The decision for your own online shop has been made, now you only need the perfect domain. There are several factors to consider when choosing a name. In addition to technical requirements, which must be met, your chosen domain can also be important for your marketing and even influence your ranking on Google.

Which extension is the right one for me?

In the first step, think about who your target group is and who you want to reach with your offer. This will help you decide which extension is right for your domain: a .de extension if you want to sell in Germany, a .com extension for international sales, and if you want to sell in another country, choose your country-specific domain extension.

If you have decided on a .com extension, please note the following technical requirements:

  • A domain can only consist of numbers, hyphens and letters
  • Domains may neither begin nor end with a hyphen
  • Spaces and special characters are not accepted for domains
  • Upper and lower case are not important for the domain
  • The minimum length of a domain is one character, the maximum length is 63 characters

If you are thinking about scaling up in the future, you can also secure your domain with other extensions. For sales in the DACH region, the extensions .at and .ch are suitable, and on an international level, the extension .com.

How do I choose a domain name?

Ideally, the domain name and the name of your brick-and-mortar business or brand should match, so that you can benefit from the recognition effect. Your customers will find your website easier, which is especially advantageous if you expand your marketing activities to social media.

There are basically three types of domains: brand domains, keyword domains and a mixture of both types. Brand domains consist of the name of the brand, i.e. for you as a stationary retailer, the name of your shop. Brand domains have a high recognition value, especially in established shops, and strengthen the brand. The addition of the legal form of the company (e.g. LLC or Inc.) should be avoided. For customers, the legal form is usually not relevant, and the addition only extends the domain name unnecessarily.

Keyword domains consist of keywords relevant for the respective industry or product category, i.e. search terms or keywords that are entered in search engines. In online marketing, keywords are very important because they influence the ranking in search engines like Google or Bing. For this reason keyword domains are popular: Depending on the search volume of a certain keyword, keyword domains can contribute to the findability in search engines by (potential) customers. Another advantage of keyword domains is that website visitors understand at first glance what the site is about or what kind of products are offered. A keyword domain is particularly useful for niche products. If you prefer a keyword domain, however, it is useful to keep the name of your stationary business in mind. If your domain differs too much from your company name, you will miss the chance to benefit from the recognition effect. Whether you are planning a marketing campaign with a keyword domain or would like to choose a keyword domain for ranking reasons — of course there is also the possibility to secure a keyword domain in addition to the brand domain and use it for special campaigns or to set up a forwarding. A tip for the keyword domain: Google your desired domain name without domain extension as a test. This way you can find out in which environment your shop is displayed in the search engine when a user searches for your shop name, and who your competitors are in the online environment.

As a third option you can also choose a combination of both: In addition to your brand name, you can use one or two relevant keywords in the domain. Thus, your domain guarantees a recognition value, but at the same time provides information about your offer. A mixture of brand and keyword domain is especially useful if your brand name does not reveal much about your business or if you have only recently opened your business.

What mistakes should I avoid with my domain name?

The most important thing you should consider when choosing your domain is copyright infringement. If you violate copyright, you may be subject to warnings and fines. A good way to avoid this is to avoid the use of the following:

  • Signs protected by trademark law
  • Names of other companies
  • Names of celebrities
  • Titles of magazines, software, films
  • City names and license plates
  • Names of State institutions
  • Typosquatting (i.e. single letters of known domains are left out or exchanged).

Speaking of typos: check your domain name for possible mistakes your online shop visitors might make while typing. If the name of your online shop and your domain is often misspelled, it’s best to secure the domain or domains with the alternative spelling and set up a redirection to your online shop. To check whether your desired domain infringes trademark rights, you can search the database of the USPTO.

How useful are hyphens, numbers and umlauts?

If you have chosen a very long domain or decided to use a mixture of brand and keyword domain, it is advisable to use one or more hyphens. If you cannot decide whether the variant with or without a hyphen is better, you can also purchase both domains if they are freely available and set up a redirection to the other one. Especially if you decide on a domain with a hyphen, the purchase of both variants is a good idea. In this way, you prevent your competitors or domain brokers from buying the version without a hyphen. Domain brokers register domains in order to sell them at a high price afterwards. Generally speaking, domains without a hyphen are usually easier to remember, and on mobile devices, users don’t have to go to the character bar to type in their domain.

Numbers in the domain name can make the URL less easy to remember. If you want to sell internationally, you must also be aware that confusion can occur if the domain name contains numbers. The number 2, for example, can be used as “to”, “two” or “too”, which means that the potential for error when typing is higher than with other domains. If no number is contained in the company or brand name, it is therefore necessary to weigh up carefully how useful a number is in the domain.

Are you thinking about using umlauts in your domain? Please bear in mind that although these now work for domains, they are not recognised by all browsers. They also do not work with e-mail addresses and some social media networks. The same applies to the letter ß, and is particularly important if you want to sell internationally. Not all keyboards support the letter ß or umlauts, which is why shop visitors would have to resort to certain key combinations that are cumbersome and not necessarily immediately familiar.

Another variant are emoji domains, which have been around for more than 15 years. Emojis are used instead of letters, numbers or hyphens for the domain name. If you are interested in an emoji domain, remember that you may lose the desired recognition effect. To register, the desired emoji must be converted into a character code that always starts with “xn-“. Not only does this make the domain appear dubious to many website users, it can also be problematic when using social media accounts. Furthermore, with e-mails, it is not possible to use emoji, but only the character code. The biggest problem with emoji domains, however, is that they are not supported by all browsers.

What else is there to think about?

Keep your domain short. Domains that are easy to remember are best. As you already know, you have 63 characters available for your desired domain, but you should consider choosing a shorter domain. Very long domains have a high potential for typing errors, which is especially the case when using them on mobile devices. A shorter domain is easier to type into a smartphone or tablet, which can be beneficial for social media activities as well as other branding activities. But the same still applies: The best thing is to have a domain that is based on your brand name or the name of your stationary business so that your customers can find you more easily.

Check the availability of your desired domain. Once you have found your desired domain, you should check its availability.

Don’t forget your social media accounts. Maybe you are already active on social media, maybe you keep this option open for the future — either way you should check if the user names matching your domain are still available on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and/or Instagram. You can check this either directly on the platforms or via tools such as

Don’t forget change in the use of language. Product names or special industry terms can change over time. Check out Google Trends and compare two or more words with each other to find out which terms are being used.

If you are still looking for a suitable provider of online shops, why not visit the websites of our ePages partners and secure your shop with a suitable domain.