184.108.40.206. Does this number tell you anything? You can probably guess that it’s an IP address. However, where does it lead and to what website that would be almost impossible to know just by looking at it. Frankly, this is what our world would look like if we didn’t use domain names. Overly complex numbers and chaos all over the internet.
Answering how to choose a domain name question is nothing less than science. If you think that our Websitebuilder.org came out of the blue, you will be hugely mistaken. There are many factors to take into consideration, and many small details to pay close attention to.
I’ve read tons of articles on this topic, and honestly, a lot of them are hit and miss. Some will give you tips but lack the reasoning behind them, and some will shower you with information but without any structure. My goal with this article is to create the ultimate guide for choosing a domain name, so that even newbies would be able to come up with a stellar and effective domain name. So, what do you say we don’t waste any more time, and jump right into it?
Step 1: Let the brainstorming begin
Choosing a domain name is half part creative process and half part science. The creative part refers to brainstorming and coming up with ideas for your domain name. Here, you can go all out. Get as creative as you can, and write everything that comes to your mind. The goal of this step is to get a general sense of direction and try to pinpoint terms you are planning to use in your domain name. Even though I recommend writing every idea down, there are some rules you should stick to.
Easy to pronounce
If you look at some of the best domain names ever, you will realize that each of them is easy to pronounce. Facebook.com, Buzzfeed.com, Armani.com, etc. they all just roll off the tongue. Don’t they? Of course, at this step, you are still far from the finish line, but you should try to avoid overly complex terms that will make your head spin.
Mind the length
Another thing you should keep an eye on while brainstorming is the length of domain names. Most experts will agree that you shouldn’t use more than three words in your domain name. Also, keep it under 15 characters. There are no strict rules when it comes to the length of domain names, but keep in mind that it needs to be easy to share, write down, and pronounce.
Step 2: Bring in the cavalry
Once you have your brainstorming list of at least 20 names, you can consult with someone you trust. After all, you know how the saying goes, “Two brains are better than one.” This can be your spouse, friend, family member, or even a name generator bot. The goal is to bounce your ideas off someone else to see if they make as much sense to them as they do to you. Sometimes we are trapped in our bubble of thoughts, and getting another set of eyes on your ideas can change things for the better. As with the first step, you should watch out for these things.
Explain what you want to achieve
If you decide to get some help, make sure that they know exactly what you want to achieve with your domain name. Having someone sit down with you that knows nothing about your business is pointless. Picking a domain name is like creating an extension of your business. Simply put, you cannot have a business about cats, and have a domain name like Puppylove.com, which leads us to my next tip.
Make sure it’s intuitive
Having an intuitive name is essential if you want your business to be recognized for a certain niche. So, how to choose a domain name that is also intuitive? Well, it’s not as hard as it looks. Take our website as an example. Even a half-asleep person would know that Websitebuilder.org is about building websites and similar things. You don’t have to nail down exactly what your business is about, but at least try to get as close as possible.
Step 3: Narrow your list
Now, the culling can begin. This is the most important step, so you should probably have your brainstorming friend stay, and help you with this one as well. Start by crossing out the obviously bad choices. If you followed my first two steps closely, then you probably won’t have many, but still, some might creep in. You should try to narrow down your list to five ideas. However, things are not yet final, and there is still some room for changes and improvements.
Think about branding potential
As I said before, choosing a domain name has more uses than just covering your IP address. It can potentially become your brand name, social media account name, and a way other people recognize your business. That is why you should avoid generic terms and focus on the ones that are more creative. For example, if on your brainstorming list you have Catfood.com and Johnscatbakery.com, the latter one is obviously better.
Make use of keywords
Inserting keywords can get a little bit tricky. Keywords in domain names are good, but stuffing your domain name with keywords is bad. Having a domain name like healthycatfoodforcats.com is full of astonishing keywords, but they will do more damage than help. If you can, you can try to put a keyword somewhere in your domain name, but don’t force it.
Step 4: Choose an extension
As you know, there are more domain extensions than just .com. Even though .com is the most commonly used one, other extensions like .org, .net, .biz, etc. are equally effective. Some articles about how to choose a domain name are stating that .com extension is an absolute must-have because how Google’s algorithm works. However, Google’s officials have debunked this theory. There is virtually no difference between a domain name with a .com extension or a .net, .org, and so on. Still, consider these tips before making the final decision.
.com is easier to remember
The only benefit of the .com extension is its familiarity. Most people automatically assume that a website is a .com. So, if they are to recommend your website to someone else, they won’t be bothered to check your extension. If you are not the owner of that domain name with a .com extension, you will potentially lose some customers.
Country-specific extensions work wonders
We cannot start with my final step without mentioning country-specific extensions like Germany’s .de and Czech Republic’s .cz. They have an awkward role in the domain business. If you are not planning to go global with your products or services, then these extensions will work wonders for you. Not only will you be able to get a specific domain name more easily, but it will also cost you less.
Step 5: Check if it’s available
Finally, we are at the end. If you followed my steps meticulously, then you should have your five best domain names list, and you should know which extension you are going to use. Now, you can check if your desired domain names are available. There are many great domain name registrars, but if you want to find out which are the best ones, go and check out our Top 5 Domain Registrars article for a more in-depth look. Sadly, this is not where your work ends.
Prepare to make small tweaks
Sometimes, your domain name idea might be already taken. This is where your creativity comes to the rescue. For example, you can use a suffix or prefix to change your domain name. So, Johnscatbakery.com would become Thejohnscatbackery.com. On the other hand, you can play with spelling. Instead of Johns, you can spell it Johnzcatbakery.com. Lastly, the most common option is to go for a different extension. This way you will get the exact domain name, and who knows, maybe you will manage to snag the .com extension in the near future.