Many of my small business owner clients ask about the differences between business and domain names and if they should match.
They want to know what is best for marketing purposes and because often their matching company domain names are not available and then they don’t know which domain to get.
The main difference between business names and domain names is that a business name is used for identification, branding and legal purposes whereas a domain name is primarily a digital address for your website. As such, your business name and domain do not necessarily need to match.
This article will answer all of your questions about business vs domain names – when they should and should not match – complete with name examples. Plus I included my top tips on how to get a good domain name when your business name website is unavailable.
Differences Between Business Name and Domain Name
|Business Name||Bob’s Big Company||Legal|
Importance of Matching a Company Name to Domain name
In the past, matching names were important. As the internet has grown, and major companies began using alternative domain website names such as Johnson & Johnson using Baby.com, it has become less important to have your business name match your domain name.
In fact, in many cases, it is better to NOT match the two names. Read on to learn about when to match or not match your business and domain names.
When Your Business Name and Domain Name SHOULD Match
Your business name and website domain name should match as closely as possible if:
- Your site promotes your company as a whole, not just a specific product or brand
- Your company has strong name recognition in your marketplace
- Your business is named after yourself and you have a good reputation in your industry
Instances When Your Business Name and Domain Name SHOULD NOT Match
Listed below are situations where matching your domain name and business name are not recommended.
- Your company name is long or contains foreign words
- Your company name is difficult to remember, spell and pronounce
- Your business name is easily confused with other companies
- Your business is built around a brand name that is different than your legal company name
- You want to promote specific products or market topics keywords
FYI: If you want to change the domain name on an existing website – it IS possible. Read my article showing you the steps on how to switch your domain name on all popular platforms such as Bluehost, GoDaddy, Shopify, Wix and Squarespace.
Wondering if your LLC name has to match your business name?
Read my answer complete with tips on LLC names and links to all 50 States LLC name search lookups
Which To Decide First – Your Business Name or Domain Name
Naming a new business is hard enough, without having to decide and register a domain name also! I recommend that small business owners first decide on their business or domain name as such:
- If you sell Business to Consumer, decide on your domain name first, because there is a lot of online competition and you want to stand out in search engine results.
- If your company is brick and mortar, decide on your company name first. Domain name options for restaurants and services are adding your geographic location into your URL but not your company name. An example of Vito’s Pizzeria (company name) and VitoPizzeriaNYC.com (domain name).
- If your business is online-based, first decide on your domain name since that will be the name your customers will associate with your brand.
What to Do if Your Business Matching Domain Name is Unavailable
These days it is hard to find a matching domain name to your firm’s name because over 250 million domain names are already registered! No worries. I have great tips on how to get an awesome domain name below:
- Decide essential words – Pick one or two keywords that you must have in your domain, such as your name, profession or brand.
- Add key words – Add words to your essential words determined above. Did you know that Tesla could not get the matching domain name Tesla.com – since it was already taken! So they added a logical brand extension word “motors” to make their current domain name TeslaMotors.com.
- Use Name Generators – Experiment with free online name generators for some domain name inspiration. I list the best business name generators in my article.
- Consider different domain extensions – If your desired domain name with a .COM is not available, see if by changing the three-letter extension you have better luck. Try .net, .info, .site, .online. since these are internet-themed and not specific to any industry (such as .fit and .coach) Avoid some of the trendy extensions that could quickly go out style like .moda.
- Tag on your location – One of the easiest and best ways to get your matching domain is to add your town, region or state to your name. An example SharpNails.com is not available, however, SharpNailsNYC.com is available.
- Try Memorable Slang – Instead of attempting to match your company name, go in an entirely different direction toward slang. If you make the best apple pie in your bakery, which is named Mom’s Kitchen, how about naming your website momsapplepie.com.
If your business is internet-based, use your domain name as your business name, such as Amazon.com.
But if your company is service-based or brick and mortar, usually adding your domain extension (.com, .net, etc) will only confuse customers and dilute your branding.
No, you do not need to include LLC in your domain name if your firm is set up as an LLC. It is not legally required, in most states, and will add length (a negative) onto your domain name URL.
Using LLC in your business name is typically required when signing any agreements or engaging in any type of legal contract.
Yes, in fact, most legal business names are different from the firm’s domain name.
This is due, partly, to the three-letters after the domain name (called the extension) .com, .net, .org, etc which are not typically part of a legal business name.
An example, Studio West Photos is the legal business name, while StudioWestPhotos.com is the domain website name.
Check out my guide on how to start your business right with tons of useful tips I learned by successfully starting, building, and selling multiple companies.