Domain names used to be different: In the early days of the internet, you could simply buy a domain name, and that was that. Now, it\u2019s a whole lot more. It\u2019s an entire branding package for your business or organization.\n\u201cIn many instances, your domain name is the most visible thing about your brand,\u201d says Michael Rader, founder and CEO of Brandroot, a business that offers a creative selection of .com domain names. \u201cYou used to see some people design their brand names around the phone book, like naming their business \u2018ABC\u2019 so it would be the first listing. Now, the rules are totally different.\u201d\n Facebook \nIt\u2019s true: nowadays, it\u2019s about a whole lot more than an\u00a0alphabetical listing. Companies need to consider things like keywords and uniqueness. A domain name is short, but you need to be able to explain who you are, what you do and why you matter -- all in a handful of letters.\nIf all that sounds like a difficult task, that\u2019s because it is. Thus, when facing the tough decision of choosing a domain name, brands generally take a few different approaches:\n1. Keyword name: By using industry keywords, you can make it very clear what your business does. For example, there\u2019s no confusion about what General Motors does. On the downside, given that the internet is more crowded than ever with domain names, it will be difficult to stand out and gain visibility. Therefore, use a keyword name\n2. Unique name: What\u2019s a word that people aren\u2019t competing for? Nike is the Greek goddess of victory, and was definitely not a keyword for shoes. Similarly, McDonald\u2019s uses the last name of the McDonald brothers, who founded the company in 1940. By naming your business something that is less common, you can own that word and maximize your recall.\n3. Invented name: An offshoot of the unique category, this method relies on creating an entirely new word or phrase for your business. Think Twitter, Verizon or Dasani. These words simply didn\u2019t exist before they became brands. While choosing an invented name means that you have to spend considerable effort building your brand, once you\u2019ve done that, it\u2019s yours.\n\n\nLife is all about balance. Find it with the pure-tasting hydration of DASANI. #H2OfCourse @URH2O pic.twitter.com\/Ci5e92TPfC\n\u2014 DASANI (@dasaniwater) November 7, 2016\n\n\n4. Misspellings: A combination of the \u201ckeyword\u201d and \u201cinvented\u201d categories, misspellings allow brands to express the essence of their business while still maintaining a unique brand identity. When you hear Lyft, for instance, you think of someone giving you a lift in their car. That\u2019s by design, and yet Lyft doesn\u2019t get lost in the sea of results for the search term \u201clift.\u201d\u00a0\nAnother similar example is Mylestone Plans. The founder's last name was Myles, but they decided to extend that to Mylestone to give it a more tangible sense of purpose and importance.\nSo, as you see, a domain name isn\u2019t just a domain name. It\u2019s your first impression. People are going to read it and immediately make a decision about you as a brand and as an organization. In this way, a domain name is like a digital storefront: It can either draw people in or turn people away. Here are a few things that you should consider when choosing a domain name, regardless of which of the above categories it falls into:\n1. How does it read in a browser? Write your name as one word, all lowercase. Can you still read it, or does it morph into a different phrase? For example, let\u2019s say you have a business that recycles old IT equipment. You could call it IT Scrap. Not a bad idea -- until you see what it looks like in a browser: itscrap.com. Needless to say, this won\u2019t be great for your business.\n2.\u00a0Does it explain what you do? General Motors clearly implies that it\u2019s a car company. On the other hand,\u00a0Uber implies no specific kind of business. Uber has been tremendously successful, but they had to overcome the question, \u201cWhat\u2019s an Uber?\u201d This means that Uber had to put in significant effort into branding and awareness, unlike General Motors.\n3. Will it be a problem down the road? Ask yourself where your business is going. Do you think you\u2019ll expand into other industries or make different products down the line? If so, you shouldn\u2019t choose a name that limits the scope of your services.\nFor instance, if General Motors wanted to start selling computers, they\u2019d have a hard time breaking away from the associations of their name. Make sure you are setting yourself up for long-term success, because it can be costly and time-consuming to rebrand.\nAs you can see, in an increasingly digital era, we\u2019ve reached a place where your domain name and website are essentially as important -- if not more -- than your actual storefront. Choose wisely, and you can turbocharge the growth of your new business.