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Choosing a domain name

Here is an excerpt from my post Domain Name Insanity – Does Your Name Really Matter?:

I would try to come up with my own name before I bought someone else’s. Here are some tips:

1. Try to go with a .com. It’s the name everyone associates with the Internet. Any other Top Level Domain (TLD) like .org or .net is just going to confuse people, unless it sounds better than the .com. For example, if you are about networking or a network, a .net is more natural. If your site is informational, you should use .info if it sounds okay. One of my favorite $10 domains is seosecrets.info. I think it sounds good. Hands down the most ingenious use of a TLD is del.icio.us, the social bookmarking site. The use of the .us TLD is absolutely brilliant.

2. Leave out the dashes and meaningless numbers. If it’s a choice between this-domain.com, thisdomain123.com and thisdomain.net, take the .net. No one remembers to put the dashes or the numbers in, unless they are an integral part of the name like studio54.com or e-books.com.

3. Use the fewest letters possible to describe what you do. I own Purple Monkey Media Group. Purplemonkey.com would have been perfect. It’s taken, of course. Purplemonkeymedia.com was not. I grabbed it. I could have taken purplemonkeymediagroup.com, but it would have been too long. Remember, every additional letter is a potential typing error.

4. If you have a domain name that needs to be reinforced, get a good logo and sprinkle it liberally on your web site, along with some slogan that will reinforce the name in people’s minds. You would be surprised at how inexpensive this can be.

5. If you can save a few bucks with your own domain name or by buying a cheaper domain name, do it, and use the money to get yourself placed higher in the search results or Adsense placement.

6. If you can’t come up with a descriptive domain name, go the other way. Depending on your site’s focus, pick a memorable short name that will stick in people’s minds, get a great logo and include the name prominently in your advertising and marketing. It’s called branding, and it’s tried and true.

7. Ask your wife, friend, boyfriend, husband, dog, lawyer, associate, Mom, Dad, cousin, uncle, Police Chief, blog writer. They’re smarter than you anyway, and they are going to be the one looking for the site, not you. Some of my best ideas have come going to or from somewhere with my wife and just brainstorming.

Here’s the bad news: it may take you a while to come up with the right name. There’s more good news though — in the real world most domain names sell for $1,000 or less.

Can’t get started? — Go to a site that sells domain names (here’s mine), and put in a word that describes your business. See if the name is taken (it probably will be). Open your word processor or go to thesaurus.com and put the word in. Get a few more words. Check those. If there’s a .com available and it looks good, grab it. If not, add the word site or blog or online to your word, and see if that works. Don’t wait. If you think it might be useable, spend the $9.00. I came up with blogduck.com. I liked it. I decided to think about it some more. Someone grabbed it that afternoon. Just chisel loose the nine bucks (or less) and buy the domain.

If you want something a little more sophisticated there are several sites that are good for helping you come up with a name, like DomainsBot and Nameboy.

If you draw a blank, go over to Sedo or Afternic and see what’s for sale. Search for a word that describes what you think people will associate the name of your site with, and see what pops up. That may give you some ideas.

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