By Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations and Communications at NetNames

Getting the optimal domain name for a small business or start-up is often a difficult thing. Start-ups often choose something that looks and sounds quirky and unusual, just to get a shorter domain, especially in the dotCOM space. But businesses need to ask themselves if this is the best approach. It’s generally understood that getting a domain name which reflects your business name is best.

While considering business and domain names, one test that should be applied is the “Radio Test”. That is, do your domain and business names sound as they’re written? It’s difficult for customers and clients to find you if they can’t spell your business name when searching or typing your domain name.

A recent survey by consultancy Name Ninja, found over two-thirds (68%) of start-up domain names failed the Radio Test, suggested that small businesses are not choosing domain names that are spelled how they sound. Other start-up domain name problems include not having the exact match dotCOM domain, or having a dotCOM domain that appends other words to the start-up name. The survey also found 79% of start-ups surveyed may not be using the optimal domain name to market their business.

Name Ninja President, Bill Sweetman, explained “If your start-up is named Fashion Ferret then the optimal domain name is the exact match dotCOM domain FashionFerret.com. Using anything else is risky because it’s likely to confuse your customers and drive up your marketing costs.”

While this survey was focussed on US-based start-ups, beyond America, start-ups also have the opportunity to consider their own country code domain names(ccTLD). Surveys by ccTLD registries, such as in dotAU and dotUK, have found internet users place a higher degree of trust in websites that use their local ccTLD. In the dotAU survey, conducted by AusRegistry in 2014, two-thirds of survey respondents were found to more likely trust a dotAU website compared with only one-third a dotCOM. ccTLDs therefore provide another viable and trustworthy option for start-ups.

Start-ups and SMEs must appreciate the value and importance of choosing a company name and corresponding gTLDs. As consumers increasingly turn online for information and product purchasing, companies need to make website access as straightforward as possible. After all, there’s a lot in a name.