Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 26 seconds

wwwIt used to be that when you wanted to launch a web site, you simply picked the name you wanted, registered it, and put up a few pages of content. In the past decade or so, however, things have gotten a whole lot more complicated. Cute, fun, amateur-looking web sites are definitely out, for example. There are a zillion places to register your site these days, too. But perhaps one of the most annoying little details of finally choosing to launch a site is the fact that it’s actually kind of difficult to pick a URL.

With millions upon millions of web sites out there, it makes sense that it would be getting harder to find a decent URL that isn’t already in use. While it may seem obvious to use your organization’s name, there are plenty of nonprofits that have been frustrated to find out that another organization with the same or a similar name has already beat them to the punch. What happens then often includes adding more and more words, hyphenating, or some other “tricky” method of getting your name to work. Unfortunately, these types of URLs are not very effective. After all, people don’t remember really long web addresses, and they rarely think to put hyphens between words.

Here are some great suggestions, paraphrased from Search Engine Guide for choosing a good URL.

  • Shorter is Better – If your organization is called The Children’s School Homeless Fund of Alexandria, Virginia, you will want to shorten it or risk people never finding your site. You want to choose something that’s not just fairly short but is also easy to remember. Try variations of the words in your name or even consider abbreviating. “CSHF” is short, easy to remember, and available!
  • Keywords are Good – If you’re hoping to get a good spot in search engine results pages, you may want to consider using keywords in your URL. Obviously, this is going to lengthen your URL, but you may find that’s worthwhile if you’re trying to draw in traffic from sources other than supporters looking typing your URL directly into their address bars. Depending on how you want to be found, you might consider using terms like “AlexandriaHomelessFund” for the example above. Someone doing a search on “homelessness in Alexandria” would have a good chance of running across your organization.
  • Purchase Multiple Versions – In order to keep others from diverting your search engine results, you may want to consider buying domain names that are similar to your own.

For example, if you have a .org, you may also want to purchase the .com, .net, .biz, etc. versions. There are plenty of suggestions available that you will want to keep in mind when choosing your URL, and you can find more of them in the article The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist for Domain Names and URLs, among other places.

Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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