Choosing the perfect domain is stressful – I understand. It is a big deal. It plays a huge role in the effectiveness of your online presence. I’ve compiled a few tips for you to consider as you pursue the ideal domain name as well as a few tools to help you along the way.
Practical Domain Tips
Brainstorming will make way for creative ideas and back-ups if your first choice isn’t available. I’ve found it very helpful to create a list words that could be potentially included in your domain and then combine them to find the perfect fit. Don’t be afraid to use a thesaurus to help you too.
Keep it short & easy to remember
As a rule, short domains are much easier to remember than long ones. The exception is acronyms. For example, let’s pretend your company’s name is “Bill’s Sports Bar and Billiards”. It would be hard to remember (or easy to misspell) the domain bsbb.com; something like bills.com or billsbar.com would be much easier. Unless the acronym is well known (NASA, FDA), avoid using it for your domain.
Use a .com
“.com” is the oldest and most common extension and when in doubt, people will use this extension. Of course there has been success in using alternate extensions to provide a creative twist (del.icio.us), but that adds a lot more risk to people not finding and visiting your site (or not thinking its legit).
Avoid trademarked names
First, it’s unethical to buy domains that use trademarked names. Second, it’s illegal. Don’t be mistaken and think that companies will come to you to purchase the domain for thousands; they will be more likely to introduce you to their legal department.
Register as soon as possible
Even if you aren’t sure that’s what you want to use, better to spend $10 for a year and not end up using the domain then to decide you want to use it only to realize it’s already been sold to someone else. (When you’re ready to register, view Jerry’s hosting reviews.)
Buy similar domains and use as a redirect
As stated earlier, the .com should be your main site. But, it doesn’t hurt to buy the .org, .net. and/or the .biz extensions and set them as a redirect to your site. Also, if your name is easily misspelled, buy the frequent misspellings and redirect them as well.
Don’t be afraid to make up a word or use a compound word
Think Google, Facebook, YouTube, Mashable, and LinkedIn. Just make sure it’s easy to remember!
Avoid punctuation and numbers
These both can cause confusion, increase the difficulty of remembering the URL, and make it harder to share. Keep it alpha if at all possible.
Don’t settle on just domains that haven’t been registered, many domains owners are willing to negotiate the sale of the name and others are up for sale through domain auctions.
If your site is meant only for a specific niche and not the general public, don’t be afraid to use industry jargon.
Useful Domain Name Selection Tools
This is a great tool to assist in brainstorming. Add a beginning and an ending word, click combine, sort through the ones you like, then check the availability. Easy as pie.
Visit online: http://www.dotomator.com/
Domainr will add a unique element of creativity to your domain name by suggesting alternate extensions. Like I stated earlier, a .com is usually the way to go, but some sites have seen incredible success with this technique (del.icio.us for example).
Visit online: http://domai.nr/
Domain Tools is actually a suite of helpful tools. The top two are the “Who Is” tool which will uncover who owns the domain and “Suggestions” which will spin domain names to help you find an available domain.
Visit online: http://www.domaintools.com/
If you are looking to purchase a domain from an individual (either through an auction or personal transaction) this site can be a great help. It provides some statistics on the domain so you know just what you are purchasing.
Visit online: http://www.dnscoop.com/
Do you have a domain that your heart is set on but it’s not available? Check this site and maybe you’ll be lucky and find it expired. At the very least it can serve as inspiration for you.
Visit online: http://www.stuckdomains.com/
Also read: The difference between domain name and hosting.
What other tools do you use to help in your domain name search? Any other tips to share?