Hey guys! So this is something that a lot of people get stumped on and rightly so! Choosing a name in any situation is difficult enough, and when considering how to create a good domain name there are a few extra factors to be aware of.
Creating a domain name for an online presence or business is essentially choosing a name for your brand or business. You want the two to match for brand consistency and to avoid throwing up any red flags to potential visitors. As a result, it is not a decision to be taken lightly, and I suggest you take the time to identify a good name. A week or so should be suitable to thoroughly brainstorm and research domain names, which is nothing considering it will be up there as your brand’s identity for a long time.
First up, let’s get an understanding of what a domain name consists of.
Breaking Down the Domain Name – https://“SLD”.“TLD”
Your domain name is the unique component of your online address. It allows people to find and access your website.
The domain name consists of two main components, the Top Level Domain (TLD) and the Second Level Domain (SLD). Here is an example to illustrate:
- Online Address (URL) – https://mygooddomain.com
- Top Level Domain (TLD) – .com
- Second Level Domain (SLD) – mygooddomain
- Domain Name – mygooddomain.com
Top Level Domains – Try for a ‘.com’, if not… Get Creative!
There are an ever-increasing number of top level domains. You can get universal ones, country specific ones and even topic specific ones. Examples include:
- Universal – ‘.com’, ‘.net’, ‘.org’
- Country Specific – ‘.uk’, ‘.ca’, ‘.com.au’, ‘.de’
- Topic Specific – ‘.biz’, ‘.info’, ‘.live’, ‘.online’, ‘.me’
You can make any of these TLDs work for you over time, however a good domain name has a TLD which is the most relevant to your business or purpose for the website. Competition is high for domain names, especially the universal ones that have been around the longest, therefore we need a guide for selection.
I made up a bit of a selection criteria for TLDs below. Take the list in order of preference (most preferred, to least preferred).
- Look for a ‘.com’ – as it is the most popular and easiest to remember or figure out. When you say, check out my website “Inspire Entrepreneur”, people will firstly think…InspireEntrepreneur.com, before anything else.
- Look for a ‘.net’ or ‘.org’ – these are the next most popular. However, try to avoid using ‘.org’ if you aren’t an organization or company…remember keep it relevant.
- Look for a Country Specific TLD (e.g. ‘.ca’, ‘.com.au’, ‘.co.uk’) – However, only do this if your target audience is in a specific country. This won’t help you if you are trying to be international.
- Look for a Relevant Topic TLD – Get a ‘.me’ if this is a personal website/blog about you. Get a ‘.biz’ or ‘.online’ if you are an online business. And so on… there are so many available now and increasing each day so you can be a bit creative and find something really relevant!
Second Level Domains – The “Name” Part of Domain Names
The next thing to consider is the SLD, which is the most unique part of you domain name and will essentially be the name of your website.
This is the good stuff and probably why you came across this post, so let’s jump straight into the top considerations for choosing a good name for your domain.
Pick a Brandable Name
Picking a domain name which is ‘brandable‘ is almost essential nowadays, if you want your brand and story to spread among your target audience as easily as possible. Gone are the days when keyword rich domains had an impact on appearing in search engine results.
Let’s get creative and let’s create something remarkable!
When brainstorming a brand name, consider the following:
- Make it Unique – This almost goes without saying, but in order for you to differentiate yourself from others in your niche, you need to be uniquely identifiable.
- Make it Intuitive – While you can always create a domain name that is completely unrelated to your niche, or even has no meaning at all, some of the best are intuitively related to your target area. Examples include; Airbnb, Pinterest, Evernote, Instagram and Facebook.
- Make it Stand Out – This is hard to explain or give a guideline for, however you will know it when you see it! Make it stand out so people remember you!
Keep it Short
In today’s time poor, attention poor and maybe even ‘lazy’ (a.k.a ‘value convenience’) age, you should aim for a name that is short. Why? Because it is:
- Quick to Type, Search and Find
- Easy to Remember
- Easy to Say when Spreading the Word
- and let’s not dismiss… Convenient for You too when Editing your Website
“Inspire Entrepreneur” is probably right on the edge of length, because you wouldn’t believe how many times you have to type it into the search bar!
Make it Catchy
Part of making your name memorable and easy to spread is to make it catchy in some way. Again, this is hard to put a guideline on, however if you start first with making it short, unique and memorable, you are halfway there.
Catchy names tend to have a bit of a tune, rhyme, alliteration or similarity to related or popular words. They can be nice to hear or say, or on the other extreme, harsh to hear or say!
Some examples include; Twitter, Uber, Spotify, Shazam… I literally don’t have to go further than the apps on my phone to find these! It just goes to show…
Make it Easy to Say and Spell
You want to make your name easy to pronounce and spell! When people are unsure how to pronounce your name, they can’t spread the word as easily or they spread it incorrectly. You then have to spend the extra time and effort to explain how to say it… and this is not really worth it.
On the other hard, it is also very important for people to be able to spell you domain name easily. If they can’t spell it, it will be difficult to find and you can’t always rely on Google to make the correction and association. Therefore, misspellings of words is often not such a good idea. It is even more difficult to remember how to misspell something properly than to know how to spell it properly in the first place!
What Not to Do
Let’s go through a few things we should avoid as much as possible:
- Don’t settle for plural forms of the name you would like, just to secure a ‘.com’. This kinda falls under the whole misspelling umbrella, and just makes it hard to remember. Also, people may end up going to the non-plural website and you lose visitors!
- Avoid putting hyphens in the domain name as it is difficult for people to remember where the hyphens go and 99% of the time people assume the name is without hyphens.
Check Availability of Usernames
This is one which is becoming increasingly important with the rise of social media as a dominant marketing channel. Consider the following:
- Social Usernames – With competition high, you may want to check if your domain name is available as an username on the social media platforms, which you intend to use. If it isn’t, it generally adds an extra layer of stress and work to make a similar, but available, alternative work for you on the platform.
- Email Usernames – This one is slightly less important as you can get around it with an email forwarding service on your chosen domain (like firstname.lastname@example.org), however it just provides less hassle if the email@example.com is available straight off the bat! I like to use Gmail, as it is the best free email service and I can simply forward domain specific emails to it as a central place.
Trademarks & Sanity Checking
This is a crucial check to perform before you settle on any domain name, because it is law and it will save you a bucket load of headache or even money in the future. You want to check that your selection is not trademark protected and in general, avoid using something that another business is already using.
You can do an initial check at the international level on WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Global Brand Database. Then perform an individual check in the dominant country/countries of your target audience. You can Google “Trademark Search ~~the country~~” to find these databases.
Another consideration is just to do a general sanity check of the name before you settle on it. This confirms:
- If anybody else is already using the name. Are they in the same industry?
- That the name isn’t related to something you would rather avoid.
- Gives you a good idea of what people may come across before your name becomes established.
Try to use the “private window, Google.com method” for this, so that your search results are not influenced by your current location.
Where Do I Find a Domain Name?
Probably after a long process, but rewarding one at that, you have finally selected a great domain name. Next is to actually find it and purchase it. I only use two services for domain names that I have found to be the best value and easiest to use.
- Wealthy Affiliate – SiteRubix: I am part of an online community of entrepreneurs called Wealthy Affiliate, which has its own industry leading domain registration, website building and hosting platform called SiteRubix. I can purchase domains at a fixed annual fee of $13.99USD for ‘.com’ domains and $15.99USD for ‘.net’ or ‘.org’ domains. The system also includes a website builder and hosting service for WordPress.org websites, so I can manage everything in one place.
- GoDaddy: If I am looking to get domains other than a ‘.com’, ‘.net’ or ‘.org’, I go straight to GoDaddy. They offer a wide selection of top level domains, however yearly fees do vary. Sometimes the first year might be $0.99 and the subsequent years jump up to $24 or so.
Where Should I Host My Domain Name?
I only use one service to host my WordPress websites, and it is by far the best system that I have seen. As mentioned above, SiteRubix is an all-inclusive website management platform with:
- Domain Registration
- Website Builder – Installs the website for you. No scripts or back-end server logins.
- Website Hosting
- Website Management & Support – Monitor the important stats and health of your website and receive 24/7 technical support.
- Website Extras – In built extra features on their servers that secure, protect and speed up the performance of your websites.
You can get an in-depth review of the SiteRubix platform in my separate post. Highly worth checking out, especially for beginners looking for a convenient and simple way to get their website set up (not to mention the excellent training resources).
It is critical not to get too caught up in trying to create a good domain, as the better part of your website’s success comes from things like your content, marketing and your actual offer. However, having said that, it is important to spend a focused amount of time in selecting the best domain name for your purpose and audience.
I hope these guidelines have given you a clearer pathway to get to that remarkable name. Please drop in with any comments or questions on the topic, I look forward to hearing them!
Right, Let’s Get Started!
Begin your Domain Name brainstorming with these considerations.
Ensure you do the trademark and sanity checks.
Ask me any questions you might have.
Next step to help you in your online endeavor is to understand the aspects of a successful website.
Please leave me a comment or question below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
If you are starting an online business, I provide an in-depth guide which can help you in your journey.