One of the most important decisions you will need to make when you embark on a new web project is choosing the right domain name.

I get this question more than any other, and for good reason. The fact is, most of the really good domain names are taken – especially the .com’s and .com.au’s.

You will be surprised how much is involved, but with the following tips and some good brainstorming  I can guarantee you will make a better choice.

No. 1  Aim for .com or .com.au
The .com extension is without doubt the most popular when it comes to pleasing search engines. If you reside in Australia .com.au is the second best.

But what if these are not available? Depending on the industry you’re in .net or .org is acceptable, but make sure you use a primary keyword in your URL.

No. 2 Use a primary keyword
If you are SEO aware you will already have identified your keywords. Find the primary word that best describes your services, product or industry. It could even revolve around your locality. Look at what your competitors are doing.

This key word is very important so don’t rush because once you have purchased your domain it will prove invaluable when you begin optimising your site!

No 3. To hyphenate or not to hyphenate?
This is still subject to great debate. Firstly it can be hard to verbally communicate a web address with hyphens. And some people think they look unprofessional.

That said, if your chosen name has a string of words like “businessnetworkingandselling”,  the first time Google visits your site the bots will see a scramble of words and get confused. However, the key words on the rest of your site should set them straight.

So is “business-networking-and-selling” better? While many experts say possibly not, I have seen sites in niche markets quickly climb to the top because the hyphenated domain name matches the search term.

My recommendation is to consider hyphens if you’re a small player and have strong primary words in your domain. You won’t be marked down.

No.4 Avoid gimmicky names.
Domain names such as MakeMillionsOvernight.com are plain spammy and will simply turn people off.

No 5. Your domain should be short, easy to type and roll off the tongue.
People are lazy, I repeat LAZY. Make it as easy as possible for them to remember and type in your URL.

While it might be difficult to get one or two word domains that make sense, aim to be succinct and memorable. No more than four words please.

No 6. No numbers
A domain such as “dog-training-in-15-steps” is confusing. Some people may attempt to spell the number.

Without being dramatic, your business could live or die based on your ability to choose the right domain name, so take your time and refer back to this list if you need to.

Good luck.

About the author

Peter Engelhardt - Director Creative Brew

Peter Engelhardt

Peter has a ridiculous amount of marketing and communications experience. He is an inbound marketing advocate and a new media enthusiast with a passion for spreading his knowledge and blogging. Above all he is the driving force behind Creative Brew and a proud dad.