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So far in these series we’ve covered all elements of starting a blog for your business website.
We started this series with the assumption that our readers would already have a website, but as we discovered in the comments, an increasing number of people are doing all their research up front, and want some advice on the domain name itself.
First off – that’s a smart way to do it. By doing your research in advance you’re giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed first time.
Second – I am more than happy to help you figure out the perfect domain name for your business website, bringing us neatly back around to the start.
I understand why people need help with their domain name. Getting a good domain name is difficult – you need something that is both good for your business and currently available at an affordable price.
Having brainstormed more than a hundred good domain name ideas on behalf of clients, I’ve learned some important principles that I’ll share with you today, so you can go about on how to choose a domain name for your business.
There are a bunch of words that even as someone who does content marketing for a living, I’m still not sure how to spell until Word gives me that little red underline.
Weirdly, something like accommodation -where I’m never sure if it’s one ‘c’ or one ‘m’ when in fact it’s two of both- or even license -where the ‘c’ and the ‘s’ can just as easily be swapped around- can trip people up.
When typing in a URL, I don’t have a spellchecker.
If you’re a jeweller looking to market to worldwide audiences, jeweler is how it’s spelled in American. Spelling it ‘wrong’ to a large potential market is going to be a problem.
Jewelry and jewellery are out, so maybe try words that are always spelled the same, like necklace or diamond.
If the words don’t flow trippingly on the tongue, it’s probably a bad idea to use it.
Even if you are a qualified otolaryngologist, you might be best to think about calling your website headnecksurgeon.com instead.
Let’s say you want to show people where the best winter sports vacation destinations are. Please, please don’t use muststaysnowresorts.com.
It’s horrible, knotty and misleading.
To my eye, “now” pops as a word, and putting a double ‘st’ in makes me want to gag. Wintersportsresorts is a slight improvement, but the double ‘orts’ is offputting.
I’d go with wintersportsvacations – hotels would create an ‘sh’, which is a phoneme, making us more likely to think they belong together than to separate words when scanning. ‘Sv’ is not a common pair in English.
If you’re creating a celebrity gossip site, please don’t consider Theentertainmenttoday.com – clashing vowels and consonants.
When it comes to URLs, the shorter the better. If your company is called Stadtler & Waldorf Attorneys At Law, you’d better not think about StadtlerandWaldorfAttorneysAtLaw.com. No one is going to want to type all that into their browser.
Sandwattorneys.com looks like sand watt, so I’d go StadtlerWaldorfLaw.com is probably your best bet. Get used to compressing your value items. “Who are you and what do you do?” is all there above, just without the filler.
Even worse than clumps of similar letters together, you could end up changing the grouping of the letters, sometimes with unfortunate and embarrassing results.
Kids Exchange seems like a fun name for a business, right? Well in URL form, without the spacing, not so much.
Kid Sex Change is not the business you want to be running. This happens because of kerning – the spacing of letters.
URLs have no kerning, so it’s easy for comprehension to go wrong.
There are now a huge number of domain name extensions available. You can find one that is relevant to whatever you do.
You might want to get a .law, .consultant, .fishmonger extension.
I say this because after 20 years of constant use, .com is the single most recognizable, prestige extension that offers a greater sense of familiarity, trust and confidence to your users.
If you can get your URL with a .com extension, you absolutely should.
Some people advocate using Exact Match Domains (EMDs) for SEO.
So if people are searching for “how to make an omelet” you should register howtomakeanomelet.com, and you’ll rank higher instantly.
Unfortunately, Google have gotten wise to this, and the strength of these URLs is declining. It is still useful, however, to a keyword in your domain.
In this example, greatomelet.com or tastyomelet.com would still do you some good, so consider keeping it in there.
What do you think the business owning the website ohioplumbing.com provides?
What do you think the website ohiopipemasters.com provides?
The difference between these two URLs is how quickly you understand what they offer – how intuitive they are.
The more intuitive the better.
Amazon. Google. EBay.
None of these mean a damn thing when it comes to understanding what they do.
But we don’t need to understand it from the name, because the brand is so strong we associate it with the industry and service.
If you can create a strong, succinct brand, you will be in a much better position to become a big-time player than if you stick with longtail SEO URLs.
Which of these you go for depends on how big you want to make your business in the future.
So, in an ideal world, you could use these tips to brainstorm good domain name for your website. Then you get to registering that domain and, curses! It’s already taken.
Well, never fear, because there are ways you can modify your idea to retain what’s good about it, while still successfully registering the domain.
All the short and good names are usually taken or only available at premium. Here’s how to overcome it.
Let’s imagine your great idea for dried seasonal meats, turkeyjerky.com, is already registered by a domain name owner who wants far too much to relinquish it.
There are several things you can do.
One of these easiest is to add a prefix of suffix. Theturkeyjerky.com, myturkeyjerky.com, tastyturkeyjerky.com are all prefixes that may well not be registered.
Similarly, turkeyjerkystore, turkeyjerkyusa, turkeyjerkytime are all good suffixes.
Some people suggest hyphenating as an easy way to get the domain. Turkey-jerky.com is perfectly acceptable, even though hyphens are often sticky when it comes to users remembering them. It’s also annoying if you have to tell people about the site in conversation.
“My business is turkey hyphen jerky dot com” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Customers will have the same problem telling their friends about it. My advice would be never to use more than one hyphen in a URL.
Depending on who you’re marketing to (I doubt Rollz Royz would command the same premium as Rolls Royce, for instance), you may be able to get creative with your spelling.
This may make you cringe, but biz has been used to abbreviate business successfully. Turkeyjurkey.com could unlock the URL you wanted, while making logical sense of why you changed the spelling.
While I did say you should always prefer .com if you can, it is possible that you won’t be able to.
If you’re wedded to your original URL and don’t want to change it, a different extension can unlock the name for you. Turkeyjerky.net, .food or even .nom can give you a professional looking online identity without breaking the bank.
A portmanteau is when you take two words and smash them together to create a new word. Bionic for example is a portmanteau of biological and electronic.
By combining the words in your URL, you can create new one which is instantly brandable. Verizon is a portmanteau of ‘veritas’ meaning truth in Latin, and ‘horizon’. Turkey Jerky could simply become Terky or Jurkey.
Flickr was the brand that launched a thousand trendy followers.
Removing letters is a super-efficient way to get your branding back on track, and is arguably a more favourable solution than adding or changing spellings.
If you remove the vowels, Trky suddenly becomes quite a trendy, modern health food brand instead of the fun, playful snack it was before.
A frustrating reality of human creativity is that most names have already been thought of. If those names have been trademarks, then the owners of those trademarks have right.
If I decided to register a domain called Werizon, I’d have a hard time justifying that it wasn’t an infringement of Verizon’s trademark.
As such, I may be forced to relinquish the domain to them. If that happened, I’ve just waited my time and money. You can check existing trademarks here.
So we finally have our Trky.com domain, and we’re really happy and excited about getting started on our new business.
Social media is essential to all modern marketing strategies, so we head over to Facebook only to find that facebook.com/trky has been taken. We go Instagram and find the same.
It’s the same on Twitter. And even worse, different trky derivatives have been taken in all of them. We end up with @trkyusa on Twitter @trkyjerk on Instagram, trky.jerky on Facebook.
Now our business cards just got a lot fatter, and people are more likely to forget, misspell or mistake us across the different platforms.
Being able to say social: /trky makes your brand appear much stronger.
I understand if you’re overwhelmed. All great marketing is difficult, and requires fulfilling a huge range of criteria to different extents. Finding that balance is what makes great marketers.
Never fear. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of things you have to do, there are domain checker tool available that can help make domain name hunting easier.
1. Lean Domain Search
Lean Domain Search will give you the shortest domains that include the keywords you want. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the available domains for Turkey Jerky.
The website is simple and easy to use, and can help you pick the best domain you can find, instead of generating a shot in the dark that may or may not already be taken. This is SEO oriented, so works based on the keywords you want included.
2. Name Mesh
Name Mesh goes a step further, and gives you easy visual categories, colorized for further fun, from which you can choose. These include common, new, short, fun, SEO, similar, mixed and extra.
This domain name generator easily enables you to be able to gain inspiration, and set your own priorities when you choose.
If you want a portmanteau for your brand but can’t smash endless words together to see what will work best, Wordoid is your friend. It will create new word-like forms based on stimulus you provide.
You can ask it to start with a certain letter or include a certain fragment. Here are the results it threw up for “Turkey”.
As you can see, TurkeyJerky is taken on Twitter, but surprisingly available on Facebook.
Checking your potential brand word for your URL against Social Media as well allows you to cut out plenty of search time.
Domainr is the most stripped-back, and therefore fastest domain name checker online. If you’ve already come up with an idea for your brand URL, it will tell you whether it is available for sale or taken.
Trky.com is for sale, but TurkeyJerky.com is taken. However, TurkeyJerky.co is free!
As is turkeyjer.ky (though I wouldn’t recommend this). It also allows you to make an offer right then and there on domains for sale, and even pitch to the owners of used domains, so you can try to buy them out.
You now have all the tools and best practise required to create a brilliant domain name for your website or blog, and even to brand your business if you’re starting from scratch.
It can be difficult to choose domain name ideas, but trust me, it’s worth it.
Having a great domain, with a catchy brand or strong keyword depending on the scale of the business in question, will have a profound and long lasting effect on your online success.
A great URL is the first step to creating trust and authority – the two most important factors in converting audiences into customers.
If you have any other tricks, processes or workshopping methods you used to come up with your domain, drop them in the comments below for other people to benefit from.
Equally, if you’re still having trouble, let us know in the comments and our online community will do its best to help!
Updated: 22 January 2017