.church domain names became available this month. This has reminded me of the importance of picking a good domain name for your church website. It’s literally your address online so it must be memorable. You want it to be easy for people to recall and punch in so they don’t get lost. Here are some tips for picking a domain name.
By extensions, I mean .com, .net, .info, etc. A more proper term is Top-level Domain (TLD). Stick with common, relevant top-level domains such as:
You should avoid obscure country-code extensions like these (these are actually country codes for Columbia, Cocos Islands and Western Samoa):
Why? Because .com is the gold standard. It’s what people are most used to typing. If you tell people to visit you at churchname.co, many will go to churchname.com instead. This is true of any domain that is not .com (even .org). If you can’t get .com, go for .church or .org, which are both very relevant for a church website.
But isn’t .com only for commercial businesses? Nope, .com is entirely universal for all websites and has been for a long time. Browse around and you will see many churches and nonprofits opting for .com over .org. If you prefer .org (or .church) and can also get .com, setup a redirect to ensure nobody gets lost.
There is some gray area. .tv may be one of those cases for a church that builds their identity around video streaming like LifeChurch.tv. It works for them because .tv is in their church’s actual name, which makes it memorable. .tv is the country code for Tuvalu but for some time now has been accepted as meaning “TV” in the English sense and is treated by search engines in the same way as .com and other generic top-level domains.
Short and Sweet
In general, shorter is better because it is more memorable. But some short names can actually be hard to remember, so make it sweet too. Here are some strategies.
The ideal name would be one or two words using .com, such as oakhurst.com for Oakhurst Church or gracechurch.com for Grace Church. If the neighborhood your church is named after has a somewhat unique name, you might find the domain name available for registration. If your name is more common like “Grace”, you almost certainly won’t.
Very few one word .com domains are left for registration so try two words and consider the tips below.
Shorten Your Name
If your name is particularly long, try a domain name without “Church” at the end. For example, if your church is named Centennial Drive Bible Church, you could use centennialdrive.com.
Include Your City
If your church has a very common name like Cornerstone or Grace, you won’t find grace.com, gracechurch.com, grace.church or anything similarly short. You can often come up with a unique domain name by adding your city’s name. For example, gracedallas.com. I checked and this domain name is actually unregistered in a city of more than a million people with hundreds of churches. You may have similar success.
The added value of this is that it also says where your church is! It can go some way to help with search engine optimization as well (people search for churches in a specific city).
To Abbreviate or Not
Some abbreviations can be helpful while others not so much.
“FBC” is a common abbreviation for “First Baptist Church”. There is a First Baptist Church in every city in some regions of the United States. “FBC” is common church lingo but it’s one of a million unknown acronyms to people on the outside. Therefore, while it is short, it is not necessarily memorable. If your church is First Baptist Church Canton, consider a domain like firstcanton.com instead of fbccanton.com.
It’s a different story with abbreviations that are well-known to the general public, such those which cities have. Do you know which cities I’m talking about when I write NYC and LA? Las Vegas is called “Vegas”. calvarynyc.com is more memorable than calvarynewyorkcity.com. Some smaller cities have an abbreviation or nickname not nationally known which is perfectly useful in a domain name because churches are local.
Maybe gracechurch.com is taken but grace-church.com is not. Don’t register it. It’s as unmemorable as an obscure extension like .cc. People will recall it as gracechurch.com (which is probably another church’s website) and get lost.
You can tell at this point I favor .com. If still you cannot find a good .com domain name that is available for registration, consider other relevant extensions like .org and .church. But avoid the temptation to go with obscure extensions like .co, .cc, .ws and most others, which are generally irrelevant for a church and not memorable.
You might not just be picking a domain name but picking an actual name for your church plant. If that’s the case, check if a matching domain name is available before committing to using the name. You’re in a good position to nail down both your church’s name and domain name in one shot, while many existing churches are having to resort to second-choice domain names.
I personally recommend Namecheap. I have about a dozen domain names with them (churchthemes.com is with them) and have been happy since switching to them from GoDaddy (who I would not recommend under any circumstance). I have also heard good things about Hover but they are a little more expensive than Namecheap.
Many web hosting providers will register your domain name for you when you sign up for hosting. It’s a good idea to ask them who the registrar they use is (they may be a registrar themselves) because that is who you will be paying for renewals. You can use any domain name registrar with any web hosting provider and always switch either if you’re unhappy (though it is extra work).
Perfection Not Required
Your church’s domain name doesn’t have to be perfect. If the ideal domain name is not available, you don’t need to go onto an auction website and blow $20,000. Some domain names are perfect and some are disasters. Don’t worry if you can’t get the perfect name. Any domain name that represents your church in a memorable way is a good choice and the tips above should lead you there.
What are your thoughts on picking a domain name for a church website?