church domain names

How To Choose The Right Domain Name For Your Church

Choosing the right domain name for your church website is more than just a technical task; it’s a strategic decision that can significantly impact your church’s online presence and outreach.

For those accessing your site directly, it is the first thing they will type in and for those searching it will likely be the first thing they see.

At first glance it might seem like a simple decision but there are a number of considerations. We’ll look at some common pitfalls as well as discuss the different extensions that are available and the implications.

We want to help you craft a well thought through plan.

your church identity

Understanding Your Church Identity

The starting place for any decision is understanding the identity of your church. Whilst all churches share a common mission, your church will have its own particular expression, set of values and a vision for how the mission might be accomplished.

If you are a pre-existing denominational church you may already have a name, in which case your name may be your most obvious choice for a domain. If you are a church plant or in a non-denominational setting you may have a choice over your name.

Thinking this through carefully to capture your vision is key.

For most churches your name will by default provide the key component of your domain name. However this may not always be the case.

good domain name

Key Elements of a Good Domain Name

When defining your domain name there are a few things that are worth considering. By asking these questions up front you will save yourself some future heart ache!

  • Simple to say – you will be repeating your domain name verbally a lot. It is worth checking if it will be simple to speak out loud. If one of the words has multiple spellings then this can create confusion for visitors. You could even end up sending people to the wrong place!
  • Simple to spell – whilst the use of QR codes or search engines can minimise the need for people to type in your domain name, it is still important that people know how to spell your domain name. It should be simple to type for anyone with a basic education.
  • Easy to remember – it is worth avoiding any complex combinations of characters. Again simplicity is key. If it’s easy to say and easy to spell then you are most of the way there!

 

common pitfalls

Common Domain Name Pitfalls

Sometimes the best learning is made from mistakes, and the best mistakes are: other peoples. So here are some common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to choosing a domain name.
  • Too long – a short name will always be easier for people. Both in the ability to remember and in the time it takes to type. So avoid including your name, location and denomination all in the domain name where possible. This just simply gets too long.
  • Unexpected characters – in general it is better to avoid hyphens or numbers in your domain name. You will find yourself having to explain that a lot.
  • Unintuitive short hands – there are various short hands that are expected – for example St being shorthand for Saint. However, be very careful about creating your own short hands by shortening place names or half finished words. Any short hand should be widely understood.
  • Trademarks – make sure you stay well clear of brand names or other trademarked names. The last thing you want is a large company coming after you because you’ve infringed upon their brand.
pick domain extension

Picking Your Church Domain Extension

When choosing a domain name for your church website, the extension you select is just as important as the name itself. The extension is the part after the dot. Here’s a look at some popular domain extensions and their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

.org/.org.uk

Pros

  • Widely recognized as a standard for non-profit organisations.
  • Conveys a sense of trust and credibility.
  • Familiar and easy for visitors to remember.

Cons

  • Commonly used, so finding an available .org/.org.uk name might be challenging.
  • Less distinctive for a church compared to more specific extensions.

.co.uk/.com

Pros

  • Universally recognized and easy to remember.
  • Ideal for outreach and broad visibility.
  • Perceived as professional and authoritative.

Cons

  • Highly saturated, making it difficult to find an available name at a reasonable price
  • Less specific to non-profits or religious organisations.

.church

Pros

  • Immediately identifies your website as church-related.
  • More likely to have your desired name available.
  • Helps in targeting specific audiences interested in church-related content.

Cons

  • Less familiar to the general public, possibly causing initial confusion.
  • Perceived as niche, which might limit broader appeal.
  • Can sometimes be more expensive

.net

Pros

  • A good alternative if .com and .org are unavailable.
  • Familiar and relatively easy to remember.

Cons

  • Less associated with non-profits or religious organisations.
  • Can be perceived as less authoritative compared to .org.uk or .co.uk/.com.

Selecting the right domain extension depends on your church’s goals and the image you want to project. Whether you choose .org/.org.uk for its trustworthiness, .co.uk/.com for its broad appeal, or .church for its specificity, make sure it aligns with your church’s mission and is easy for your community to find and remember.

domain name availability

Checking Domain Name Availability

Once you have an option for your domain name and you have selected an extension it’s important you move fast to check it’s availability. Once a domain name is gone it is often difficult and costly to try and purchase it.

Thankfully it’s very simple, using websites like godaddy.com to simply search for your domain. It will let you know if it is available for purchase. If it is unavailable it will suggest similar alternatives. Be sure to check these alternatives for some of the pitfalls above.

Some domain name extensions such as .church are currently more available as this is a newer extension. This can be a great choice.

Getting Feedback on Your Domain Name

It is likely you will have your domain name for a long time so it’s worth getting some quick feedback from others in your church or leadership team before you jump ahead. Someone else may spot something that you have missed.

By including others in the process you also create a sense of ownership around your identity as a community. It’s a win win!

Securing Your Domain Name

Once you find the domain you want, it is recommended to purchase it quickly, even if just for one year, to secure it. There are many domain name registers offering slightly different prices. In general going for a well recognised registrar name is helpful for your long term security.

Domain names are registered on an annual basis and generally cost anything from £10-100 ($15-140) per year. You can often get a discount on the price by purchasing multiple years at a time. This also saves you having to think about it for a while.

Selecting auto renew can also be a helpful feature that many provide. This means that if you forget to renew your domain it will automatically renew. This saves you losing your domain down the road due to an oversight.

build website

Next Steps

Selecting your church domain is an important process in building your online presence. Now that you have your domain name secured it’s time to get building your website.

There are lots of ways to approach this and each has different costs. (We explore 3 approaches and their costs in this article here)

The main approaches are:

  • DIY – build it yourself
  • Full Custom Design – employ a web design freelancer
  • Church Site Builder – find a platform that makes the process simpler

If you’re ready for the next step, why don’t you check out our features here at Church Site Builder. We make church websites easy.