Perhaps the most crucial step in the website-building process is choosing the perfect domain name. All of the most popular websites on the Internet (Facebook, Amazon, eBay, etc.) all came from a brainstorming session and a roll of the dice. Who knows, your website could be the next game-changing site on the entire net; however, you first need a name.
The name should be a representation of your ethos, your goals, as well as catchy and easy for users to find it. You want people to remember it a decade from now not just today, so choosing a great name is essential to your future success.
In this article, we’re diving deep into the process to choose the right domain name, some things to avoid when brainstorming, and your next steps to take after you’ve compiled a list of prospective names.
Why Your Domain Name is Crucial to Your Website’s Success?
1. Your First Impression
When a user sees your website on a search engine, your domain name is one of your only chances to make a great first impression. A strong domain name will compel users to click your link, and a weak domain name may go ignored.
2. Your Domain Name is Your Brand
Your domain name will define your brand for years to come. If you choose a boring or trendy domain name at the beginning, with slang words or themed off of a trend, your brand may be doomed to fall into irrelevancy in the future.
3. Improve Your SEO Ranking
If you have developed websites before, you know that SEO is one of the most critical aspects of managing a site. It determines how high your website ranks in search engine results which can ultimately decide your traffic. Choosing a solid domain name with powerful keywords is an excellent way to boost your SEO along with other approaches.
The Brainstorming Process
It’s time to get down to the fun part: the brainstorming process! Grab some coffee, a notepad, and your team members because it’s time to create a list of names that may identify your brand for the entire life of your website. Here are our tips for creating a memorably functional domain name:
1. Make It Easy to Pronounce
Processing fluency is how our brains remember and process names and words. Understanding this is essential to creating the perfect domain name. You want visitors to be able to tell people about your website, and more importantly, being able to pronounce something leads to improved processing fluency which can also result in a more positive impact.
Additionally, if your domain name is hard to pronounce, people will most likely misspell it when trying to search for it. This is something you definitely want to avoid since most of us have short attention spans on the internet and if we can’t spell the website name right the first couple of times, we’ll probably just look somewhere else.
2. Make It Intuitively Descriptive
Your domain name should be recognizable and intuitively describe your services, products, or the content on your website. For instance, if you were to stumble upon the website “CheapPetToys” you’d probably expect to find cheap pet toys.
If your website is descriptive, you’ll also become more memorable in visitors’ minds because they’ll have an understanding of your website’s content just from the domain name alone.
3. Don’t Use Slang in Your Name
Slang terms are fun to say around friends and make for great jokes, but basing your domain name and brand off of slang terms is not a good idea. You want your name to be memorable and meaningful for years to come and attaching your name to trendy terms will almost guarantee your domain will fade into obscurity in a matter of years.
Also, if your domain name uses slang terms, non-native speakers in different countries or even your community might not understand the reference. Keep it simple and stick to words that have staying power.
4. Don’t Forget About Social Media Sites
Be sure that you are keeping potential social media profiles in mind when creating your list of possible domain names. There’s nothing worse than finding the best domain name only to discover pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter already using the same name.
Even if you don’t plan on connecting social media profiles at the launch of your website, you want to know that the pages are available should you decide to launch your social media presence in the future.
5. Keep Keywords in Mind
As mentioned earlier, choosing your domain name is an excellent opportunity to improve your SEO strategy. When thinking of a domain name, consider the keywords that you will be using on the site itself. Use words that are easily searchable and describe your product or services perfectly to help boost your search engine page rankings.
Tips for the Perfect Domain Name
There is no magic formula or secret to choosing the best domain name, and many times, the best domain names are picked just by chance. That being said, here are the things you should consider during your brainstorming sessions to choose the best domain name for your website.
1. Find a “.com” if Possible
While there are many unique domain name extensions available such as “.me” or “.social,” nothing quite beats the recognition and tradition behind “.com.” In fact, 75% of all the websites on the Internet are “.com” which makes your website seem more traditional and professional.
Because they are so popular, “.com” are usually more expensive than other extensions. If you can’t afford a “.com” or if someone already owns it (more on this later) you can purchase a “.org” “.net” or “.co” for a more affordable price.
If you are doing business in one country and have no plans to reach international visitors, you can go with a country-specific extension such as “.co.uk” or “.ca” which are more affordable as well as shows pride in your country of operation.
2. Keep it Short and Sweet
Short names are easy to remember while longer ones will never really stick in your visitors’ minds. The only downside is that many of the short, one-name words have been taken already, and one-word domains of six or fewer characters can go for thousands of dollars.
There is hope! If your brand has a unique, super-meta name, then the domain may still be available. If not, there are a couple of tricks you can do to create an exclusive, short domain name.
You can insert an adjective or verb in front of your prospective domain name and check to see if it is available or you can go back to the drawing board and come up with something unique that fits your brand’s image and how you would like to be perceived by potential customers.
3. Account for Unavoidable Typos
People will undoubtedly make a typo when searching for your website; it’s just a part of life. To overcome this, we recommend you register multiple spelling variations if possible, with each variation forwarding to your official site.
Also, registering these spelling variations will keep your competitors from snagging them up and using your misspelled domain name to their advantage. Get the web traffic you deserve and be sure to scoop up these variations.
4. Don’t Use Numbers
Another attempt to avoid customer confusion, if you use numbers in your domain name, visitors may forget whether your site was “supplies4school.com” or “suppliesforschool.com” Your domain name should be super simple.
5. Don’t Hesitate
If you come up with a name that is perfect, don’t hesitate to register it if you can afford it. Domain names are being registered and claimed every single second and the ideal name available today may be gone tomorrow.
Narrow Down Your List
Once you have a substantial list of your preferred domain names, it’s now time to start researching these names to see which are available, which are taken, and which you could potentially purchase.
We like to break taken domains into four categories:
- Legitimate Businesses
- Domain Squatters
- Domains Under Construction
- Dead Pages
When searching your prospective domains and you are lead to the website of a real business, you should move that domain to the bottom of your list. Since they are a real business, they most likely won’t want to give up their website domain, and even if they do, their asking price could be well out of your price-range.
You’ll know these sites when you come across them. It’s usually for simple domain names such as “sunglasses.com, ” but there is no real business there. Instead, you are met with advertisements and links. People purchase these domains with the primary intent to monetize and hold the domain like an investment, waiting for large corporations to come along and offer them large sums.
Domains Under Construction
When you search for the domain name and come across the classic “under construction” message, you can make either one of two assumptions: either someone is hard at work building this website on the domain or they bought the domain a while ago and had forgotten about it altogether.
Just because the site can’t be reached, doesn’t mean that it is available. Determining whether to pursue these dead pages can be tricky and could end in a number of ways. It all comes down to how bad you want the domain and who the domain owner is.
Buying a Domain Name That’s Already Taken
Now that you’ve classified your list of domains, here are the next steps to finding the domain owner and making an offer to purchase the domain.
Tracking Down the Domain Owner
Finding a domain owner is as simple as going to the WHOIS domain search or another registrar website and entering in the exact domain that you’re interested in. After completing your search, you should be able to see the domain owner’s name and contact details. There are some instances where the domain owner might have their contact information blocked via privacy protection services so keep that in mind as you start looking up domain names.
Once you have the contact details for the domain you are dead set on purchasing, it’s time to make your approach. However, it’s not as simple as “Hello, sell me your website.” How you approach matters.
Making Your Approach
If you are just buying your first domain and don’t have a documented history of flipping domains, you can choose to contact the domain owner directly. A simple inquiry is all your message is without an offer of any kind.
If you don’t want to contact the domain owner directly, you can set up a “burner” email address with no personal information, or you can request the services of a small law firm or even a registrar to make contact with the domain owner for you.
Determining the Domain’s Value
If the domain is available, your next step is to work with the domain owner to agree upon a price that you are both happy with. Determining the value of a domain depends on a few different attributes including:
- Character length
- Number of words
- Common name
- The potential positive effects on your business
- Catchiness of the name
How much you will decide to offer the domain owner will depend on your budget and what your ROI would be for purchasing the domain. For instance, if you were to buy “Cheap.com” for your business that offers a variety of products at wholesale prices, how much would each customer be worth to you? Determine the answers to these questions to make an educated valuation of the domain name.
There are a few different things to make a note of here if you decide to proceed with negotiations with the domain owner.
1. If You Can’t Justify the Price, Walk Away.
Some owners will demand you pay an excessive price of hundreds of thousands for their domain when you only feel it’s worth a few thousand. At that point—as with any negotiation—it’s best just to walk away because you are both too far apart on price.
2. Protect Yourself Legally.
If you send an offer as only “I will pay $1500 for your domain” know that this is a contract that is enforceable by law if you were to change your mind. Always add a stipulation such as “pending all terms are met” to ensure that you cover all of your legal bases.
3. Don’t Be Overeager Even if the Price is Perfect
If the domain owner severely undervalues the domain and offers an initial value that is way below what you had expected, don’t immediately accept. Instead, try to negotiate down a little bit more. You should do this because some domain owners will rescind their offer because they may realize that they detrimentally undervalued their domain if you are quick to accept. Continuing negotiations will make them feel like there is still a deal to be made.
Domain names are essential for every website, and your future success could hinge in the balance if you fail to think your domain name through. Follow these tips and you should be well on your way to creating the best and most memorable domain name for your website!
Be sure to read our blog post “Choosing The Best Domain Registrar: The Ultimate Guide” for the next steps to register your new domain name!