It’s a seemingly small part of the process, but it can be a game changer for your real estate marketing efforts:
Your domain name.
How do you find the perfect real estate domain name that conveys everything you need it to communicate in just a few short characters?
There are a number of things to consider, some general tips related to domain name selection and others specific to the industry.
The bottom line though?
This is one of those seemingly small but incredibly important decisions that will have a decent impact on the effectiveness of your property website.
There are two factors to consider in the process:
The root – the part you get to choose and that will describe your property – and the TLD – the bit at the end (.COM, .ORG, etc.)
Both are important, and with options becoming more plentiful in recent months, you’ll have more to choose from than ever before. Let’s look at some of the factors that will impact this decision the most.
What’s in a TLD (top-level domain)?
For a long time, this wasn’t much of a discussion. If you could find it, you bought a .COM domain name for your website.
Because they were the most universally recognized form of top-level domain and there weren’t that many alternatives.
So what’s changed?
These days, there are hundreds of TLDs to choose from, many of them very specific to our industry. If you can find a .COM domain that matches the other factors we’re about to discuss, it’s still worth buying first, but you can also choose from location specific domains (in New York City for example, residents are able to buy the .NYC domain), or words like .REALESTATE or .REALTOR (if you are a member of the NAR).
So which is best?
Location is important, as is the memorability of your site. If you can get a .COM that fits all the criteria below, it is still the easiest to remember, but if the region offers location-specific domains, consider them, especially if they have heavy branding behind them like New York’s.
Use the Property Name when Possible
First thing’s first – make sure the property name is included in the domain whenever possible. This should be the brand name if you can find it. For common-name related properties this may be tougher, though. If your property is named “Blackstone” or “Capital Square” or something similarly evocative but generic, you likely won’t find a matching domain.
Sure, you could make it longer and use the address or city, but don’t risk breaking the following rules in doing so. Quick rule of thumb here is to search for the property name in all of its common iterations. If you can’t find a matching domain, consider moving on to something related.
Most of the time, by combining location and property name, you should be able to find something that represents your property without sacrificing existing branding.
Shorter is Better
Shorter is better for several reasons. Not only is it easier to remember for tenants and prospective tenants, it is easier for your colleagues and brokers to give it to people when networking, and it fits more readily on a business card if it is short.
There’s a big difference between RDUcenter.com and RDUcenterMorrisvillegGA. The latter is a mouthful to say and hard to read by sight. Aim for 13 or fewer characters except under special circumstances (if your exact property name is a bit longer that is fine).
KISS – Keep it Simple!
Even if you can keep it short, don’t get too creative to do so. Overly complicated domain names are equally as hard to remember as those that are too long. Extra acronyms, a mishmash of letters, or over abbreviation of city and state to make your domain name unique can be a big problem in this case.
For example, “echelonbkny.com” is short but it’s also a bit complicated. By including abbreviations for both Brooklyn and New York, the letters start to run together and you’re once again left with a complicated mess.
Even more potentially problematic is if you abbreviate the name of your property to make it fit – don’t create new abbreviations or acronyms that people wouldn’t recognize automatically without prompting.
Hyphens as a general rule of thumb aren’t used in domain names. There are several reasons this goes against best practice:
They are hard to read, harder to convey to people in speech, and people frequently forget them when typing in a domain name, ending up on the wrong site (or getting an error page).
This fits well with the tip above to keep it simple. If you have to use a hyphen to get the domain name you want, it’s getting too complicated. Find an alternative if this is the case and ensure you get the maximum value for your effort.
Check for Trademarks
This happens to far too many business owners and marketing managers:
They think they find the perfect domain name. It’s short, easy to remember and a perfect representation of their brand.
But a few weeks later they get the DMCA notice telling them they are using a registered trademark in their domain name and must sacrifice the domain to the rights holder. Not only do you lose the domain name, you lose all the efforts put into building it up as part of your brand.
Even if a domain name is available, the trademark holder “owns” the rights to that domain as related to their trademark. They can very easily come after you and pull it out of your hands. Do a quick search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to ensure you’re not risking a notice down the line.
How to Find Domain Names
With all of that in mind, how do you look for available domains? There are several resources out there to help you search for domain name ideas. We don’t recommend using the same site to search for and buy your domain.
Because registrars (companies that sell access to domain names) have an interest in selling as many domains as possible. So their search tools aren’t always the best, and they don’t have access to the full list of options or suggestions.
Instead, use tools like the following to help in your search:
- Instantdomainsearch.com – Quick and active search helps you find domains that fit your needs. Also has a very robust aftermarket search tool to help you find domains that others are selling.
- Domainr.com – Helps to find the shortest available domains based on the criteria you provide. Doesn’t just spit back alternatives to the name you give but offers suggestions based on the current batch of TLDs on the market.
- Leandomainsearch.com – Offers a powerful domain name generator that will help you find different permutations of your brand or property name in relation to what is currently available.
Each of these offers something unique and different and when combined, you can see options you may not have considered previously.
Where to Buy Domain Names
There are thousands of registrars that sell domain names and for the most part, they offer comparable services and prices. There are a few rules to follow when buying your domain, however:
- Choose an established company – While you don’t need to choose the largest registrar out there (e.g. GoDaddy or Network Solutions), you should choose one that is established, has a decent number of customers, and has a history of service you can check.
- Check comparable prices – Because most registrars are resellers by nature, make sure they aren’t marking up domains any higher than their competitors. On average, you should expect to pay $10-$15/year for a popular TLD like .COM and a bit more for customized TLDs that are industry or location specific.
- Don’t buy from your host – Avoid buying a domain from the same company that hosts your website. If you ever need to change hosts, you don’t want your domain name stuck of held hostage against the move.
Once you’ve purchased your domain name, you’ll be coming back here to connect your domain to the host where your website lives, make changes to your email settings, and other changes that might require customization of the domain settings. So be sure the service you choose offers accessible, easy-to-use features for each of these requirements.
Real Estate Domain Name Ideas
The best way to think of real estate domain name ideas for your new website is by instantly checking availability as you come up with an idea. Don’t waste time writing down names because chances are, most of your ideas are not available. Use the tool below to type in an idea and instantly find out if the domain name is available to purchase.
Ensuring the Best Domain Name
What’s in a name?
When it comes to your domain name, a lot. You need something memorable, easy to share, easy to type, and brandable. If you can find the right combination of these factors in conjunction with your property name and description, you’ll have a good start for your online presence.
Just be sure to do your research and find the best fit based on the above criteria. Spending that little bit of extra time will pay off in the long term, both for your marketing efforts and your search engine optimization efforts.