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Choosing A Domain Name

In my previous posts in this series, I talked about the three things you need to have your own website and some less-obvious reasons why you should have your own business website. In this post, let us look at some considerations in choosing a domain name for your website.

A domain name is the unique name or address that users type into their web browsers to access your website. It serves as your online identity, helping visitors find and remember your site easily.

A domain name is created by ‘registering’ it at a website that offers that service. Such a website is known as a domain name registrar. The registration is valid on an annual basis, meaning that you register the domain name for one or more years, after which you can renew the registration. Once registered, no one else can register that domain name as long as the current registration is still valid.

Domain names consist of two parts: the actual name (e.g., google) and the domain extension (e.g., .com, .org, .net).

Here are some considerations when choosing a domain name.

1) Make it easy to remember and easy to spell. A domain name should be easy to remember, spell, and pronounce. Complex names can confuse potential visitors and lead to typing errors. If possible, keep your domain name under 15 characters. Shorter names are easier to remember and type.
Also if possible, avoid hyphens (and maybe numbers). These elements can cause confusion. For example, “my-business” could be confused with “mybusiness.”
However, some businesses get away with it such as kenya-airways dot com.

2) Some people would say that your domain name should reflect your business name or business activity. This is good for people who may search for your products or services, who did not know about you before. Apart from that, in my opinion, don’t worry too much about it. Domain names such as Google or Bing or even Jiji are not obviously related to what they are for, but with time, people have become familiar with them. The key issue here is how you market your website and make it known.

3) Choose an extension. The domain name extension largely depends on your target market. Dot com remains the most common domain name extension and is sort of seen as authoritative. This also means that many short and simple words have already been registered as domain names using the dot com extension. (Fun fact: Some domain names can be sold for thousands of dollars. In June 2024, one domain name was reported to have sold for $37,000). However, nowadays, there are dozens more extensions available such as .co, .live. .pro, .accountant, .chat, .help and many others. Note that the cost of registration varies by the extension chosen.

4) Consider making it Kenyan. If you want an international extension and you don’t want to use one of the newer extensions, as a Kenyan business, you could add “kenya” or “ke” to the domain name and check if the resulting domain name is still available. For example, shoes dot com is unavailable, but, as I type this, shoeskenya dot com is still available. You could also add ‘254’ to the name.

Alternatively, you can use a .ke extension. Chances are, the domain name you want may be available as a .ke. However, consider if some of your potential visitors may end up going to the .com site instead.

5) Consider local languages. As a Kenyan business, you have the advantage of having multiple languages, and therefore more words, available to you. You can register a domain name that uses a word or a name from Kiswahili, Sheng’ or your ethnic language.
An example is vitumob dot com. However, consider how your site visitors may perceive your business based on the domain name.

In summary, choosing a good domain name will need some imagination and thought and a bit of luck in finding the desired domain name still available.

In the next post in this series, we will look at some considerations on website development.