Tips for finding a great domain name

One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make when getting a website is picking the right domain name. That can be especially tough since the web has been around for a while and most of your first ideas are going to be taken, but don’t despair…getting a decent domain name is still possible. Here’s a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Keep your name as short and simple as possible
  2. Don’t pick names with letter than can be misspelled
  3. Pick something that’s easy to remember
  4. Keyword driven domains are better

So stay away from domains with letters that can be spelled or pronounced in different ways…or names that can mean two different things. For example words like scent and cent mean totally different things, but are pronounced similarly…it’s best to do those in context (with another word that makes it obvious which one you mean).

A good way to find out if a domain name is easy to remember is to tell someone what it is, then ask them an hour or a day later if they remember it…this is the best test of any potential domain name.

What’s a keyword driven domain?

A keyword driven domain is a domain name with words that are key search words. Engines like Google will take keywords in a URL into account when ranking your site. A good domain name with words that are relevant to your business is better than something arbitrary.

Isn’t everything good taken?

Yes…and no. A lot of good stuff is taken, but there are lots of tools that make it easy to find alternatives. One of my favorites is Bust A Name.

Bust a name lets you combine words and even features a built in thesaurus that can give you alternatives for existing names. The site uses AJAX to try different combinations and find out if any of them are available in real-time. Plus it lets you do a search by adding things like the letter i, e or my, the, etc. It’s how I ended up with the domain iviewsource…viewsource was already taken, but iViewSource was a nice alternative.

Check out some of the other tools you can use and see bust-a-name in action in this video from my lynda.com series Managing a Hosted Website.

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