Choosing the best domain name is not rocket science. Since 2014, the number of available domain extensions one can choose for one’s website has exploded massively – from just about 215 to the over 1,450 available today. This then brings another challenge of which extension is best for one’s purpose.
Before 2014, generic choices were limited to .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, while extensions like .pro, .travel and .aero required additional documentation to meet their respective eligibility requirements. The limited number of options meant good domains were hard to come by. Domains fetched a high premium in the secondary market. For example, carinsurance.com reportedly sold for US$ 49,700,000 in 2010.
Of course, about 200 country-code domain extensions were in existence since the 1990s with varying levels of success. As of May 2018, .uk for the United Kingdom has about 10.4 million domains, .de for Germany has about 16.3 million domains, .ng for Nigeria has about 110,000 domains, .za for South Africa has about 1.27 million domains, .ug for Uganda etc.
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How to choose the Best Domain Name
In choosing the best domain name, one needs to consider the purpose of the website. The best way would be to define the audience and their location. This then leads to the choice of name to register, as well as the extension.
The .com in web4africa.com is the domain extension.
Brand / Company / Organization / Personal Name + .com
The most obvious and most popular strategy has always been to simply register (or at least initially) the name of the brand, company, organization or person, with a .com ending. Unless the name is extremely unique, say, a made-up word like “flickr”, it is usually taken already. Where the domain is not in use, it may be up for sale at a premium price in the secondary market.
Brand / Company / Organization / Personal Name + other extensions
Rather appending some terms to the name and desperately registering under a .com, the next best thing could be to look for the same domain, under other extensions relevant to the theme of the website. This would make sense if the .com is not in popular use. Where amazon.com is already extremely popular, for example, it would be very problematic to simply opt for amazon.xxx just because it was available. Depending on the context of the domain registration, there could be issues with trademark infringement. Assuming the name is not a trademark nor in popular use under .com, some alternative domain extensions would make a lot of sense:
- .blog is perfect for a web blog
- .store works for a store – whether it is an online or an offline store
- .tech is ideal for the technology-themed website
- Other new extensions like .space, .site, .xyz, .online just work, irrespective of the theme of the website, considering they are generic in their outlook.
Brand / Company / Organization / Personal Name + Geographic extensions
It goes without saying that the geographic extension must be relevant to the location of the website’s intended audience or market.
A very good place to explore would be the country-code extension (ccTLD) of the location or audience of the intended website. One could check the domain name availability under extensions like .us, .ca, .na, .cd, .ug.
It is worth noting that the leading search engines consider some country code domains to be “generic”, for SEO purposes. Google, for example, treats these ccTLDs as generic: .ad, .as, .bz, .cc, .cd, .co, .dj, .fm, .gg, .io, .la, .me, .ms, .nu, .sc, .sr, .su, .tv, .tk, .ws. The website manager can however manually specify Geographic Target of the website using any of the affected ccTLDs from Google’s Webmaster Tools where necessary.
city extensions like .joburg, .capetown, .durban, .london, .nyc for New York City are now available and make sense where the website is targetted at the particular city.
Other domain extensions like .eu, .asia or .africa target whole continents.
Website Subject or Theme + relevant Domain Extension
Another very good option would be to simply combine a word or phrase that best describes the subject or theme of the website with the most relevant domain extension as explained prior. Random examples could be plumber.nyc, true.love, travel.africa, business.club etc. The only challenge is that the respective registries may be offering very short and contextually excellent domain names at premium prices – even for renewals.
Choosing the very best domain name for your website should no longer be rocket science. With the wide range of available choices, finding the very best domain name that fits one’s purpose is easy enough – especially where one is very open-minded and creative with the decision process.