How to choose a domain name

27 Sep

How to choose a domain name

by Kira Hamilton

Starting a new business? You’re going to need a website domain name. In a perfect world, your business name will be synonymous with your domain name. The first step is to check and see if the name you want is available for your website. But there’s more to choosing a good name than just finding one that’s available.

Top six things you need to know when choosing a domain name:

1. Shorter is Better

It’s a lot easier to remember and then type shorter domain names. Customers will find you more quickly with less frustration if they only have to type jackscafe.biz, not joesplacetoeatfood.com. Try to stick with names that are 10 letters or less in length (not counting the .biz extension).

2. Be sure you can say the name without having to spell it out for people.

If you meet customers in person, speak to them over the phone, go to trade shows, consider how easy (or difficult) it is to say and remember the name you want to use. If the name needs to be spelled out, consider alternatives. In particular, names using “ph” (instead of f) or “y” (instead of i) may cause issues. Similarly, a name using only an “r” in place of an “er”, like Flickr or Zoomr will need to be spelled out, at least until it’s become so popular that everyone knows how it’s spelled. It is recommended that you avoid using names with dashes. However, if you do use dashes in your domain name, remember to register both the dashed and un-dashed versions.

3. Search for your prospective name on Google.

To make it easier to find your business in a search, choose a name that has few existing matches in Google; in this case, less is more and when customers search for you site, it could come up first in the results. If there are already 2.3 million matches for the name you want to use, it’s going to be very difficult for people to find you via search.

4. Use a distinctive name.

Your domain name should be memorable. “37 Signals” is more memorable than something like “Web Technical Solutions and Systems”. A popular trend among dotcom companies is to combine words (or partial words) into a new, made-up name (Flickr, YouTube, Feedburner). Start with a word that has some relevance to your company’s product or service, then try adding on endings and see what comes up.

Some words (such as “web”, “tech”, “net”, “systems”, “technologies”) sound a bit tired, and are likely unavailable anyway. Try choosing fresher-sounding words. Thesaurus.com is a good place to search for words that have similar meanings. Our .biz Name Generator to combine words into a list of potential domain names, then checks them all at once to see which ones are available.

5. Avoid trademarks.

Avoid using names that include well-known trademarks. For example, if you register a domain name with “Amazon” somewhere in the name, you’ll soon be receiving an email from Amazon.com’s legal department asking you to surrender the name. So save your money and choose a more unique (and trademark-free) name.

6. Keeping your name.

Once you’ve found a domain name, register it with a company that sells domains. Be sure to provide a valid e-mail address when you register the domain; your domain registrar, or reseller, will e-mail you when your domain is about to expire and remind you to renew. If you’re using a spam filter, be sure to allow mail from your registrar to pass through. If you change your e-mail address, be sure to update it with your registrar as well. Renewing an expired domain is costly.

Once your domain expires, someone else will be able to acquire it after a 40-day waiting period. Reclaiming your domain may be extremely expensive, if not impossible.

Better Name. Better Results. Get your .biz today!

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