If you’re an entrepreneur in 2018, registering a great domain name can feel like trying to figure out what John Smith’s Gmail address should be — many of the good options are already taken. Yet new eCommerce businesses launch every day, and somehow quite a few of them find great domain names.
If you can’t think of the perfect attention-grabbing name for your new website, or if you need help weeding out the good ideas from the bad, these 12 tips will help you get the job done.
1: Keep It Simple
Sure, the most obvious domain name is probably taken — but maybe it isn’t! And if it is available at a reasonable price, you’ll want to jump on it as fast as you can. It just takes a second or two to check, and you might get lucky. The best domain names are a reasonable length, easy to pronounce and spell, and avoid punctuation.
2: Ask Yourself — What Does My Website Do?
Sure, if you run a restaurant that delivers pizza to hungry households, you’re not going to be able to land Pizza.com. Instead, think about what it is you do and try to describe it with your domain name. For example, use something like FastPizzaDelivery.com, PizzaToMyDoor.com or GiveMePizza.com. Instead of settling on a noun or two that describes what you sell, use a quick phrase that describes what you do. This creates a call-to-action domain name that inspires your visitors to take action and convert.
3: Embrace Your Home
Maybe you don’t need to appeal to a national or international audience. If you’re the local pizza delivery business who bought GiveMePizza.com, then why not add a geographic name to your domain? This strategy works both to appeal to a local audience of visitors and potential customers, along with also speaking to your expertise and company background. For example, if you make surfboards and you grew up in San Diego, register SanDiegoSurfboards.com while the going is good.
4: Stick to Your Strengths
Maybe you’re not launching an entirely new eCommerce business — instead, perhaps you’re rebranding a more established business and need a new domain. If that’s the case, take a chance to examine your company’s online presence and effectiveness. Take a look at your site’s analytics to see which page gets the most visits, for example, or search for the product that gets the most clicks, sells the most frequently, or brings in the most revenue. Then find your way to build your domain name around that strength.
5: Avoid Jargon
Technical words may make you sound smart, cutting-edge, and clued in when you’re interviewing for a job or speaking at a conference of industry peers, but jargon can sound strange and incomprehensible to the audience who actually buys your products and uses your services. If you own a graphic design firm, your employers will be raster experts — but the Photoshop-illiterate people who actually want to hire graphic designers likely won’t be.
6: Use a Name Generator
You’ve tried everything, but nothing is sticking. The ideas are copyrighted, already taken, or too confusing to generate traffic. Instead of brainstorming yourself into frustrating circles and dead ends, maybe give a domain name generator a try.
There are quite a few tools that enable users to type in a single keyword or idea and produce a number of untaken domain names that include the submitted keyword and variations.
7: Don’t Go Nuts
Sure, the hottest rappers all seem to have hard-to-process names like Yung 2woGr8 and Tay-Zzurp, but strategies that work for climbing the music charts don’t make for good websites. Spell words the way they appear in the dictionary, don’t use hyphens, and stay away from numbers and your keyboard’s shifty symbols. You want long-term success, so don’t attempt to capitalize on some current fad.
For example, a straightforward GreatBooks.com is way better than a confusing Gr8-Boox.com. After hearing your domain name for the very first time, potential visitors should be able to easily type it into their browser and have a basic understanding of what they’re going to find.
8: Don’t Forget Social Media
Okay, maybe you’ve already found the perfect domain name. But before you rush to claim it, check and see if similar options are available on social media. If it’s already taken on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, you may want to change course and brainstorm a name that avoids confusion with a competitor and unites your entire web presence — from your homepage to your Instagram account.
9: Research, Research, Research
Great, you’ve found a name that works for your domain and for all of your social media. But be careful — there’s the chance the name was once used by a business or person with a notoriously bad reputation. How can you check? Well, a simple Google search won’t hurt, and checking the very useful WayBack Machine to see if your future site has had a seedy past is also helpful. Another thing to check for are possible trademark and copyright infringements. You don’t want to build a site, a brand, and a customer base only to have a judge tell you to take your site down.
10: Don’t Choose an Extension Your Visitors Will Forget
Nine times out of 10, the best extension to have at the end of your domain name is a simple .COM. However, there are times when another extension is more appropriate. If your target market is entirely within one country, why not appeal to patriotism and use a national extension like .UK or .CN? Also, a few more specific extensions have become common enough that your potential visitors won’t forget them. Running a restaurant? Try .kitchen. Launching a tech company? Try .tech.
11: Cover Your Bases
You may be content just testing the waters with your lone domain name, but brands with success in their sights should consider snapping up other domains with common extensions. Perhaps you registered a .COM, but you might want to grab the .NET, .BIZ, .ORG, and .INFO domains, as well.
Hackers, scammers, and hangers-on can take advantage of your brand’s domain name and deep pockets by buying the same name with alternate extensions. Stop them from picking it up before they have the chance.
12: Chill Out
You’ve woken up after a night of tossing and turning in your bed, trying to come up with the domain name that captures your brand’s spirit, engages your audience, and attracts the best kind of attention. You have a million ideas that are so close to perfect, but not a single one quite gets there. Maybe if you drink two pots of coffee and spend another 24 hours brainstorming, you’ll get it exactly right…
Stop. Breathe. Chill out. The quality of your domain name won’t be what makes or breaks your website — it’s the quality of your work that will make it a success. Find a name that gets the job done, trust the amazing site you’ve built, and go forth and conquer!