The domain name of your museum is a key element of its digital identity. This is the Internet address that will allow your audience to access your website and that will be shared on all your communication materials, as well as verbally. If you choose your domain name wisely, it will give your establishment credibility and improve its ranking on search engines. Readability, relevance and conciseness are the key words that should guide your decision.
When it comes to domain names, the hyphen is the only authorised special character and therefore the only way to space words, but when is it a good idea to include one and why? Here is a list of best practices to help you make the right choice.
Adding a hyphen to make your domain name more legible
Some museums have a name made up of several words that are themselves sometimes made up of many characters that are difficult to incorporate into a domain name without compromising on legibility and therefore memorability. This being the case, adding a hyphen as a space makes your domain name clearer to read and understand.
If the Musée Dupont, which specialises in crystal and mineralogy, for example, were to opt for a .museum domain extension, dupont-cristal.museum would be more easily legible than dupontcristal.museum, whether as a URL displayed on the back page of a leaflet or as an e-mail address (email@example.com as opposed to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Adding a hyphen to make your domain name more precise
By acting as a space between two words, a hyphen will allow you to add the keyword of your choice to your domain name while ensuring that it is also perfectly legible. While the previous example (dupont-cristal.museum) illustrated the relevance of a name-expertise.museum combination, it is also worth noting that the Musée Dupont, in view of its strategy, could certainly consider following the name-locality.museum format by registering dupont-paris.museum (or even cristal-paris.museum for the expertise-locality.museum combination). This domain name would enable it to capitalise on its location (Paris) when it came to search engine optimisation.
N.B.: we recommend that you include only one keyword (and therefore only one hyphen) in your domain name, the first reason being that a concise domain name is easier to remember and type into a computer, phone or tablet. Conversely, a domain name consisting of several hyphens may be considered by users to be spam (e.g. dupont-cristal-paris.museum). Be sure to think carefully about your choice of keyword: does the Musée Dupont want to promote the name of its establishment (Dupont), its area of expertise (crystal), its location (Paris), etc.? These are the things you should be thinking about.
An alternative domain name with a hyphen to protect your traffic and your brand online
It’s no secret to anyone that when it comes to domain names, the golden rule is “first come, first served”. After careful consideration, have you determined the perfect domain name for your museum? Once you have registered it, we recommend that you register other variants (with an accent, without the accent, with a hyphen, without the hyphen, etc.) that will redirect to your main domain name. This maximises the chances of your audience finding you online and prevents others from taking advantage.
Let’s assume that the Musée Dupont registered dupont.museum as its main domain name. It could also register dupont-cristal.museum, dupont-paris.museum, cristal-paris.museum, etc., each redirecting visitors to its actual website. The hyphen can be used in many different variations, all of which are still legible.
N.B.: since they are aimed exclusively at museum enthusiasts and professionals, .museum domain names are less prone to URL hijacking and cybersquatting than .com domain names, for example, which are open to anyone.
.museum: the benchmark Internet extension for your museum that speaks volumes about its authority
The Internet extension is an integral part of your domain name and plays a key role in the referencing of your website. Unlike other generic extensions like .com or .net, .museum is dedicated entirely to the museum world. As well as being an indication of credibility and prestige, and offering a natural reach both in France and abroad, a .museum domain name automatically highlights what you do and enables you to reach a targeted audience.
The .museum extension really does speak for itself, acting like a keyword that makes your field of activity immediately clear. This being the case, it allows you to choose a shorter, more professional domain name focusing solely on the name of your establishment and/or its expertise or location. Going back to our previous example, the Musée Dupont saves characters and consequently boosts the impact of its domain name by opting for dupont-cristal.museum (or dupont-paris.museum, cristal-paris.museum) as opposed to museedupontcristal.com, musee-dupontcristal.com, etc.
Check the availability of a .museum domain name using our dedicated page name here.
You now have all the information you need to choose the best possible domain name for your museum. Good luck!