Alright, so you’ve gotten everything in order to start your business, and now you just need a name. As any writer will tell you, sometimes choosing what to title something can be the hardest part. You want to be clever, catchy, and also meaningful, leaving behind a clear picture of who you are and what you do in a way that will stick with the customer even after they leave the website. When everything is said and done, choosing a good domain name can make the difference between standing out in the minds of the public or fading away into obscurity. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to get yourself and your business on track.
Step One: Brainstorm!
Who are you and what do you want? Before you can even think about the domain name itself, you have to be clear about what sort of image you want to present. Choosing a good domain name begins with choosing a relevant domain name, and that begins with having a plan. As an exercise, grab a piece of paper and list five words or phrases that best describe what sort of domain name you’re looking for. Then look at those phrases and try to go from there. Come up with a list of possible domain names or fragments of them. They don’t have to be good or polished just yet—we’ll work on that later. For now, focus on getting words down on paper.
Step Two: Be Unique!
Look through your potential domain names one-by-one. Then Google them and see what you get. If the first result is something that’s already very similar to what you’re doing or a major company in a different field, that name might not be the name for you. Remember, choosing a good domain name means choosing a name that is not only memorable and clever, but that is also unique. You want a name that people will hear and mentally associate with you immediately. Your non-profit on Brazilian conservation research might be the best out there, but no one’s going to remember it if you decide to call yourself Amazon.
Step Three: Keep it Short!
I get it, guys, I really do. Sometimes, it’s so hard to let go of the idea that more words mean better words. You want to make sure the audience really gets it, that as soon as they see your domain name, there can be no doubt what it is you actually do. But we’re working on choosing a good domain name, and a really long, wordy domain name tends to get lost really quickly. People, quite frankly, don’t have time to remember too much information, so the shorter your domain name is, the better. And for convenience’s sake, make it easy to spell. How many times has someone been told to go to Flickr only to end up finding their way to whatever www.Flicker.com might be (Note: Don’t click on that link. I don’t know where it goes). You want to make sure that people can remember their name, type it into the address bar and find you, not whatever strange site on the internet has a similar name to yours. (Side note: It’s probably best to make sure there aren’t any seedy sites with a similar name to yours while you’re doing this. The internet can be a dark and scary place.)
Step Four: No Hyphens, No Numbers!
This goes along with Step Three. If you’ve whittled your name down to something short, sweet, and concise and find that it still has hyphens, numbers, or whatever weird symbols are permissible in URLs nowadays, please get rid of them. You’re already asking people to remember your domain name over everyone else’s—don’t make their lives (and yours by extension) harder by forcing them to remember a bunch of ones and zeroes.
Step Five: Set Yourself Apart!
Okay, so you’ve come up with what you think is a good domain name. It’s short, sweet, concise and pithy, it catches the eye and sticks in people’s minds and makes them take notice. Now go back to Step One. Look over those words you wrote down in the brainstorming exercise and ask yourself whether or not you can draw a connection between your domain name and your vision. Things don’t always pan out this way in the real world (I still don’t know what the Amazon has to do with online shopping or what on earth Monsters have to do with entry-level jobs) but making sure your name and vision are aligned can only help (and save you some significant effort in branding later on down the line).
So there you have it. If you’ve gone through these five steps, or at least strongly considered the points behind them, you should be well on your way to choosing a good domain name. Now all that’s left to do is to get out there and start your rise towards world domina—er, I mean success. Let’s go with that.