How to Choose the Best Domain Name

A domain name is representative of the products you are selling, or the content of your website which should draw the visitor in to learn more about your website. Unfortunately, as the Internet continues to expand at a rapid rate, the shorter, more general domain names are currently being used. Therefore, when choosing the best domain name for your website, creativity must be part of the equation.

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Defining a Domain Name
Since domain names represent a specific computer on the Internet, it is important to select one that is different from the others. A domain name server (DNS) converts the domain name selected by a user into an IP address which specifies the exact location of the website. The DNS helps users navigate the vast Internet. Therefore, every computer plugged in to the Internet or any type of network has an IP address.
Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to remember specific IP addresses to popular websites. Therefore, the DNS serves Internet users by allowing a string of letters to be used in place of the IP address. Essentially, a domain name is a mnemonic device used to make Internet addresses easier to remember. If a user knows the IP address of a specific website, they have the option of inputting it into the browser and the site will appear.

Ten Methods
There are ten specific methods for choosing the best domain name. These include:
•    Pick a relevant name
•    Easy to type
•    Easy to remember
•    Find a unique name
•    Only choose specific extensions
•    Brainstorm keywords
•    Eliminate hyphens and numbers
•    Create a short name
•    Avoid infringement
•    Differentiate

Pick a Relevant Name
Only select a domain name that describes your website and is relevant to the subsequent content. Choosing a domain name that has nothing to do with your site will hurt you in the indexing of your website as well as during searches. Search engines are attempting to find the most relevant content based on a keyword or series of keywords. Therefore, if your domain name is not relevant, your site will appear toward the end of the list.

Easy to Type
The first method of selecting the best domain name is to think of an idea that will be easy for users to type. If a domain name requires extra attention for correct spelling and grammar, length and words that are not memorable, you should not select this name. Instead, think of an idea that can easily be spelled correctly, is not long and with words that jump off the screen. Also, attempt to incorporate letters like q, z, c, p and x as these stick out.

Easy to Remember
As an extension of the first idea, try to create a name that is easy to remember. Word-of-mouth advertising and SERP’s rely on domain names that are easy to remember. The easier it is to remember, the more traffic it will generate. It would be a shame to be a company with a dynamite website but customers cannot remember the name to refer their friends.
Catch phrases, clever sayings and metaphors all make for interesting domain names that are easy to remember, unique and thus easy to type. Many major, well-established companies are using phrases and sayings as their domain names to market to the public. This leaves the consumer wondering what the website is all about and thus they may visit the main page in curiosity.

Find a Unique Name
Although there are many websites that have similar domain names as those that generate a large amount of traffic hoping they will receive a piece of the pie. Unfortunately, this will work against you. This will only confuse customers and lead them to the real site they were attempting to visit. Therefore, avoid plural domain names and misspelled or hyphenated version of an already established website.
Create a domain name that is like nothing else on the web. This will allow you to generate traffic based on unique keywords as your site will be one of only a handful in the search engine results. This is an excellent method for improving traffic; all you need is a little creativity.
One excellent tool for finding a unique name is the Google Keyword Tool. This allows you to learn what the most popular keywords currently are. Therefore, you could make a domain name based on a variation of that keyword.

Select Specific Extensions
If you plan to create serious branding over a long period of time, it is important to own the .com version of your domain name. Using redirects and 301’s for .org and .net is acceptable; however, there is something to be said about the professionalism of a .com domain name. Ironically, the average Internet user makes the automatic assumption that .com is the only extension available.
If you select a domain name extension that is not a .com, it is vital to promote your website with the entire domain name. This ensures your customer base will not be confused by a similar .com domain name.
One of the newest trends in domain naming is choosing a country-specific extension. If your business only operates in a specific country, it is imperative to select the appropriate extension. The most well-known country extensions include: .ca for Canada, .fr for France, .us for United States and .uk for United Kingdom. These extensions will have a top-level country code and subcategory such as .co.

Brainstorm Keywords
One way to get the creative juices flowing is to write a list of the top five keywords you would like to use and best describe your website. Once you have this list, it is simple to combine them with other words and add prefixes and suffixes. To find an even better domain name, expand the list to ten keywords. This method will allow you to create an excellent name while search engine optimizing the title of your website.
Eliminate Hyphens and Numbers
In recent years, the usage of hyphens and numbers to differentiate domain names has become popular. For any website, this does not exude professionalism. Also, hyphens and numbers make it difficult to verbally communicate the name of the website thus significantly decreasing branding. Additionally, using spell-out roman numerals and numbers can be confusing to the customer.

Create a Short Name
Similarly, creating a domain name that is lengthy can be difficult to remember, difficult to type and possible difficult to pronounce. Short names are easy to remember and type and also allow for more characters in the URL for SERP’s. Additionally, they are much easier to place on business cards. Unfortunately, as the Internet expands at a rapid rate, many of the shorter domain names are already registered. Therefore, creativity with shorter words must be enforced.
Avoid Infringement
Since the beginning of domain name registration, there have been many rules and laws that were created with regards to domain names. One such law deals with the copyright infringement of a name. Although this does not occur often, nothing is worse than creating a beautiful website, developing an attractive name and finding out that it has already been registered. It is also vital to search copyright.gov prior to developing a website around a specific name.

Differentiate
Like any other type of branding, it is vital to differentiate your products and services (website) from the competition. Therefore, it is important not to follow the latest trend at the moment which could become outdated in a few years. For example, website names with strange misspellings are currently popular. Also, sites with hyphens were popular during the early 2000’s.  Furthermore, sites with short adjectives have also fallen out of style.

Domain Name Protection
Once you have found a descriptive, interesting, and easy-to-remember and type domain name, it is important to protect it. If you have purchased the .com version, it is likely the other extensions will also be available. Therefore, to fully protect the name, purchase the remaining extensions. This tends to deter others from copying your name. As you build traffic to your website, if a user inputs the incorrect extension, you can redirect them to your main page.

Brandable Domain Names
Creating a brandable domain name takes some creativity and an idea could hit you when you least expect it. Many of the most popular and successful domain names currently in the market are metaphors for something else. Several are metaphors for content found on that specific website. For instance, PageFlakes is a metaphor to help visitors understand how to use the website which involves dragging little boxes of content around the page and dropping them in desired areas like flakes.
Domain name involves elegant, creative solutions to the specific problem of creating an attractive domain name for humans and computers. Therefore, approach the naming process rationally, with a specific strategy in mind while looking for elegant solutions that will solve your naming crisis. With the right strategy and enough attention dedicated to the principles above, discovering an excellent domain name is still feasible.

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