How to choose a good domain name

By | April 5, 2007

Without a doubt, this is the most important step of all. Be sure of what you want to implement on your site, the concept or theme, before you start the process of brainstorming a suitable domain. There is nothing like the satisfaction of owning a domain name that you can call your very own, at least until its time to renew it!

So what are the things to bear in mind when choosing the optimum domain name?

  1. Go for .com for best results. Yes, I know good .com domains are very scarce these days, but as far as possible, choose a .com name. The reason being that for most people (even myself), .com is the first thing that comes to mind whenever they need to go to a website and not know the exact tld. Despite that, you can take heart that some top websites do NOT have a .com and yet are thriving all right. In the end, its about content and promotion, but if I have a choice, I‘d go for .com all the way, if just for that little extra traffic edge.

  1. Try to keep it short. Again, this is easier said then done, as most sensibly worded domains below 8 characters have been snapped up. BUT, it’s still possible to think up domains 8 characters and under, you just need to be a little hardworking. Just make sure the domain name sounds sensible enough. A free site to brainstorm possible domain names might be http://www.nameboy.com. I’ll cover a lot more detail on HOW to get domains in another post.
  1. Now you may have heard this before, which is, “don’t get domains with hyphens.” I do not totally agree with this statement. As a simple example: how-to-cook-a-good-pizza.com looks better than howtocookagoodpizza.com Generally, the longer your domain name is, the more necessary hyphens become in order to make your domain name clearer to BOTH humans and search engines. There are many examples of websites doing very well with hyphenated domains. Here’s an example: www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com. Search engines actually like hyphenated domains because they can separate the keywords from each other. The downsides to hyphenated domains are difficulties in saying them over a phone to another person, and lesser perceived value in the marketplace, should you ever decide to sell them. This may change however, as more valuable hyphenated .com domains are gone.
  1. Be creative, be smart. Brand your domain name with something unique. Notice almost all the top websites today are not generic domains? Names like Ebay, Google, Yahoo, MySpace, TechCrunch, Digg, Flickr….etc are just some of the creative domain names that dominate the web. A well thought out domain name will stick in the public mind for years. If possible, throw in a keyword of your site concept into the name. This is just for the “search engine factor” in the early days of your site. Once your site gets big, it doesn’t matter that much anymore.
  1. Try not to use numbers in a domain name. I know there are some sites doing great with numbers in the name, example being http://v7n.com but in general it is difficult to make people see the connection between a number and your site concept, and besides that, the search engines also cannot guess your site concept as well. So, for SEO purposes and if you’re just starting out, you may have a harder time promoting your site and getting recognition. It will take a lot of hard work to get your domain recognized for something, when it isn’t clear from the name what it’s about.
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