How to choose a domain name: recommendations & tips
If you want to get your business on the web, or crave a little space online to call your own, you’ll need to choose a domain name.
But picking a name can be overwhelming:
– Will people like it?
– Is it future-proof?
– Is it easy to remember?
While that might sound like a lot of questions to answer, don’t worry.
All you need to do is quickly learn the best practices for choosing a domain name, any rules that could apply to you, and some quick tips to speed up the process.
In this blog post, you’ll find everything you need to know about the domain naming process. From best practice and things to consider, to helpful advice for creating your dream domain name, we’ll help you find the best domain names for your purpose.
Remember, it’s much easier to choose the right name in the first place, rather than change domain names in the future. With that in mind, let’s get stuck in!
What’s the difference between a domain and a URL?
Before we go any further, some of you may be wondering what a domain is.
Cast your eye up to your browser bar and you’ll see a bunch of text that begins with http://.
The whole line of text is the Uniform Resource Locator, known as a URL for short. You may also know it as a web address.
The domain is the second part of the URL, for us, it’s namecheap.com. The second-level domain (SLD) is namecheap and the top-level domain (TLD) is .com.
You can find more about this in our handy article on the definition of a domain.
Why choosing the right domain name is important
The importance of choosing a strong domain name is pretty obvious. If you manage to secure a memorable name, it will be easier for your visitors to remember you and to find you.
A long name that’s hard to spell or difficult to read may mean that potential customers never even make it to your site.
A good domain name makes your online life just that bit easier. If you’re creative and smart, it will instantly communicate to visitors what your website is all about.
For example, you might consider a location-based domain name. Imagine you own a pizzeria in New York, a .nyc domain can tell the user where you’re based, even before your website loads.
Many benefits come with choosing the right domain name, and while Namecheap will always help, it’s down to you to take your time and think about yours.
But don’t worry if this feels confusing, that’s exactly why you are here — first tip? Break it down into parts.
How to find a TLD that’s suitable for your needs
As mentioned earlier, TLD stands for top-level domain. There are over a thousand to choose from. From .shop to .art, each can have a range of benefits when it comes to solidifying your online brand.
So, how do you pick the best TLD for you? Here are some tips that should help you out.
You can’t go wrong with a .COM
The .com is known throughout the world and is part of the original line-up of six TLDs. Each had a different purpose — .com stood for commercial, .org for an organization, .edu for education, and so on.
Partly because of its age, and the fact that domain usage isn’t so strict anymore, .com was used for all kinds of purposes, and so it became the most popular TLD.
How about a GeoTLD?
One of the easiest ways to tell users (and search engines) that your website is aimed at them, is to choose a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) or a geographic top-level domain (GeoTLD).
While ccTLDs represent a country such as the US TLD, GeoTLDs refer to specific geographical locations. Let’s imagine you own several travel agencies all over the Philippines.
Next, imagine that you were so successful (pat on the back!) that your company grew, and now you own travel agencies across the whole of the continent of Asia.
Finally, imagine you’re currently in the US looking for a travel agency to plan your trip to Canada.
Ultimately search engines look to provide relevant information to users, so that .uk, for example, doesn’t show in your results, and you’re given localized websites instead.
How to pick the right domain name for your business or personal site
So you know a little about TLDs and you’ve learned some basics when it comes to second-level domains too. Now it’s time to get creative.
The best way to start naming your domain is to grab a pen and some paper and start jotting down any words that come to mind as you read on. We’ll get into specific processes a bit later but for now, note words that spring to mind.
Naturally, your ideas should relate to the product or service you provide. For example, a consulting firm might list words like results, help, assist, and trust.
This is brainstorming, so don’t be shy about including words that might not be a good fit. You never know when one word will trigger a different idea. You can always cross them off the list later.
Consider a name that’s brandable, not generic
In reality, a business domain name isn’t so different from a non-business name. It should be interesting, short, and memorable — if your name just uses keywords rather than showing some personality, you’re not going to stand out from the competition.
The domain name pizzarestaurantnyc.com is fine, but frankspizzaslice.nyc is much more exciting.
If you are a business, remember to pick a professional domain name. You don’t want something that will offend people and make them distrust your company.
Why not give it a go and see what you can come up with?
Keep it short and easy to type
Remember reading that it’s best to avoid long and hard-to-remember domain names? Here’s a real-world example for you — it’s easy to remember a name like Anna Lee, rather than a name like Anna Lee-Chastain-Tanner-Riley-Ross.
Make your domain name easy to pronounce and spell
Let’s imagine you want to create an advert for a slot during the big game. If it’s difficult for an actor to say your name in that advert, how do you expect other people to be able to understand?
The same goes for spelling. How do you expect people to find you easily on the web if they can’t even spell your domain name?
Keep it clear and unambiguous
Think about the people you want to reach. If you’re trying to grow your audience, it may be sensible to use familiar words, rather than industry-specific terminology that only a handful of people would understand.
Don’t use characters in your domain name
Although you can use hyphens, it’s not a good idea. You already know that keeping it short and snappy is preferable, so popping in unnecessary hyphens will elongate your name with no particular value.
In some cases, you may consider using numbers in your domain name. Websites like formula1.com and coffee2go.ie are good examples of numbers that work well.
Use keywords related to your niche
Whatever you specialize in, let people instantly know what you offer by using keywords in your domain name.
Let’s imagine you own a pizzeria.
You might consider pizzaplanet.co.uk.
Try to keep a healthy balance between keywords and uniqueness, or you could end up with a generic domain that’s easily forgotten.
Choose a mobile-friendly domain name
Mobile phones have small screens, another reason why it’s great to have a short, easy-to-type domain name that everyone will remember. You don’t want to be typing on your mobile so try to think of something small and mobile-friendly, such as uber.com or google.com.
Share your geographical location
You could also choose a generic top-level domain and use a geographical location in your second-level domain, like miamibasketball.com or londonrugbyschool.com.
There are many different ways to communicate your location, so have a look and see what makes sense for the area you want to target.
Think to the future
If you’re planning to expand your product range or offer more services, it’s worth taking some more time to reflect. To choose the best website name ask yourself, will this name serve me in the future?
You don’t want to register bathroomsbysam.com if you plan to sell kitchens down the line.
One way to diversify your website and help with future-proofing is to create subdomains. Take Twitter for example. Twitter uses the subdomain analytics.twitter.com to display useful data on followers and engagement levels.
Make sure it’s not trademarked or already in use
It’s obviously important to find out if your name has already been trademarked or currently in use.
A similar-sounding or identical name might confuse visitors, and even worse, have legal complications, such as establishing intellectual property rights.
Trademark conflict might mean that you have to change your domain (and maybe even company name) later, resulting in significant costs and potential loss of business. You could consider hiring an attorney for a more thorough review.
Search the trademark database to see if your name has already been registered.
Check social channels and register yours
If you’re keen on getting your website noticed by others, it’s sensible to check that you can get your hands on social handles.
You might have a great domain name but can’t get the matching Twitter handle or Facebook page, for example. Check this before you register.
If a name isn’t available, it’s not a deal-breaker, as your domain name and social media handles don’t have to be an exact match. But for branding purposes, you should think about how social handles might affect business.
As soon as you’ve locked down your domain name, get on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social channels to claim your accounts.
Can you name your website whatever you want?
Yes, you can choose any domain name, however, you can’t choose one that’s already being used by someone else, unless it’s up for sale on a marketplace. Here at Host Masters, we have our very own Marketplace, so why not check it out today?
Your domain name must also be between three and sixty-three characters, and made up of only letters, hyphens, and numbers.
Pick your own name for a domain name
So, is using your name for a domain a good idea? It depends. If you’re looking to grow a brand based on you as an individual, it is.
Why would Ariana Grande use anything but arianagrande.com?
A personal domain is a good way to make your mark on the web and show customers that you mean business. So let’s find out how to show them, now.
Creating your very own domain name
Now you know what to look for, let’s go about creating your domain name. The domain naming process will be vital to your future brand’s success, so make sure to assess these ideas in detail.
You’ll need the list you’ve been working on, a set of people to ask questions to, and an open mind for different methods of testing domain name ideas.
Examples of the best website names
But first, let’s look at a few examples to help frame your creation process. The web is full of silly and fun website names. As a treat for getting this far in the blog, here is a selection of some good domain name examples to make you smile.
And hopefully, give you a little inspiration.
Cute and funny names
If you’re looking for cute and funny domain names, consider short options and for good luck, throw an animal in! Here are three memorable domain names:
Want to know how to pick a catchy domain name? Think simple and to the point. Here are three memorable domain names:
Come up with unique domain name ideas
It can be tough thinking of a catchy and unique name for your website. Start thinking outside the box, and try adding words related to the weather, animals, or maybe even something completely unrelated.
There are many TLDs around and some lend themselves to wordplay. Join the second-level domain to the top-level domain to make a word, like pistach.io, calyp.so, and bons.ai.
Expand the list
You could visit a good online thesaurus to find synonyms for the words on your list.
A great option for finding new words is WordHippo. Type in the terms you came up with in the first step and find related words to add to your list. This will really help to ground you in whatever world you’re wanting to reflect, and may just give you the right words in a few clicks.
Don’t be afraid about making the list longer at this stage.
Don’t commit yet
You probably have a good few names that you really like. But don’t cross any names off just because they aren’t your favorites. You might need to come back to them later, take another look and reassess what you really want/what could work.
In other words, you have a few steps to go before you should commit.
Phone a friend
Now it’s time to share your list with close friends. Ask them what comes to mind when they see each domain option.
You might be surprised that they find something glaringly obvious with a name you like.
“Oh look, when you put the first and second words together, it spells something naughty!”
At that moment you’ll be glad you got this feedback before you moved forward.
The radio test
Let’s say you’ve already asked your friends for feedback. Now you need to call (don’t email!) a different set of friends and ask them if they can spell the names you’ve come up with.
This is the ‘radio test’.
If someone heard your name over the radio or at a bar, could they actually spell it when they go looking for your site? You might be surprised at how many domains fail this test.
In essence, if they can’t spell it, you should probably cross it off your list and find a better option.
Alternative suggestions for domain name choosing
If you’re seeking additional methods then here are a few unusual ways to choose your domain name instead.
– Open a book and choose a word at random. Repeat.
– Switch the television on and write down the first word you hear. Change channels and do the same again.
– Run a domain naming contest with your friends.
– Try abbreviating words related to your industry.
Let us know if you used any of these suggestions in the comments below!
Use our handy tools
We have plenty of tools for you to use when picking a domain name. Try our domain generator to uncover thousands of great options and filter them down to the one you want.
Alternatively, if you already know the domain name you want, use our domain name finder.
Worried that your name has already been taken? Use our Whois domain tool to see who owns it. Make an offer and start negotiating with the person that registered it.
Extra considerations of domain naming practices
So, you should have plenty of different ways to create the best domain name for you. You should also have even more potential domain names on that list. But that doesn’t mean you’ve found your potential domain name just yet.
If you don’t have a list at all then don’t worry, this blog serves as a way to remind you what can be done. We’ve noted even more suggestions below.
Let’s look through some wider considerations and other thoughts you may have now.
Can any domains be acquired?
If some of your top choices were already taken, you might dig deeper to find out if any of the already-registered domains could still be purchased.
– Who owns the domain? (you can check on who.is)
– Is there a website on the domain now, or is it “parked”?
– How much money does the owner want for it?
If the purchase price is way outside your budget, you can cross it off your list. Also, if it turns out a big company is already using the name, you may face a few hurdles. In short, they’re unlikely to be selling — that doesn’t mean you should cross it off your list, though.
Can you choose a domain name after building a website?
Theoretically, yes, you can. However, it’s strongly advisable to secure your domain name first. This way you won’t be disappointed when the domain you had your eye on is unavailable.
Protect your brand name
If you’re worried about competitors registering similar domain names to yours, make sure you’ve snapped them up first. Choose your main website, then point your other domain names to it with URL redirects, and be sure that customers aren’t led elsewhere when looking for your products or services.
Once you’ve chosen a domain name, there’s no point sitting around and twiddling your thumbs. Get that domain name registered before someone else beats you to it.
Get a domain registration with web hosting
Everything is easier when it’s in one place! We offer domain and hosting in one handy package deal here at Namecheap.
It’s your opportunity to save on popular domains and get money off our Shared Hosting packages, perfect for any budget.
If you’re not sure that you need a hosting package, but you’re curious about the cost, you can find out the domain name price per year on our pricing page.
Try the marketplace if your domain has already been taken
If there’s a domain you’ve got your eye on but it’s already been registered, you may be able to snag it from the Marketplace.
Why not come and discover website domains for sale in our very own Marketplace today?
Take care when you buy existing domain names
If you are considering buying an existing domain name, make sure you know what you’re doing. Much like a second-hand car, you may never get the full background story, and if it was involved in any dodgy dealings, such as spam content, it may look bad in the eyes of Google.
Check the domain history using the Wayback Machine
If you’re willing to do some research, the Way back Machine is a useful tool to look at the saved history of websites. Plus, it’s always fun to look at how website design has changed over the years!
Check the domain history using the Whois database
Another way to find out a little bit more about an existing domain is to use our Whois Lookup Tool. You’ll learn about the owner, the date it expires, if it’s available, and other useful information you may find interesting.
You’ve made it this far, congrats! It’s time to register the domain name and create your website.
If you know anyone that needs recommendations on how to make a website name, please feel free to share this post with them.
I hope our selection guidelines have given you some things to think about. You now have keys to coming up with a good domain name, so off you go!
Was this guide helpful?