Someone recently asked me what a good domain name would be for their website. While pondering this person's needs and the type of site they want, I thought of these “7 Slick Tips for Choosing a Good Domain Name” for your blog, site, or business.
1. Heard it “On the Radio”
Think about how easy it is to say or speak the domain name you are looking at registering. When you tell people about your website they should be able to find it easily, right? If the domain has weird or long syllables or it is hard to say you might have trouble telling people about the site “On the Radio.” This also means pronunciation is important and should be considered. Usually this means you should avoid domains with hyphens (“-” this symbol if you didn't know) and numbers since those generally don't pass the radio test.
2. Make it Easy-to-Write
If you were to write down the domain name on a piece of paper, is it easy to spell? This goes along with my #1 tip and passing the radio test. Our society is still far away from the paperless office and there is a good chance someone will hear your domain name, then write it down to find the site later. I write down a domain name I am considering buying just to see how easy (or hard) it is to spell out using a pen and paper. If it's hard to hear and spell, you might want to consider finding another domain.
3. Make it Short
The shorter a domain is, the easier it will be for someone to type into a browser address bar. That's why all 3-letter .COM domain combinations have been taken. Even all 4 letter domain combinations are taken and there are about 450,000 million possible 4 letter combinations. The reason a lot of these are easy to remember and type-in.
I prefer domains that are 2-3 words and are no longer than 15 letters. Anything that is longer there are a lot of chances for typos, which means you could potentially lose traffic and visitors. Depending on your industry or niche these short domains are becoming harder to come by but I still manage to pick-up a good domain name here and there. Short domains also make it easy to put on business cards and other products like pens. That's why I choose AdamYamada.com even though it is not my full name. (Adam Yamada-Hanff is in case you were wondering.)
I have seen a lot of people choose domains because they might meet the other criteria, but it makes no sense to build a site on a short domain if it has nothing to do with the words being used. It is best to choose a domain that is relevant to your needs, industry, or niche. For instance I recently started CarNewsCafe as an auto news blog about “car news.” The keywords are in the domain and it's clear to a visitor what the site topic is before they click. We wouldn't have used this site to take about beauty products, but I have seen crazy domain and site shenanigans. This is usually because someone already owns a domain name or they are just too lazy to find a good one.
5. Use Free Web Tools
Maybe some of you saw my post “4 Awesome Tools to find the Perfect Domain Name.” One of the tools I highly recommend using is Lean Domain Search which is a domain name generator. Basically what this means is you type in a word or several words you want in a domain name and it gives you a list of available domain combinations.
Other domain name generators I like and have used in the past include Impossibility and NameMesh. (I've foudn NameMesh is best for brandable domains, see tip #7.) There are a lot of other domain generators out there you can try too but these are ones I recommend.
As well you might want to use Archive.org to see if the domain was used for anything else in the past. Any info you can gather about a domain, for free, is useful.
6. Try to go with a .COM
I say “try” as this is not always possible, but definitely preferably. Most casual internet users default to a typing in a .COM and that is the most popular domain extension by far. Did you actually know that early browsers defaulted to going to a .COM domain when typing in words in the address bar? Don't think registering a .NET or .ORG you want will stop you from building a great website though. As they say, “Content is King!” I have SingingDogs.net and thinks it's a good domain name for my needs. I even considered picking up a good domain name that used to be somewhat active forum, and the extension was a .ORG that had decent traffic. (Someone registered it while I thought about it for a few hours.)
7. Get Creative
If you feel you have hit a roadblock with choosing a good word domain that is in the English dictionary than I would recommend you consider a brandable domain. These are quite popular among the start-up and tech crowd these days. What is a brandable domain name?
Great and short brandable domains include companies like Yahoo, Zynga, Google, Skype, Napster and others. In these cases companies build-up a great product and a branded word around what they do. This is nice since it allows for maximum flexibility in terms of services you can offer to customers. Yahoo and Google are not just search engines or web portals but have a wide range of web apps and services.
Brandables can work well but keep in mind if you don't have a large marketing budget behind you it's hard to market a brandable domain. You need to educate people about your company or service which can be difficult. That's why if you go with a brandable it's imperative you use common English modifiers and try to make it easy to pronounce and spell. Read tip #1 and again.
Choosing a Good Domain Name
These 7 tips are just guidelines and I know I might get comments and emails that say you don't need to follow these. While, yes, there are plenty of domains that break these rules I wouldn't recommend veering to far from these tips though.
If my advice helped you find a good domain name I recommend you register that great domain with NameSilo or NameCheap.
My friend has a common business name and the COM, NET, BIZ extensions have been registered and have had active sites on built on the domains for awhile. Her current domain is a .COM but is 30 letters so I recommend picking up the .ORG version, which is available. Even though it will be hard to compete from an SEO standpoint and people might get confused with the other sites, in my opinion it is a good short domain name that should be memorable.
Disagree or agree? Love or hate my tips? Let me know your opinions about this or if you have suggestions or specific tools you use for finding a good domain name, leave a comment below and let me know.
Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!