Depending on the type of business or product, the availability of a domain name (also called URL or Uniform Resource Locator or website address) may be critical to the name selection. However, most common names, acronyms and interesting domain names are already registered. Why? Because each year over 10 million domain names are registered, with total domains now over 255 million (VeriSign).
Certainly, there are tips and strategies for working around this lack of available domains. Before we get into domain name strategies, you will have to consider trademark availability, as well as domain name impact on search engine results. For those of you new to domain names, consider some background information.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is basically a numeric map to your website that has been encoded into a recognizable “name” to provide users (read: potential customers) with a simple way to find your company’s information on the web.
The top level domain, also known as the domain extension, is where the domain is registered. The most recognizable are commercial (.com), network services (.net), non-profit (.org), government (.gov), school and university related (.edu), and even country-specific such as United Kingdom (.uk) and Italy (.it).
The three most widely used are: “.com,” “.net,” and “.org.” All of these domain name extensions can be accessed by anyone, without restrictions, and are recognized throughout the world. Every domain name is registered under each of these domains to avoid duplication—in other words, every name must be unique.
Businesses or companies ideally will want “.com,” as this is the most common domain because it is the most recognizable, memorable and easily accessed domain for companies.
You will create a unique sub-domain and register this name with a domain registrar (e.g. GoDaddy.com). Together, the sub-domain and extension or top domain makes up your domain name. The simplest way to see if a domain name has already been purchased is by entering the address in the URL bar to see what pops up.
In the United States, the Department of Commerce manages a central database of domains called InterNIC, where you can search registrations through the website: www.internic.com. Other countries maintain their own NICs (network information centers).
On this site resides the WhoIs database that lists whether the domain is available, and if not, who the owner is in case you want to contact and consider bidding on a domain name if it has been registered. Otherwise, there are many options for domain names, many of which a registrar will identify if your first choice was registered. For example, if CoolName.com is taken, the registrar will suggest:
- coolname.net, .biz or .org
If your name is a common or literal business or company name, you can add key words to differentiate your name.
During name generation, consider the fact that synthesized names and metaphorical names will have a higher chance of domain availability versus literal and common names. It’s unlikely a name like UltraHyperFizzyWhiz.com would be taken versus Wizard.com.
Four Domain Name Selection Tips
- Most generic names are taken, if not by competitors, so use a memorable name that relates to your product or service.
- Keep it short and simple. Long names are difficult to spell and remember. Hard to spell names are a big problem. Avoid hyphens unless it can deliver a really great name otherwise not available.
- Avoid plurals if your competitor owns the singular. Find a name that you can own both the singular and plural versions to avoid competitors.
- And be sure the name conveys your product or service’s message.
Hopefully these tips and strategies will help you play the domain name game. Do you have any tips or strategies to share? Let us know in the comment box below and share this post interested in naming.