Finding and choosing the perfect domain name for your business sounds easy – but it’s not a simple task. Your business name may not translate into a good domain name, or more commonly someone else may have already taken it. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you have a good domain name so that your customers can find you online.
So, how do you find the perfect domain for your business? Here are a few suggestions to make it a little easier for you.
When you’re trying to find the perfect domain for your business it’s a good idea to write down a few ideas: the name of your company; the industry you are in; the products and services you sell etc. Write down a few phrases that your potential customers would enter into a search engine (like Google) to find you online. Once you have these ideas written down, you can then use Keyword Discovery tools such as the Google Keyword Planner Tool to find related keywords.
The trick is to find keywords that are related to your business. So, if you’re a pet shop, there’s no point buying a domain name that’s called myfantasticwebsite.com. Why? Because your customers won’t find you online because the domain name has nothing to do with pet shops. If your customers can’t find you online; you won’t get any business from your website.
Once you have gathered a list of possible domain name options and keywords, you can then make use of online tools (Dot-o-mator and Nametumbler) to help you find related domain names, suggestions or alternatives.
After you have your list of possible domain names, visit a bulk domain registration provider (GoDaddy) and enter your domains to check whether or not they are available.
Make it short and snappy
Whilst you are generating ideas, you need to keep in mind that the shorter the domain name – the better it is. Not only are short domain names easy to remember, they will probably be a lot easier to type too. Also, make sure that you stay well clear of domain names that have double meanings or that are difficult to spell. As a general rule, ask yourself: if someone heard your domain read out loud, would they remember it and know how to spell it?
Also, try and make sure that you have a domain name that sounds unique. The last think you want is for your potential customers to visit a competitor who has a similar domain name.
IMPORTANT: before registering your domain name, check that the name is not a registered Trademark. Search the Intellectual Property Office, or USPTO to avoid Trademark infringement and risk losing your domain a few years down the line – trust me, it happens.
Once you’ve found the perfect domain name for your business; one that fits your company, services and represents your brand, you need to be certain that is available. There are several tools for checking domain availability, but the best one I’ve used so far is uk2.net.
What if my domain name is already taken?
Ok, so your domain isn’t available – someone else has already beaten you to the post. What do you do?
It’s not the end of the world; you may be able to find something that’s similar. It’s a real shame that almost ALL three and four letter domain names have already been taken. This means that if you are determined to get a three or four letter domain, you may need to enter a domain auction (see below) and pay a premium for it.
Alternative domain names
If your ideal domain has already been taken, try and enter words before or after it. Add words like ‘great’, ‘top’, ‘the’ at the beginning of the domain name, or words like ‘forum’, boutique, etc. at the end of it. I think you get the gist. You could even add your location to the beginning or end of your domain (e.g. thepetshopgloucester.com).
Try and avoid words with numbers. For example: number1petshop.com instead of numberonepetshop.com not only causes confusion, it will redirect potential customers to your competitor’s website which would be disastrous.
Try and avoid hyphenated words so that you don’t have to explain to others that your website is called:
“numberone hyphen petshop.com”.
Obviously avoid domains with a combination of numbers and hyphens so that you don’t have to say that your website is:
“number1 (the number 1, not letters) hyphen petshop.com”.
You get the idea? The use of acronyms is debatable, but in my opinion, unless you are IBM or some other major corporation, it’s just another thing to confuse your website visitors.
In an ideal world, you would probably want a .com domain extension. Why? Because it’s the most popular domain extension; is universal, and is the best option for branding and can be used for any type of website. However, there are multiple other domain extensions that you could take advantage of. Look at .org if you’re an organisation or .info if your website is primarily providing information etc.
Another option could be to localise your domain if your intended audience is in your own country. For example: Use a .co.uk if you’re inside the UK, or . au if you’re in Australia etc. This can differentiate you from other international websites and can open the door to other possibilities.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you could try domain auction sites for domains that were previously owned but are now for sale. GoDaddy and Sedo are just a few of the more popular domain auction sites. You could get really lucky here – the domains listed on these auction sites are made up from people who have either purchased domains in the past and haven’t used them, their businesses are no longer operating, or they have just left the domain expire.
Contact the Owner directly
Another option would be to contact the owner of the domain directly. If you see a domain that you’re looking for isn’t being used, you can visit the Who.is database online and find the details of the person who is currently managing the domain. Even if the domain is currently in use, you can still send an email to the domain owner asking if the domain if for sale – but don’t make any offers yet at this stage – you’re only trying to find out who owns the domain name and whether or not there is a possibility of them selling it.
If it is for sale, you could be in luck. Do a little research into how much the domain is actually worth. There are a few great sites that will generate domain appraisals for FREE (Instica, URLAppraisal, Estibot) and some Premium Appraisal services (Sedo and DomainAppraisal) are available too.
You can also use sites like Compete to see how much traffic is visiting the domain name, however, this may not be the only factor in determining the value of the domain, but it’s certainly a powerful indicator.
How to buy premium Domains?
Premium domains are big business. If you’re willing to spend some time, you can potentially make some good money buying and selling them, and at the same time, find the perfect domain for your business.
If you are genuinely interested in buying and selling domains, I suggest that you visit Flippa which is the world’s number one site for buying and selling websites and domains. Spend time getting to know the market place and how much domains are actually worth etc. Once you find a quality domain, you can sell it on again yourself – sometimes for much more than you initially paid for it.
A vital part of finding the perfect domain name for your business is knowing where and how to look for it. Take your time and follow these suggestions, and you’ll be amazed what you can potentially find.