This article was first written 24 Sept 2011, and has been updated August 2020.
What is a website address?
Your website address, or domain name, is used to identify and access your website. It looks something like www.yourwebsite.com. No two website addresses can be the same, so it sometimes requires a bit of clever thinking to ensure that you get a good one. Once registered, the website address is yours to keep, provided you keep paying the annual fee (usually around $40.00). If you let the fee lapse, someone else can snap up the address.
(Be careful, I’ve seen customers forget to renew their domain way too many times – e.g. the owner of www.investmentproperty.com.au forgot to pay his annual fee. Once his registration expired, the address went up for auction on the aftermarket, and was bought for AUD$135,000. And the previous owner didn’t get to see a cent of it).
Your website address can also be used as your email address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
How do I choose a good website address?
The best place to start is with something closely related to your business or organisation, for example, your name (www.joesplumbing.co.nz). Another good alternative is to find an address based around your main service or product (www.plumbing.co.nz). Either of these options would ensure that your website address is both relevant and memorable.
Another consideration to take into account is the length of the website address – it can’t be any longer than 63 characters, but it is a good idea to stop some way before that. Generally speaking, the shorter a website address is, the better it is. This is because of memorability and ease of typing. However, relevance and memorability both play a much more important role than length.
What not to do…
There are a few things that you should avoid doing when coming up with a website address.
- Don’t take a second-choice ending.You may have seen some websites that end in .net.nz or .gen.nz. As a general rule, try to avoid these endings where possible. Because they are much less common, you will find that people often mistype your address, and end up visiting your competitor with the .co.nz address.
- Don’t use hyphens. If your first choice, joesplumbing.co.nz, has already gone, don’t give in to the temptation to get joes-plumbing.co.nz. You will lose visitors who forget to put in the hyphen.
Always double check your domain name!
There have been many instances of people registering a domain name without looking at it from a different point of view. Take a look at these examples:
I bet the first thing going through your mind wasn’t “Therapist Finder” or “Experts Exchange”.
Check if it’s available.
Almost all domain providers offer a service to check whether your chosen domain name is available. There are thousands of domain providers around the world, and they all offer almost the exact same service, so feel free to shop around. Some domain providers simply resell domains from bigger providers, so as a general rule of thumb try to stay away from the little guys, unless you’re confident in their price and service. Depending on your domain choice, it should cost US$20 – 30 per year, and no more.
Many providers will often try to up-sell you with their other services such as “domain protection” or “security” – these are totally unnecessary and usually offer minimal benefit. I recommend sticking to just the domain name.
Some recommended domain providers include:
As always, good luck with your website endeavours. And if you need any advice or help, drop us a comment below.