You’ve decided your business needs a web site. Good, that’s the first step. You have a lot of additional steps to get through before you actually have a web site. One of those steps is selecting a domain name for your site.
Unfortunately, nearly all of the “good” domains are taken, and you might find yourself doing search after search to find an available domain that you feel appropriately reflects your business.
What makes a good domain?
Generally, all else being equal, here are some guidelines to follow:
- The exact name of your company is often best, if that domain is available.
- Short — the shorter the better
- Easy to remember
- Non-hyphenated. No hyphens is best. One hyphen is moderately acceptable. More than one hyphen should be avoided, period.
- Few words — the fewer words the better
- .com — There are other TLDs (top level domains: .net, .org, .info, etc.) available, but in general when people think of a web site they think .com. The exception would be if you’re a non-profit organization, the .org would be most appropriate. But you should still probably register the .com version and point it to your .org domain.
- Easy to say
- Easy to spell
Think about saying your domain name to someone over the phone: “It’s keyword1 hyphen keyword2 keyword3 hyphen abbreviatedkeyword4 dot com.” Contrast that with “It’s keyword1keyword2dot.com.”
Think about writing your domain name on the back of a envelope, or on a cocktail napkin at a bar.
Think about your customers telling their friends and associates (potential customers) your domain: “It’s keyword1 and then I think a hyphen, but maybe not, there’s a hyphen in there somewhere. Then keyword2 then companyname dot hmmmm, dot net or dot com? I dunno, try both.”
Try to avoid alternative or informal spellings of words. If you’re a real estate agent, for example, a domain name that includes “housez” would just look stoopid. Although if your target audience is hip teens (unlikely for a real estate agent), the z spelling might be effective.
Try to avoid the .net or other alternative TLD to an existing site that has the dot.com of the domain you want. You’ll lose a certain percentage of people to the dot.com site when they unthinkingly type in .com instead of .net.
Assuming you get a .com domain, if you can, also register the .net, and possibly the .org, versions of your dot.com, so that someone else can’t come along and use those domains.
If all else fails, a made-up word could work. (Think Google.)