Choosing a domain name for your business can be challenging, especially considering the limited availability of domains and the importance of choosing a name that will represent your company for years to come. Add to that the advent of newly-trending naming techniques, keywords, and extensions and you quickly realize that choosing a good domain name for your business is no cake walk. Whether you’re starting a new business or looking for a great domain name for your current business and don’t know where to start, take a couple minutes to read through these 4 tips for choosing the best domain name for your business.

1)   Great Domain Names Should Be Short

As Albert Einstein famously said, “Everything should be made as  simple as possible, but no simpler.” Domain names are no exception to this rule. They should be just long enough to convey meaning, evoke feeling, or offer insight into your company’s identity and purpose. Any longer and you risk adding confusion, watering-down your message; any shorter and you risk not conveying any message at all.

Consider Facebook, formerly known as TheFacebook.com. The word “The” did nothing to further enhance the name or convey meaning. If anything, it watered-down what was otherwise an original, thought-provoking name. “Facebook” just sounds better. It’s shorter, sweeter, simpler, and sexier, and if nothing else the name has saved three extra letters from having to be typed trillions of times.

One way that people fall into the trap of choosing a wordier-than-necessary domain is choosing some variant of a domain name that is already taken. Let’s be absolutely clear about this: It is always worth it to either purchase the domain name you want or choose another domain name. Always.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, choosing a name that is a one-off from the name you really were looking for is inherently settling for something less than you wanted. Secondly, choosing a domain name that is so close to one that is taken is setting yourself up for future confusion at best and litigation at worst. Having to explain to your customers that they need to include the word “the” at the beginning or alter the spelling of one word or else they will be taken directly to your competitor’s website is not a position you want to be in. Instead, consider purchasing the name you wanted and if you can’t, consider moving away from that space and trying an entirely different naming strategy that separates you from your competition.

2)   A Great Domain Name Should Be Memorable

With all of the information and noise out there these days, it’s important now more than ever to choose a domain name that will stand out to your audience and that can be easily recalled when a potential customer is in a position to purchase your product or service. Creating a memorable name may mean forgoing the use of keywords that literally describe your product or service, as these can be easily lost in a sea of similar domains. Imagine if Zappos.com had instead chosen a name with the English word “Shoe” in it. Imagine if “Amazon.com” had chosen a name with “Books” or “bookstore” in it, or if ebay had chosen a name with “Auction” or “Bid”. While these names would certainly be descriptive, they would lose the memorable qualities that helped these companies become the powerful brands they are today.

Memorable domain names are usually a play on words, or some clever mix of real or invented words, of which their constituent parts evoke some feeling, image, or emotion. They allude to the product or service without explicitly saying what it is. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, particularly when companies purposely make their message as loud and clear and simple as possible.

Take for example, DollarShaveClub.com. It’s literally a shave club that has a low-end subscription fee of one dollar. Ironically, these names can be memorable because they use a strategy that is so far opposite what are commonly considered good, modern naming conventions. Therefore, it’s likely no coincidence that companies such as DollarShaveClub.com employ a tongue-in-cheek, in-your-face, over-the-top marketing campaign. Regardless of the strategy you use, remember that choosing a memorable domain name is essential to making sure your customers not only hear your message, but also find their way to your website.

3)   Your Domain Name Should Highlight Your Company’s Strengths

In addition to being memorable, a good domain name should lend itself to revealing your company’s unique strengths and abilities. Your domain should help to establish what you’re good at and why your audience should choose to do business with you and not your competition.

Say for example you are a clothing subscription company that helps customers to effortlessly and affordably update their wardrobe by sending stylish boxes of hand-selected clothing items from a curated collection. While that idea was once unique in and of itself, you will now find yourself amongst a list of dozens of competitors doing the exact same thing. To stand out, you’ll have to emphasize something about your company that you do better than your competition or perhaps some aspect that is overlooked or neglected. Maybe you specialize in 80’s and 90’s era vintage clothing. In that case, a name that evokes imagery of the 80’s and 90’s might be helpful. Think neon, leg warmers, big hair, high-wasted jeans, grunge, punk… Think about all of it and start writing down and playing with domain names that feature those concepts. Keep searching until you find a name that captures that feeling and then buy it.

4)   Your Domain Name Should Stand The Test of Time

There are so many trendy naming conventions with web-based businesses these days. For example, -ify is an incredibly popular suffix right now (Spotify, Shopify…) and .ly is has been a popular trendy domain name extension for several years now (Bit.ly, Ow.ly…). These names can be great if you’re the first, or one of the first, to use them. However, using trendy or clever naming conventions now may run your company the risk of appearing passé in the future. If you want your company to appear modern and trendy, it’s much better and far less costly to alter your website, logo design, artwork, and ad campaigns than it is to re-brand when your once-cool name appears dated. When considering a domain name, think to yourself “Would this have sounded good ten or twenty years ago? Will this sound good ten or twenty years from now?” If the answer to both is yes, then chances are you’ve got a domain name that will stand the test of time.