How to Choose a Domain Name

If you are thinking about starting a new blog or creating a website for your business, you have surely thought about registering a new domain name. Many people struggle with this and understandably so. Most of the “good” domains have already been taken, so it can be quite challenging to come up with something special and unique.

Before you get started on your search for the perfect domain name, you should first decide on the style of domain you want. When it comes domains there are generally two types of styles: One, is brandable, and the other is keyword-based. Technically, any domain name can become a brand, but we’re talking styles here. Do you want a brand name like Amazon, Twitter or YouTube? Or, are you more interested in a keyword-based business name like CreditCards.com or Hotels.com? Brandable domains are usually easier to come up with because they are pretty much made-up names with no rules or conventions. Keyword-based domains, on the other hand, are a bit tougher because you are limited to using real dictionary words to come up with combinations that make sense. Each style has its benefits and both can become successful.

Let’s examine the benefits of each:

Brandables

  • catchy and memorable
  • easier to protect through trademark

Keyword-based

  • memorable
  • possible type-in traffic
  • visitor knows what site is about immediately

Choose a TLD (Top Level Domain)

Since the beginning, .COMs have dominated the Internet due to it’s popularity and recognition. Today, there are 22 gTLDs (generic) domain extensions, but .COMs still account for 75% of the total market share worldwide. Although .NETs and .ORGs come in 2nd and 3rd, they come no where near the value of .COMs.

In my opinion, you should always opt for a domain name with a .COM extension. But, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If you come across a premium .NET or .ORG domain that is a good fit for your business and the price is right. Also, if you are targeting a specific country as your audience, you may consider a ccTLD (country-code TLD). ccTLDs are domains set up for specific countries. For example, .US stands for United States, .CA for Canada, .UK for United Kingdom, and so on.

Once you have decided on the domain style and TLD, start making a list of domains you’ll be happy with. When I say happy, I mean this is going to be the name of your blog or business, so make sure the list isn’t mediocre. Make it your top 10 or 20 list.

Need Help Creating a List? Here are Some Resources:

Use your brain. Grab a notepad, sit in a quiet room and just brainstorm for about an hour. It might take several sessions, but you have to put in quality time. As you get ideas for “good” domains, write them down immediately so you don’t forget. Don’t waste your time on names you think are mediocre.

Use a domain name suggestion tool. There’s a bunch of them out there if you do a search for “domain name suggestion tool.” For example: Lean Domain Search or Domain Name Brain.

Search dropped domains. Thousands of domain names drop every day because someone forgets to renew or they simply let it get deleted. Some of these domains have existing traffic. Some of them have existing PR. Some of them have existing backlinks. These are all good domain characteristics to have, especially if you are planning to develop a website on it. Best of all, dropped domains are available at registration price through any registrar.

Once you have made a list of some good domains for your business or blog, now you can start checking to see if they are available for registration. You can save time by copying and pasting your list into a bulk domain availability checker at any domain registrar site. Based on what is available, you can make your final decision. If you have several choices and you’re still having a hard time deciding, try ask your family or friends for their opinions.

If you’re still not sure, check out a domain marketplace.

You may consider purchasing a higher “quality” domain at a marketplace if your budget allows. You can typically find average to premium level domains at various marketplaces. Who knows? You might find one that is a right fit for your business. Here are some marketplaces that I am familiar with: Flippa, GoDaddy Auctions, Ebay, Sedo, etc.. The thing about buying through a marketplace is that you need to know what to look for; due diligence. I don’t recommend any newbies buying through a marketplace without the help of an experienced domainer or marketer.

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