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In a nutshell, a good domain name is brandable, easy to remember, and easy to pronounce. That’s it!

A problem that a number of small business owners face when choosing a domain name for their website is the misconception that its success relies solely on the name. They often believe this because they’ve read about, or been told, that search engines favour certain keywords in domain names. This is not true. It used to be true quite a few years ago when search engines were still in their infancy, but today, that practice (exact match domains) no longer works.

If you still have doubts in choosing your domain name, here are general guidelines you can use to help you.

What Makes A Good Domain Name?

Brandable

You should think of a brandable domain name as being similar to a household name. In other words, it should be easy to recognise, recall, and it should stand out from other small businesses in your industry.

Avoid using only keywords in your domain name because it will make it generic and easily forgettable. For example, if you own a small solar business, avoid names such as “solarsolutionjhb” or “bestrenewables”.

Pronounceable

The worst thing is having a domain name where the spelling is very different from its pronunciation. If you have a domain name that is difficult to pronounce, it can hamper your website’s shareability via word-of-mouth, and it becomes frustrating having to repeat and spell out your email address to people over the phone.

Remember, your domain name not only forms part of your website but also your email addresses.

Typeable

In our experience, the biggest issue when it comes to typing up a domain name is having two double letters next to each other. For example, “sunrayssolar” has two “S” letters next to each other, and the probability is high for your current and potential clients to mistakenly only type in “sunraysolar” with one “S” letter.

Memorable

Having a memorable domain name is just that, easy to remember. It’s not about being overly clever or unique, it should be easy for your existing and potential clients to recall.

Common Domain Name Mistakes

There aren’t really any big mistakes that you can make, but in general, it’s advised that you avoid the following:

  • Hyphens
    • Hyphens generally come into play when your chosen domain name is already taken. If possible, avoid hyphens and see what other words you can incorporate.
  • Numbers
    • One of the problems with numbers is their pronunciation. The number “4” sounds similar to the word “for”.
  • Double Letters
    • As mentioned above, your domain name should be free from typing mistakes.
  • Long Names
    • Try to use as few words as possible. Shorter names are much easier to remember. If your small business name is four words or more, try to see if you can remove non-essential words for your domain name.

Which Domain Extension Should You Choose?

Since we are based in South Africa, you’ll have two choices when it comes to a domain extension: .co.za and .com.

The difference between the two domain extensions is that a .com extension is a generic top-level domain (gTLD) and is used for international audiences. A .co.za domain extension is a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) and is used for local audiences (South Africa in this case).

If your small business only operates in South Africa, then choose a .co.za extension. But if you’ll be conducting business internationally, or even in the SADC region, then choose a .com extension.

What If You Have An Existing Small Business?

The easiest and most practical way to choose a domain name for your existing small business is to use your registered name or a slightly different variation of it.

You’ve already gone through the process of brainstorming an actual name for your small business (and you probably thought about it carefully), so there shouldn’t be a reason to go through the process again.

But remember, don’t use hyphens, numbers, double letters, and overly long names.

Where Can You Register A Domain Name?

We’ve been using Register Domain for the past couple of years to buy domains for our clients. You can register a .co.za domain name from Register Domain for R85.00, and it will also cost R85.00 per year to renew it afterwards.

If you would like to use a different business, below is a breakdown of the registration and renewal costs for .co.za domains from popular hosting providers that we’ve used:

 Registration (once-off)Renewal (per year)
AfrihostR197.00R97.00
1-GridR99.00R99.00
DomainsR90.00R90.00
XneeloR89.00R89.00
Popular Domain Registrars / Hosting Providers and their .co.za Domain Name Costs

We don’t recommend that you purchase a domain from the cheapest registrar since all of them provide their own additional value-added services such as free WHOIS protection, SSL certificates, etc.

Conclusion

Choosing a domain name for your small business is not just about picking a name; it’s about choosing a name that is brandable, pronounceable, typeable, and memorable. If you’re an existing small business, your registered name or a variation of it can be a practical choice.

Remember to avoid common mistakes such as using hyphens, numbers, double letters, and overly long names, and choose a reputable registrar that offers value-added services.