Choosing the right domain name for your e-commerce store is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting your online business. Your domain name is your store’s address on the internet, and it can have a major impact on your brand, marketing, and overall success.
With so many options to choose from, how do you select the perfect domain name for your e-commerce venture? Follow this comprehensive guide to learn the ins and outs of selecting an effective, brand-appropriate domain for your online store.
Brainstorm Keywords and Phrases
The first step in choosing your e-commerce domain is to brainstorm keywords and phrases related to your brand, products, and target audience. Your domain name sends cues about who you are and what you sell before customers even visit your site, so you want it to include relevant terms right up front.
Make a list of words that describe your product or brand identity. Think about industry terminology, product features, benefits, aesthetics, and more. Also include words that relate to your ideal customer avatar. Geographic terms like your city or country can also be useful for targeting local buyers.
Review top competitors and industry leaders to see what key terms they include in their domains as well. Research popular keyword search volumes using Google’s Keyword Planner or similar tools. Focus on frequently searched product names, category terms, and descriptive words that get traffic.
By brainstorming all the phrases that are important for your business, you’ll have extensive creative fodder for your domain name.
Pick the Domain Name Elements
Once you have a broad list of keyword options, you can start piecing together the elements of your domain. Online store names typically include some combination of the following:
- Brand name
- Product name or category
- Descriptive terms
Ideally, you’ll want to incorporate your brand name in the domain so customers can start tying it to your business. If you have an obscure brand name, consider adding a complementary descriptive word too. For example, the outdoor apparel company Backcountry uses backcountry.com.
You also generally want your primary products or product category reflected in the domain. An electronics store could use techgear.com, while a beauty brand could use naturalskinshop.com.
Location-based terms are recommended for businesses targeting local customers, like sfjewelryshop.com for a San Francisco jewelry boutique. Just be cautious about limiting your brand if you plan to expand outside a geographic area later on.
Once you know the key elements to include, you can start mixing and matching words to form domain name options using the various available extensions.
Consider the Domain Name Extensions
The domain extension – .com, .shop, .store, etc. – makes up the end of your domain name and affects how customers perceive your website. Here are some of the most popular extensions for e-commerce sites:
.com – The most common and versatile option that works for all types of businesses.
.shop – Clearly indicates you are an e-commerce store but has fewer characters.
.store – Also signifies you sell online but is a newer extension.
.market – Another alternative for e-commerce sites.
.brand – For promoting your brand identity.
.boutique – Suitable for small, unique, specialty stores.
There are many more custom domain extensions out there too. Evaluate which ending provides the right fit based on your business model and marketing angle. Using domain extensions can also help when common .com versions of keywords are taken.
Just keep in mind that some new extensions haven’t reached mainstream familiarity yet. Sticking to .com ensures the broadest visibility. But using an alternative like .shop helps your site stand out and quickly tells visitors what you do.
Check Domain Name Availability
Once you have a list of possible domain names for your e-commerce store, it’s time to check availability. Your first choice may already be registered, so you’ll want to find out which options are still up for grabs.
Start by searching on GoDaddy, Bluehost, Domain.com and other major domain registrars. They will let you enter a domain name and instantly see if it’s taken.
You can also use the free tool Lean Domain Search, which generates domain suggestions and checks availability across hundreds of extensions at once. Just enter keywords related to your business to view available domain name combinations.
During your searches, look out for:
- Exact match domains – These fully match your brand name or keywords, like besttechstuff.com. They have high value but low availability.
- Partial match domains – Only part of the domain matches your terms, like techstuffpro.com. This gives you more options but less specificity.
- Alternative extensions – Try inserting your brand name with different endings like .store and .shop to uncover more choices.
- Typo domains – Misspelled versions may be available if the correct spelling is taken. But these lack professionalism.
- Prefixes/suffixes – Adding extra words like “get” or “official” before or after your domain can open up more selections.
Cast a wide net when searching to ensure you secure the best domain name for your ambitions.
Evaluate the Domain Name Options
Once your research turns up some viable, available domain names, it’s time to evaluate the options. Keep these key criteria in mind when making your final selection:
- Memorability – Is it easy and catchy enough to remember? Shorter is better.
- Brand alignment – Does it represent your products and image well?
- Simplicity – Is it easy to say and spell? Avoid convoluted names.
- Keyword power – Does it contain strong SEO keyword opportunities?
- Scalability – Will it work now and in the future if you expand?
- Domain age – Existing sites have more authority. But see if you can purchase an expired one.
- Extensions – Does the .com or alternate ending suit your store?
- Competitor overlap – If competitors use the same name, can it cause confusion?
Say the name out loud, imagine how it looks in ads, and consider the first impression it gives customers. The ideal domain clearly communicates your product or brand essence in a memorable way.
Secure the Best Domain Name
Once you’ve selected your top domain name choice for your e-commerce site, it’s time to officially register it. Act fast before someone else grabs your ideal name.
You’ll need to purchase the registration and “own” the name through a domain registrar company. Some popular registrars include:
- GoDaddy – The world’s largest registrar with affordable rates.
- Bluehost – Domains come free with hosting plans.
- Namecheap – Offers cheap introductory domain pricing.
- Domain.com – Easy to manage domains and DNS records.
Shop around for the best deals. Expect to pay $12-15 per year for a basic .com domain. Newer extensions like .shop or .store can cost $25 or more per year. Look for free extras like email forwarding, privacy protection, and domain theft protection too.
Most registrars let you purchase domains for 1-10 year periods. Opt for longer terms to secure the name and save on renewal fees down the road.
Once purchased, your domain name is 100% yours to use (as long as you keep renewing it). Connect it to your hosting service, build out your e-commerce site, and start driving traffic!
Redirect Your Old Domain
If your e-commerce business already has an existing domain name and website, don’t panic about making a switch. You can redirect your old domain to the new one so you don’t lose any traffic or ranking.
Here are a few ways to redirect your domain name:
- Domain registrar redirect – Most registrars let you automatically forward one domain to another. Just log into your account and update the settings.
- Web host redirect – Your hosting provider should also have a domain redirect or forwarding option you can configure.
- .htaccess redirect – Add code to the .htaccess file on your old site telling it to redirect to the new domain.
- Meta refresh tag – Insert a meta refresh tag into the old site’s code to refresh and redirect visitors.
- Landing page redirect – Set up a simple landing page on the old domain with a link guiding people to your new site.
Try to do a permanent 301 redirect, which signals to search engines that the domain move is permanent. This passes link equity to the new domain.
With the right redirects in place, the transition to your new e-commerce domain name will be seamless for both customers and search engine bots.
Promote and Protect Your New Domain
To help your new domain name gain trust and authority, you’ll need to actively promote it and protect it online. Some tips:
- Update online listings and materials with the new domain name.
- Register social profiles to match the new brand name.
- Start link building to pass authority to the new domain.
- Add your preferred domain version in Google Search Console.
- Use a trademark service to protect your domain brand name.
- Purchase similar alternative domains to avoid copycats.
- Set up domain privacy services to avoid spam.
With the right promotional strategies and brand protections in place, you can ensure your domain establishes a strong presence and effectively represents your e-commerce business both now and in the future.
Choosing the perfect domain name for your e-commerce store requires research, brainstorming, and comparison. You want to find an available name that checks all the boxes: memorability, brand fit, simplicity, keyword power, and scalability.
By following this process – generating keyword ideas, combining key terms, checking availability, evaluating options, securing your name, redirecting previous domains, and promoting the new name – you can discover an ideal domain that helps drive your business and brand recognition for years to come. The effort to pick the perfect name pays off in the long run.