If you are about to buy a domain you are not probably sure how long it should be. I had the same question when i was at the beginning of buying domains for my new websites.
So, how long is too long for a domain? Any domain that is longer than 17 characters or more than 3 dictionary words is way too long. We don’t include in the counting the “https://www.” or .com, .net etc extension parts.
More and more people register long domains these days since they can’t find an available shorter one or they don’t have the budget for a really good domain. After reading the next paragraphs you will find out the reasons why you need to have some limits on domain name length.
Does domain length matter
The short answer is that it does but not for the reasons you think about. Long domains don’t affect directly your position negatively in search engines (google,bing, yahoo) neither can cause you any kind of penalty.
What they affect is the overall user experience. The domain name is the first thing someones sees when visits your site or the search results on google. What would be the first impression in that case if he sees a very long domain? He will probably think that your site looks spammy and not a trusty one.
Users have used to visit sites with a shorter length and in some cases have connected authority with a relatively short domain (google,facebook,microsoft).
People need to type (mostly on mobile) a longer domain that takes more time and also the length affects how memorable a domain name can be. Shorter names are more memorable than long ones and stick easier to someone’s head. Even some things like your email they will not look so professional, example: firstname.lastname@example.org . You need to think about how your domain looks like under different situations like printed in a business card, a t-shirt or a clever online or offline advertisement.
The categories of people that can be affected a lot are smartphone users who are more likely to type your web address. There are many people that they type on smartphones without even looking at the screen! Around 58% of site visits were from mobile devices last year and the percentage will increase for sure. Your staff also will need to login to your site for administrative reasons, don’t forget that category too.
Does your domain work well in those cases? If the answer is yes then don’t worry so much about length. It is ok to use long domain if the previous problems are solved.
Domain name length best practices
It isn’t necessary that a shorter domain is better than a longer one. So don’t reject a domain name only because it is long. A short name difficult to pronounce is worse than a longer name that you can easily pronounce, remember and it says something directly or indirectly for your business.
As a general rule of thumb, i said earlier that a domain up to 17 characters and up to 3 words is a good approach to follow. Of course, remember to include real words because 17 characters and made up words at the same time, it is a very bad combination. These numbers are still short enough to not harm the overall user experience and at the same time, they don’t limit your options of getting a domain name available or at a very good price.
In any case, don’t use hyphens or numbers since in combination with a long domain you will probably send your clients to the site with the similar shorter domain and hyphens is also the first thing the user forgets to include.
Some years ago having a domain even with many characters that matched a particular google search like “buy auto insurance online” was an advantage to the sites that used this kind of domain for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes.
Google noticed that many people followed this practice and many bad quality sites were in number 1 page only because of the domain they chose. After many updates in google algorithm, this factor doesn’t affect so much the rankings in the world’s most popular search engine as it used to be. The quality of content and the overall user experience are the number one factors.
A long domain might limits your potential growth
As we already talked about, a really long domain sometimes is picked because describes exactly what a company does. A very detailed domain can limit your potential growth since you never know how big your company can be or what other activities you will expand to.
You might be now a company that sells books but what happens if you add other products in your inventory. A user that searches for the additional products you sell, he might think that your site is irrelevant and only sells books.
If you want to build a strong brand with national or global reach you should focus more on finding a short brandable domain but if your site is more like a blog or your intention is to get more leads from a certain industry then it is ok to go with a long descriptive keyword domain (by following the previous suggestion i mentioned about limits).
Domain name maximum length
The actual domain name length (after www. or https:// and before .com) can be from 1 to 63 characters. The type of characters you can use are numbers, dashes and hyphens. If we include all the url then it can be up to 253 characters, an example of the whole url: https://www.buycompanyname.com .
Domain name length statistics
If we look at the top 50 sites (based on alexa) , the longest domain there is 15 characters. The average domain length in general (mostly for .com domains) should be around 13-15 characters. Some surveys that were done years ago point 13 as average but a lot of time has passed since then and i suspect the real average has increased by now.
What is the longest domain name?
The longest domain name is http://llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch.info which is actually a village and government community in Wales! Of course anyone can register a long domain that contains the maximum characters but at least the previous domain is related with a real word!
What are some successful examples of long domain names?
Some good examples are onlinevideoconverter.com, internetdownloadmanager.com, leagueoflegends.com, teacherspayteachers.com . These sites get a lot of traffic and have a big success even if their domains are considered as long. The characters are more than the ideal number but still there are not more than 3 words and the domains are easily memorable.
If you don’t know how to register a cheap domain please check my previous post that shows step by step how to buy a 1$ domain .