Choosing a Quality Domain Name

Much like your logo, your domain name creates a lasting perception of your organization. It is the one phrase that represents your brand as a user types it into the browser window. If it is a long name with several hyphens, then your organization may be perceived negatively. However, a short and memorable name can present an image of quality and trust for the organization.

In my first business, I realized the benefit of having a domain name that was easy to remember (and spell). The domain was ghotibait.com. It is fun play-on-phonics, fictitious word that could be pronounced “fishbait”. It was too complicated and no one ever remembered the name. It was an SEO company, so it was still easily found in Google (two points for Beau).

Selection of a good domain name can be a quick decision or turn into weeks of torment. Trust me, I’ve experienced both. As I have launched additional sites and businesses, I’ve learned much more about domain name selection. Learn from my mistakes and you can follow my simple steps for securing a proper domain name.

The Basics

Below are a few simple tips for selecting the proper domain name. Many of these are common sense, but can serve as a good reminder to keep things simple.

  • The domain name should represent the site. If your site is about fishing in Florida, then your domain name should be a variation of floridafishing.com (fishingflorida.com, fishinginflorida.com, etc). Don’t over think it. This is the easy part.
  • Make sure to use the appropriate top-level domain (TLD).
    • .com: The most common TLD, “.com” is usually in highest demand, most expensive and often most effective.
    • .org: This TLD is typically used to represent non-profit organizations. 
    • .edu: To use this TLD, registrants must be US-affiliated institutions of higher education. 
    • .net: This TLD is a less reputable version of the popular .com version. 
    • Custom TLD: Nearly any TLD is possible today. Some companies have made these TLDs work, however they are still not as common as the traditional .com. About.me has had much success outside the traditional TLD.  
    • Country Specific: These TLDs are reserved for a particular country, sovereign state or territory. A few examples include: .au for Australia, .ca for Canada and .nz for New Zealand. You can see a full list at Wikipedia
  • Select quality domain names using best practices.
    • Hyphens: I typically avoid hyphens unless absolutely necessary. There are arguments against use of hyphens as a negative impact on SEO efforts. Yet, I have owned domains with hyphens that have performed decently in search engines.
    • Long names: The best rule of thumb, keep it short.
    • Unique names: Some organizations have been successful with creating unique domain names, Google.com for example. However, it is a gamble. I recommend keeping to a simple name that is easy to remember and spell (reference the domain name of ghotibait.com above).

Domain Research Tools
When I research domain names, it takes about a week of extremely intense searching using various domain name generators. Below are a few that I have used successfully.

  • www.dotomator.com: This tool can be used in more of the early stages of domain name research. You can add various keywords (or populate from various pre-set lists) and see what options show as they are compiled together. There is also an iphone app available, as well.
  • www.bustaname.com:  This is another early stage research tools. You can import lists, create list groups, sort names, save lists and/or randomly create domain names.
  • www.namemesh.com: If you want to research tons of variations of a keyword in the form of a domain name, this is the place to go.
  • www.leandomainsearch.com: This site is similar to namemesh.com. There are many many options of variations of keywords. I actually found several domain names using this site that I own today.
  • www.panabee.com: This site take the keywords you input and inserts many more words and variations.

Purchase the Domain Name
There are various options for acquiring domain names, but below are the two most common.

  • Buy from registrar: These organizations manage the reservation of domain names and must be accredited by a generic TLD registry and/or a country code TLD registry. I use Godaddy.com for my domain names. However, there are many options, including: name.com, networksolutions.com, register.com, and many others.
  • Buy from a reseller: Just like any commerce transaction, anyone can sell a domain name. One can buy from an official reseller or anyone on the Internet. To best protect yourself, I recommend using a service like www.Escrow.com. Just remember that anything is negotiable. You can often negotiate the advertised price for a domain and the cost of escrow services.

Conclusion
While you do not want to settle for a domain like www.i-like-to-fish-in-florida-on-sunday.com or www.lajdsflksjdjfesl.com, you typically cannot afford to spend 6 months searching for the perfect domain name. The process usually takes me a few days to about a week of good research. The good news is that a domain name can always be changed. A good example is Dropbox.com. When Dropbox started, it used the domain name, getdropbox.com. Then in 2009, Dropbox was able to secure the official domain name, Dropbox.com.

Most importantly, don’t over think it. Just make the best decision that you can using the resources you can find.

Happy Domain Name Hunting!

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Beau

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