author/source: Miles Galliford
Choosing a great domain name is important.
It is the first thing your customers will see.
It is your brand.
It will become your most valuable online asset.
So choose carefully, although this is easier said than done.
Most of the obvious and most desirable names have already been registered, but don't despair! There are some little-known tricks for finding a name you will love.
Here are the things you should think about.
Tip #1 - A Name is for Life, Not Just for Launch
Once you have built your website around a particular domain it is very hard to change the name.
If you do change it, all the valuable links from other websites will be broken and your marketing activity to build your brand will have been wasted.
So when choosing a domain name try to think about all the ways your website could evolve. Choose a name which will still make sense as the website changes.
Tip #2 - Is a '.com' Domain the Best Choice?
The answer is 'yes', but...
The 'but' is other domain name extensions may be suitable, depending on what your website is covering.
- .com - is definately the most popular domain extension. It is truly international and it is the name that is most frequently searched for. If you can find one for your site, it has real benefits
- .net - is a good second best choice. Like .com, it has no geographic bias, so can be used for sites with global appeal
- .org - is suitable for charities, associations, clubs etc. Not suitable for commercial niche sites
- .tv - this domain extension is becoming more popular and is a good choice particularly if you plan on having multimedia content (audio and video)
- .co.uk, .fr, .nz, etc. - national domains are only suitable for sites which will only EVER cover national subjects. It you site could be expanded to reach a global audience don't have a national domain name
Tip #3 - Brainstorm Keywords
When choosing a domain name, the first thing you should do is brainstorm keywords.
Sit down with a pen, paper and computer and write down every word you can think of, related to your subject. Here are some places you can find inspiration:
- First, write down all the words that come into your head about your subject. These are usually the best words
- Next, search Google for some of these words and browse through the sites that are listed in the results for ideas
- Look up the words in a thesaurus (www.thesaurus.com) to add to the list
- Browse through your books and literature for words and ideas
- Ask your peers
Tip #4 - Clever Word Combinations
I don't really like clever word combinations, because they can lead to confusion and poor word-of-mouth marketing. However, never say never.
Some websites pull it off, for example:
- Revenews - www.revenews.com - a website about making money online
Tip #5 - Add Simple Words In Front of a Keyword
There are some simple words that can preceed a keyword, to make a good domain name, for example:
- 'my' e.g. mycaravan.com
- 'your' e.g. yourcareerchange
- 'i' e.g. iTravel.com
- 'e' e.g. eBusiness.com
- 'pro' e.g. proBlogger.com
- 'best' e.g. bestCruises.com
Top #6 - Add Simple Words After a Keyword
There are many descriptive words you can add after your keywords. Examples include:
- Gazette – e.g. FlyFishingGazette.com
- Times – e.g. HornbyTimes.com
- Post – e.g. AuctionLoversPost.com
- Spotlight e.g. PetOwnersSpotlight.com
- Update e.g. VegetarianUpdate.com
- Outlook e.g. EducationOutlook.com
- Briefing e.g. LandlordBriefing.com
- Bulletin e.g. IPOBulletin.com
- Advisor e.g. PersonalFinanceAdvisor.com
- Flash e.g. CelebrityNewsflash.com
- Report e.g. BusinessIdeasReport.com
- Journal e.g. BeeKeepingJournal.com
- News e.g. CanoeingNews.com
- Forum e.g. TravelItalyforum.com
- Chronicle e.g. WritersChronicle.com
- Link e.g. TrainLink.com
- Insider e.g. PublishingInsider.com
- Net e.g. NurseryNet.com
- Online e.g. DatingOnline.com
- Central e.g. VellyDancingCentral.com
- Finder e.g. ClassicCarFinder.com
- World e.g. CatWorld.com
- Site e.g. BuildingSite.com
- Beat e.g. VentureBeat.com
Tip #7 - Repeat a Word
Some short words can be repeated in a domain name, to create something brandable, unique and easy to remember, for example:
- DoshDosh - www.doshdosh.com - a successful website about making money
- ShinyShiny - www.shinyshiny.com - a girls guide to gadgets
- WiiWii - www.wiiwii.com - a site about the Nintendo Wii
Tip #8 - Slang and "In Jokes"
If your website is aimed at a niche audience who will be aware of unique slang words or phrases, these can be used within the name. For example:
- Tie The Knot - www.tietheknot.com - a site about weddings and getting married
- Who Ate All The Pies - www.whoateallthepies.com - a site about soccer/football ("Who ate all the pies" is a well known chant)
- LifeHacker - www.lifehacker.com - a site about making life easier using technology and other shortcuts
Tip #9 - PhraseFinder
PhraseFinder is a website you have to pay for, but it may be worth the investment if you are struggling to find a name you are proud of.
On the PhraseFinder website you type in a keyworld and it comes up with dozens of phrases related to the word. These phrases can make very good domain names.
For example, say I wanted a website about personal finance. I could type in the keyword 'money'. Some of the phrases that come up include:
- another day another dollar
- good as gold
- cash cow
- buck naked
- even money
- hard cash
- rags to riches
- in the money
- stealth wealth
Any of these would make good domian names and are the sort of phrases that may not come immediately to mind.
Tip #10 - Websites That Can Help You
There are some little known tools on the internet which can help generate names, whilst also reducing the time you have to spend testing names, to see if they are available. My favorite tool is:
- DomainsBot - You can type in multiple keywords and the tool will suggest lots of combinations and similiar phrases. It will also tell you what domains are available. A real time saver!
Tip #11 - Names to Avoid
Try to avoid:
- misspelling common words e.g. OnlineBizness.com
- hyphens e.g. start-a-food-franchise.com
- registered trademarks e.g. ebay-world.com
- numbers replacing words e.g. fun4kids.com
Tip #12 - Buy a Name
If after all this work you still haven't found a domain you are happy with, then you can look into buying one.
This can be expensive, but your domain name will be your online business' most valuable asset, so it could be worth the investment.
There are four ways I would recommend looking for a domain to buy.
- Type a domain you like into your browser. If the website that comes up has not been updated for a long time and looks unloved, there is a fair chance that the owner will be happy to sell it. If you can't find the contact details of the owner on the site, try typing the URL into Whois.net.
- Use Domainsbot.com to find domains that are for sale
- Try the Domain Name After Market at www.tdnam.com
- Try some of the bigger webmaster forums where people buy and sell domains. The ones I use are Sitepoint , DigitalPoint, DNForum and WebmasterWorld
Finding a great domain can be a frustrating process, but stick at, as it's worth the effort. If you find a name you love, you will be much more enthusiastic about the website you launch.