How to choose a great web address for your website
So you’ve decided to create a website. Now what?
Whether you plan to build it yourself or hire a web developer, there is an important decision you’ll need to make up front: What will your URL be?
A URL, or uniform resource locator, is your address on the internet. It’s what comes after the “www.” It’s what people will type into their web browsers to find your site, and it’s what you’ll use in all of your marketing materials and advertisements.
So it needs to be good. But what makes a good URL? I like to think of it in these terms:
- Make it short. Your potential visitors will appreciate not having to type a long and unfamiliar string of characters into their browser, and you’ll benefit from a lower likelihood of typos.
- Make it easy to spell. Again, you don’t want to invite typos. Keep in mind words that are commonly difficult to spell or tricky spots like one word ending with the same letter the next one begins with.
- Make it memorable. You want your people to be able to remember your URL for two reasons: first, it will help them find your site whenever they want to, and second, it will help them tell others about your site.
The complicating factor with URLs, though, is that it can feel like all the good ones are already taken. Twenty years ago — or even 10 years ago — you had much better options available when picking a URL. Today, it can feel like most good names are already registered. (And if a name is already registered, you can’t register it for your organization or business.) If the name you want is already taken, consider:
- Adding a verb or descriptive word to your name: drinkjoescoffee.com, shopsallysboutique.com, etc.
- Adding a location to your name: joescoffeeflorida.com, sallystampa.com, etc.
- Using a different domain extension: instead of .com, try .info, .net, .biz, or any number of the extensions that are now available. NOTE: This doesn’t work as well for non-profits, who should stick with .org URLs because of the perception of credibility they bring.
You can check the availability of domain names at a domain registration site like godaddy.com. When you find an available name that you like, you’ll need to register it for at least one year, then renew it periodically. You’ll connect your new domain name with a web hosting service like DreamHost…then you’re ready to build your site!