5 Essential Tips When Selecting a Domain Name

domain name selectionURL – is that another way to spell Earl?

Domain Names…can I just use my own name?

Yes, it’s true, I’ve heard these questions a time or two and they still make me chuckle.

A domain name is an important decision all internet entrepreneurs have to make when starting an online business. It’s almost as crucial as naming your kids 🙂 The domain name you pick could end up being on thousands of t-shirts, billboards, TV commercials, or, only you and I may ever know about it (let’s hope that’s not the case).

When picking a domain name, I follow 5 specific guidelines as I name my future money making opportunity.

Here they are in order of importance:

  1. Short, Sweet and To the Point:  Keep your domain name easy to spell! 3 Words or Less, Avoid words like “to”, “two”, “too”, “2” or words that can be spelled wrong – if a visitor can spell it wrong, they WILL!
  2. Easy to Remember (aka Brandable): eBay is a perfect example of a brandable, easy to remember website.  Others that come to mind are Yahoo, Amazon, and ESPN :).
  3. Use of Keyword Phrases is Helpful: Question – which domain name tells more about what my site is all about www.natesstuff.com or www.UtahCountyReviews.com?  Using a keyword phrase in the domain name is very helpful in getting natural search engine placement for that phrase.  Just remember to follow the above rules first before you buy a domain name with 6 words just because it had your keyword phrases.
    Here’s an example of using they keyword phrase “Utah County” in the domain name:
    utah-county
    Out of 340,000 websites about Utah County, my Utah County Tourism website is number 3 naturally, a lot because the keyword phrase Utah County is in the actual domain name.
  4. Buy Your Domain Name for More than One Year: this may be an urban legend, a wives tale, or it may be right on; I’ve heard that Google has a way of detecting how long you’ve registered your domain name.  The longer you have the domain name registered, the more “credibility” they give your website.  Again, this is all heresay, but it seems logical to me.  Besides, if you’re truly committed to running a successful online business, why wouldn’t you get the domain name for 10 years?
  5. Make a big list and run your options by friends, family, etc.: This was an important step for me when I chose my first ever domain name for my clogging taps website.  I’d researched the availability of hundreds of domain names and found a few I really liked.  Once I’d narrowed it down to about 5 or 10, I invited my wife, my parents, and some close friends (who I knew wouldn’t steal the idea :)) to pick their favorite(s).  Getting the opinion of others doesn’t need to be the determining factor, but many times a spouse or person of the opposite sex thinks about things a bit differently – go figure!

What are other rules you follow when buying a domain name for your start-up internet business?

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12 Replies to “5 Essential Tips When Selecting a Domain Name”

  1. I found your site on google, great site, keep it up. Will return in the future. Submitted this post to Google News Reader.

  2. I agree with point 5 big time. With my last business that I started we would have never found the right name with out asking many people. Also I recommend that if you have the extra cash that you buy other domain names that are similar to yours to eliminate site poachers.

    1. Great points! Poachers are out there and will mess with your audience if you’re not careful. I’ve seen some go as far as buying all .com, .net, .biz, .tv, etc. to protect their name and reputation.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. I’ve often questioned the ‘register for multiple years’ thing as well. A few weeks ago I asked an SEO friend of mine and he gave it a medium importance level. You can very easily check how long a name has been registered for by looking it up on the whois directory. If I can look it up that easy, it stands to reason that the big G can look it up as well.

  4. I’ve had some similiar experiences as you. I know people in the programming, designing and marketing industry are very familiar with technological vernacular, but it still surprises me how many people don’t know a thing. I suppose that’s why they hire us, which is a good thing. I think you’re spot on with your advice here, especially with the one about keeping it simple. I tell my clients this all the time. You want your potential customers to be able to remember where to find you and who you are; a simple domain name definitly helps in this area. Hopefully many people will read this post, it will make their lives, and our work, much easier and more successful.

    1. Thanks for the comment Scott. I asked myself all the time: Would I want that domain name on SWAG to hand out at a conference?

      If the domain name is long, hard to spell, and even hard to read, the answer is NO, NO, NO!

      Pass this post on 🙂

  5. I also think that once you have your preferred domain name, buy a few names that might fit well with your business. http://www.mybestfurryfriend.com is a little long so I just recently purchased http://www.furryblankets.com and http://www.furryfriendblankets.com. This was a suggestion of one of my customers who couldn’t remember my site name after a baby shower and had to search a little to find me. I will have these new sites send potential buyers to my original domain.

    1. Great comment Brooke! I could add your idea to the list:

      Ask your customers what they think!

      The tough thing can be that sometimes you’ve picked the domain name up front. What you’ve done that I really like is ADAPTED to clients needs. You don’t have to change completely, just adapt.

      Look forward to speaking with you soon!