Choosing a Domain Name

Having trouble choosing a good domain name? Learn some useful tips and tricks for choosing domain names in this handy article.

Choosing a good domain name for your website can be tough. After all, most of the short, easy-to-remember domain names have been taken, right?

Don't worry. With a little thought, and a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you can find a great domain name for your site today. This article gets you started!

Choose a domain name that's easy to use

It helps to have a domain name that is easy for people to:

  • remember
  • pronounce, and
  • spell.

This is especially important if you plan to market your website offline (in a flyer or magazine, for example). An easy-to-pronounce name also helps with word-of-mouth marketing.

Of course, shorter names tend to be easier to remember, and most short domain names are already in use. However, with a bit of creativity and brainstorming (see below) you should be able to come up with a catchy, easy-to-spell name.

Avoid hyphens in the domain name

While hyphens in domain names are allowed (for example, my-great-domain.com), they are uncommon and can lead to confusion. If possible, go for the domain name without the hyphens (mygreatdomain.com).

If you want to make the individual words stand out better when writing the domain name, you can always capitalise the start of each word (MyGreatDomain.com). Domain names are not case sensitive.

Don't limit yourself to .com domain names

.com domain names are the most sought after, so it can be hard to find a short, snappy .com name. However there are many other choices available, such as .net and .info, so don't feel you have to limit yourself to .com.

It's true that .com names have certain advantages — people will assume a domain name ends in .com if not told otherwise, and Web browsers often look for .com versions of domain names first. For example, if you type "example" into your browser's address bar then the browser will probably look for www.example.com before www.example.net.

Despite the .com advantages, a .net or .info domain name can work well, as you have a far greater choice of available names. This can mean that you can grab that snappy, easy-to-remember name you want. Just don't forget to include the .net (or other) suffix whenever you mention your domain name to people.

Keywords in domain names — a good idea?

If you need to drive a lot of search traffic to your site then it can help to have your main keywords in your domain name — especially if the keywords are highly competitive. For example, if your site sells dinky widgets then a domain name of AllDinkyWidgets.com is going to fare better than MyOnlineStore.com.

That said, having keywords in your domain name isn't likely to make a huge difference to your search traffic. It's nice to have, but if you already have a strong brand name or business name then it probably makes sense to base your domain name around your brand name, rather than around search keywords.

Find out more about improving your site's search engine rankings in SEO for Beginners.

Country specific domain names

If your site caters mainly to an audience in a particular country then it can help to have a country specific domain. For example, if you're running an online pet store that sells to the UK market then mypetstore.co.uk would do better than mypetstore.com. There are 2 main reasons for this:

  • UK shoppers will feel more comfortable buying products from a site that is obviously UK-based.
  • mypetstore.co.uk is more likely to appear in local searches than mypetstore.com. For example, if someone in the UK searched on google.co.uk for "pet store" then mypetstore.co.uk would probably appear higher in the search results.

Furthermore, there is generally less competition for country specific domain names, so you'll probably find it easier to find a free .co.uk domain, say, than the equivalent .com domain.

Should your domain name be your brand name?

If you already have an existing business with a strong brand name then it makes sense to use this brand name for your domain name. If the domain name has been registered by someone else then you may be able to obtain the domain name from them.

If someone has registered your brand name just so they can sell it to you for a high price — a trick known as cybersquatting — then you may be able to claim the domain name through the UDRP process.

If you're just starting out and you haven't spent a lot of money promoting your business name or brand name then it may be easier to do things the other way round — get a good domain name that fits your topic or market, then name your business and website after the domain name.

Tips for brainstorming domain names

How can you come up with a good domain name that's easy to remember and hasn't been taken? Here are some ideas:

  • Write a list of words that are related to your website, topic, business, customers, products, and/or services. (A thesaurus can help here.)
  • Combine 2 or 3 common words together to produce a unique, memorable name (examples: phonecherry.com, widgetbear.com).
  • Try adding simple words to create a name that is available. For example, superwidget.com isn't currently available, but mysuperwidget.com is.

Registering and setting up your domain name

Have you chosen your domain name? Congratulations! The next step is to register your domain name with a registrar and point the domain name to your website (and, possibly, your mail server). You can find out more in How to Set Up Your Own Domain Name.

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Responses to this article

6 responses (oldest first):

19-Mar-10 07:58
Amazing Article!
really very good for my learning experience,i really appreciate the information you are offering
Thanks!
23-Mar-10 23:41
You can use a domain generator to find good suggestions: enter 1 or more keywords, and see what domains are availabe through different domain extesnions.
cat
25-Mar-10 17:41
@jsobrier, Yes, that's a fair point although some are more useful than others. I guess those that look at synonyms as well are the most useful. eg. www.nameboy.com
25-Mar-10 21:50
It's nice to know that there are organizations like the UDRP out there to curb the menace of cybersquatting. Thanks for the detailed article.
08-Aug-11 15:23
Great article piece, it's very difficult to decipher a domain name you want after the one you were targeting is already taken, even disheartening.
21-Jan-13 06:56
I always choose a name which is short and sticky... and with sticky i mean it's easy to remember

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