Which domain name to choose?! There are so many options and it seems to be so final. Choosing a domain name is a big deal, it either help your brand or hurt your brand. Changing domains later on can be a major pain, so choosing a domain name that you can live with for years to come is critical.
Getting your private therapy practice online is one of the most important things you can do. Like your therapy practice name, your domain name is a unique address that people can use to find specific websites. When choosing your therapy practice name, you should first check to see if the domain is available. This can be a costly mistake if your dream therapy practice name is not available for purchase (potentially tens of thousands of dollars or even worse, someone else using it who won’t sell it to you).
In this post, we will explore how to choose the best domain names for therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and treatment centers so that it fits your brand and makes your practice look as professional as possible.
Domain Name Best Practices
Let’s explore a few domain name best practices:
- Keep it short – ideally under 15 characters in length
- Choose a domain name that is easily type-able
- Use keywords – Sometimes it makes sense to use keywords in your name
- Target your location – Sometimes it makes sense to target the location you serve
- Use a domain extension that makes sense for your business type
What to Avoid When Choosing a Domain
Now that we reviewed domain name best practices, let’s review some things you should avoid when choosing your domain name:
- Avoid numbers or dashes – These can make your domain name harder to type or remember
- Don’t use slang or abbreviations
- Avoid long, complicated domain names – Your domain name (and your email address) should be short and memorable
- Avoid domain names that can’t be pronounced easily by someone who has never heard of your website
- Avoid domain names that sound similar to popular domain names
- .org unless you operate a non-profit
- Avoid using your city name unless it’s vitally important – using a city name in your domain name can come off as spammy
How to Choose a Domain Name
In this section, we will explore some domain name ideas to position your practice well to your ideal patients. Let’s look at some domain name best practices:
For therapists, psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists who work by themselves in solo practices, here are some domain ideas:
- your name – ex: amyboyers.com
- your position + your name or your name + your position – ex: dramyboyers.com, amyboyersphd.com
- your position + your first or last name – ex: drwendy.com
Generally speaking, we recommend that therapy practices with one therapist name their practice using their name. This is because your patients want to work with you not a fancy brand name.
Treatment Center or Multi-practitioners
If you are a practice with multiple mental health professionals or a treatment center, choosing a domain name that includes your name is recommended.
Here is an example of one a treatment center:
This treatment center’s name came from arguably the most famous physician in the Roman Empire, Galen. This example shows that you can create your therapy practice name by using a famous historical figure of significance + a noun/verb like “hope” that is positive and uplifting for patients.
If your name is too long (over 20+ characters), consider using part of the name when purchasing a domain if it’s available.
For practitioners with a specific focus, you could choose to include that focus in the name of your domain. Here are some domain ideas:
- Condition + treatment type – eatingdisorderhope.com
- Condition + treatment type + location – miamianorexiatreatment.com
- Target client + treatment type – ex: christiantherapy.com
- location + therapy – charlottetherapy.com
If you’re a single practitioner, we recommend that you steer clear of specific focus names and stay with your name. It’s important that if you choose to go this route, that the name in the domain covers all that you offer.
Components of a Domain Name
According to Moz, there are three parts of a domain name:
A subdomain is a name added before the domain name you choose. These are still the same website, but often are created to contain totally different information that is meant to be separate from the normal part of a website. An example of this would be “support.google.com”
The domain name is the name that you chose to represent your digital address.
Top Level Domain
Your top-level domain is the term for the suffix at the end of your domain name. These are also called domain extensions. The ones we will be discussing today include .com, .net, and .org.
The root domain is a combination of your domain name and the top level domain. This offers many different combinations for the same name. Theoretically there could be two different companies with the same domain name but different top level domain names.
Best Website Extensions to Use
.com is the most popular website extension. We highly recommend that you find a domain with .com
.net is a somewhat popular website extension. If .com is purchased already for the “perfect name” you come up with, .net can be a substitute
.org sites are typically used by non-profits. If you’re a non profit, .org is a great extension to use. We recommend avoiding .org if you’re not a non-profit. In our view using a .org extension looks spammy if you’re a for-profit company.
How to Register My Domain Name?
Registering your domain name is fairly easy! If you know the host you’d like to use, we recommend using it to purchase a hosting plan and also buy your domain name. We use Siteground hosting as we’ve found it to be extremely reliable with great customer service.
If you just need a domain name without a hosting plan (for options 2 and 3 below), you can purchase your domain through a site like godaddy.com. It usually costs around $15 to $20 dollars per year to keep a domain under your control.
Connecting My Domain to My Website Host
If you are building your own website through WordPress.org or similar via a host, you can follow these steps to point your domain name to your host. If you purchase your domain through your hosting company, connecting these two will be more seamless.
Securing My Domain Name with SSL
After you connect your domain name to a website host, we highly recommend getting what’s called a “SSL certificate.” According to digicert.com:
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and, in short, it’s the standard technology for keeping an internet connection secure and safeguarding any sensitive data that is being sent between two systems, preventing criminals from reading and modifying any information transferred, including potential personal details. The two systems can be a server and a client (for example, a shopping website and browser) or server to server (for example, an application with personal identifiable information or with payroll information).
Securing your site with a SSL certificate will also add a “s” to the beginning of your “http://” protocol making it “https://”. These are usually offered free through your host, and will make your website visitors trust visiting your site much more than they would if you don’t have one. Google will usually place a “not secure” or similar message next to your domain name at the top of your browser if you don’t have a SSL certificate.
Important Things to Remember
While choosing your domain name is super important, there are also some other things you should strongly consider:
- Make sure you renew your domains automatically by setting up a credit card
- If your domain name expires, a competitor or someone else can buy it. If this happens, they may charge you a very high amount to purchase it back or may never sell it back to you
- You don’t need a million domain names. You really only need 1 domain name unless you have separate brands
Final Thoughts on Choosing a Domain Name for Therapist and Other Mental Health Professionals
Whether you’re a solo-practitioner, a therapy team, or a treatment center, choosing the right domain name is vital for the perception of your brand for clients and patients. Overly spammy domains can make your brand look cheap, and overly complex domains can give off an appearance of sloppy. I hope this guide was helpful to you while you contemplate which domain to choose for your practice.
TherapyByPro offers a free membership to list your practice and has an extensive library of mental health forms that can help you streamline your practice. We also have specific packages for Counseling Practice forms and our Psychiatric Practice Forms.