One of the most important decisions you need to make when starting a new business is how you’re going to name it. Names aren’t important in the same way a business model is, or having quality products is. The name you pick will be at the center of your branding strategy, and it will be inseparable from your business.

In the digital world, however, it doesn’t make much sense to talk about business names without talking about URLs. Not that the two are completely the same, it’s just that the process of picking the name and finding a great URL go hand in hand. If you do it right, you’ll have a great name and an URL that leaves a great first impression defines your brand and affects your website’s SEO for the better.

Do Your Research

The URL you choose cannot be the same as an already existing URL. And it’s not one of those things that you shouldn’t do, but you still can – you literally will not be able to register an existing URL.

But that doesn’t stop you from infringing on trademarks with your URL. If you’re thinking about choosing a word that’s familiar because it’s connected with an existing brand or business, you should think twice. Not only will you create confusion, but you’ll also open yourself to possible legal actions from the copyright holders.

Keywords and URLs

There was a time when exact-match domains, or EMDs, were all the rage. People used to buy domain names that contained the exact keywords they were targeting and achieve good rankings without even needing to provide relevant content.

For better or for worse, search engines have evolved since then, and low-quality websites with EMDs have been penalized. However, if your website has relevant content and if it’s well-optimized, having an EMD will not get you penalized. It will be a slight boost to the website’s search engine visibility.

Picking the Right Words

The exact wording of your URL depends on things like targeted keywords and branding. However, these are not the only things you need to take into account when choosing a URL.

You need words that are relatively easy to spell. You also need words that sound catchy and are easy to remember and pronounce. Your URL shouldn’t be too long because it will not help its memorability.

Be Careful with Numbers and Special Characters

There are certain characters, you should absolutely avoid including in your URL. Numbers, for example, will make people who hear your URL wonder whether the numbers are spelled out or written in numerals.

Adding hyphens also increases the chance that someone who hears the URL will not be able to type it properly. Simplicity is key, and you should remove anything that might cause confusion. If you already have a brand name that contains numbers or hyphens and you’re confident in its recognizability, you can consider adding the brand name as is in the URL. Otherwise, steer clear.

Pick a .com Domain

You might be tempted to go with one of the newer and more interesting top-level domains such as .beer, .website, or .ninja. In some cases, these would be a good match. But for your business, no matter what industry it’s in, they probably wouldn’t.

If possible, you should stick with .com for your business website’s domain. It might be the most expensive option, but it’s also the option that carries the most trustworthiness. Plus, your customers might not even be aware that those quirky top-level domains exist, which can lead them to think that the websites using them are not legitimate business websites.

Pick Carefully

If you’re not happy with your choice of URL, you will be able to change it down the line. However, the change comes at a cost – a short-term website traffic drop, and a long-term search engine rankings drop. Neither of these is something you’d want.

The best course of action would be to pick a URL you’d be comfortable using at least a couple of years in the future. And you should stick with that URL until you have a very good reason to change it, which usually happens when you decide to rebrand.