Domain or domain name in simple words is the name of a website. It’s the part after “www.” in the web address, you can also find it in the email address after “@”. When someone asks how to find you online, usually what you answer them is your domain name. Your domain is your online brand, you almost never should change your domain so you have to choose your domain very very carefully.
If you are going to target the Vietnamese audience, it's important to choose the right domain name for this market. As we have helped a number of our clients to do website design and marketing services targeting the Vietnam online market, we can share with you a few things we have learned during this process.
1. Pick brandable domain names
In many cases, people use the company's name for the domain name. If you need to build brand awareness for your company, this is the way to go.
If you are still in the process of choosing a company name, you can use this Vietnam Business Registration website to check for the availability of the name. Many companies in Vietnam tend to use a combination of the generic product name together with the location name (i.e: HanoiPancake). This makes it not only extremely difficult to apply for a trademark but also challenging to do marketing and promotion in the future. Try to avoid this naming scheme.
Depending on your business, your domain name may not have to reflect the company's name. In this case, you may have more freedom when choosing your domain name.
2. Use keywords in domain names
Ok, this may be contradicting to the above rule, but using keywords in the domain names does have proven Search Engine Optimization advantage, plus it allows people to knows that the website is about instantly. There are cases when you want to use keywords in your domain names, use broad keywords when sensible. Landing pages and Microsites which are often used by marketers in Vietnam are good cases where keywords can (and should) be used in domain names.
3. Choose a future proof domain
Okie, so perhaps you are selling Pho right now, and you want to use ABCBestPho.vn domain. Cool, but what if you start offering other things in the future (or perhaps you stop selling food and switch to another industry). Choose your domain name carefully with some forward thinking to avoid having to completely rename your domain in the future.
4. Make it short
Length matters. Shorter domain names are easier to remember and type. If you use Vietnamese words in your domain name, take note that it tends to be longer trying to express the same thing. For this reason, many websites in Vietnam tend to use English words for their domain names.
5. Avoid special characters
Special characters such as -, _, + are difficult to remember and type. Many China-based websites use numbers in the domain names as they are often associated with special meanings. In Vietnam (and many other countries), using numbers in domain names is a source of confusion, avoid them whenever possible.
6. Choose your language
It's ok to use English in your domain name but use simple words, pick your words carefully. For example, in our website we wanted to use "bespoke website design service" but we found out that not many people understand what "bespoke" actually means. Try to avoid words that are difficult to pronounce or can create confusion. If you decide to use English words, always test them first with a number of your target audience and see if they can understand, remember, and pronounce correctly.
If you are going to use Vietnamese words, take note that the Vietnamese language has 9 accent marks (diacritics) which people tend to ignore when typing and searching on the web. This can bring some confusion if not put in context, so you need to check your selected domain name with others to see if it may have any potential issues.
The Vietnamese language also has about 3 important dialects. These dialect regions differ mostly in their sound systems, but also in vocabulary which can be problematic when choosing the right words for your domain name. Since the Hanoi dialect is considered the "national dialect", people tend to pick the Hanoi dialect vocabulary when they need to make a choice, but be very careful if your main target audience is in South of Vietnam for example.
7. Bias toward .vn domain
You should use a Vietnam-based domain for your business if your main target audience is located in Vietnam. In our previous article regarding registering a Vietnam-based domain, we mentioned that there are 2 popular domain TLD you can choose: ".com.vn" and ".vn". Opt for ".vn" if it's available as it's much shorter.
If your budget allows, purchase the .com.vn and .com variations of the domain if they are available. End users may not always remember your domain extension (is it ".com" or ".com.vn" or ".vn") and may make a mistake. You don't want them to go to someone else's website when they make a mistake with the domain extension, buy all these variations if they are available. Normally, we want to choose a domain name that is available both with ".vn" and ".com" extension, but it is not compulsory.
8. It's ok to modify or create new words
Foody.vn, a clone of Yelp in Vietnam uses a modified version of "Food". Lozi.vn, originally a competitor of Foody.vn employs a trick with the Vietnamese pronunciation because "zi", "ji", "gi" sounds the same in Vietnamese.
Tiki.vn, another famous marketplace in Vietnam is shortened from the word "Tiết Kiệm" which means "saving" in Vietnamese.
Choosing the right domain for your online presence is as important as naming your business. Take your time, do it very very carefully. If you have several candidates, consider purchasing them right away if they are available then make your decision later. Once the domains are purchased by someone else, it's extremely difficult and costly (and most of the time impossible) to re-purchase the domain. To purchase a dot vn domain, please check our article on how to register a dot vn domain for your website. If you would like to purchase a non dot vn domain, we recommend using namecheap for their great support, reasonable price and simple interface.
Are you planning to create a new website, or redesign your website for Vietnam's market? Be sure to read our design tips on choosing the right color for your website design in Asia and Vietnam.