The $5M Question: How To Choose An Ecommerce Domain Name

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The better a domain name, the faster your ecommerce business will make money.

A great name sticks like glue. Customers can easily remember it and get to your site quickly and without stress. But it’s not just about your domain name being memorable.

There are some more complex strategies behind choosing your domain name, like SEO and scalability, that will impact your site’s success.

7 Simple Rules for Choosing an Ecommerce Domain Name

There’s lots of advice out there about how to pick the right domain name for your ecommerce shop. Here are the ones we think are most important.

Aim for a domain name with 15 letters or less

People have a hard time remembering things. That’s a fact.

Help them recall your site by keeping your domain name short. There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules about domain name length, but generally the shorter, the better. 

We like to keep ours around 15 letters or less whenever possible. Shorter domain names are easy to recall, making it less likely someone is going to mis-type it into the search bar. Shorter names are also easier to pronounce. If someone wants to verbally tell someone else about your site, it’s easy to understand. 

When you make your site easy to find and promote, you encourage more people to visit. And more visitors means more opportunities to convert them to customers. 

Shorter domain names = more potential profit.

Of course, it isn’t always easy to find a short domain name. Most of the great really short domain names were scooped up eons ago—some by big brands, others by unscrupulous resellers.

Love their business savvy or hate their tactics, there’s a whole thriving industry of owning and reselling domain names. And buying the one you want usually isn’t worth the price being asked, especially if you’re just starting out and have a small budget.

So you’ll have to get creative. If you’re struggling to come up with a short domain name that reflects your brand and the one you want isn’t available, consider these approaches.

  • Use an abbreviation of your brand name, like World Wildlife Federation did with
  • Take out any unnecessary words in your brand name, like “and” or “the”
  • Create a feeling with your domain name, like Biko did with

If you can’t find something short that works, it is possible to use a longer name and be successful. Here are some other strategies to use.

Stick To Letters

In your quest for a succinct domain name, you might be tempted to get cute. After all, on paper is more interesting (and shorter) than 

Avoid the temptation to play on words like this. 

Hyphens, numbers, repeated letters next to each other, and abbreviations all increase the chances that a potential visitor is going to misremember or mistype your domain name.

It also makes your domain name awkward on mobile devices, since a user has to switch their keyboards from alphabet to numbers. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but it is. Asking a user to perform extra steps in a process creates a negative user experience.

There’s more room for error and frustration which drives potential site visitors away. This is the opposite of what you want.

There is one exception. 

If you have a brand name that uses an actual number, like the clothing company 7 For All Mankind, then go ahead and use the number in your domain name. It is part of staying on brand, which is another important factor to domain name success.

Make the most of SEO

You don’t want to get spammy, but incorporating a relevant keyword into your domain name can yield good results. Use a simple formula of “keyword + company name” or “company name + keyword” to come up with possible combinations.

Think about the most common keywords someone might type into a search engine to find your site. Selling bicycles? Then “bicycle” is a good option. If your business is called Momentum Bikes, a great domain name might be

If you’re struggling to pick one keyword, do some keyword research to determine what’s trending right now.

Research your domain name

The last thing you want to do is run with the best domain name ever only to find that it is already taken, infringes on another company’s trademark, or will cause other issues down the road.

  • Use a domain search tool to determine if the name you like is available. Most web hosting services also register domains and offer a search feature like this. You can also do a search on the ICANN site.
  • Check for any existing trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The last thing you want is to receive a “cease and desist” letter months or years after you’ve got your site up and established.
  • Confirm availability on social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. You’ll definitely want social media to be part of your marketing plan, and it’s important to have brand continuity there.

Once you know the lay of the land in terms of these three things, you’ll know where you stand with your preferred domain name.  

Consider alternate domain extensions

In a perfect world, any name you want would be available with a .com extension. We don’t live in a perfect world, though.

If you do a domain search and find that .com is not available for the name you want, all is not lost. You can always consider alternative top-level domain extensions. 

  • .co – a globally-recognized alternative to .com
  • .org – great for nonprofits and charities
  • .shop – a solid choice for an online retailer

There are many more top-level domain extensions, and most domain search tools will show you what is available. If you really want a domain name but the .com version is taken, choosing an alternate might work for you.

Position yourself to scale

The last thing you want to do is choose a domain name that is overly-specific to what your business is about right now. If you want to grow, you should be thinking about the future.

You’re selling bicycles today and think a domain name with bicycles in it sounds pretty good. What if you want to branch out down the road to also sell scooters or snowboards or other sporting equipment? Your bicycle domain name may be more limiting than you’d like.

You want to choose a domain name that will grow as your business grows. Don’t hitch your wagon to a specific product unless that is all you ever plan to offer for the lifetime of your business.

It’s a more solid strategy to pick a name that reflects all the product lines you sell today and might be offering five years from now.

Test It Out

You think you have finally found the perfect domain name. It’s available, memorable, and poised to grow with your business. Things are looking good.

But there’s one thing you have to do before you register your new domain name. Get some outside perspectives.

Ask your friends and family for input. They’re not as close to things as you are and have a fresh perspective. They can offer insights you might never have considered.

Perhaps the domain name conjures up something unintended, or worse, negative. Or perhaps it is easily misread or misunderstood. Or just sounds weird when said out loud.

Whatever the issue, having external input before you move forward can save you headaches down the road. You want your new domain name to pass the F&F test before you register it.

How To Buy An Ecommerce Domain Name

Congratulations! You’ve landed on the best domain name for your ecommerce business. Half the battle is won.

But wait, there’s more. You need to buy it before you can move forward on your ecommerce journey.

The route to obtaining your new domain has several steps along the way. But here is the high-level framework.

  1. Pick your domain name.
  2. Choose your domain registrar. Sometimes your web hosting provider will offer domain registration, but you can buy a domain name elsewhere. There are a lot of options out there, and we have a few favorites.
  3. Complete the registration steps and pay.

That’s it. Once your payment is processed, that shiny, new domain name is all yours.

But before you click the BUY button, there are a few other things you should understand and do.

  • Get an SSL certificate. This protects you and the customers shopping on your site by encrypting all sensitive data that gets transmitted online. When you’re just starting out, a free one from Let’s Encrypt will be fine. As your ecommerce site grows, you’ll eventually want something more robust. Most website hosting providers offer SSL certificates, either as part of a hosting package or an a la carte purchase.
  • Make sure your personal information is hidden on the WhoIS site. Some domain registrants include this, others charge extra. Either way, verify it is part of your domain name purchase before you finalize your domain name purchase. If you don’t hide your name, phone number, and email address, you’ll quickly be bombarded with unwanted marketing emails and calls from website developers and others trying to sell you services for your new website. It’s a rookie mistake that’s made far too often.
  • Turn on auto-renew for your domain name, especially if you purchased a multi-year registration package. If you don’t turn on auto-renew and then forget to renew your registration when the time comes, your domain name could be stolen right out from under you. Believe it or not, there are people out there waiting like vultures for the chance to swoop in and snatch expired domain names away. Sometimes they want it for themselves, but mostly they just want to sell it back to you (or someone else) at a very inflated price.

What If I Choose A Bad Ecommerce Domain Name?

There are two scenarios where you end up with a “bad” domain name. One is where you make a mistake typing out the name during registration. The other is when you realize you picked a dud name.

We get it. Accidents happen. Fat fingers on the keyboard, typos, misspelled words. Whatever happened, you didn’t realize the mistake until after the domain name transaction was completed.

There’s good news and not so good news. 

The not so good? Domain name purchases are generally final. Once you click BUY, you own the domain name you registered, mistakes and all.

If you recognize the error on the spot, you can check with the registrar to see if they can cancel the transaction. Sometimes that is possible. 

If you don’t realize the mistake until days or weeks later, there isn’t much anyone can do. You’re stuck with that domain name until it expires.

The good news is that there’s no limit to the number of domain names you can own. So go ahead and register the domain name you actually wanted. Yes, it will cost you more money. Yes you will now own two very similar domain names. But you can always let the mistake name expire and forget it ever happened.

The important thing is you own the correct domain name.

Then there is a different kind of domain name mistake. This is when you eventually realize the name you liked so much at first is causing your site more harm than good. It’s crippling traffic and killing conversions. 

A doctor would recommend pulling the life support plug. You need a new domain name, stat.

Your only option is to come up with a better domain name, buy it, then migrate your existing site to the new site. This is called website migration and it is not impossible, but it also isn’t for the faint of heart. There are steps to follow to make sure you don’t lose whatever momentum you have built on your old site.

Your current (or new) hosting provider is usually the best place to start when it comes to site migration. Different hosts offer different options for migration assistance. Some do it for free, some charge a fee. It is usually the smartest and most stress-free option to go with help from the hosting provider where your new site will live. 

If that isn’t possible, there are professional migration services out there that can help you out. They usually specialize in migrations to specific platforms, like WordPress or Shopify. 

This approach may cost a few extra dollars, but consider it an investment to get your ecommerce site back on track with a rocking new domain name. Once you’re up and running with your new domain name, the sky’s the limit.

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