There are a lot of things to consider when picking a domain name. For most people they start with a business name and then pick a domain from there. If you have the foresight to think of a domain first you get a little advantage, but it isn’t necessary.
Domain Name Basics
When choosing a domain name consider keeping it:
- Short and Sweet - The shorter you can make your domain name the better.
- Easy to pronounce - Even if you are using a made up word, make sure it is easy to pronounce and it rolls off the tongue.
- Easy to spell - If someone hears your domain name they should be able to type it in without any crazy spelling. Don’t use difficult to spell or long words either.
- Relevant - If you are using a term make it something from your industry. If not try to get something that at least has some meaning behind it.
- Memorable - It will be largely your marketing efforts that make a domain memorable but still, you want to try to find a domain name that is unique and easy to remember
Currently with Google it is easier to rank for a term if that term is in the domain name. This might not always be the case but if your company name is taken, purchasing a domain with your most important keyword in it may be a good option. Two examples would be buycamo.com or petbeds.com. Of course you need to think longterm. If you end up dropping that product a year down the road, a brand name domain would have been a better choice.
Take a look at what your competition is using and don’t have a domain similar to theirs. You don’t want people mistakenly going to their site instead of yours and you want to find some way of differentiating your brand in every way possible. So if your main competition is petstore.com you wouldn’t want petstore.co, pet-store.com or something similar.
Do a search in Google for a term or phrase before you buy the domain. There could be some sites or other products ranking for that term. They might have a negative connotation, be totally irrelevant to your business, and may make it much harder to rank. As an example I put together a blog about bachelor pad decor. But ranking for the term “bachelor pad” or simply “bachelor” are difficult because there are tv shows with both of those names.
As a general rule you don’t want more than four words in your domain name. Buycheapdogbedsinarcatacalifornia.com is a mouthful and not advisable.
Do I Need a .com address?
Back in the day it was easier to rank a .com and some people, if they are unsure of the extension will guess .com when typing in a URL manually. Still it can be hard to get .coms these days. And there are many successful sites that use other extensions, like craigslist.org as one example.
If you have your preference choose:
- .com - If it is available, get it.
- .co or .net or .biz - Some good alternatives if .com is taken.
- .info or .org - These can be good ones but for a business you should try for one of the above (unless you are an organization in which case go for it).
What If the Domain I Want Is Taken?
The internet has been around for a long time and most of the good domain names are either taken and being used, or someone bought them up and is selling them at auction. I’ll talk about auctions a little more later, but for now, here are some ways of getting a domain if your first choice or even fourth choice are taken.
- Actionable keywords - Actionable keywords are descriptors that people add to the beginning of a search phrase. Words like “review”, “sale”, “cheap”, “buy”, “discount” are all examples. So if dogbeds.com isn’t available buydogbeds might be. Using actionable keywords helps with SEO as well.
- Product names - You can get a domain based not on your business name but what you sell. Or if your business name is taken add the product you make to the end of it like petespizza.com
- Location - If you are a small business only trying to rank in your area adding a location is a great idea. If you cannot get doggrooming.com you might try doggroomingnewyork.com.
- Numbers and Hyphens - This is a common one. If you cannot get petbeds.com you might try pet-beds.com or petbeds1.com.
- Clever Use of Extensions and Sub Domains - Delicious.com used to be del.icio.us they used the .us suffix to complete the word, you might be able to do something similar. They also used a del sub domain, so the real domain for them was licio.us with a del. added to the front.
When you are searching for a domain name at Name.com or your domain registrar of choice you might stumble upon a gem that they suggest. Dogbeds.everything good was taken but here were a few of their suggestions.
Another option is intentional misspellings, use slang or a phonetic spelling. This isn’t idea but sometime it is the best option. Made up words can be used as well. Think “google” “bing” “zoosk” and so on.
Domains at Auction
For a new business on a tight budget buying a domain at auction might not be the best use of your capital. But when you do get established or you have the money to spend, think about purchasing the domain you really want at auction.