It’s a given that you obviously have an idea which you want to promote otherwise there’d be no need for any of this. The next step is selecting a good domain name which is one of the most important decisions you’ll be making and yet the one thing I find most people don’t put enough effort into. The domain name will be your guide pointing you in the direction you need to go and it’ll be what customers think about when they first come to your site, so making a mistake here could doom you to failure.
Luckily it’s not that difficult, but there are a few very basic things you need to pay attention to.
Devote at least 24 hours or much more to come up with a good domain name. Don’t just go with the first thing off the top of your head like most people do. What I find works best for me is to write down some notes about what my site will be about, and look over any products I might be offering. This will help you come up with ideas. Write all your ideas down focusing on key words–important words or phases which sum up your business. Try to work those key words into a domain name.
The words of your domain name will either help you get search engine traffic or hurt your chances. Think about words which people might type in who’d be interested in your products or services and focus heavily on those as possible parts of your domain name.
Think about the possible negative consequences of each word in your domain name. A great example is a good friend of mine who used the word “Sexy” as part of his domain name for a dating site. Nothing much wrong with “Sexy”, but search engine also pick up on the SEX part of that and that has negatively effected him in many ways. Examine each word and think about any negative posibilities.
Be realistic and realize that any one word domain name is probably long gone as with most 2 words domain names. So make a long list.
Try to differentiate yourself a little from your competition with your domain name. Think about what makes you different from your competition with regards to your service or products and maybe you can emphasis that in your domain name.
Spell check each word of your domain name no matter how good a speller you think you are. It’s not worth wasting your time and money by having to re-register a different domain name later. Chances are you’ve been up late, and aren’t thinking 100% clearly, and it is possible that you misspelled a very simple word–no wonder that domain was available!
Make a list of 10 or so possible names and discuss the list with close friends and family. I highly recommend NOT talking to anyone else about it as there are people who will register the domain names just to try to resale it back to you. Never discus with strangers your domain names until AFTER you’ve registered them!
Narrow your list down to 3-5 and discuss the list again with friends and family.
Avoid anything except .com unless you know what you are doing. Dot anything else will be a waste of time usually so just take my word on it and try to avoid the other DOTs unless you have a very very good reason and know what you are doing. I’ve found a bad .com name will usually out perform a good DOT-ANYTHING-ELSE name.
You can use any alphabet character, hyphens, or numbers in your domain name. Spaces are not allowed. The domain name can not start with a hyphen. Hyphens are useful in helping to explain to the search engines the words like “Sexy-” instead of “Sex-y…”, but I strongly believe you should avoid hyphens when possible as customers will NOT remember hyphens. Make it easy for your customers and avoid hyphens when possible.
Then once you have your name, sleep on it. I’ve often came up with the perfect domain name only to follow my policy of sleeping on them before registering and in the morning I realized serious problems with the name or had thought of something better.
When you have your domain name figured out, wait until after the next step (finding hosting) before you register as it’s possible that your hosting company will register it for you or maybe have a special allowing you to register it cheaper. Later we’ll talk about registering your domain name so jump ahead if you already have hosting figured out, or go to the next step (finding hosting).
Feel free to ask me about your domain name. I’ll be happy to give you my thoughts for free. I might not know your industry and thus probably not the best to comment, but I’ll try to play devil’s advocate and see if there is anything I could think of that might cause you problems with your name.