How To Choose The Perfect Domain Name
How To Choose The Perfect Domain Name
Choosing a domain name is a personal journey, it requires a lot of thought and reflection. A domain name will be your organizations digital identity. How to choose the perfect domain name? I don’t believe anyone can write a guide that will 100% find an answer for you but here is a process that I have used with my clients to help them find the perfect domain name for them. I call in the GED, gather explore decide. This three step process helps identify possible domain name solutions, explore variations of those domain names and gives you ways to decide which ones are viable.
In this first step the goal is to gather as many variations of the organizations name, keywords associated in the line of business and similar words. In the gathering phase we are not judging if the domain is available or if it is a good name or not. At a minimum the gather list should include 25 domains – most of the time I want to see close to 50. Here are some ways I gather domain name ideas…
Organizational name variations are a great way to gather new ideas. If my companies name is Don’s Bike Shop I could try; donsbikes.com, bike.com, dons.com, bikedons, bikedon… you get the idea. Not all of these are clear and great sounding like bikedons – kind of sounds like a dinosaur!
Keyword searching is another great way. For Don’s company the first thing I am going to do is google bike shops. Without judging some great keywords come into play; cycle, bicycles, sports, exercise, pedals, wheels. Again nothing spectacular here but these can start to be cool names. DonsPedals.com, Wheelydons.com, cyclefreak.com just let creative juices flow and write them all down!
Using Area names if you’re a local store can sometimes set you apart. I live in Seattle, Washington and seattlebikes.com or bikeseattle.com, bikepnw.com, bikethesound.com are all great additions to my list.
Consider non com domain extensions. Domain names have many extensions other then .com. Instead of just bike.com you could have bike.shop. Make sure to look at the meaning of the extension and that it aligns with the business, example: bike.org wouldn’t be a good name for a shop. View our comprehensive domain extension list here.
The last step here is to gather similar words. I love doing this in thesaurus.com, using bicycle I get bike, cycle, tandem, velocipede, wheels, two-wheeler then clicking on some of the names, squad, unit. These could be fun names, bikeunit.com tandemsquad.com, donstandems.com, donsquad.com.
An optional step that I always find fun here to call or message family and friends for ideas. More then once have I personally messaged my family telling them I am starting a new website, give a sentence or two on what I intend to build it for and ask them to send me name suggestions. Normally in this phase I already have what they suggest but every now and then you get an off the wall but fun idea!
Now that you have a list of 25 or more domains that you can start looking at you need to find a domain name registration company. We personally work with VasaHosting.com who has always been wonderful to us. If you do not want to use them a quick search on google will result in a good list. At VasaHosting.com there is a domain name search box on the homepage that makes it easy to use.
In a domain name search box start going through your list. For us the first will be bikeunit.com and its taken, so we take this name off our list. Next, tandemsquad.com which is available for $12.99. It is important to note the price – we will get to this later but not all domain names will be the same price. Since tandemsquad.com is available we also see a list of similar domains, perform a quick look at these domains for anything that you would enjoy – I found tandembrigade.com as a nice substitute so I added it to the list.
Continue doing this for all of your domains. You should end up with a much shorter list of possible domain names, the prices and alternatives.
Now there are a few general rules to help you decide. I don’t rule out any names, I just organize them on a list of how attractive they are. For example: bikes.com would be the best domain name but it probably would cost $25,000 for it, where as seattlebikes.com is available for $12.99. If I am a small shop I would probably opt for the $12.99. I use a scoring method for all domain names, every domain name starts off with a score of 5. If a domain meets a positive factor, I give it a +1. If a domain meets a negative factor, I give it a -1. Domains with a score of 10 are perfect.
- Short Domain Names have the advantage of being easier to remember. Domains with less then 10 characters are normally classified as short.
- Make is easy to remember – a phrase or words that people can remember, the website donsbsar (dons bike shop are repair) may make sense to you but donsbikes.com is nice and easy to remember and easy type.
- Check social media outlets for use of that username. If you can find a domain name that you can register exactly the same across all social media platforms this will be a huge plus.
- As much as you should consider all domain extensions anything ending in .com should definitely get a point here.
- Numbers and special characters make websites harder to find or remember. Dons-Bikes.com is more difficult to get to because if your telling a friend to visit you must explain the hyphen. Dons2wheels.com is the same thing, people generally search for websites or type them in using alphabet characters only. Anything else makes it more difficult to remember.
- Domains easily mixed with other names can be bad for business. For example if you google Don’s bike shop there is one website that continuously pops up in google – not easily mixed up with anything else. If you google bikeshop how do you know which one is the right one? Some uniqueness is required here.
- Abbreviations only make sense if your in on the joke. For people who don’t know your abbreviation it can get confusing.
- Using registered or trademark names in your domain is a bad idea. Starbucks has a list of drinks that they actually own the trademark on. For example if you started a coffee shop that specialized in iced coffee drinks and started a website for it called greatFrappuccino.com you would quickly be hearing from Starbucks lawyers. I use this example because I had this happen to a friend of mine – with starbucks. Checking trademark names is fairly easy and quick to avoid. Before placing a domain at the top of your list check out the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office search at https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/search-trademark-database click on search trademark database and basic word mark search. To test it out search for Frappuccino – you will find an alive record with Starbucks name on it.
CHOOSE! Now that you have a list of all your domains – In order by which are the best possibilities you just have to pick one. If you are stuck consider asking your family and friends to choose between a couple. Get others inputs and register. If you are going to wait to choose I would tell you to register your top 2-3 choices. At $12.99 a piece (as long as they aren’t premier domains) there is no reason to miss out on something you had your heart set on.