You are creating your online store. Little by little, you follow the steps to build an e-commerce site and so far, everything is going well. Suddenly, you have bathed in a complex subject … A subject that requires reflection … A subject that requires you to take out the credit card. And above all, a decisive subject for the success of your e-commerce project. The choice of your domain names for your merchant site!
Yes, choosing your domain name is a strategic step, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. But there you have it … How to choose your domain name? How to be sure to make the right choice? Not to make a mistake? Should you go for a free or paid domain? Here is an article that lists EVERYTHING you need to know about the domain name as well as tips to start your online business on the right foot!
Some general information on domain names
What is a domain name?
Before you start, you should know that a domain name defines the address of your site on the Internet. This is the link on which you will communicate to direct your prospects to your online store.
Concretely, for example, instead of saying “Go to the store at 2 rue de France”, on the Web, we will say “Go to www.mon-site.com”.
Thus, you understand that the purchase of the domain name is a STRATEGIC step for your web business. This web address is the entry point to your site and the element that will be disseminated and shared to as many people as possible to improve your notoriety, both by yourself and by your prospects, your community, journalists, influencers…
The 3 elements of a domain name
Technically, a domain name is made up of the 3 elements listed below:
- The sub domain
This is the traditional “www” found at the beginning of most domain names. However, be careful, this is not mandatory. You can very well put nothing at all and have a URL in the following form: my-site.com.
And this is done more and more for questions of simplicity, readability and modernity.
Another option is, for example, you can opt for a sub domain that directs, for example, to your company blog. At that time, it will look like this: blog.mon-site.com.
Note, however, that it is absolutely not mandatory to put your blog in a subdomain. You can choose to put each section (including the blog) in what is called, “a directory at the root”: www.mon-site.com/blog/.
- The domain
Quite simply, in our example, it is “my-site”. This is the part that truly marks the identity of your site, whether with the name of your brand, your shop or your product, your sector…
In the following tips, we’ll explore the best option for your domain.
- Extension of the domain name
Logically, this is the last part of the domain name, namely the “.com” in our example.
It is important to know that a domain name necessarily consists of the domain and its extension. There are several types of extensions (.fro, .com, .shop…).
When you buy a domain name, you can opt for multiple extensions.
And you pay for each extension you choose. Again, we’ll look at the best option for your business.
On the other hand, the subdomains mentioned above are free, provided that you own the domain name concerned.
What about HTTP / HTTPS?
HTTP is a client-server communication protocol developed for the Web.
Your site can be accessible via HTTP or HTTPS depending on whether you have opted for a security certificate, called an “SSL certificate”. This is a big asset for your e-commerce activity since it will reassure Internet users that your site is secure.
They know that they will be able to transmit their personal data without any fear.
In addition to the “S” which is added at the end of HTTP, the SSL certificate is also represented by a padlock which is displayed in the URL bar.
Conversely, if you do not have a certificate, browsers may display an alert message which will have the effect of scaring away your potential customers.
If you are creating a new store, I therefore strongly advise you to opt for the HTTPS protocol. If you haven’t already done so, you can get it at any time, either manually or, more easily, through the registrar of your domain name.
Ownership of the domain name
It is imperative that you own your domain name.
It is on him that you will focus your efforts. All your work on quality content and natural referencing will give it authority with Google.
And your domain name will thus be the determining element in the ranking of your site on search engines.
The domain name is also an important factor to take into account when estimating the value of your site. In the event of a website sale, the authority of your domain name will be a real asset to maximize its sale price.
I take this opportunity to contradict a bad prejudice suffered by e-commerce solutions in Seas mode. Indeed, I often read that Seas solutions have a disadvantage: you do not own your site and therefore it has no value in the event of resale.
With a Seas e-commerce platform such as WiziShop, you remain 100% owner of your domain name as well as your customer and prospect database. And this is what has resale value. You have, therefore, no disadvantage to create your site via a shared solution.
On the other hand, some platforms offer to have a site with a free domain name. That’s a very bad idea. The few Euros that you will save per year will be nothing compared to the inconvenience of not investing in a domain name.
At WiziShop, we completely offer the option of benefiting from a free domain name such as: my-site.mywizi.com. However, we strongly recommend that you buy your own domain name in order to take advantage of the advantages that I have just mentioned.
Please note, registering a domain name is a thoughtful purchase since it is a long-term commitment.
The domain name is a bit like your logo or the name of your e-commerce business. This commits you for many years. And over time, it will gain notoriety and authority. This will therefore be more critical to change than many other aspects of communication.
When looking for a domain name, take the time to think it over, especially as there are thousands of combinations and possibilities. And as you have understood, you can, very well, buy multiple domain names.
Here are now our 11 rules to help you make the right choice of domain name.
11 Tips for choosing your domain name
1. Where to buy your domain name?
Let’s start with the basics… A domain name is generally bought from a domain name registrar or “registrar” in French (1 & 1, OVH…). These registrars often offer packages that also include hosting for your site.
In other words, if you already know the web host you want to take for your site, buy the domain name in the same place. Even if it is cheaper with a competing registrar, you will save a few dollars but it will be nothing compared to the disadvantages you will get.
Simply choose a serious and reputable registrar.
Another option, if you operate an e-commerce solution in Seas mode such as WiziShop for your online store, it is very practical since you can register domain names directly from your administration area.
And since it is WiziShop that takes care of hosting your site, no problem!
2. Use the name of your company or brand.
Whenever possible, when choosing your domain name, the basis is to opt for your business name or brand name.
By “where possible” I mean that in some cases, depending on the name of your company, you are going to prefer a shorter term. Indeed, the name of the site will be derived from your domain name. Thus, in terms of communication, it is always good to think of a “short message” and therefore a simpler domain name, more easily remembered and more effective. We will come back to this point a little later in the article.
If you choose your company name, make sure it is easily pronounced, audible, and understandable.
If you have registered a trademark, it makes perfect sense to use it for your domain name.
Indeed, in this case, it is the brand that we will remember more easily than the domain name. For example, we use “WiziShop” and not “wizishop.fr”. In this case, when we know the name of the brand, we will remember your site by name.
And this is a real advantage for your business.
You will limit your dependence on the various acquisition levers over which you have no control (SEO services, social media, etc.). Internet users will type the name of your site directly into their browser bar and will get there without an intermediary.
For you, this is totally beneficial!
You capitalize on your brand image and the notoriety of your site. And, quite naturally, you reduce your acquisition costs to acquire new customers.
2. What about the dash?
If your domain name includes several words, it is said that it is always better to separate them with dashes, whether from an SEO point of view, or simply, in terms of readability.
However, it becomes more difficult when you need to spell out your site’s address.
What to do then?
For example, I will take a textbook case: the big French banks.
Let’s see what we can get out of this (sorry for the pun… ^^):
- Banquet Popularize: Banquepopulaire.fr
- Credit Agricola: credit-agricole.fr
- Society General: societegenerale.fr
- Credit Cooperative: credit-cooperatif.coop
What can we conclude from this?
At one time, we preferred to separate words with dashes. Today, the trend is reversing.
2 solutions are available to you:
- Prefer domain names without dashes. And it is frankly not very dramatic; especially since they are often forgotten or misplaced by Internet users.
- Opt for dashes on your site and elsewhere, communicate without dashes. You will then redirect, in 301, the “without dash” to the “with dash”. In other words, if people click on mysite.com, they will be automatically redirected to my-site.com.
Anyway, be aware that Google distinguishes keywords well, whether they are attached or separated by hyphens. No SEO problem!
3. Accents and special characters
Special characters have no place in a domain name. Quite simply, they don’t work.
You can only include letters, numbers, and the middle dash (more commonly known as a “6 dash”).
However, it is quite possible to insert accents but we STRONGLY advise against it.
Beyond the fact that you will have display problems in the search bar of browsers,
You complicate the task for the Internet user who will not know whether to put an accent or not and who is rather used to writing domain names without an accent, as in email addresses.
Anyway, to be on the safe side, if the name you have chosen for your site includes accents, it would be ideal to purchase the accented variants as well. And you redirect them, in 301, to the official domain name generator Shopify
At this time, the Internet user will no longer have any confusion and you will avoid the risk of cyber-squatting.
For example, today, the domain name ikéa.com belongs to a third party that has no connection with the IKEA Company. The latter not having bought this accentuated domain name, a third person jumped at the opportunity with the sole aim of harming the company.
You got it: PROTECT YOURSELF!
4. The Figures
So, if numbers are allowed in a domain name, how do you write them?
If I tell you “seven”, should you write it “seven” or “7”?
Again, you can buy all of the options but at this point, my advice is to avoid using numbers instead.
4. The size of the domain name
Here, there is only one adage to remember: the shorter, the better!
As with everything, the shorter the domain name, the more easily it will be remembered and effective.
By choosing a short domain name, you simplify the operation and communication of your brand.
So much so that the legend even says that there is no longer any domain name available below 5 characters under the .com extension!
So how many characters should a domain name have?
Even if technically, a domain name can be up to 255 characters (including the subdomain), it is strongly recommended to never exceed 30 characters.
And if you’re under the 15 character mark, that’s much better.
Obviously, this will push you to be creative because it is not an easy task!
To be effective, your domain name must be easy to remember and find from a Google search. It should therefore be simple to pronounce and spell. Pay attention to silent letters.
Word games are fun, but avoid them… They are often more difficult to memorize.
6. Put a keyword in his domain name?
You can do it very well… However, do not think that it will allow you to work on your natural referencing.
Quite the contrary!
Google has implemented a filter, called EMD, to sanction “Exact Match Domains”, i.e. domain names that include the keywords of your activity. The “Penguin” algorithm also penalizes these sites.
Maybe some of you are planning to include the keyword behind your brand, for example.
Beyond the fact that you always have to think short, this is probably the last thing to do in terms of SEO. Also, tell yourself that it’s not just SEO. There are also the emails that you will send out with your domain (example: [email protected]), your communication on the various media, and supports…
Save your keywords for other, more relevant content!
In addition, does the domain name influence the SEO and visibility of your website?
The answer is NO but…
This was the case at one time, but those days are now over. Matt Cuts, head of the Google algorithm closed the debate on this subject.
However, this same person explains that naturally, the presence of a keyword can have a marketing impact on the Internet user.
Let me explain… First of all, during a Google search, the searched keywords are highlighted in bold type. Visually, there is already an impact since the eye will be drawn…
Also, I will take a very explicit example, unearthed on Web rank info. An Internet user is looking for a “sweet pie recipe”. Google will offer him the following results:
Unless they know the reference Marmaton site which enjoys a great reputation in the sector, the Internet user will naturally tend to click on “recipes-tartes.com”. Do you agree?
7. Watch out for translations!
Be careful before committing to a domain name… Be ambitious and think international!
What makes sense in French may not have meaning in a foreign language… Worse yet, it could have a negative connotation depending on the country in which you are.
For example, in 2001 Honda decided to market the Honda “Fitter” in Europe. However, in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, “Fitter” is a vulgar slang word.
The car was therefore renamed Honda “Jazz”.
8. What if your domain name is not available?
Here is a real headache related to the purchase of a domain name!
When you provide information on a registrar to buy it, the latter will consult the AFNIC (French Association for Internet Naming in Cooperation) database, they are the ones who manage top-level domain names), to” ensure that it is available, with the desired extension.
If not, you can always try with alternative extensions like .net.
There will be no impact on natural referencing, except with geographic extensions such as .fro.Paris, etc.
Another option, you can add, indirectly, a keyword with new extensions such as .boutique or .shop, an extension of which WiziShop was a pioneer in the world, just that!
In this regard, also pay attention to trademark law.
The fact that a domain name is available does not necessarily mean that it respects trademark law and that you can acquire it. For example, if you are in the clothing industry and you buy “Zara-fashion”, you will quickly receive a letter from a lawyer asking you to return this domain name.
So make sure that the chosen brand is available in your industry.
For France, you can consult the INPI database. There is also EUIPO for Europe or WIPO (WIPO) globally.
In our example, the fictitious brand “Zara Fashion” is certainly available. The INPI database will answer you in the affirmative. However, this is a trademark infringement. It is a matter of common sense.
9. Pay attention to social media
Nowadays, addresses are also multiplying on social media marketing.
Before choosing your domain name, therefore check that the usernames and nicknames are available on the platforms Facebook, Twitter, Integra…
10. Which extension to choose?
The choice of extension should not be made at random.
Have a real reflection on your activity as well as your market.
For example, if you are considering a multilingual version of the site, it is always good to use the national extensions but basically a generic (.com, .net) will do just fine. And it won’t have any impact on SEO.
Do you also sell in Belgium? Consider using the .be in addition to the .fro. This will make the market easier to understand, especially if a surfer notices these things. When coming across a .be site, a Belgian will know that he is in the right place and that you are delivering in his country.
In short, for the choice of the extension, in the case of a multilingual store, 2 choices are available to you:
- Put everything on a single domain name. In this case, the .com is the best option. Example: Apple
- Use a domain name with the extension of each target country. Examples: Amazon, Google, eBay…
Note that the local aspect has taken an important place on the Internet. The majority of Internet users do local searches, especially when they are done on mobile, a medium that has overtaken the computer in terms of Internet research. You can therefore choose.Paris, .nice, .Alsace… if your activity is directly linked to a city or a region. These special extensions are often more expensive than the standards. Therefore, only use them if it is of certain interest for your image, your communication or to reassure Internet users about the “proximity” aspect of your company.
Also, think about the future! If you plan to sell in other countries in the near future, remember to also reserve the .be, .it (Italy), .as (Spain), .pt (Portugal) … before they are stolen from you!
By noting the popularity of your site, a malicious person can try to harm you and block you in your development. Without a doubt, the resale price will be high.
With this in mind, protect yourself as much as possible. Even if you only use one, buy the names with and without a hyphen as well as with several extensions… Prefer the best known. If you buy a .fro domain name, reserve the .com immediately. Moreover, registrars often offer packs.