A domain name is the unique label that defines who you are and what you do on the web, even before someone can see your web site. Your domain name is the very first thing a visitor or potential customer knows about your web site. The domain name is also your first mean of communicating to others where you or your organization can be reached online and being able to communicate this in a way that is both easy, meaningful (and therefore memorable) should be the goal of any smart web publisher. But how do you go about finding and selecting the best domain name for your web site?
Photo credit: Kadir Karcioglu
While this may seem a trivial task, most people often forget all the options and variables to consider when making such a choice, leaning more on what they like or feel good with rather than with what may actually be their best marketing investment.
For example, if your website is called www.greatimages.com, people can already expect what they will get when reaching it, and thus a domain name that is clear and descriptive of what you do can indeed play a major role to help new contacts come to your site knowing ahead of time what they can expect to find.
Realizing you have selected a bad or ineffective domain name, maybe a gigantic pain once your site is launched and has already gained good traffic and links from other sites, and though it can be done, I wouldn't recommend it to the worst of my friends.
So, what can you do to choose the best, ideal, most effective domain name for your web site or blog?
To help you identify what should be your key steps in selecting your domain name, I have called into my studio and in front of my video camera a true expert of what it takes to find and register the best domain names out there. He is so good at this that he has even made a super-successfull business out of it. So much so that its "engine" now powers the top registration sites in the world.
If you go to Register.com or GoDaddy.com, which are the most popular domain registration services in the world, you may be surprised to know, that a clever analysis and suggestion software runs behind their front end widgets to help you rapidly identify the most appropriate domain name alternatives available for your web site. The name of the company behind those suggestion engines is DomainsBot and I have invited his CEO, Emiliano Pasqualetti, to illustrate and explain to you what are the most critical aspects to pay attention to when selecting a new domain name.
In this guide to select your ideal web domain name you will get answers to the following questions:
If you want to find out how to avoid stupid mistakes, to understand the true value of selecting an appropriate domain name, to come up with a great domain name for your web site, this MasterNewMedia guide, will help you get some solid advice in this direction.
Here is Emiliano Pasqualetti recommendations:
I was born and raised in Rome and I graduated at the university of Rome "La Sapienza" in management engineering.
I am married with my beautiful wife and during the last year she has been pretty much the most of my passion.
We really like to travel around the world together, we would like to travel more and more.
I would definitely say that this is my biggest special right now.
Before choosing your best domain name, first of all of course you have to choose your registrar, the online company that will allow you to get your domain name.
There ar very simple rules about choosing a registrar:
One of the biggest threat in losing your domain name is that you lose it by accident, for instance you forget to renew your domain name.
Automatic renewal, domain lock, ease of navigation, these are all good signs that this registrar is the one you want to choose.
Of course, then it gets to the price.
Compare prices: you can really find domain names from six dollars to 45 dollars.
There is always a reason why the registrars price domain names differently, but don't stop at the first glance.
Look beyond the first registration price and take care of important aspects like domain renewal fees, how much will it cost to renew your domain name in 12 months.
Also, look at hidden fees like transfer fees, which we don't really like. You want to be free to transfer your domain name wherever you want without paying anything.
There are also very important services like privacy, WHOIS privacy. Usually there is a fee on it, but sometimes you can get it for free if you register more domain names.
Take a look at all the fees, but also at the hidden fees and think that you are probably going to keep your domain name for a long time, so don't stop at the first instance.
There is no doubt that the biggest registrar in the world is GoDaddy, it is the biggest one in terms of registrations, but also incredibly the fastest growing registrar. They are really doing a great job.
Their prices are competitive, you can find a .COM domain name for 10 dollars and also there are interesting bulk discounts opportunities.
They definetely are an interesting registrar, but of course there are plenty of registrars.
For instance, I can mention Name.com, which is one of the very interesting registrars for domainers - guys that want to buy a large amount of domain names.
Also, among the top five registrars I can mention there are NSI, which offers a wide variety of services, there is Tucows, with its huge amount of resellers, they offer you very tailored customized solutions and there is Register.com, very popular for businesses and small businesses.
Of course there are generic recommendations to choose your domain name.
For instance, try to keep you domain name very short. Usually the highest value in domain names is for domain names of one or for maximum two keywords.
It is very difficult that a great domain name is made of more than two keywords.
My recommendation is to keep it short, to keep it simple and for instance
When you try to understand if a domain name really sounds good, try to imagine that you are telling your friend by phone your domain name. How easy is that?
If your friend really gets it simple, that could be really a good domain name.
Apart from that, the choice of a domain name is really influenced of what you want to do with it.
If you are a business, there are very important rules that you should take care of.
First of all, .COM is the king. When you think about a website, you naturally link it to a .COM domain name.
Whatever you want to do, even if you want to have a no-profit organization, so maybe a .ORG would be the best domain name, please be sure to secure your .com too.
For instance, for MasterNewMedia.org, Robin didn't forget to register the .COM and then forward it to his main site.
Keep in mind that .COM is still the king, but also keep in mind there are other TLD, extensions alternative to the .COM that could be very relevant in specific cases.
I want to mention two very good domain names that are doing pretty well: .MOBI, which is a TLD that is dedicated to mobile phone devices. If you want your website to be immediately linked to the navigation to your mobile, consider the .MOBI.
There is also the .TEL, which is actually a very innovative domain name.
You cannot have your website on a .TEL. There is a web page, it is pretty standard and on the .TEL you update your personal information, your contacts, your business information.
For instance, if you want to know my mobile number, where I am somewhere in the world and I have a new mobile number, go on Emiliano.tel and you will find my updated information there.
If you are not an American company, especially if you are an European or Asian Company, you should consider also the TLD of your country. .IT for Italy, .DE for Germany, also .EU or .ASIA if you want to go to the macro-area of your continent.
A domain name is a very essential part of your marketing, and I am talking right now for a second imaging you are thinking about your business.
Why your domain name is so important for your business? There is a very simple reason.
Domain names are a scarce resource. Very limited.
There are over 100 million of domain names registered today, and if you simply compare this number with the number of trademarks which are registered, you can see that is way more difficult to find a good domain name.
The importance of the domain name is mainly related to its value as the brand of your business.
For the very same reason, domain names are very valuable as assets that can be bought and sold on the aftermarket.
If the domain name you want is already taken, you have basically three options.
Another aspect of this process is that you can go to your registrar of choice and you may ask the registrar itself to try to contact the current owner of this domain name and to try to get it for you, to negotiate a transfer for you.
If you are not willing to wait too much, there are two very interesting options.
As I mentioned before a domain name is an asset, so maybe some guys around there, they both have domain names that are really relevant for what you are looking for and is giving you the option to buy this domain name for 500 dollars, 1,000 dollars.
Think about what do you want to do and how important is this domain name for you. The spend could be very worth it.
It really depends. You can buy cheap domain names for even less the cost of the registration. Let's take as an example a .COM.
A .COM usually costs about eight dollars, it can go from about 10 to 11 dollars, but in some cases you can buy a .COM for 40 or 50 dollars. It really depends from the service that the registrar is providing you to get away with the registration fee.
If you really want to go cheap, you can find domain names for about eight / nine dollars per year.
Registering for more than one year really decreases the risk that you forget to renew the fee, so it minimizes the risk to lose that domain name.
Of course SEO is really an alchemy, it is an art, it is not predictable, and especially there is no single reason that you can succeed in SEO, but in the domain name industry we definitely believe that registering a domain name for more years is a good sign for search engines.
I would like to mention that Google became an ICANN-accredited registrar a few years ago, so it means that Google has a lot of information about domain names, and even if we may not say that this is the most important thing to do, maybe registering a domain name for more than one year - for instance for 10 years - could definitely be a good thing for your website.
Registering alternative domain name extensions really depends on how much you are willing to invest in your brand.
I would definitely recommend to explore all the different TLDs that are relevant for your business.
There are local TLDs, meaning that if you are in the US, maybe you can consider .US apart from .COM - which is the official American ccTLD.
There are also some other TLDs: for example, the national extension of Laos, which is an Asian country, is .LA, and this TLD has been very used to market the city of Los Angeles.
Maybe you can explore that direction too, be creative and really secure assets around your domain.
Apart from that, the domain community is really looking forward to the release of tens of new TLDs that hopefully will come around in one or two years. You will have in the future the opportunity to choose among very different TLDs.
If you are a car dealer, maybe there will be .CAR available for you to consider as an investment for your main website.
Also, there are some people who think that as long as we keep .COM as the king of domain names, this domain names will soon run out.
Right today it is so much difficult to find a nice .COM available and this is partially why we entered in the business. But there's one important thing to keep in mind.
There are a lot of very good domain names out there that there are not available for registration, but they are available for sale.
You may want to consider to buy a domain name that someone is putting for sale at 1,000 / 2,000 dollars if that domain name is what you really want and if you have a good idea on how to make money out of that domain name.
I could say that thanks to the aftermarket - the process of buying and selling domain names - probably domain names will have a long life after all.
Each country can decide the basic price for the TLD.
The way they do this is that there is also always a trade-off between making a domain name very popular, but also very cheap, or keeping a domain name a bit eliterian - meaning that if you are willing to pay so much money for this domain name it means that you are really a company, you have serious intentions and there are no cheap domain names going around.
There are two levels. Each country can decide specific regulations and, trust me, pricing is not the first regulation they use to make it a popular or an eliterian name space.
Sometimes the big problem is that if you are not a resident of that country you can actually not register that domain name, and that is the most important limitation - I am thinking about Australia for instance.
Then on top of that of course, there is the registrar, that charges different amounts of money, and this could really depend as usual to the service level they provide you.
You always have to think about how much focus and attention you want to put on your main domain name.
You know that growing a domain name and make it popular is a hard job.
What I would definitely recommend is to consider buying different domain names for different countries and eventually redirect them to the international page that you have created for your web site. That would definitely help you marketing this international version of your web site.
Think about a Brazilian guy running on Google search and looking for a domain name that is a Brazilian domain name: he may think that content is relevant for him and he may appreciate that. Then you have to show him relevant content for his search.
Domain names can once again make the difference in your marketing strategy.
The biggest mistake of all is that you let your domain name drop by mistake. This can really happen so much, you don't even know about that.
The biggest threat in losing your domain name is that usually this is not an external threat. It is not really someone wanting to steal your domain name.
Sometimes you don't renew your domain name.
Of course, if you don't pay the renewal fee, the registrar will let your domain name expire. It becomes available again and someone else can snap it and take your domain name away from you.
The most important thing to do is to lock your domain name when you register it and you enter in your registrar administration panel, be sure you lock your domain name, which means the domain name cannot be transferred without your explicit authorization.
Another important thing to do is to always keep your record updated.
The registrar will always try to inform you if the domain name is going to expire, but this is not possible if you don't update your email, or if you don't put your main email in the WHOIS record or you don't give this information to your registrar.
Keep that in mind: Update your information and use your main information, otherwise you really risk to lose your domain name by mistake.
One of the biggest problems in managing domain names is that you may lose domain name by mistake, simply because you forgot you have to renew this domain name on the specific registrar.
One of the basic tip I would recommend you is to consolidate your domain name on a limited number of registrars - that would make managing domain names very easier, I would say.
Another thing that a few people know about is that some registrars offer you a very interesting opportunity of consolidating the expiration date of your domain name.
Imagine you have 1000 domain names and each of them expires on a different date. If you do not use auto-renewal system - which I strongly recommend you to use - you may risk to have to renew domain names every day, which you do not want to do.
One interesting thing is to consolidate all the expiration dates, so that you know that on that specific date you have to renew your domain name and you can really save some time.
Apart from that, as I mentioned, locking your domain name could be a good thing, unless you are willing to sell your domain name, so to facilitate the transfer of your domain name, be always sure that you lock your domain name so that it is almost impossible to transfer this domain name without you explicit authorization, which will make you comfortable.
Locking your domain name is very simple and somehow intuitive on the registrar that offers you this specific option.
Just to mention - once again, because it is the biggest one - if you go on GoDaddy and you go on your domain management area, you can see a column with a specific icon of a lock that you can simply click and say: "Yes, I do want to lock my domain name". It's as easy as that.
Of course, each registrar has a different way to allow you to lock the domain name, but it shouldn't be really difficult. Just go on your domain management area and you will find all the options there.
There is also another interesting aspect of domain names that is becoming more and more popular, not only for expert or professional of domain names, but for simple people like us.
When you are looking for a domain name sometimes you can really meet by chance domain names that you think are really good domain and maybe you think about that because you have information that nobody else have, like for instance you are in a niche of the market and you understand that that specific domain name is really the product or service that describes what you are doing.
In that case I would definitely recommend you to consider to buy that domain name and to put it for sale.
Selling a domain name is not as difficult as you may imagine. There are plenty of solutions out there.
There are a lot of websites that allow you to do that, for instance Sedo that is the largest marketplace for buying and selling domain names.
Once again I would like to mention GoDaddy, they already have their marketplace which is called TDNAM, but also other registrars are doing this as well.
Buying and selling a domain name could be definitely easier than expect, so give it a try and start understanding if you can really make money out of your under-developed asset.
We all know that developing each domain name could be too difficult, too time-consuming, so why not consider selling them?
It's very important that you consider as an investment to build and reinforce your brand, to consider the registration of domain names that are really relevant for what you are doing.
I'll give you an example.
Yesterday I was talking with a lawyer who is specialized in patents and he redirected me to his web site
www.patent.org. That made him very reliable and trustworthy.
Whatever you do, whatever product you sell, whatever niche you are working in, be sure to at least find and try to secure domain names that contain these keywords.
This is really relevant for two aspects:
Search engines really love to see the keyword that the user was looking for inside the domain name that presented the user.
This can really make the difference to your marketing efforts.
If you want to see all the videos of Emiliano in one shot, Robin and I have created for you this video playlist that collects all the clips inside this guide for you to enjoy in one deep breath.
Video clips originally recorded by Robin Good. First published on March 29th, 2010 as How To Find And Choose The Best Domain Name For Your Web Site
About Emiliano Pasqualetti
Emiliano Pasqualetti is CEO and co-owner of DomainsBot, a company that specializes in providing semantic technologies applied to the domain industry. He previously spent more than two years inside DomainsBot as COO taking care of part of the business development, R&D on the business side and organizing the synchronization between the business and technical department.
Originally written by Robin Good and first published on MasterNewMedia.Robin Good -