Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Getting a Good Domain Name

Getting a good domain name can be a bit of a challenge.  Back in the day, before the internet - You remember the Jurassic Period, right? - when you wanted to start a business, you might have to check if anyone else in your city or state had the same business name.  Now, you have to make sure that nobody else in the whole world is using your name!

Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding and registering a good domain, so that you can use it to brand your company forever!


It’s a good idea to start with a lot of ideas.  When I say a lot, I mean at least 15-20 possibilities. When you start testing your ideas, you’ll find that at least half of them are already taken. So, the more you start with, the more you’ll have as options at the other end.

Start with some keywords that relate to your niche or your topic. If someone does a search for that keyword, you’ll rank a little bit higher.


Then, go to a domain name registration site (like and test each one. Test the “.com” version of the domain. There are lots of others, but “.com” is so branded in people’s minds, that they’ll often type “”, without realizing that it actually should have been “”

If the test comes back as “available”, then check the price. If the price is around $10-$15, then keep it on your list. If the price is any higher than that, like, $200 or even more, then it’s a “premium” domain, which is one that someone else owns and is trying to resell. Don’t bother with those. Unless, of course, you have a lot of extra money sitting around and you’ve gotten bored with just throwing it out the window.

Of course, if the domain test comes back as “unavailable” or “already taken”, then just cross it off your list.

In either case, the registrar will probably suggest some similar names. If any of them look good to you, add them to your list. Be careful, some of them in the suggestions might also be premium domains, costing lots of money.

Winnowing, Choosing

So, if you started with about 20 possible names, then you might have about 15 after the testing.  Maybe you added 2 or 3 of the suggestions.  So, you’ll still have a pretty good list.  Now you get to narrow it down.

First, let’s weed out the problem ideas.  Take out any that have strange or ambiguous spellings.  Don’t do cutesy things like spell “Quick” as “Kwick”. “” is full of problems. If someone just hears it, how will they spell it?  If they spell it wrong, they’ll end up at your competitor’s website.  These things look great on a road sign in front of a brick and mortar store, but on the web, they just mess you up.

For the same reason, I don’t like to use dashes or underlines to separate words, like this: “”. It might look better, but it’s clumsier to speak and harder to remember.

A short domain is good, but don’t chop it up and abbreviate it just to make it shorter.  That can make it harder to spell and harder to remember. Sometimes it’s best to just spell the words out.

Also, avoid using someone else’s name or trademark in your domain, even if you’re promoting their products. It can still get you into trouble.

Once you’ve removed the ones that are unavailable, and the ones that are bad, you’re left with a few good ideas.  At this point, since there’s not problems, you could simply use the one you like the best.


Once you’ve chosen your domain, then simply go back to the registrar ( and buy it.  Here are some things to consider.

You’ll have the option to get what’s called a “Private Registration”.  This is to protect your personal contact information from being made public in the vast domain name database known to techies and spammers as “Whois”.  All domains are listed in this database, but you can keep your email address and phone number out of it. It costs extra each year, but it’s worth it.

Also, most domain name registrars have the option to “Autorenew”.  This means that they keep your credit card info on file and ping it for payment each year.  If you’re not creeped out by the thought of your info on their secured servers, I strongly recommend doing this. Then, you won’t be surprised to find out that your domain name accidentally lapsed, and was snapped up by someone else.  This actually happened to a friend of mine.  They were nice, though, and offered to sell it back to her for only hundreds of dollars...

Following these steps will help you to establish a good, brandable, usable domain name for your website that will continue to help you get customers for years to come!


Mark is currently employed as an Internet Business Coach.

Mark also has other sites and blogs, including Mark's Black Pot - Dutch Oven Recipes, and his MoBoy blog.

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