(originally published in The
Jerusalem Post, Novermber 2004)
What's in a [Web Site] Name?
A rose may indeed smell as sweet by any other name -- but
if you're hoping to attract visitors to your rose shop website,
don't name it "skunk.com."
Selecting a name for Internet use comprises two separate
but related topics: site name and domain name. A domain name
is the means of locating an entity on the Internet. For example,
the domain name for The Jerusalem Post is www.jpost.com.
The site name (which appears in the bar at the top of your
browser window) is "Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from
Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World."
We'll discuss choosing a domain name first,
since it's more complex and less reversible. Here's a personal
example of What Not to Do:
I set up my site and company at the same time. This *should*
be an ideal situation, providing such freedom of choice.
I figured a good domain name should be catchy, unique. I
wanted it to connote graphic design and the Internet, and
also a slant towards practicality and location in Israel. "Architecture" is
defined as the science of design and construction. "Atar" is
Hebrew for both sites and websites. So the name "AtarTecture" would
concisely represent the design and construction of Web sites
in English and Hebrew. Ta da!
Although pleased with my cleverness, I did test my brainstorm
on a focus group: my husband and a few friends. After a collective
5 minutes of thought they reassured me that it was a fine
choice, and I barreled ahead: registered the domain, constructed
the site, and opened for business.
Then reality hit. Many clients initially contacted me by
phone. I had to pronounce and spell out the domain name of
my site -- often on a cell phone with spotty reception. The
name was not only polysyllabic, it also contained two "resh" consonants
to be butchered by my still-atrocious American accent. After
a couple of years I shortened the name to AtarTec.
So here are some practical guidelines for choosing a more
effective domain name:
- Make it easy to spell and pronounce
- A shorter name is less prone to typos when people enter
it into a browser
- It should be directly related to your company name
- If possible, incorporate one of your keywords into your
Choosing a site name is simpler
-- since it can be modified at will, unlike the domain name
which is a fixed address -- but still deserves thought. While
the domain name specifies the page that will be linked to
from a search engine (SE), the site name (specifically, the
title of your home page) is the underlined link that will
appear in SE results. This name should be informative enough
to convince people interested in your subject matter to click
and visit your site. Also, the title is a primary factor
that SEs weigh when deciding how to rank your site.
For example, say you own a real estate company named "Eli
Mor, Inc." Many companies title their home page with
something like "Welcome to Eli Mor". This is uninformative
for prospective visitors, and limited for SEs. The major
consideration for titling your site is to incorporate your
keywords. It would be much better to have the home page titled: "Residential
real estate in Ramat Hasharon, Israel: Eli Mor, Inc." since
this uses both the company name and other relevant keywords.
Using this same site example, let's return to the issue
of choosing a domain name. Commonly, people use their company
name: www.elimor.co.il. Not terrible, but a domain name can
be more than your URL: it should intrinsically remind people
of the nature of your business, whether they see it on the
Internet or in print. A more informative and inviting choice
would be: "www.EliMorRealty.co.il".
Of course, you'll need to adapt these suggestions to your
particular circumstances. For a real estate agency named "Yechezkiel
Impossibletospelllastname and Sons, Inc." a workable
domain name wouldn't even include the company name. A good
alternative would be "HasharonRealty.co.il".
Using these guidelines, choose names that will make your
online presence memorable.