The more people who register domain names, the harder it gets to find something that fits your personal or business webpage. Having a unique domain name is important for not only large businesses, but small business and individual enterprises like freelancers as well. In the latter case, a domain of your own looks more professional than a free boilerplate one from an Internet service provider. Even personal users can benefit from owning a domain name. Finding a good one is the problem.
Use .org for non-commercial enterprises; .com for commercial. Avoid fringe suffixes such as .tel, .biz, .info. While these may seem cute or more focused on your needs, people do not remember these. If your domain name is "greatcarpets.biz" that might be fine when you first tell someone about it. Three months later, your client may well remember "greatcarpets," but long-standing habits probably will result in trying the URL "greatcarpets.com." The next hint describes a way to avoid this error but costs more than a single registration.
Register your new domain name with multiple extensions and use the capabilities of your Web host to have them redirect to your main domain in a masked fashion.
Look for variations on your business name that get at what you do. Let's say your business is Dog Walkers Inc. How about iwalkdogs.com or walkyourdog.com? Are you selling handmade baskets? Then try basketweaverexpress.com. Registering a domain for a local homeowners association named the Bridgeview Homeowners Association? How about wearebridgview.org?
Do Google searches on components of possible names. You would like to register "iwalkdogs.com" but it is taken. "Iwalkdogs.net" is available, but who would think of a business with a .net address? Use "professional dog walkers" in a Google search and review the domain name variations people use. Besides prodogwalkers.com, some people have used a name in front of "dogwalkers.com" as in "magnusondogwalkers.com." What about using your name, plus dogwalkers.com? Even better, what about the name of your town, for example, "seattledogwalkers.com?"
Be sure your domain name setup can handle people who use both www at beginning of URL and ones who skip that prefix.
You can try some of the domain name "spinners" located through a search engine with terms like "domain name suggestions" or "domain name tools," but the results will be mixed and not always applicable.
Shorter names are easier to remember and communicate than longer ones.
Do not use dashes, underscores or special characters in your domain name if possible. Sometimes this is the only way to register something close to what you want. However, if you have to give a domain name over the telephone, you will have some problems in doing so. Even by carefully spelling out "My-[hyphen or dash] ownname.com" often people still will get this wrong. A user may forget to type a hyphen when entering the URL. A particular problem with underscores is they may not be visible in an email.
Do not use capitals, particularly interspersed with lower-case letters, for the same reason. Many searches will ignore caps, but some will not. Certainly do not use all caps; in Internet parlance, people think of this as shouting.
Do not use abbreviations in the domain name.
- Laura Lemay's Guide to Sizzling Website Design; Molly E. Holzschlag; 1997
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