Domain Name Nightmares Pt 2

WWW representing the World Wide Web

Domain names, essential for your web presence. Ideally they should look good, sound good and properly represent your business. But not everybody gets it right.

I last wrote about Domain Name Nightmares in 2014, looking at how easy it was to make an absolute pigs ear of your online presence if you weren’t careful. How difficult can it be, after all, all you have to do is think of a name, just think of something and Bob’s your dad’s brother.

But it’s not quite that simple. If you don’t pay attention to how your domain name will be shared then there’s a whole pit of vipers waiting for you. At the bare minimum you need to see how your chosen name looks in print AND listen to how it sounds when being shared verbally. Why? Well, way before 2014 I was sharing some absolute howlers with delegates to my SEO workshops, domains that were both funny and cringeworthy at the same time, and things haven’t really moved on much.

Some of the examples of Domain Name Nightmares back then were real and some were spoofs. How about TherapistFinder, a directory site for therapists in California. Once they understood how easily it could be misconstrued they changed it to after a couple of years.

Then there was (later proved to be a spoof site) and Pen Island, a site (apparently) selling promotional pens with the unfortunate domain name of Easily solved with a hyphen, or simple capitalisation, PenIsland, when representing the domain in print.

Pen Island Pens logo

And another, there’s the website for finding theatrical agents. Imagine, you want to see who represents your favourite star, or you are looking to break in to the industry. You might turn to a site called Who Represents. However, if you only saw the web address, you might think they were offering something different, a more “adult” service if you like.

There are many more but I’m going to finish with – a site for a successful video director that would have benefitted from hyphens for visual clarity Now, it looks much clearer in print but suffers, conversationally, when networking for example. “My website, yes, it’s at speed hyphen of hyphen art dot com. Yes, that’s hyphen as in dash, not an underscore“.

I imagine that all of these sites, excluding the spoof ones, came about either because someone simply took a pre-existing business name and went for the option that they felt made most sense, without giving it due consideration or picked something that either sounded great OR looked great in print but did not consider both options.

The problem has never really gone away, I was reminded of it a couple of years ago when I was listening to a commercial radio station and heard an advert for a web based service. The were (and still are) a Cloud based company. The brand was promoted, the benefits proclaimed and, right at the end, there was the pitch which involved the the company’s domain name. It was spoken and then spelled out – just to make sure people reached the right website.

It was for the business software vendor Xero (pronounced so the ad ended with “visit, that’s X E R O dot com”. Not only does the listener have to remember the brand but they have to remember that its not spelled the way it sounds.

Recently I’ve been hearing ads for a website that makes it easier for businesses to find Council, NHS and Government contracts. The web address is, a combination of letters that looks quite good in print but fails conversationally. We are used to the word Opportunity but Opportuni just doesn’t sound right, so, again, at the end of the ad the domain name has to be spelled out in the hope that people will either remember it or write it down.

Two women with a Chromebook

And there’s more. Finance site Cufflink, well that’s what it sounds like during the ad, it’s only when they get to the end that they say “Cufflink, that’s So, again. if you are interested, not only do you have to remember a word that is unfamiliar to many but you have to remember the unconventional spelling, not only has the C been replaced by a K but there’s only one F.

And I’m not even going to make much of Gollgi, Click, sorry Qlik or Clear, sorry Klear and I’m sure there are loads of others that I’ve not heard of

So, please, when choosing a name for your new business, or when planning on launching a new brand, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give due consideration to your web address. Think about how it looks in print and how easy is it to share, in a memorable way, with people who are unfamiliar with what you do. Remember, there’s a danger in trying to be too KlevR.

And if you need help with web addresses or with anything else to do with your internet activity please, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call me on 01793 238020, email or just search Chief SEO Officer