How to Choose a Good Domain Name

How to Choose a Good Domain Name

In this digital age, your company's web site is your electronic business card. A strong domain name is the key to your Internet presence. It should be recognizable and relate to your business name, brand, product, and/or activities. Make sure it fits on a business card and is easy to remember whether seen in print or mentioned over the phone.

Use the name people know you by. Don't abbreviate, unless the abbreviation is your company's trademark. Ask your co-workers, your customers, your friends, and your family what domain name they'd expect your company to have.

Don't forget to include your domain name in your site's logo. And put your domain name on all company promotional materials such as business cards and stationary.

Length Matters

Conventional wisdom states that a good domain name is easy for customers to remember, easy to spell, and short. That said, it's increasingly difficult to secure short domain names among top level domain names such as .com, .net and ,org. In these cases (and you have 67 characters to choose from), it's preferable to choose a meaningful statement such as" or," rather than or

Give a Good Impression

We all know that first impressions can be crucial, so choose your domain name carefully. Domain names often come without spaces, so pay careful attention to the total package. For example, PatternsExchange can look like patternsexchange.

Select Alternate Names

If your first domain name choice is not available, you can check the "whois" information box for the domain name, contact the person listed, and see if they're willing to sell it. If they want to sell, they will likely charge more than the $24.95 registration fee. An easier alternative is to register a variation of your first choice.

For example, if your company name is Mrs Smith's Cookies, but and the more obvious are registered, try adding a small letter such as "e" to indicate that it's an online business. Or add the word online. Or add your location to attract local customers:

Alternatively, try registering a local domain name:

Use a little creativity, and you may find your alternative beats your original choice. Once you've got a list of alternatives for your online business, test them with your friends and colleagues to see which ones they like best. Make sure these names can be easily pronounced and spelled by your test audience. Then, rank them in order of popularity.

Consider Spelling Mistakes

Consider mistakes people will make when typing your web site address and how your domain name sounds when you have to read it over the phone to a customer. Explaining special characters, abbreviations, and spelling is awkward and doesn't make good business sense. Will customers accidentally make spelling mistakes? Will they use the plural form of a word instead of the singular form, or visa versa? Make a list of possible mistakes, and register additional domain names that incorporate these mistakes.

Register Multiple Versions of Your Name

Register all possible domain name variations related to your company name. If your company's name is hard to spell, register common misspellings. Register every domain people might use to find your company. It only costs $24.95 a year to register each domain name, and that's a small expense to keep a customer.

Take this example: Before America Online acquired Time Warner for $178 billion, it registered at least 21 domain names that might be useful to the new company, named AOL Time Warner, from to Alternatively, web sites exist that capitalize on misspellings using them as advertising vehicles and diverting customers from your site.

Register Product Names

When users search the Internet for a particular product or service they often search by product or service, rather than business name. To increase the chances of having your site found, register extra domain names that relate to your core business or products.

If you owned the hypothetical company name of Widgets & Widgets co. but you sold an array of household products, you could register generic domain names relating to all aspects of household goods. You may be too late to snap up obvious domain names such as or, but a little creative thinking into alternatives can be lucrative. These alternative domains can be easily linked to your main web site.

Avoid Trademarked Names

Ensure someone else has not trademarked the name you register. You cannot register names already registered as copyright (for example, McDonalds). Like company names, domain names are unique and cannot be duplicated. Avoid registering domain names that are similar to your competition or to famous trademarks. Businesses have lost their rights to registered domain names due to conflicts with existing trademarks for off-line companies.

Register Locally

If your company is located in Canada, you can register a .ca domain name even if your business activity includes export trade. If you have an international presence, a top-level domain such as .com, .net , or .org is more suitable. Many businesses choose to register all three, and we suggest doing so. All three addresses can "point" to the same e-mail account and web site.

Conversely, you might open a virtual office in another country. For example, could also register, which may "point" towards the same site, attracting a larger audience. Don't forget to check to see if a local presence is required in the country you wish to register.

Use a metaphor

If your .dot com businesses does not have a name, the world is your oyster. One Internet incubation company decided on the metaphor campsix, referring to the final basecamp on the Everest climb rather than a straight description of services. The name reflected the difficulty and challenges of building an Internet company to the scaling of Everest. Bear in mind that if your web site is the primary tool for business, the company name must be the company URL.


About the Author

Shaun Cronrath is the President & CEO of (, a domain name registration company offering all the major domain extensions -- .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, .name, .ca, .us, .cn, .eu, .de, .pro and more.