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How to choose a brilliant domain name

domain names

Today I’m going to write about how to choose a good domain name. This is really important, because your choice will hopefully stay with you for years. So you really don’t want something that is hard to communicate, difficult to spell, is totally unmemorable, has hyphens people will forget, and so on.

.com or not?

A .com address used to be the obvious choice of domain name. However there are dozens of new options available such as .restaurant, .agency, .boutique, .dance, .health, .fitness, .music, .photography, .art, .design, .life and .website. These mean you’re no longer restricted to the limited range that were previously available. Check out a registrar such as Namecheap.com and look under “New TLDs” (or “New Domain Name Extensions”) to see the full list of options. There are, of course, the old alternatives such as .info and .biz but personally I’m not too fond of them. I think the new options are far more classy.  So if you can’t find the .com you want, I’d recommend one of the new ones.

Creative tricks

Maybe you absolutely want a .com. It’s hard to find one! You’ll find all good slogans, sayings, etc – all but the most obscure – have been snapped up. Try some of the following ideas:

  • Use part of a sentence that’s relevant to what you do, or fits with it in some original way (don’t make it too long though)
  • Put two words together, in the way that YouTube, Facebook or Firefox did
  • Put parts of words together, like Microsoft
  • Choose a deliberate misspelling, as in Flickr
  • Change or add a letter, as in iTunes or Zune
  • Make up a word, like Google or Etsy (it’s hard to believe that the word Google was once meaningless!)
  • Use words in different languages – if you can find any available!

Should you go for branding, or choose a search-engine-friendly domain name?

In most cases you will probably want to choose your name or your company name for your domain name, if it’s available. However if you run a local-based business such as plumber, taxi service, dentist or other, for which branding is not essential, then you’re probably better off choosing a domain name that reflects a keyword or phrase that prospective clients will probably be using to look for a service such as yours in the search engines. Look for your town or area name + your major keyword – for example, Wandsworth plumber. (Or try a new extension! There is actually .plumbing available!) Don’t think that this will be a kind of magical ticket that will automatically bring hordes of website traffic to your site, but it will be one factor, among many others, adding up to the ranking Google gives your website.

Experiment

One way of coming up with something that stands out is to play around with unusual extensions such as .it, .to, .be, .io or .me. Come up with something completely unique like: dr.aw designm.ag blo.gs chi.mp foot.ie vintag.es aliveinside.us just.me unroll.me (You can use http://domainr.com to help you find one of these.)

How to check if a domain name is available

When seeing if a domain name is available, don’t just type it into Google. Sometimes a domain name has been bought but not actually used, so this isn’t a sure way of telling if a domain name has been registered by someone or not. Always check with a registrar such as NameCheap.com or GoDaddy.com. This way, you’ll also get a list of alternative suggestions, if the one you originally wanted is unavailable. (You’ll also get all kinds of suggestions by using the tools below.)

Tools

There are loads of tools available to help you find a good domain name. You’ll surely come up with something if you spend a little time experimenting with these:

https://domainr.com/ – I love this tool. Not only does it come up with different country-specific extensions (so you can get something entirely unique such as the examples I included above), but it also includes all the new extensions as well. http://www.bustaname.com/
http://www.namemesh.com/
http://www.nameboy.com/
http://www.dotomator.com/
http://wordoid.com/
https://domize.com/
http://www.domainsbot.com/
http://dyyo.com/
http://www.namestation.com/
http://www.leandomainsearch.com/
http://www.nxdom.com/
http://www.domainhole.com/
https://instantdomainsearch.com/
http://knowem.com/

That’s it for today. Have I missed any great tools? Please let me know by typing a comment below.

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Maggie
    9th June 2015 at 8:42 am

    Alannah, I’m not sure if I should choose a .co.uk domain name? What are the pros and cons?

  • Reply
    Alannah Moore
    9th June 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Hi Maggie, if you don’t want to or don’t expect to do business or interact with people globally, you should choose a .co.uk. This would apply if you have a service, or run a “physical” course (i.e. not e-learning), in the UK that requires your clients to actually be there. If you have a business selling physical goods and don’t dispatch worldwide then in that case also you’d choose a .co.uk. Does that make sense?

  • Reply
    Maggie
    10th June 2015 at 9:59 pm

    Thanks. I’ll do that then. Unless I’ll maybe go for one of the new ones. Food for thought anyway, thank you!

  • What do you think? Anything to add, or any questions?