At first glance, domain names seem pretty straightforward. But choosing one may not be as simple as plugging in your name or the name of your company.
With millions of websites in the world, it’s not as easy as you might think for the right people to find you — and once you’ve gotten the ball rolling on one web address, it can be difficult to shift traffic to something different.
If you’re searching for a good domain name for your real estate business, you should give it some thought before you take the plunge. Here are a few things to think about when choosing a domain name.
1. Your name is great, but maybe not for real estate.
If the URL for your name or the name of your company is out there, you should definitely own it. That being said, it shouldn’t necessarily be the primary way people find your site. Real estate companies aren’t cleaning services — that is, their names don’t always provide a clear indication of what they do
Furthermore, because real estate agents are independent contractors, there are millions of individual agent websites out there named for people. The fact is that while existing clients might be able to remember your name, it’s unlikely that anyone else will know the name of an agent they have never met. More realistically, your prospects won’t be searching for you. Instead, they’ll be searching for what you have to offer, looking property in a particular area, e.g. “Mendocino Homes,” “Mendocino Properties,” or “Mendocino Real Estate.” Your domain name should reflect this.
2. Shorter URLs are better than longer ones.
While “Joeisthebestrealestateagent.com” may seem like a good idea to Joe, it’s a lot to remember and type for your customers. One of the primary purposes of domain names is to be easy for people to read and remember. Think of all of the websites you can remember. How complicated are their names? How many words do they consist of? Shorter names tend to be easier to remember, which means they’re usually better, even if they can’t say exactly what you want. The only exception to this rule might be if the name of your city is long. Still, people go for convenience in conversation the same way they do in the address bar, so consider any abbreviations that people in your area might use.
3. Make it easy to spell.
Try this experiment with a domain name you’re considering using: Call a friend on the phone. Tell her the name of your website. Have her write it out. Does she get it right without you having to spell it for her? How difficult is it for her to navigate to your site during the conversation? Since this is how plenty of people will hear about your website, if that URL doesn’t pass the phone test, you should probably go back to the drawing board. You should also be careful of double letters, as in www.winslowweberrealestate.com. Double letters often look strange. They’re also easy to omit. If you must have a domain with double letters, consider also securing names with any common misspellings.
4. Focus on local.
Real estate search is a local experience. People don’t just look for homes: they look for home in specific places. Because of this, you should consider incorporating the name of your city or area into your domain name. This is also good for SEO. With a name highly related to the content of your site, you’ll fare better with search engines and real estate shoppers. Additionally, the words “rentals,” “properties,” “condos,” “waterfront,” “real estate,” “commercial,” or “homes” can be easily combined with the areas you target, creating a domain name that is both descriptive and contains the highly important keywords.
5. Dot-com extensions are better.
The .com extension is just one of several top-level domains (TLD) out there. Others include.net, .org, .us, .biz, .tv, etc., and the shortage of .com URLS combined with recent legislation has created the potential for dozens of new extensions. Nevertheless, most people remember the web as being about .com, for better or for worse (nobody talks about the dot-net bust, for example). That means when they’re surfing the web for your company, people will naturally try .com to start. Many businesses that register a non dot-com name do so because the dot-com is already taken. If you have this misfortune, and want to register a domain with your company name, you could certainly try a different TLD. But be careful: all your hard work advertising and promoting a non-dot-com site could easily end up driving traffic to the owner of the dot-com you didn’t register. Instead, you’re better off finding a different way to work around the problem.
6. Avoid hyphenated domain names.
There may be some incremental advantage in your search engine results with a hyphenated URL, like nevada-condo-sales.com. On the whole, though, it’s probably better to get the non-hyphenated domain name first, then the hyphenated one to help with SEO. Most of the best sites don’t have hyphens, and names without hyphens are easier for users, so they should be the main domains on your servers. Point to the dashed domain for the search engines.
7. Be descriptive.
The best real estate websites are crystal clear about what sorts of properties they offer, where, and to whom. This should be true of your domain name as well as your site content. Visitors should be able to get some sense of what your website is about just by reading the domain name.
A URL like www.bostonrealestate.com is good; www.bostonluxuryapartments.com is better. Yes, there are lots of very successful companies — Twitter, Amazon, Apple — that contradict this advice. But they’ve spent billions of dollars and thousands of hours building their brands. Chances are you don’t have the luxury or the budget to do the same.