Does your domain name have a weak handshake or a crooked smile?

I was reading a great post earlier today by Aaron Wall that really laid out why it is a bad idea to cut corners on your domain name. He told an interesting story about how one of his domain names conveyed such a lack of credibility that when he tried to sponsor and event, they refused to take his money. This had nothing to do with the content, the look, or the feel of the site once you get there. They were afraid of the credibility hit that they would take by promoting his domain name.

If your website has an obscure, easy to forget name like, is it worth the time and money to change it?

If you desire to be a major website within your niche, the answer is usually yes. Your domain name is your first (and sometimes last!) impression

A name that is finely tailored to fit your website is not just a fashion statement – it is an identity. The first look at your URL should convey an appearance that your site belongs at the top of the Google results. You want it to look like it deserves lots and lots of backlinks.

That doesn’t mean that high rankings and backlinks will automatically follow, but it is an awful lot easier to get somebody to link to your website when they aren’t rolling their eyes or snickering at your domain name.

Of course changing names isn’t without risks. Any domain name transition can give you a punch in the gut in the short term as the search engines get the transition sorted out. This is a tactic for people that think about the lifespan of their website in terms of years, not months. The best option is to use a 301 redirect and try to keep as much the same about the structure of your website as possible in the transition.

Still not convinced?

Think about how many musicians have changed their name in order to appeal to a mass audience:

  • Reginald Dwight became Elton John
  • Ernest Evans became Chubby Checker
  • Barry Pincus became Barry Manilow
  • Vincent Furnier became Alice Cooper

All of these people have sold over 50 million records. I’m not so sure if Vincent Furnier could have done the same.

You could have a great website but if the domain doesn’t quite fit, you may be capping its potential. A solid domain name can help to stabilize your market position.