First, congratulations on your decision to start a new website! But you probably haven’t yet made up your mind on the right name for your upcoming online venture, be it personal or commercial.
Well, I have been there before many times and with the endless choices available, the process of choosing the perfect domain name for your website can get quite frustrating and mentally stressing. The following are some of the best tips I can give to anyone looking for an appealing domain name.
Note: I am assuming that you do not have a specific brand for your project, otherwise it will probably be the best choice for your domain name.
1. “.Com” is Still The King of TLDs
There is a never-ending debate among webmasters on whether the “.com” is the best TLD (Top-Level Domain, aka domain name extension) or others are also just as good. And with the recent availability of many generic TLDs (like .shop, .online, .food, .games, etc.), things got even more confusing when it comes to settling on a specific TLD for your name.
The fact is, .com is still the most popular and kind of “default” extension for websites, both commercial and personal ones. If you tell someone your website’s name without the TLD/extension, then the first thing they are going to assume and try is “name”.com.
Personally, I almost always go with a .com regardless of the purpose of the website. It just “feels” more official and credible than any other publicly available TLD out there, and it is easier to remember. Even if your website is personal, you can’t go wrong with a .com, because one day you may decide to turn it into a commercial project — you never know!
2. Consider a Two-Word Name
Since most one-word and acronym domain names are taken, at least the ones that make any sense, the next available option is a two-word name.
You can also consider a three-word (or more) name, but then it becomes very long and hard to remember. A two-word name (or two words + a preposition if necessary) can be highly brandable, easy to remember, and there are so many excellent available names to have your pick from.
Don’t restrict your options to keyword-rich names as most of those are already taken. Think outside of the box and think brandable!
For example, instead of “BestTastyRecipes.com”, which sounds rather childish, go with “RecipeVault.com” or “FoodDecoder.com”, which sound more professional and authoritative — if you are starting a serious website.
3. Use Synonyms and Antonyms
A lot of times you will find that your first considerations are all not available, but that doesn’t mean you should look for something completely different yet. Try to replace one word (or more) with one of its synonyms (words with similar or close meaning). Alternatively, you can replace a word with one of its antonyms (words of opposite meaning).
You may actually end up with a better, shorter and more interesting name. For example, instead of “SmartPhones.com”, how about “StupidPhones.com”? In fact, I find the latter name more intriguing!
And don’t be afraid to use negative words, such as “Rotten Tomatoes” or “Dummy Webmaster” 🙂
You can use any search engine or dictionary to look for synonyms and antonyms.
4. Avoid Dashes and Numbers
Although numbers and dashes (hyphens) are allowed to be used in domain names, most experts would advise against using them unless there is no other choice.
Both dashes and numbers in a domain name look unprofessional and make it trickier to remember. Dashes were widely used in domains more than a decade ago, especially in keyword-rich names, but today they are obsolete and disadvantageous.
5. Leave Room for Future Growth
When launching a brand new website you might want to target one specific niche within a larger market. An example would be selling or promoting WordPress plugins, in which case you may think of going with a name like “WP Plugins” or “Plugin World”.
Now these names sound great, but what if later on you decide you want to expand your business and cover other categories like WordPress themes, design services, hosting services, etc? You could of course continue to use the same domain name, but it would be irrelevant and thus look less professional/credible. And some potential customers may avoid it even before entering the website.
It would be wiser to start off with a broader name, and maybe a brandable one such as “King Of WP”. Although you can make it all about WordPress plugins for starters, you can still expand the website at any time in the future to cover other WordPress topics/products and the name will remain relevant.
6. Don’t Pay for Premium Names
There are many marketplaces for domain names where “premium” names are sold for hundreds, thousands, and even millions of dollars. Those are mostly keyword-rich names that consist of one or two in-demand keywords. And the more competitive the keyword the higher the price.
Some years ago, keywords in the domain name played a major role in its rankings in search engines. So everyone wanted the best keyword-focused name for their website, and many were willing to fork out a hefty amount of money for it as it did pay off in search engine rankings.
Sadly (for domainers) and luckily (for everyone else), that has changed. Today, the keywords used in the domain name have almost no effect on the website’s ranking in search engines, but rather it is the content of the website that determines how well it ranks in search results regardless of the domain name.
I strongly advise against buying any of the so-called “premium” names, many of which are owned by cybersquatters (domain squatters) hoping to hit the jackpot by selling their domains for 100 or 1000 times the price they paid for it.
There is always a perfect name for your project that is available for registration at the normal registration cost. Keyword-rich domains are no longer as important as they once where for ranking in search engines. Save your money for something more useful, such as getting high quality and relevant content for your website, which is the only way you can achieve solid and lasting high rankings in Google and other search engines today.
I hope these tips will help you choose a winning domain name for your website. Good luck!