If you’re starting a website -- whether that’s a blog for the purpose of sharing content and building links or just a more general business homepage -- one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is what your URL (uniform resource locator, more commonly known as a web address) will be.

Here are some tips on picking a great URL:

1. Research Ranking Keywords

It’s good to start some keyword research before you even name your company, much less buy a domain. Especially when you’re starting off, it’s much easier to get traffic if your business and your website tell visitors what they can expect from you. It’s the difference between Cars.com and Zillow.com; while Zillow is extremely successful, it takes a lot more branding work (and more advertising dollars) to get that kind of recognition when the name is arbitrary.

2. Link Your Domain and Your Brand

The reason why it’s good to do some research before naming your company is that your web address should reflect your brand’s name; if your company is a donut bakery called Doughnut Love, then your web address should be something along the lines of doughnutlove.com. This is particularly important if you want people to be able to find your website by simply typing the URL in after hearing your business’ name.

3. Stick to .com Addresses

The ending of a web address, such as .com, is called a top-level domain. The most common ones you’ll see are .com, .net and .org, but many more have been recently opened up. You should resist the urge to buy a .ninja domain, however, and .com is a better choice than even .net and .org. The reason is that consumers tend to assume a .com TLD, and many will fail to find your site if you choose a different one. URLs aren’t the place to get clever.

4. Stay Away From Numbers and Hyphens

If you can’t verbally direct people to your website, then you’re probably choosing the wrong URL. Stay away from both numerals and hyphens for that reason. In fact, it’s better to stay away from numbers altogether, spelled-out or numerals, since these can often be mistaken for each other (doughnutlovetwo.com vs. doughnutlove2.com). If you have a URL that you think people might easily misspell, consider buying those variations, too, and redirecting users to your central site when they type in the incorrect ones.

5. Check Copyright Before You Buy

This probably won’t be an issue in most cases, but you should always check on copyright before buying by visiting copyright.gov. You don’t want to end up having to start over with your brand because you’ve accidently encroached on someone else’s copyright.

Can you offer any other advice on choosing a domain? Discuss in the comments.

By: Karleanne Matthews