When Choosing A Domain And Start-Up Name, Consider The Radio Test

Getting the optimal domain name for a small business or start-up is often a difficult thing, and many often choose something that looks and sounds quirky and unusual, just to get a shorter domain, in particular in the dotCOM space.

But is this the best choice? It’s generally understood that getting a domain name that reflects your business name is best. Do you choose the business name or the domain name first?

While thinking about this, one test that can 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 small survey was conducted using the Radio Test prior to the Collision start-up conference that was held in Las Vegas in early May. The survey, by consultancy Name Ninja, found over two-thirds (68%) of the start-up domains failed the Radio Test, meaning the domains are not spelled the way they sound. Other start-up domain 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 participating in the conference may not be using the optimal domain name to market their business.

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

Name Ninja also found Name Ninja 386 (79%) of the start-up domain names were counterintuitive and likely pose marketing challenges. Only one in five (21%) of start-up domain names were the most intuitive domain name.

The survey was obviously focussed on US-based start-ups. Outside the US, start-ups would want to consider their own country code (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.