According to InternetLiveStats, there are over 1.5 billion websites. Each of these websites has a domain name associated with it. For example, one of those 1.5 billion is my site, “SolveInterestingProblems.com.” With the number of websites growing every second, it is getting harder and harder to find a good, short name.
Here are some tips on how to pick your next website name…
- Do you have to spell your website name to someone? If you need to spell it (or could be easily misspelled) try another name
- Try not to include numbers
- Less words are better for recognition
- Does it stand out: use of a color, animal name, etc
- Try for a .com first (yes, it is getting harder because less are available)
- If you found a .com, buy the .net as well. This way if someone types in the .net version you can capture that traffic
- If you find a name that you like, buy it (it might not be available when you come back)
- Make sure to register your domain name with Private Whois so people don’t see your home address by accident
- Make sure to set it to auto-renewal. If you let this expire, someone could take it without you knowing it
- Whatever account you use, don’t lose the password. Domain names are the foundation to your brand so treat it like your home mortgage
- Don’t use GoDaddy. I have never had a good experience working with them so I prefer name.com or namecheap.com
1. Do I own a domain?
You lease a domain. Think of a domain name as a car lease. You don’t own it but you get the right to use it until you stop paying for it. This becomes really important because you might use a domain name with your email addresses, marketing, etc. It might be part of your identity so make sure you know where you registered your domain and that you keep paying to renew it (a year is the minimum time frame).
2. What is an extension?
A website extension is what comes after the dot in your name. So, for this website, it is .com. But, there are hundreds of other extensions such as .org, .edu, net, .blog, .pro, .food… While these other extensions have opened up a world of other possible names, everyone will assume that your website will be websitename.com.
3. Most people might not be as great at spelling as you
I came up with a really great domain name but every time I told someone about it I had to spell it. This became a DON’T in my book because it can make the obvious confusing. For example, I was going to name my company Ten Seconds Ahead. I have tensecondsahead.com but some people might think the website name is 10secondsahead.com. I bought both of them for that reason, but maybe you didn’t and could be sending traffic to another website by mistake.
We all assume a website is a .com
With the masses familiarity with .com, it is the best to try and find an available domain with a .com extension.
Sometimes you have to be creative. For example, one of my favorite comedian’s is John Oliver from LastWeekTonight. His personal website is iamjohnoliver.com. John and Oliver are pretty common names so the likelihood that johnoliver.com would be available is slim to none. So, the question is what other ways can you add to your name that make sense. I know I have followed the Where’s Waldo model and registered names such as wheresalexander.com.
If your #1 choice isn’t available, try these steps
I like to pull out a spreadsheet at this point and start writing all of the names that I want to consider later.
1. Use a tool (or a few)
Here is a list of some of the tools I have used to help me narrow down my list:
- Shopify Name Generator
- NameCheap Domain Search
2. Spell a word a new way
I am sure you and 70% of the world used Google today. Did you know that the correct spelling is “googol.” If one of the top brands in the world can do it, so can you.
I also like using license plate word generators because I can always find a way of spelling something that is unique. Just keep in mind that this makes it MUCH harder to remember (until you are as big as Google).
Disclaimer: I don’t recommend this unless you have money for marketing.
3. Buy a domain from someone else
There are a number of auction websites. If something has been registered, sometimes you can still snag something for a few hundred dollars.
- GoDaddy Auctions
- NameCheap Marketplace
- Brand Bucket
- Above & Beyond
You can also try to find the owner of a domain and contact them directly by going to a site that will show you the “whois” info like Godaddy.
4. Name + Animal/Verb
Think of the site TaskRabbit.com. Add an animal or verb to the name you want and you might be surprised what you find. It is also a lot easier to design a logo when you add an animal to your brand.
Need some ideas? Pull up thesaurus.com and see what variations you can find.
6. Add to the end
You can always add to the beginning or end of your domain:
My favorite show is Bob’s Burgers, and every episode they have a new business next to their burger joint. Try making your domain into a pun.
8. Add where you are located
You can always add the city, state or county in your website name if you need.
9. Register more than one name
If you find a .com name that you really like, but aren’t ready to use it just yet, register it. I have found a name that I really like and when I have returned back a few weeks later come to find that someone else registered it ahead of me.
I have found the best place to register that new domain is at namecheap.com.