Choosing a domain name is not necessarily simple or straightforward. Not only can it be difficult to decide on a name, but many of the domain names you might want are already taken. Here are some tips on how to choose your domain name:
1. .COM is best. The single best domain extension is a .COM. It is very recognizable and people default to the .COM when they think of a website. .COM is also the most popular extension. If at all possible, go for the .COM version of the name you want.
2. .NET and .ORG are ok. If your .com is not available, a .NET or .ORG will suffice. In the case of non-profits, a .ORG might even be better.
3. Avoid .INFO and other extensions. Stay away from .info, especially for businesses. I’ve had a few .info’s in the past, and for a small/secondary site, a .info should be ok, but not for your main website. Country-specific extensions, such as .co.uk, can be ok for websites in those countries that focus on local viewers only.
4. Shorter is better. The shorter your domain name, generally the better off you’ll be. People more easily remember a shorter domain name.
5. Make it easy to spell. Some domain names may be difficult to spell and you should try to avoid those if possible. Sometimes you’ll run into this if you have a difficult last name and want your name as the domain name. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of having a difficult domain to spell vs. the branding possibilities. I also like to avoid domain names that have words that end and begin with the same letters – linkingguru.com, for example. People will sometimes misspell the domain without both g’s in the given example.
6. Avoid hyphens. You may be tempted to pick up a version of a domain name with hyphens when all others are taken. Avoid them when possible. Domain names with hyphens can be difficult to type and people can mistakenly leave them out. If you go with hyphens for whatever reason, I would put I hyphen between every word, not just some.
7. Consider keywords. What are the keywords for your business, niche or topic? You’ll probably want to include those in the domain name. Don’t get too crazy or limit yourself. If your domain name is howtomakeapurplecottonsweater.com, you’re probably limiting yourself too much (and it’s too long anyway!). 1-3 keywords is ok, too many more and it’s just too long and spammy.
8. Consider location. If you’re a local business, your keywords will include your city, state or locality. You should consider including them in your domain name – “BostonPlumber.com” for example. This variation can also help you find a domain name that’s not taken, too. Plumber.com is certainly taken, EriePAPlumber.com might not be. Local domains are still popular, though, so this isn’t a sure thing.
9. Avoid numbers and slang. Although Google will generally pick up the “4″ as meaning “for” and “2″ as meaning “to,” a person hearing a domain name spoken aloud won’t pick up the number, and you don’t want to have to try to tell people, “It’s ’2′ not ‘to’!” Similarly, avoid “u” for “you” and other uses of slang.
10. Make it simple, brandable, and memorable. The easier you make it for someone to remember your domain name, the better.
11. Singular vs. Plural. Get both, when possible and when it makes sense – linkbuildingservices.com and linkbuildingservice.com, for example.
12. Avoid trademark and copyright issues. No matter what, it’s not a good idea to register TheGoogle.com and think you’re going to build a business around that domain name!
Hot to Get Ideas for Your Domain Name
This can be difficult, especially if you’re not used to thinking up domain names. The first step is to brainstorm several keywords from your niche or business. Take a couple of them, combine them, and add other words to them. For example, if you were in real estate, you would start with real estate, house for sale, homes, home loan. From there, you can combine and add words. Here’s just a few ideas:
JohnSmithRealEstate.com (your name)
BostonRealEstatePros.com (your location)
MillenniumHomes.com (your business name)
If you’re having trouble coming up with a name, or one that’s available, take a look at other sites in your niche or area and see what kind of domain name they have to see if that gives you any ideas.
GoDaddy provides suggestions for domain names when you enter in a search, but they’re not always the best suggestions (remember to stay away from hyphenated domains and such). However, it may get your creative juices flowing. I also like to use GoDaddy auctions to look up domain names. There’s a lot of junk in there, but there’s good ones, too, and you may get keyword ideas that you hadn’t considered before. You may also find a domain that’s up for sale/auction that you like, but I’d advise against dropping a lot of cash on your first domain name. You may come to find out that it’s just not as good as you first thought.
So – what are your suggestions for picking a domain name, or what are your success/horror stories about a domain you registered?