If you're starting a new business and you think you're ready to give it a name, pause one second. You're going to build a website for your new enterprise soon and with that you'll need a suitable domain name. Picking the right one is so intertwined with naming a business these days that the process is almost one and the same. This is exactly why you should use the following four methods of discovery as a guide to ensure that you pick a domain name that will make, and not break, your business.

1. Searching for extensions

The first step in the process is to understand the importance of getting a dot-com domain name. Everyone from investors to potential customers see this as an indicator of the credibility of your business. With all the different domain extensions that have been enabled over the last several years, it's incredibly easy for a new business to settle for something like a dot-info, dot-people, or dot-business extension.

Don't do it. The internet has been a part of our culture for a very long time now and dot-com is what people are accustomed to. Of course, it's getting harder by the day to find a dot-com domain name that fits your business, but go for it. Get creative. This process is important since it can actually determine the name of companies and brands.

If you truly must settle, you can get away with a dot-net, and while not politically correct, a dot-org--though typically those are supposed to be reserved for nonprofits. But even if you do get the dot-com you want, grab these extensions as well so none of your competitors can.

2. Spelling/pronunciation/length

When searching for that golden dot-com domain name, keep the following three factors in mind: spelling, pronunciation, and length. If you get one of these wrong it could decrease the chances of people discovering your website.

"Basically the domain has to be easy to say to someone in conversation," says Andrew Rosener of MediaOptions.com. "It should be something they can easily remember, something they can jot down or enter into their phones without any problem. Long URLs will most likely be forgotten. Words with weird spellings often get confused or mixed up. If you can't pronounce it, you might have not only a domain problem, but a branding problem in general."

3. Including keywords

Developers and designers of new websites often now keep SEO practices in mind as they create and launch their online presence. One way to get a boost is by including an important keyword in the domain name.

However, there are some caveats to remember with this method. The first is to include a keyword only if it really makes sense. You have to ask yourself an important question: Does this keyword encompass the most important element of your business today, tomorrow, and five years from now? For example, if you're opening a comic book store, chances are the name "action-comics.com" is a good one to go with. If your business is going to encompass much more (say, for example, the venture is also an online lifestyle/fashion brand), you might want to skip a comics-related keyword.

One final note here. See the hyphen in the above example? Stick to only one if you are including one at all. If possible, you should avoid using hyphens, which Moz has suggested for some time now. Most important, Google doesn't appear to appreciate hyphens either. Try to avoid these if you can, to prevent any possible damage to your future search engine rankings.

4. Originality and branding

Some think that using keywords in your domain name is a good idea only if it fits your brand. It could be that this works best for more local, brick-and-mortar style businesses, or those that are very specialized. But what if you're going for a bigger branding idea? John Rampton from Hostt says forget the keywords and come up with something completely original.

"Think about some of the big tech brands that exist today, like Google or Yahoo. Want to know why those names fit their brands so well? It's because for the most part they are completely original words. Our minds didn't really have a concept of what these names meant before we ever heard them, so the companies behind them could easily create the image of what they meant to us from scratch. Heck, Google has since become a verb."

There are a lot of elements that go into finding the perfect domain name, and you can see in the examples above that the process can even determine the name of your business. Have fun, get creative, and also remember that the domain you pick today doesn't have to be the one you stick with forever. It's all a part of an ongoing branding effort that you may change and adjust along the way.

Published on: Sep 10, 2014