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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finding the Right Domain Name for your New Website

Coming up with a short, catchy and relevant domain name can be a difficult task. Specially because most of the top domain names have already been registered by someone else. It's always good to know the setting and context of the website before you purchase a domain in order to make this process a lot easier.

The Newbie Toolkit: How To Register And Host Your First Domain 

The ideal domain name should be:
  1. Short
  2. Relevant
  3. Memorable

It's best to avoid:
  • Under scores and dashes
  • Numbers (when not relevant to the subject)
  • Alternate (but incorrect) spellings

Then we need to go to a domain look up service such as http://www.checkdomain.com/ to see whether the domain that we want is available. Be ready for disappointment because most of the time you will find that the particular domain is unavailable. Check to see whether pre or post fixing words like "hot", "best", "all", "the", "top" and "get" would work. If not, you will have to move on to the next phase.

This is when your domain knowledge comes in to play. Try to pair words which are relevant to the site's content to come up with a catch name. This might not directly reflect the subject matter but should be easy to relate to it.
  • rottentomatoes.com
  • stackoverflow.com
  • gsmarena.com

Keep at it till you find something that you really like. Do not get discouraged and get yourself a domain like "the-best-music-online-10.com". It's a hard and time consuming process but it's better to be patient and register the right domain name than end up with something that you will realize to be unusable after a few hours.

I have purchased several domains in the past and some of them proved to be fruitless and a waste of time and money (such as amazon40.com). But the one's that I purchased after doing my research and trying patiently, have been very successful (e.g. steamsigs.com, theduffel.com). So be patient and keep trying. You will not regret the extra effort.

Case Study:

As a small exercise, I decided to try coming up with a good name for an arbitrary web site, just to see the effectiveness of the given guidelines. The subject I selected is (I'm thinking of one right now ;)) menswear. It could be a site which sells menswear or reviews them. Doesn't really matter.
The obvious key word would be menswear. Let's come up with some domain names to check (I'm only considering .com for now because its the one used the most):

All are registered. Let's come up with a list of relevant terms:
man, clothes, garb,look,smart,free,handsome(too long), charmer,hunky, perfect, fit, apparel, attire

First find, hunkgarb.com. Short and catchy but let's keep on looking for something a bit more formal.
Second find, hunkattire.com.. hmm...
Third time's the charm!! manattire.com is still available. It's catchy with a bit of sophistication. Should be perfect.

I haven't given details of the last phase of the process but it's pretty straight forward. Come up with keywords and look for synonyms. This is very important. You'd most probably find a word that's more befitting to your purpose. This is how I ended up with the word "attire"... by looking for a synonym for "clothes".

So this concludes the case study. Most probably the domain "manattire.com" would not be available in a few months but I think it served to detail the process involved in coming up with the perfect domain name.

Good resources:

Website Design and Development: 100 Questions to Ask Before Building a Website Creating a Web Site: The Missing ManualWeb Design and Marketing Solutions for Business WebsitesBuild Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML & CSS, 2nd EditionBuild a Website for Free (2nd Edition)


Broken in parts said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Caitlin - BrandBucket said...

I love your suggestion of synonyms. We take that concept and then mix those synonyms with other words and make brand new brand names.