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How to Choose a Domain Name

When you’re getting ready to launch your website, choosing a domain name is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. It doesn’t take long to buy a domain name, but you should spend time picking one that reinforces your brand. A domain name, like squarespace.com, is your first impression online, and it impacts everything from search engine optimization (SEO) to a person’s ability to easily remember and find your website.

Whether you’re launching a personal website, an ecommerce business, or a blog, read on for tips about how to choose a domain name that suits your brand.

Personal vs. Business domains

Think about the kind of website you want to build with your domain. If you’re launching an online store for an existing business, choose a domain name that will help customers find your website. Start by searching for a domain name that matches the name of your business. Ideally, your domain name and your business name will be the same or similar. 

If you’re launching a resume website or creative portfolio, your domain can be your full name or nickname. You might want to consider including your middle initial, to distinguish your website from anyone else who shares your name.

If you’re creating a blog or other personal website, you might be migrating an existing audience from a social media platform or an email list. Align your domain name with the channel people already follow you on. This could look like choosing a domain name that matches your Instagram handle, or that references the name of your email newsletter.

No matter what kind of website you’re launching, you’ll want to consider how your domain name will impact other arms of your online presence. For example, if you plan to set up an email for your business, your domain will be a prominent part of your email address. 

Get a free domain name when you sign up for an annual plan with Squarespace.

How long should a domain name be?

Your domain name can be anywhere from a few characters to several words. As a rule of thumb, shorter domain names are more effective. They’re simple for people to recall, and less likely to be misspelled or misread. Think of your domain name as your online address — you want people, especially first-time visitors, to be able to easily remember where to find you online. 

From using keywords to picking the right domain extension for your website, here are four key things to keep in mind as you choose a domain name:

  1. The importance of a unique domain name

Similar to creating a logo for your brand, choose a domain name that is both unique and easy to recognize. Avoid domains that are unnecessarily long, difficult to spell, or that include numbers or symbols. Your domain name can be as straightforward as your business or brand name — but if competitor brands share a similar name to yours, find ways to distinguish yourself. For example, if you run a business called Smith Hardware, you might differentiate your business from other “smithhardware” domain names by choosing a website name like “smithhardwarenyc.”

2. How to choose a domain extension

When you pick a domain name, you need to choose a domain extension, which is also called a top level domain (TLD). The TLD is the part of the URL that comes after the last period in your website domain name. Common top level domains include .com, .org, and .net, but you can also customize your domain with options like .me or .bio for an online portfolio, or .fitness for a gym or personal training business.

3. Consider SEO

Your domain name is an opportunity to optimize your website for search engines from the very start. If you’re launching a website for your photography business, include the word “photography” in your domain name. Adding your location and other specifics about your business can help search engines and site visitors understand what to expect from your website.

If a keyword doesn’t naturally fit in your domain name, don’t force it. It’s more important for people to remember your domain name — and domains that are keyword stuffed can be deprioritized by search engines, which means your website won’t appear in top search results. There are also plenty of other ways to optimize your website, like writing effective website copy.

4. Align with your social media handles

Think about aligning your domain name with your social media handles. This is especially important if you’re building your brand on social media, or have a significant social following already. When you match your domain name with your social media handles, it’s easy for your audience to find your brand across channels. 

If your domain and social handles are different, there are other ways to connect your audience. You can integrate your social media accounts with your website, and use tools like Bio Sites from Unfold to drive your social followers to your website content through links in bio.

Ready to claim your website name? Learn more about how to buy a domain name.

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