I have a few different projects running and often find myself having to find a business name, domain name, or both.  Almost all of the time it is both, since you want your business name and domain name to be the same.  The only exception I have to this is if part of your company name says what you do, like web design, for example.  In those cases, I may try shortening the domain to the individualized part of the name.  For instance, Sweet Java Web Design would have a domain, of sweetjava.com.  (Sweet Java is not one of my actual projects)

But how do I choose a good one?

There are a lot of things to consider in choosing a domain name.  Things like who is your audience?  What is your website’s purpose?  What do you like?

In the end, what you like will be the most important factor.

Build you keyword list

When you start developing you domain name, consider who your audience is.  This will help you to create your keyword list, which is an essential part of choosing your domain name.

Who is your audience and why are they visiting your website?  Are they looking for information, entertainment, shopping, or just like to read what you have to say?

Think about their demographics and personalities and what they will respond best to.  Are they affluent and only want the highest end products?

Is it a specialty niche that caters to a small group of connoisseurs?  Consider words specific to that niche when you develop you keywords.

If you sell widgets to widget connoisseurs, consider words like whatsits and whosits and wongles as well.  And if this group has a particular style, like widget-pop, then also include words that might be used in that genre.

Random and Web 2.0

You can also disregard all of that and just go with something random and all web 2.0-ey.  If that’s what you want to do, then here is a list of generators that I’ve found that I like and some I just pulled from Google (you wanted random, right?):

Plug your keywords into the generators and off you go!

Be thoughtful

Now that you have had a chance to experience the name generators, namelix was my favorite, let’s sit down and be thoughtful about choosing a name.  I know I touched on a couple of things to consider when choosing your domain name, on top of those, there are some other things to keep in mind.  I’ll go over these in more detail, but for now let’s just get them out there.

6 Things to keep in mind when choosing a domain name

  1. Make it easy to type and pronounce
  2. Avoid hyphens and numbers
  3. Make it memorable and intuitive
  4. Keep it as short as reasonable
  5. Use keywords
  6. Avoid brand infringement and confusion

1. Make it easy to type and pronounce

Have you ever gone to enter a web address and had to contort your fingers around the keyboard?  Or maybe they were being clever and spelled express with three s’s (expresss).  Either way, you probably entered the address wrong and went to a site you didn’t intend to.

Also, think about any time someone has told you their web site and they said “it’s express, just without the ‘e’.  So just ‘xpress’!” They thought they were so creative with that, I’ll bet.  They failed to mention which ‘e’ was left out, though.  Maybe they used a mashup of two or more words for their domain name.  How would you pronounce “biglizlutions”?

I think you get the idea.  Bottom line is that this is how you initially present yourself.  You don’t want your visitors to make any mistakes finding you.  So, make sure to avoid domain names that are difficult to read, type, and say.

2. Avoid hyphens and numbers

This one kind of speaks for itself.  I would say that unless you have an existing business that has numbers and hyphens, avoid them.

For simple “people are lazy” reasons, on your smartphone, getting to the hyphen may require an extra tap on the keyboard to bring up the symbols.  While on a physical keyboard, numbers and hyphens are both on the top line, forcing most to remove their fingers from the home row.

For practical reasons, it helps avoid confusion about whether you used a numeral “4” or spelled out the word “for” or “four”.  Unless you really, really, really want to or have to, avoid numbers and hyphens.

3. Make it memorable and intuitive

A good domain will be catchy and will leave little question about what they do.  For example WidgetWorld.com, intuitively, would leave no question that the site was about widgets.  The use of alliteration also makes it kind of catchy.  That doesn’t mean you need to use alliteration.  Sometimes it works.

When you think you’ve found something you like, try it out on your friends and gauge their reactions.  It may not click with some of them, but you can’t win them all.

4. Keep it as short as reasonable

I say “reasonable” instead of “possible” because sometimes, the shortest name may not be the best.  However, shorter names are easier to remember, less likely to be misspelled, and are shared more frequently without being shortened (bit.ly, etc.).

5. Use keywords

Keywords can help with your search engine optimization (SEO) and give visitors to your site and instant idea about what it is you offer.  Take WidgetWorld.com for example.  The keyword that it would be trying to rank for in search engines is “widget”.  At the same time it is explicitly letting customers know that they have, sell, or make widgets.

Don’t think, though, that over stuffing your domain name with keywords is the way to do it.  BestBestestWidgetMakerAndSellerShop.com may have a lot of keywords, but it sucks and probably won’t get any extra traction with the search engines.

6. Avoid brand infringement and confusion

Don’t intentionally create a domain that looks or sounds like a licensed brand.  The confusion will only weaken your brand and could get you in legal trouble.  Now, if you are concerned that your legitimate domain name might be confused with a licensed brand, you may want to consult a legal professional.

Wrap Up

So, did you find this useful?  I wish you the best of luck in your domain name search and if there is anything you think I missed, please leave a comment.

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How to Choose Your Domain Name

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