When starting a new website for your business, one of the most important steps is choosing a domain name. Finding the perfect name isn’t as easy as it used to be as many of the best ones have already been snapped up.
Buying a domain is only the first step in having a website. Next, you’ll need to find a hosting service that will give your site a place to live. We recommended Bluehost, which offers domain registration, website hosting, and a business email address for just $2.95 per month. Click here to check out their hosting plans.
Rand Fishkin, Co-founder, Moz.com
If you believe that a member of your target audience could immediately associate the domain name with a good guess of what they think you do, that is a big positive. Meaning they could look at your domain name and say, “Oh, I’m guessing they probably do this. This is probably what that company is up to.”
View more tips from Rand in his article, 8 Rules for How to Choose a Domain Name.
Carolyn Wilman, Sweepstakes Marketing Strategist, ContestQueen.com
Come up with something catchy that reflects what you do and can be remembered easily, plus one that is available across all social channels.
I bought ContestQueen.com off a ‘squatter’ for $500 USD. It was worth every penny as I have built an entire brand around it. The mistake I did make was not grabbing my name on every social channel the moment it launched. On some I am @ContestQueen and others @TheContestQueen.
Click here to search if your domain name is available across over 500 social media networks.
Richard Lazazzera, Content Strategist, Shopify
Keep your name short and memorable. One or two words is best. Keep in mind that the top 100,000 websites, on average, have nine characters in their domain names.
Sam Firer, Public Relations, Consulting, Concept Development, Hall Company
Coming up with domain names for new businesses is one of my absolutely favorite parts of my business. One of my favorite tricks is to check out demised businesses in the same industry; then see if the domain name has lapsed; grab it!
Click here to check out the guide for dropped domains!
8. Don’t get married to one domain name generator. Use many to find the best word combination for your domain name.
Oleg Korneitchouk, Director of Digital Marketing, SmartSites
The perfect domain name really depends on the purpose of the website. Are you building a brand? Bringing awareness to an issue? Creating a personal blog/resume? Depending on the intent, you are either looking for a catchy/brandable or informative domain (a great domain will be both, but they are diamonds in the rough).
I like to play around with the countless domain name generators that are available online. These make it easy to mix and match your keywords, add common internet prefixes/suffixes, and see which domains are still available. After you have a list of 3-5 solid domains, ask others which they like best.
9. Use Your Location in Your Domain Name
Maggie Aland, Fit Small Business
If the location of your business is important, why not use it in your domain name? Putting your location in your website name lets customers know where you are and helps your website show up in local search results. Check out our restaurant name generator for ideas on using your location in your domain name.
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
Does your domain name have the following qualities?
- Has versatility (works in multiple ways from course name to concept to book)
- Is “sexy” (catches fire/engaging)
- Can be sustainable over time (longevity)
- Looks good
- Sounds good when spoken
- Contains playful element
- Beginning of alphabet if possible
- URL available
Pick a memorable name in order to stand out from the pack. Would you rather hire Strategic Marketing Solutions or Mavens & Moguls? If nothing else our name is a great conversation starter, and getting into a conversation is all it takes to open a door.
Frank Watson, Affiliate Marketing Manager, Namecheap.com
ccTLDs (country-code Top Level Domains) have a number of benefits. First it indicates you are operating in that country. This is handy to attract those people who like to keep their engagement within the country they live. Secondly, ccTLDs have been noted to get a slight edge in the search results for a specific country. Thirdly, if you are global, separating out access by nation helps with currency, shipping and product availability by country.
View more insights on ccTLDs on this Namecheap article: Maximize The Benefits of a Country-Specific Domain
12. The domain market is expanding with lots of tempting new generic domain extensions, such as .supplies, .jewelry, .consulting.
Brett Dunst, VP of Brand & Community, DreamHost
Small business looking for the perfect domain name need to know about the recently expanded set of gTLDs (generic top-level domains), which offer newly available substitutes for the familiar .com and .net address endings. The issue with using a .com nowadays is all the best names have long been taken; new businesses are left using names that are cumbersome in length, or include a dash or funky spelling. The new gTLDs open up address endings such as .boutique, .catering, .coach, .florist, .ninja, .consulting, .coffee, .jewelry, .supplies, .systems. There are hundreds of new possibilities that allow a small business owner to get creative and stand out.
Michael Edelberg, SVP, Viable Operations and IT Solutions
We source many domains for our clients and most seek a TLD (Top Level Domain) for good reason. A .org will immediately tell the user they are looking at a non for profit. Others need to be closer to the company name or type of business; that also includes redirects for region or other business lines. We’ve also dealt with people looking to buy and sell and squatters too. There are SEO issues to take account of as well.
14. Be ready to take a domain name as soon as you think it because, in this tough market, you may only have seconds to buy it.
Adam Dailey, Principal, Keep Moving Fast, LLC
I usually keep a pad of paper and start writing down ideas. I then keep a few windows on the computer open – one to see where the domain I like might be parked, one to see if I can register it, and usually one more to riff out more ideas (or do a quick WHOIS search so that I can get more info about who might own the domain).
Andrea Rowland, Managing Editor, GoDaddy Garage
If your business is local, consider including your city or state in your domain name to make it easy for local customers to find and remember it. Example: PhoenixGlassRepair.com.
View more tips from Andrea in her article, 10 tips for choosing the perfect domain name
Gabriel Kuperman, Founder & CEO, Huge Impact
It took me 6 months to settle on HugeImpact.com
A great domain name typically has the following:
- Is short (10 characters or 2 words max)
- Easy to spell and memorable
- Easy to pronounce
- Is a .com domain extension
- Is not easily confused with other brands
- Doesn’t have pluralization that could cause confusion
Michael Lucarelli, Co-founder, RentSpree
To start, gather 3 or more individuals willing to spend time thinking up domain name options. Together, everyone should have a series of sessions coming up with ideas while taking short breaks in between. This is the “diverging” phase. The idea is to come up with as many options as possible. Then, once you have all the options, each member selects three of their favorite domains. This is the “converging”phase. The name that has the most votes should be the best choice. Now you just have to check if the name is available.
Greg Tessitore, Director of Marketing, 36creative
We find that being creative and using a phrase rather than just the name of the company can be a huge help when it comes to securing a .com domain. e.g. www.weare36.com vs www.36creative.com.
Katie Birkbeck, Senior Content Marketing Specialist, Blue Corona
Choosing a domain name might not seem like that difficult of a task. But if you’ve come up with the perfect domain name, we recommend double (and triple!) checking that there are no inappropriate words hiding in the letters of word combinations. We’ve all heard of companies choosing domains like PenIsland.net—and you don’t want to repeat their mistakes.
David Mercer, Founder, SME Pals
One of the most important considerations when choosing a new domain name (that most webmasters don’t think about) is to first check whether or not the domain is blacklisted or potentially penalized by Google. Spammers use a technique called ‘churn and burn’ that relies on fooling Google using spam into ranking their domain and then dumping the site once Google catches them. In this way they can profit for a few months (or years depending on how on the ball Google is) and get rid of the domain once it penalized.
Unwary and legitimate webmasters then purchase the newly available domain oblivious to the fact that it will be next to impossible to generate any sort of organic traffic because of existing penalties. It can put you at a serious disadvantage to start out with a penalized domain.
To check if your domain is potentially penalized, you can:
- Do a site: operator search in Google (learn more about the site search operator). If the domain existed before and site: returns nothing it’s a good sign that domain has been removed from Google’s index
- Use the WayBack Machine to see what the domain was used for in the past
- Research the domain Whois history
Sam Williamson, AIMS (Web Design)
The most important aspect of choosing a domain name is to identify what the purpose of the website is. If you want to be found online, then you’ll definitely want to include keywords related to the services/products that you provide in your domain name, making sure to incorporate your brand too. If your website is purely acting as a landing page and you’re not concerned about being found online then it might be more appropriate to simply choose a domain that is centered around your brand name and avoid trying to include keywords, which can look ‘spammy’ in many industries.
Volodymyr Zastavnyy, CEO of Newoldstamp
All your users will associate you with your company name and all of them will only know your internet address. Here some hints how to choose a domain:
- Unique project name will be easier to register at .com. If you are just choosing name – check .com availability first. For startups you can use .io. Other domains (.net, .biz, .info) – are just a compromise.
- If you are a commercial project – never use .org. This is for non-profit organizations.
- Never use numbers unless your brand name has a number.
- Try not to use “–“ in your domain as it usually shows that original name has been already taken.
- Keep it short. “msmb.com” is much better than “mysupermodernbusiness.com”
- If you plan to expand your business to other countries – make sure to get their local domains. It will always help to get loyalty of locals.
Beth Bridges, V.P. of Digital Identity, www.JDigitalIdentity.com
If your company is “Performance Marketing Experts,” you might think prfmktgxprts.com makes total sense, rather than make people type all those words out. But no one is going to remember that abbreviation. Imagine telling someone that domain name at a networking event! Don’t worry about a long name if necessary. If they’re a regular visitor, they only need to type it once because their history will pull it up. And more people are probably going to find you search engines anyways and they love seeing keywords in your URL.
Simon Slade, CEO and Co-Founder, Affilorama
When selecting a domain name, first and foremost, never include a trademarked name, such as sellyouriPhone.com. Secondly, it’s unlikely you’ll ever acquire the name recognition of Dell, Amazon, or other famous companies, so choose a domain that helps explain what the website is about, such as jonesstockphotos.com.
Tanner Callais, Cruzely.com
These days, you often have to get creative with the spelling of your domain unless you want to shell out serious cash. You might think that clever name is clear in your mind, but if people don’t know how to pronounce it, they aren’t going to tell others about it. If your domain has a strange spelling, make sure that people understand immediately how it’s said before you fall in love with it.
Natasa Djukanovic, CMO, .ME
A short domain is, by default, easy to remember and perfect for sharing across online and offline social media – it saves characters on Twitter, fits on your business card, and spreads rapidly via word of mouth, but there’s something more to consider: the radio test. Would you be able to spell the domain name if you heard it on the radio or from a friend at a party? If not, it doesn’t pass the radio test. Don’t settle. Your domain name is the online calling card of your business, so you want something that will be meaningful, easy to remember, and brandable.
Eric Brantner, Founder, Scribblrs.com
Don’t go too narrow and pigeonhole yourself. You never know if you will broaden your scope in the future. For example, Scribblrs used to be “bloggerelementary” at the start, but I decided I wanted to expand into freelance writing and other aspects of the craft.
Sarah Matista, Marketing Communications Manager, Vistaprint Digital
For a small business with a small advertising budget, the reality is that local listings and search engine optimization (SEO) will be the main drivers of traffic to your site and customers to your door for the first few years. Make sure you choose a domain name that tells people (and Google!) exactly what you do right off the bat.
For example, if you run a family lawn maintenance service in Baltimore, Maryland, choose BaltimoreLawnCare.com instead of SmithAndSons.com, because search engines and potential customers alike will give more credence to a domain name that says your business is relevant to what they’re looking for. That said, domains are pretty affordable, so it’s a good idea to secure your business name too for future use.
Eyal Reich, COO & Co-Founder, StoreYa
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