Your real estate brand is essential. Choosing the right domain name will serve to enhance it in an increasingly digital world.
You build your real estate business on name recognition and branding. Your name and the experience and expertise that support it are critical factors in expanding your reach and growing your luxury real estate business.
Nowhere is your branding more critical than the domain name used for your website. Effectively, it’s the key that unlocks your digital storefront. And the more dynamic and effective the domain, the faster current and potential clients will find you, your listings, and your services online.
Below we cover a few basics on why the right domain name matters and how to choose yours.
What is a domain name?
For many reading this, this may prove a bit elementary, akin to internet 101. As you set out to select the best domain for your business, several of the following distinctions will prove critical in ensuring you choose the right one.
In its simplest terms, the domain name is the name of a website. Examples of a domain name include:
The domain is not the website itself, but the name you provide someone to locate the website online.
Another term you’ll often hear used interchangeably with the domain name is URL. Short for Universal Resource Locator, the URL is the full address for a website. While it includes the domain name, it contains additional elements to help users navigate to a specific page within a website.
Examples of a URL include:
As we mentioned, the terms domain and URL are used interchangeably, and it’s not hard to see why.
Ultimately, the domain makes it easier to identify and search a website. A URL will direct you to specific pages within the website, including the main page. As we said, elementary, but it’ll be an important distinction later on.
With that quick refresher out of the way, let’s explore seven points to consider in picking the best domain name for your website.
More than a name
You might be thinking, why not just use my name and be done with it?
In most cases, that will prove the best, most direct path to establishing your online presence. However, as wonderful and unique as your name may be, it’s not always the most advantageous way to distinguish you or your real estate business online. In some circumstances, the name as a domain may not even be available.
That said, if your name is available, you should purchase it. If you don’t end up using it initially, it’s good to have it exclusively available to you should the time come to employ it.
If you want to use your name for your real estate brand but find it unavailable, consider pairing it with your primary territory or services. For example:
What are some reasons why your name might not work as the domain for your real estate business?
Foremost, millions of websites use an individual’s proper name for the domain – including an array of agent and broker sites. Unless your real estate business is built solely around your name as the brand and it’s easily recognizable throughout your territory, a more unique and memorable identifier is a better option.
Also, take into account if your name – or your business name for that matter – is difficult to spell or unusually tough to pronounce. While our names are unique to us, consider if it will hinder the ability of potential clients to search for and find you online.
Dotcom extensions are ideal
When selecting a domain, regardless of the name you use, ensure you purchase it with the .com domain name extension.
Despite what others might say on the expanding list of available extensions, only four matter at this point:
■ .com – commercial websites
■ .org – non-profit websites
■ .gov – government websites
■ .edu – college or university websites
Considering one of those makes little sense for your real estate business, and the other two are unavailable for you to use, it leaves only one possibility.
With .com as your domain extension, it lends your web presence instant credibility. The .com extension is the primary indicator that yours is a safe and legitimate website worth navigating to. Avoid extensions such as .biz, .live, or .xyz.
You can make an argument for .net – which stands for networking – as it falls a tier below .com in recognizability. It does carry a certain cachet within tech circles. It might prove particularly helpful if your real estate firm possesses a distinctive technology edge. It’s also a good option if your preferred domain name is unavailable with the .com extension.
Should both .com and .net be available in your preferred domain name, it’s never a bad idea to purchase both.
The shorter, the better
Another reason your name may not work as a preferred domain name is if it’s considerably longer than most. The same can be said for using a business name that measures more than 20 characters.
Especially with luxury real estate, where networking is a key aspect to building your client list, you’ll want a brand and domain that is short, to the point, conveys a lot of information, and easy to remember. Consider:
The difference is clear. Long domains will also create extraordinarily long URLs. For instance:
is much more palpable than
Admittedly, even the “correct” examples shown above could be considered too long by some. It does, however, show just how much thought needs to go into crafting the best domain name for your real estate business. Keep your domain (minus the .com) from between seven and 15 characters.
Remember, real estate is a hyperlocal business
Much like the adage about all politics being local, so too is real estate. Perhaps even more so in today’s uber-specific search-friendly society.
Not only a good strategy for identifying your primary market for would-be clients, including a city or region name within your domain boosts SEO and enhances the ability for others to find you through local search.
We’ve already shown a few examples that highlight this approach:
The advantage is twofold.
First, you focus your domain on what someone might be searching for. Sticking a keyword into your domain doesn’t directly help your SEO, but it improves your domain’s click rate.
Second, the keyword may boost your presence when someone uses your domain keyword in tandem with other search terms. For instance:
■ Dallas luxury homes
■ Dallas golf course homes
■ DFW high rise condos
Beyond pushing local buyers to your website, national buyers will use the same search terms, thus ensuring your capture of both markets.
Avoid numbers and hyphens
This is relatively simple, but steer clear of hyphens and numbers in your domain.
With hyphens, it makes your domain confusing and clunky. They complicate what should be an otherwise simple collection of characters. Which would you prefer:
As for numbers, unless it’s an integral part of your brand, ditch them from your domain for the same reasons as hyphens. They can confuse what should be a simple name.
Make it memorable
Yes, name recognition is important. If you’re determined to use yours to build your real estate brand, check it against our guidelines and make tweaks as necessary to maximize its viability.
But if you want a domain that will make an immediate impact, consider one that is bold, short, and above all else, memorable. Let’s revisit a few examples for Dallas-Fort Worth, TX.
Instead of our effective but rather static earlier examples, consider:
Or any variations thereof. All of those are available domains that convey what you sell and where you sell it in fewer than 13 characters.
The point being, the more your domain stands out, while at the same time maintaining both simplicity and purpose, the more apt your current and future clients are to remember it.
Look for inspiration
Finally, when picking the best domain name for your website, don’t rush it. Your domain is a critical marketing piece for your real estate business and arguably the most essential part of your online presence. If people cannot spell it, say it, or recall your domain with ease, they’ll never find you online.
Since nine out of ten home searches involve researching property online, you must get your domain name right.
Make a list of preferred names and check domain search sites for their availability (or have your Implementation Manager do it for you). Check out other realtor sites for inspiration on how they use their domains as a tie-in to their overall brand.
Look to your market or your own real estate efforts. What do you bring to the table that distinguishes your skills from other agents or brokers? How can you reflect that within your domain name?
Yes, a domain name is just a simple identifier. But it possesses the ability to carry your real estate business well beyond your primary market.