Here’s a post I’ve been promising for a while now: how to choose a domain name for your book, ebook, or for that matter, any other project.
The first rule: I could never, ever endorse titling a book (or any other project) if you do not own the associated .com domain. If the title of your book is Be A Smarty Pants, then you must own Beasmartypants.com. This means that you may also own all the other domain extensions with the exact title of your book, including .org, .net, etc., but just be sure that you own the exact title in .com form.
When brainstorming about the title of a book with a client, I always have a browser window open to my web host, and we check the availability of the domain first. If the .com isn’t available, we look for something else to title the entire project. Other extensions like .org or .info do not cut it. People simply have a tougher time remembering domain extensions other than .com – the ideal would be to buy all the domains you choose in all the available domain extensions, if only to prevent someone else from buying them and using them, which can cause confusion for your clients.
The primary objective in choosing a domain name is to make sure that people will have it on the tip of their tongue when they need your book, product or service. It must have sticking power.
Imagine that you are at lunch with a friend, and she tells you that she’s selling her home, and that she found a great new realtor on the web. You’ve also been thinking of listing your own home, and you ask for the realtor’s domain name. You are too busy eating to write it down, and when you get home later, you try to remember the domain name. Unless you are good friends with the person, you won’t bother to call them or email to ask for the URL. You will instead bypass that great realtor and start hitting Google. The realtor just lost a listing.
No-no’s for choosing domain names;
- Inclusion of the words “my” and “your”, nor “blog” nor “website”, because they get caught in spam filters.
- Inclusion of “4″ nor “for”, nor “2″ nor “to(o)” because when said out loud, they get confused with the number vs. the spelled word
- Words that are normally contracted, such as I’m or it’s.
- Any country (.ca, or .au) or other suffix: it should be a true “.com” for at least the main domain, because nobody remembers anything else.
- Plus, .info only works if that’s really what you’re offering: nothing but information.
- No dashes or underscores.
- No abbreviations of any kind, not just the conventional ones as per above.
- No strange spellings that require a long-winded explanation. Remember your elevator speech.
- No half-words, such as “comp” for company or “int” for international.
- Do not use your own name unless you’re trying to brand yourself, such as in the case of an Author or speaker.
Instead, your domain name should:
Be benefit-based rather than feature-based.
This can be tough to discern when you’re very close to your project, but this goes back to basic marketing training. For example, to market my podcasting services, I use the domain ResultCast.com (coming Sept. 09) and direct it to a specific landing page designed to just sell that service. Of course I provide quality recording, editing, and so on, but what people really care about is that it gets results. Think about great domain names like SpaFinder.com, AutoTrader.com, and FreeConferenceCall.com.
Tell people instantly what you’re selling.
I’m so lazy that I can’t be bothered to explain too much, so I’d prefer to let the domain name explain as much as possible, or at least put people in the mood to hear my super-short explanation. Clearly, FreeConferenceCall.com does the best job of this in the above list, but they all do fairly well.
Be easy to say and spell.
If people have to ask you to repeat it, drop it and move onto the next one.
Appeal to mutiple generations.
Unless your market is very clearly defined by age, your Grandma should get it as easily as your teenager.
Have a maximum of 5 syllables.
Don’t laugh – it’s much easier to say ResultCast.com than MobilePromotionalPodcasting.com, isn’t it? 3 syllables is about optimum.
Use hard consonants, rather than soft.
This means you avoid the dreaded fricative or sibilant S. (Yeah, yeah – I know: here that is in English…) Try to use more letters like b, p, t, d, k, and hard g (like as in garden, rather than edge), over letters and sounds like f, v, th, s, z, and ch. Hard consonants are easier to understand if you’re hearing something for the first time, or with background noise, or if you’re not listening very well, etc.
Is there a time to break these rules?
Sure: when you have enough marketing funds to explain to the public what the heck “Amazon.com” really means. In the meantime, save the marketing funds and play it safe.