A to Z of Domain Name Selection
Selecting a domain name, or web address, is the most important task you
will undertake when moving your business online. Here's an A to Z
guide, which should help you choose the right domain names for your
*A* is for Acronyms - If you have a company name that is long or just
plain difficult to spell, should you still use it as your domain name?
Probably not. A better idea is to use an acronym. They are becoming so
popular that go-ahead companies are even renaming themselves so they
can use a snappy acronym for their web site, proof of the power of the
web if ever proof was still needed. For example, Anderson Consulting™
have renamed themselves to just AC, and their domain name is ac.com.
Intelligent Finance™ are if.com and Major League Baseball™ are mlb.com.
Due to their popularity and obvious scarcity, two and three letter dot
com acronyms are getting very expensive, but many four letter acronyms
are still available for nothing more than the registration fee.
*B* is for Benefits - It's well known amongst marketing experts that
people don't buy products, they buy benefits.
Let's say for example that you are setting up a site to sell holidays to
Thailand. Obvious choices for names might be VisitThailand.com or
DestinationThailand.com. Both are reasonable enough, but they don't
offer the user any tangible benefit, or reason why they should be
buying the product.
A much better name is ExoticThailand.com. The beauty of this
benefit-based name is that you are offering the user something
tangible, an exotic experience. The sales process has begun right in the
domain name itself, and you are half way towards capturing the sale.
*C* is for Characters - The only characters that a domain name can
contain are letters, numbers, and hyphens. Spaces and other special
characters are not allowed. Domain names are not case-sensitive, so
BestBuys.com and bestbuys.com are the same name, and can never point to
Although hyphens are allowed in domains, there is a golden rule to
follow here: It's OK to register a name with hyphens in, but only if
you also register the hyphen-free version. The reason is simple. Most
customers will remember a name that they have seen advertised on TV or
in a magazine, but forget whether or not it contained hyphens. So if
your site is called Tasty-Cakes.com, a typical web user recalling the
name from memory will just type TastyCakes.com into their browser. If
you haven't registered the hyphen-free version, you will be losing a
large percentage of customers. And if a competitor is devious enough to
have registered the hyphen-free version (and they often are) you will be
spending advertising dollars sending your customers to a competitor's
site. Enough said.
*D* is for Dot com - Dot com names are the gold standard on the
Internet. Millions of advertising dollars have already been spent
persuading customers that Dot com names are the only names worth having.
The latest web browsers will even default to Dot com if no extension is
specified. Always register the Dot com version of your name, even if you
choose to register others.
*E* is for Extensions - But what about other extensions? Dot net, Dot
org, Dot com. Which ones should you register? Our advice is to try to
register at least the Dot net version of your name, possibly the Dot org
And if you are a company operating outside the United States, you should
definitely register your country-specific domain. For example, in the
UK, you would register the Dot co.uk version.
By registering several domain name extensions, you are preventing name
space dilution. If you owned a site called TastyCakes.com, and a
competitor registered TastyCakes.co.uk, TastyCakes.net etc. many of your
customers would end up visiting your competitor's site by mistake.
*F* is for Free Domains - Some companies will try to persuade you that
you don't actually need your own domain name, and you can get away with
renting a free sub-directory of their name. So, for example, if your
business is based around silk products, you could easily get a free
domain such as FreeWebSites.com/PureSilk/
There are several compelling reasons why you should not accept such a
- By using a free service, you will make a bad first impression with
your customers, and transmit the message that your website isn't
important enough to have its own name.
- Free names are inevitably going to be longer, and hence more
difficult to remember than real ones.
- Customers visiting your free site will be subjected to pop-up boxes
containing advertisements and other rubbish.
- Search engines are starting to give higher priority to sites which
have their own domain names. Some will even refuse to list sites
which don't have their own domains.
- Using a free domain is probably the worst mistake that you can make
when setting up your business online. Don't do it.
*G* is for Generic - If you can get hold of a generic domain name for
your business, you have a great marketing edge. Generic names are easy
to remember, but their killer advantage is that they produce a regular
flow of potential customers to your site without you having to spend a
dollar on marketing.
A recent case illustrates the point beautifully. The publishers of a
computer game starring Brazilian soccer start Ronaldo have offered
150,000 US Dollars to the owner of the name Ronaldo.com. The publisher
was quoted as saying “Anyone searching for information on Ronaldo,
whether it is about the forthcoming PlayStation game or any other
related merchandise, is automatically going to www.ronaldo.com. If we
don't secure the name in the next two weeks, we are going to have to
spend considerably more on Internet advertising than we would have if we
had owned www.ronaldo.com.
And generic names need not be limited to single words. Many people
interested in the Thai language for example will try typing
ThaiLanguage.com into their browser before resorting to the search
engine lottery. To summarize: generic name = free customers.
*H* is for Hosting - Having a domain name without web space is like
having an address without a home. This is what hosting is all about,
where your name is parked at a server computer on the Internet, so that
other Internet users can access your website.
Nowadays, it's possible to register a domain well before you have a
website ready or found a computer to host it on. You are reserving the
name for future use. This is a great benefit, as it means you can
register the name when you think of it, not when you have found a
server to host the site on.
*I* is for Identity - Your domain name is your identity in the new
digital economy. Be very careful to pick the right domain names for
your business before going online. Being forced to find a new identity
after launch is a very time-consuming and costly business.
*J* is for Just A Minute - We sometimes get contacted by parties who say
things like “Just a minute, we've been trading successfully for the
last year under the name 4MikesWindows.net. What you're doing is a
The truth is that a poor choice of name will always reduce the number of
visitors (and hence customers) to your website. Sure, you can still run
a successful online business with a lousy name, but your business will
always do better with a good name. And what happens when a competitor
comes along with a much better name?
*K* is for KISS - "Keep it Simple, Stupid" Use easy to spell words. Use
easy to pronounce words. Limit names to two words if possible, three
words as an absolute maximum. Remember the idea is to create domain
names people can easily remember and just as easily type into their
*L* is for Length - Domain names can now be up to sixty seven characters
in length, but we would never advise you to register a name anywhere
near that. The golden rule of selecting a good name is short is sweet.
Would you like to type a sixty seven character domain string into a
browser? No, and neither does anybody else.
*M* is for Multiple Spellings - Some popular English language words are
spelt differently around the English-speaking world. For instance,
Jewelry (US) Vs Jewellery (UK). If you have an international business,
make sure you register all of the different spellings.
*N* is for Now! Register your preferred names now! Otherwise someone
*O* is for Offline - Don't forget that your primary domain name will be
used extensively offline as well as online. It will appear on your
company letterhead, business cards, advertisements in newspapers,
magazines, radio and TV. Your goal should be to familiarize all your
existing customers with your domain, and plant the name in the minds of
new customers. Now are you getting the idea of the importance of domain
names really are?
*P* is for Purchase - The majority of domain names already registered
are not in fact owned by parties looking to develop a web site, but by
entrepreneurs hoping to sell the name on for a profit.
GreatDomains.com, Afternic.com & BoxDomains.com are domain name auction
sites where hundreds of thousands of names are listed for sale by
resellers, eager to turn a quick profit. So should you be prepared to
buy a name rather than register a new one? In principle, yes. The
domain name aftermarket is now a huge legitimate business, which is
growing incredibly quickly. But whether you choose to go that route
will depend on many things:
But in principle, if a great name is available from a reseller at a
reasonable price, the extra traffic it will generate will quickly repay
the initial investment. And don't be put off by the headline sale
prices, such as the $7.5 million paid for Business.com. Most names can
be had for well under a thousand US dollars. If you can see the benefits
of purchasing a name, take a look at our innovative DomainPurchase™
- Is the name available for sale significantly better than a name that
is still unregistered?
- How much would the domain name cost to buy from a reseller?
- How quickly do you need the name? If you are inexperienced in
purchasing domain names, the process can drag on for two
months or longer.
*Q is for Questions*
If you have any questions for us, please email Info@DomainGuideBook.com.
*R* is for Registration - Domain name registration is the process
whereby you pay a fee in order to reserve a name for current or future
use. Each country has its own registration process and fee structures
vary accordingly, but you can expect to register a name for $70 or less
for a 2-year period.
*S* is for Search Engines - Some site developers have started
registering names containing keywords relevant to their site. So, for
example a site selling cars might register a name like
Cars-For-Sale-Car-Dealer-Buy-Car.com. They do so in the belief that it
will boost their search engine rankings. However, there is little or no
evidence to support this assertion. Our advice is to save your money.
Something that definitely is true about most search engines is that they
list domain names in lower case, whether you submitted them in lower,
upper, or mixed case. So BeDaring.com would turn into bedaring.com when
viewed as output from a search engine. Please be careful :)
*T* is for Trademarks -Trademarks are a very complex legal entity, but
they are also a very important mechanism for protecting your identity
online. We recommend NameProtect.com which provides an excellent range
of trademark services, including trademark searching, trademark
registration, and a free trademark monitoring service.
*U* is for URL - People will sometimes ask you “What's your URL?”. URL
is an acronym for Universal Resource Locator, but is often used
interchangeably with domain name, Internet address, or web address.
*V* is for Voice Recognition - Already in parts of Japan, more people
are surfing the web on their mobile phones than from conventional PCs.
Voice recognition technology has now come of age, and will be used to
power many of the next generation browsers. So use easily pronounced
words for your name, don't use misspellings or hyphens. If your website
is called 2B-TheBest.com, don't expect any visitors from voice -powered
*W* is for World Wide Web - Remember, the names you select will have
global visibility, so use words which people can relate to globally.
BobsAutoMall.com might go down well in the States, but would be
virtually meaningless to UK netizens.
*X* is for X-Rated Domains - If your domain contains offensive words,
don't be surprised if you end up in deep water, especially if your
website is aimed at a general audience. Play it safe, and avoid domain
names which are 'too' controversial.
*Y* is for Yet To Come - The Internet is changing at lightning speed.
Yesterday's news seems like old news. Domain names are no exception. To
catch up on the industry buzz, just visit our live domain name news-feed
*Z* is for ZZZX.com - a rarely visited web site. Yahoo! lists site in
alphabetical order in its directory, so poor old ZZZX.com will not get
many visitors from the most popular search engine on the Web.
About the Author:
VR Lee Hodgson is founder and owner of http://DomainGuideBook.com
a firm which specializes in helping small businesses choose and
register the best domain names for their web sites. To subscribe to
the Domain Guide Book newsletter, "Your trusted source for domain
names news", just send a blank email to
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