How to choose the right domain name

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I’ll refer to a previous post on “Why a domain name is important” but will keep this one short and sweet (like your domain should be, ideally).  When the internet first started, domain names were usually short and what you wanted was usually available.  Then, during the dot.com bubble, domain names became a valuable commodity and cybersquatters bought up every combination of words they could think of and tried to sell them.  Even after the bubble, there is still a thriving domain name trade where names are bought and sold on various online markets.  Also, most companies now have Websites.  So, with these and other factors, there are a lot less short domain name combinations available than there were in the past.  This means that you have to be little more creative in your search and in your final selection.  With that in mind, let’s get started.

Do’s:

  • Try to use two-word combinations if possible – three if most of the words are short
  • Try to find a .com first (if you’re a business), .org is an option if you’re an association or non-profit
  • Keep it as short as possible
  • Make it descriptive of your business if possible (e.g. xyzflowers vs. xyzcompany)
  • Look for synonyms, verbs or adjectives that you can use in your name (e.g. you may want “stereoworld” but you can pick “stereoland”)
  • You can use a functional name  instead of having your company in the domain (e.g. “greatstereos”, “bestlistening” or “boomingsounds”)
  • Do the radio test – if you say it on the radio would people know how to type it in or do you have to spell it out?

Don’ts:

  • Try not to use acronyms or initials – these are too easy to forget or get confused (was it JMKcorp or JKMcorp or JKNcorp?). Initials also don’t help with your company’s branding (unless that is your brand name)
  • Don’t use homonyms if you can help it (a word that sounds like another word) .  People may get your name wrong (e.g. peerpoint vs. pierpoint)
  • Don’t mispell a real word just to get a name.  People will generally get it wrong (e.g. bazuka vs. bazooka vs. basooka)
  • Don’t make up a nonsense word (unless you have a lot of resources to invest in branding)
  • Don’t use a generic name using dashes (e.g. “microwave-oven-sales”)

These are some general guidelines to help you get started.  While name have become limited, with a little imagination there are still  good, professional-sounding names out there that you can get without using a domain auction!

Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.