The Right Way to Choose a URL

Picking a URLDid you know that there’s actually a whole cottage industry surrounding choosing a URL (i.e. a web address)? There are actually two ways this is done. One is through advertising firms which charge thousands of dollars to find just the right URL and help brand it. Another however is through a company which charges $50 and which keeps the money in escrow. They’ll start sending you info on available URLs which you may like and if you use one, your money is paid. If not, it’s refunded.

I mention this because I find it both amusing and not surprising that people seem to need help with finding a URL for their business website. Anyway, for those who don’t want to spend the money but who have some time on their hands, here is the right way to choose a URL:

Start with a Keyword

It sounds obvious, but people tend to skip this important step. Think about what it is that your company is going to be about. Now visit the Google Adwords page and enter a descriptive word for the business. You’ll get lots of suggestions of alternatives. Look for one where the competition isn’t too high but the number of monthly searches is plentiful (around 50,000 or better is usually a good bet for a URL keyword).

Make sure that your keyword is used somewhere in your new URL. For example, if we wanted to set up a website for a professional writer (like me), we’d want the word write or writer in the URL.

Keep it Short

Whenever possible, keep your new URL as short as possible. Ideally, no more than three words and four words in a pinch. This may be difficult with some very popular niches. For example, every euphemism that you can think of for a writer is pretty much taken – writeway.com, writenow.com, writeitright.com, etc. And while longer versions are available (theverybestwriteronline.com is available as of this writing), these are generally not a good choice.

Dash Dot Dash – What Is This? Morse Code?

One way you may get around this problem of needing a good keyword is to use dashes in your URL. For example, as of this writing, your-best-writer.com is available to register. However, I’m not a really big fan of the whole dash thing. These are great for Google because an exact match of your keyword is always useful. However, these can confuse the heck out of your potential customers if they enter your keyword into their browsers.

Stay Away from Cutesy Names if Possible

Finally, unless you have the money to do a branding job on them, I advise staying away from “cutesy” names when trying to choose a URL for your website. For every flickr.com, there are also lots of cutesy names that no one has ever heard of. On the other hand, if that’s all you can find, then by all means go for it. A non word URL won’t destroy your SEO efforts, but it will make things harder because Google can’t match it to the content of your site.