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How to Choose a Domain Name and the Best Tools That Can Help You

Many business owners and Internet entrepreneurs rush in by registering a domain without too much thinking or doing enough research about the domain name they bought. While we should note that a domain name isn’t the most important factor in the success of your website and how high it will rank on Google, it is important enough that you should look into it and optimize the name to suit your business as best as possible.So how does one choose a domain name that is good? We will go over some good tips and the do’s and dont’s of choosing a domain name and review some of the best tools you can get for this task. Let us get started!

How to Choose a Domain Name Based On Keywords

If you are starting a blog, for example, in the niche “home insurance reviews” your primary task is to find several keywords you want your business to focus on. Don’t aim too high as there are some keywords that you may not be able to rank first due to hard competition, but you can always find some unique keywords that have little competition. You can use Google Insights for free to check the popularity of a keyword for the worldwide web or even specific regions and countries. This is the beginning of answering the question: how to choose a domain properly? Use this powerful tool to narrow down the important keywords for you business. You can use these keywords to come up with an interesting domain name that is pretty straightforward. Maybe somethings like “BestHomeInsuranceUK.com” if your service is region specific? Sure it may sound too common at first, but with enough brainstorming you can get something rather unique that is based on your keywords.

choosing domain name with help of google insights

Google Insights Control Panel

Choose a Unique Domain Name

Don’t try to get a domain that sounds like a different version of something that already exists and is quite popular. Imagine that you are in a business that deals in Forex and stock trading online and you main competition is MoezStocks.com. Do not be one of those who will get a domain like StockMoz.com or anything similar. The fact that a similar site (in terms of domain name) existed before yours means that you will stay in their shadow and your brand or business will not rank as high as you want it. In some cases you can even have legal issues with this!

So how to choose a domain name that is unique for your online brand? Do research and brainstorming, think about the field you are in and terms that are related to it that may be humorous or smart references.

Most of the time You Should Go For a .com Extension

Another thing we should points out is that  you should choose your domain name

domain-name-hierarchy

Domain Name Popularity

extension carefully. Your TLD (top-level domain) should be something that works good for your business or blog and most of the time this is a .com domain. If you have no practical use of a domain such as .tv or .me then don’t go for it. Also, people almost instinctively type in .com when they try to search for a website directly. What if you used a cheaper .info domain and suddenly lost a valuable client just because of that? For this reason you should also consider domain forwarding as a good idea. Register the same name with .net and .org extensions and have them forward to your main .com site. A lot of popular sites do this and it really helps them gather traffic.

Interesting fact: Here is how a company named Domainr made their domain name: domai.nr and it’s pretty good-looking and a nice use of a not so popular TLD. If you can combine your brands name with a TLD then you can have yourself a pretty nice brand.

Keep it Short and Simple

While a domain name like BestHomeInsuranceInWesternEngland.co.uk looks pretty straightforward it is something you should avoid. If your domain name is focused on a particular keyword then don’t add too many unnecessary keywords to the combo. Up to three should be quite enough. If you, however, are building your own brand name than go for a clear and simple name like Hotmail.com. Just by reading it  you already have a good idea on what the site is about. A name like Zillow.com doesn’t really ring any bells and requires a lot more work to brand and promote.

The Do’s and Dont’s of Choosing a Domain Name

Armed with the knowledge of the chapters above we can create a general list of things you need to avoid and the things you must take note off when choosing a domain name.

The Do’s:

  • Research the keywords of the niche and choose a few that would go well
  • Go for a .com if no other extension name explains the purpose of your site in any other special way.
  • Still buy a .com domain even if your site is .org or .net do use it for redirecting. For example the popular site SEOmoz.org still has a .com version that redirects to the .org website.
  • Make your domain name as short and simple as possible. If you are building a brand (for example a blog about movies) then go for something original, but have it still be pretty self-understandable.
  • If needed you can use hyphens in your domain name and it may even improve your page rank on Google. For example, cheap-flights.com looks pretty good.

The Dont’s:

  • Never use long domain names that are hard to remember and type.
  • Do not include the letters q, z, x, p or w unless necessary as these are the letters people most commonly type incorrectly.
  • Never use slang in your domain name.
  • Avoid numbers and special characters. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use these to build a brand. For example, 9gag.com, uses numbers to make itself more unique and the “9” is a part of the brand and the title explains the purpose of the site well. However, a serious company should not do this.
  • If you do have to use a number try not to go for a zero. The 0 and O can sometimes be mistaken and you don’t want to lose traffic because of this.

Five Tools That Can Help You Choose a Domain Name

As promised we will also go over the tools that can be very useful in choosing your domain name. Google Insights is a good way to find the keywords, but won’t help you in arranging them and coming up with something unique. Here is our top 5 picks:

Domainr (http://domai.nr/) is a tool you don’t even have to download and is easy to use right away! You can use it to type in your keywords and get suggestion and then instantly check if the domain is available or on sale by the owner. It doesn’t provide you with too much ability to research, but it is one of the fastest domain searchers on the Internet and great for those situations when you are brainstorming and need to check something out really fast.

domainr

Tool Interface

dnScoop (http://www.dnscoop.com/) is a very interesting tool with several usages. You can use it to check some estimated values of your domain or website (which you already have) to get some insight in how you stand. But, there are also cases when somebody is offering you a domain they own and the price can seem to big. You can use this tool to see if the domain they are offering you is really worth it or just a scam.

Ajax Whois (http://ajaxwhois.com/) is a fresh, clean domain checker tool similar to Domainr with a free and instant WhoIs feature in case you want to contact the owner of a domain you think is for sale to inquire about the price.

Domain Tools (http://www.domaintools.com/) is a bit slower and less use friendly then Ajax Whois or Domainr, but has some of the functions they lack. They provide you with information on whether or not a domain name is registered, whois information and provide you with suggested names as well.

Dot-o-mator (http://www.dotomator.com/) helps you generate your website name and is great for those situations when you have writers block. Enter several keywords as prefixes and sufixes and the Dot-o-mator will generate suggestion and check if they are available.The tool also has some presets you can use as well.

Bonus Tip: Think About Domain Forwarding!

domain forwarding Another practical example of domain forwarding is this: imagine you register a name like TheCheapestHotelsInLondon.co.uk because you believe it will help in your rank on Google. In theory yes, but what if you wanted to promote this URL outside the Internet, how would be people be able to remember it? It is quite long, right? Why not register a domain name like HotelsLondon.com and have this redirect to your main web page? People who see it on signs or banners will remember it and will find the site easily. Here is another interesting use of domain forwarding you should consider if your site becomes very popular: a lot of people tend to spell a word in a domain incorrectly. Sometimes you can even make a mistake when writing something as simple as  “Google.com”. But the smart people and Google don’t want others to use this to their advantage so they registered even domain names like “Gooogle.com” or “Googl.com” so that they forward to their main site. A smart strategy.

By

Charlie Patel is a world traveler, WordPress geek, serial entrepreneur, & consultant to big-shots in the corporate world and on the web. Otherwise, he's just planning the next trip or in some far-away land. He runs WPsite.net (this awesome site!).

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38 Responses to How to Choose a Domain Name and the Best Tools That Can Help You

  1. Web and Mobile Design Reply

    May 23, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    This was really interesting. I’m doing web and mobile design and development design for about 5 years and found your information useful.

  2. Abhishek Reply

    June 11, 2012 at 1:25 AM

    Very useful information. Here are some more points that may interest you if you are currently choosing a domain name for your website.
    http://thetechweekly.com/article/how-to-choose-a-domain-name/

  3. NameStall Reply

    July 2, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    You can also try http://www.namestall.com/ for domain name suggestions and ideas. It has some great and advanced domain name generator and suggestions tools and surely you will like the site and tools. Thank you for this great informative post.

  4. Rupak Reply

    September 23, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Excellent post. Really got some amazing results.
    I used it during buying my domain name. Thanks.

    For quick reference, see the 4 Tips to Choose a perfect Domain Name for your Niche Site

    • WPsite.net Reply

      September 26, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      Thanks Rupak. Glad you found it useful.

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    January 20, 2013 at 5:15 PM

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  10. τεστ δυσανεξιας Reply

    February 5, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    very nice content , i wanted to ask if someone owns the domain dietitian-london.com , can i book the dietitianlondon.com??? do you know if there are any copyright problems?? is it bad to use ” – ” in the domain name???
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  11. Kurt Varner Reply

    February 12, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Thanks for the helpful tips! I use http://www.domainbark.com as an easy way to find available domain names.

    • WPsite.net Reply

      February 19, 2013 at 8:26 AM

      Thanks for the recommendation Kurt. Will play with that as I have some more domains to buy.

  12. Doma Ining Reply

    February 13, 2013 at 5:42 AM

    Excellent tips. I’d like to buy some domains at DomainKa.com and I could use your points in domain buying.

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  14. Ricardo Main Reply

    March 7, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    That’s a nice article! I think domainka.com is also pretty good for getting a domain name, I’ve used it with no prob. Their support isn’t that bad either.

  15. soufianet Reply

    March 27, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Hi
    I have 2 domaine names, what idea that can work for thoses domaines names ; http://www.pubest.com and http://www.uszik.com
    Thanks to share your experiences

    • WPsite.net Reply

      April 3, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      Unfortunately, neither appeals. Though, if I had to choose between the two, uszik would be it.

  16. priya Reply

    April 16, 2013 at 5:50 AM

    All those tools were are really helpful to find domain name for my business thanks a lot for the information.

    • WPsite.net Reply

      April 17, 2013 at 12:41 AM

      No problem Priya. Thanks for the comment. Much appreciated.

  17. Clyde Reply

    April 30, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    should your site be .com? :) instead of .net.

  18. Lauren Schack Reply

    May 3, 2013 at 6:15 AM

    Speaking of the top level domain name since this plays a large role in picking the right domain name for domain name registration; many experts have noted that before you go for a domain name registration, you should identify your top level domain. The .com is the most common top level domain that is used today, for it stands for commercial domains. Of course there are other types and each has its own uses and functions.:-

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  22. Dick Reply

    July 10, 2013 at 4:19 AM

    Here’s another tool for name brainstorming with a unique name validation feature which is helpful.

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    July 10, 2013 at 11:04 AM

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  26. Ghautham Reply

    October 27, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Domain name / company name are a vital part of marketing. The key is identifying key words that identify your brand and then look for names that evoke those key words or even include them. Whether or not that domain is available is a whole other issue.

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  28. AbhiM Reply

    December 23, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    nice article. one can even try for “Nameboy”, like i did for my website

  29. John Reply

    April 8, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Really interesting post. I was planning to have a number on my new domain name since most words are already taken after i read this i already have second thoughts but still want it since it shortens the domain name.

  30. JAMES Reply

    May 17, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    Thanks for sharing such useful information with us. I think domain is the foundation of every blog, website or company. Must be chosen wisely.

  31. Chester Reply

    June 7, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Hello there, Thanks for this very informative post. Im glad i got to read this blog before i chose my domain.

  32. WebStatsO Reply

    September 2, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    This is a really good guide for beginners and intermediate alike and for someone who wants to start a new blog/site. Thank you for this information you have parted with us.

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