand identity. One of them is the domain name of your online store.
What is a store domain name?
Simply put, a store domain name is the unique address of your online store that your potential customers access when they want to visit your store. It’s the name that identifies your online business on the Internet.
In essence, the domain name you choose for your online store could affect your business in a significant way. When your potential customers search for your online store, they start by typing your URL, and this affects your branding, SEO, and visibility.
Therefore, if you choose a complex, hard to read, or very long domain name, a lot of things could go wrong. First and most important, your site can disappear among millions of other websites in Google search results. It could be hard for your potential customers to find you and your brand wouldn’t be as memorable as it should be. Keep this information in mind when you are choosing your website’s domain.
You think that store domain name registration would be hassle-free, but it’s not always as easy as it seems. You can register a domain on many providers, but you can also face many problems along the way. Your domain is already bought, copyright, etc. You need to know more about domains in general before you try to buy the perfect one for your online store.
We’ve gathered a couple of tips that can help you throughout this process.
Understanding domain extensions
When business owners are looking to find their perfect domain, their first try in most cases is with the .com domain extension. This extension is the default Top-Level Domain extension. There are other TLDs, too. This could be a two-edged sword. On one side, choosing a domain with .com extension is the most trustworthy option. On the other side, as the competition is too dense, the majority of the domains with that particular extension are already used or bought by someone who now sells them at a very high price.
Luckily, today we can find more than 1,500 extensions that are alternatives to the .com extension. The popularity of other extensions seems to grow. When it comes to online stores and suitable domain extensions, the .store domain is becoming the TLD for online store owners. This extension is used by many online businesses in 2020. The .store domains became more recognizable and memorable for online stores since they are relevant and eye-catching.
This is a completely optional part of your domain name. It replaces the server name (www), like onlinestore.com. This could be used for a couple of things, for example, organizational purposes or search engine optimization. You could redirect visitors from other countries for information that is uploaded only for them, for example, usa.onlinestore.com. Now, this subdomain doesn’t exist, we’ve just set an example.
You could use it to create different versions of your site, like English, German, or Arabic. Many popular sites offer this kind of option, as they find the subdomains as their solutions to display multilingual content.
It is easy to say that subdomains are used to create different versions of your website that could help you throughout the process. Subdomains are used by large websites to split their content and keep it under the same domain name.
You can also use them to split your website into a mobile or desktop version. This is rarely the case because Google recommends the responsive design, and that is what matters, right? For anyone who doesn’t know what “responsive design” means, that is a single version of a certain website, for example, your store, that is optimized for all devices.
When is the right time to use subdomains?
There is no right time. If your business expanded to the point where it needs subdomains, then you use them. For example, many international businesses use them to display multilingual content to their users. If you have a single-page website and you like to start blogging, then you should add the blog.siteexample.com subdomain to your website.
The same works for store subdomains. You only need to add store.siteexample.com and start editing the content on that subdomain.
Similar to the subdomains are the subdirectories. For example, siteexample.com/store/. Those subdirectories are like folders on your website.
Subdomains vs. Subdirectories: What should you use?
There are no rules for this one, too. You need to structure your website according to your needs. Google doesn’t favor either subdomains or subdirectories.
What is the best domain name for my website?
There are a couple of tips to follow when you are choosing the right domain name for your website. There are two options available for businesses.
- Don’t rush into choosing the name of your brand without making research on the available domains. Instead, start by looking for compatible ideas for both your business name and domain name. If you do these things simultaneously, you’ll have more flexibility and you could change or adapt your business name according to the domain availability.
- If you already have a physical store and you are looking to grow your sales online, you might encounter a few problems. First is domain unavailability or high domain name prices. If the domain that matches your brand name is not available, you should search for a name that is very close to your business. On the other hand, if the domain you want is available but pricey, you should decide if you are going to invest in it, or not. The key thing is to choose a domain name that is easily recognizable by your customers and it is compatible with your brand, even if it’s not the exact same one.
Keep it memorable and simple
Think from your perspective. If it is shorter and simpler, then you could probably remember it. Imagine that you are in a meeting with some influencer and you tell them to write your website domain name to see your website. If you don’t need to spell the name or repeat it a couple of times, then it’s probably good.
Share your ideas with your friends or co-workers and see which domain name is easier to spell and remember. For example, sportslatest.com is a good domain name, it is short and simple.
Brandable and eye-catching domain name
When you are thinking about new ideas for your domain name, think about its branding and pay attention to its eye-catching part.
If you saw that name, would you click on it? That is a great place to start. Keep in mind that many search engines recommend putting your brand name in the domain name, it gains recognition and relevancy. Your whole online presence should be similar to one another. Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to use the same social media name, so check about its availability there, too.
Relevant to your business and niche
Another significant factor in the process of choosing your store domain name. If your brand name is not available to buy, you can choose another alternative but try to stay relevant to your niche. Many users click on some domain expecting to get their desired products or services. So make clear what you are offering to those users.
In this case, it would be a good idea to include at least one word that refers to your services or products. Don’t try to put a description in the domain name, just one word to make it clear. If your business name is “John’s Software” for example, and that store domain is taken, “Software” would be the focus keyword that you need in your domain name. Your online store domain name doesn’t have to be exactly the same as your brand name, but at the same time avoid too many and unnecessary words.
There are many domain extensions available today, but keep in mind that this might affect your search engine visibility. We recommend .com extension or any other relevant extension to your niche. For example, for your online store, you could buy a .store domain extension.
Don’t use numbers or uncertain words
The number can confuse your customers, and they are not memorable. There is a case when your business name has a number in it, you should use that number then. For example, onlinestore.com. As we’ve said above, don’t try to use many words in your domain because it will look irrelevant and spammy. Users recognize those domains and they don’t visit them.
Try to avoid words that could be replaced with a similar-sounding word. Think from the customer’s perspective. It is easier when you put yourself in their place, you will understand things better.
You could use the Google Translate service to find out how your domain name translates to other languages, to avoid memes and jokes about your brand on social media.
Special characters are off the table
You can’t use any special character like &, *, @, etc. The internet doesn’t allow that because they are used for other purposes. If your idea contains a special character, then you should find a word to explain it.
Do your research
There are a lot of domain extensions available on the world wide web, so your domain name could be taken and trademarked. Your job is to research social media and search engines to find if that name is used and copyrighted. You could get lawsuits and Google restrictions if some reports you. Make sure everything is legal, to avoid problems in the future.
Choose a domain name to boost your SEO efforts
Search engine optimization is one of the most important marketing methods for an online business. It is completely free, so you only need to follow the rules here. There isn’t a right domain name to simply comply with your SEO efforts. Google is unpredictable, so you just need to create a respectable brand behind that domain name, and try to offer the best user experience customers can get on your website.
Google has a couple of conditions you must do if you want to rank your website high in their search query. Read more about these conditions below.
How to register a domain name for my store?
As we’ve said above, this is maybe the easiest part of this process. You need to find the right company that offers domain registration services. You need to write your specific domain name and check for its availability and pricing. Before you choose the website that offers this kind of service, check for their competitors, and do your research.
There are a lot of websites that offer cheap domain and hosting packages, starting at $9.99 annually. Most of them require your credit card or PayPal information. You can find services that accept crypto and other forms of payment as well.
When you start the process, please use your real information. Why is this so important? Your domain and store could suffer if you put false information. If you want to hide your personal information, you can buy WhoIsGuard and protect your information from the public.
These companies offer multiple options. You can buy the domain for a month, you can register it for a year, or you can register it for a few years. Once your registration expires, you need to renew the domain name and claim your ownership, again. The longer your subscription is, the lower price you are going to pay.
You don’t need to design the website right away. The domain is registered in your name, so you can decide when you will start to use it.
You could switch your service provider if you have a better or cheaper offer available. Usually, those switches are hassle-free, but you should always be careful when you are agreeing to some provider’s terms and conditions, they might include some clause that forbids you from switching your registrars.
Each of the service providers offers multiple prices and packages based on the extensions. You can find free domains, and you can find domains as expensive as $1.000. A couple of factors affect the price of one domain. So keep in mind that if you want an SEO-friendly domain name, you must pay a bigger fee.
To sum up
You have the knowledge you need to register your store domain name. There are a couple of guides online that can help you out, too. Don’t spend too much time thinking about some details that don’t even matter. Focus on building your brand, your story, build your reputation and your domain name will follow. Google takes those factors when they rank your website. Follow our tips if you want to create a recognizing and memorable domain name, and don’t forget to enjoy the process and get creative.
About the Author
Kristina, Head of Content at BrandsGateway. Eternal inspiration: The Doors music and lyrics, Bernardo Bertolucci's timeless “Stealing Beauty”, and the dynamic and meditative Ashtanga Yoga.