How to choose a domain name
First you will have to define what your plans are. Will it be used as a private site, for your business or are you planning to build a huge domain portfolio for speculation purposes. Most of our visitors belong to the category that is trying to build a large portfolio.
Becoming a domainer
If you want to become a domainer then it is recommended to start your research of available domains in an area you are familiar with, because you will probably get more ideas than if you start to think of names in a category that you do not have any interest in.
In any case make a keyword list and check if the domains are available. Most registrars have a bulk check function where you can search hundreds of domains at the same time. If you don’t find any available domains you should then expand your search to different areas and also combine words that make sense and check those. Also look out for other TLDs than .com, although .com is still king when it comes to English keywords.
When registering a domain to make a profit always keep in mind the commercial value it can have for a possible customer. A higher commercial value will usually get you a higher price, but you should also get domains that describe services or can be used to present information in a way that it can be interesting for a company to step in and bid a high price.
One method is to ask yourself before registering a domain if you would want to get this domain if you were a company in that related business field. I know that might not be easy, but in some cases you might get a clear no and then you know you can skip adding that domain to your portfolio.
You can also ask yourself how much you would be willing to pay for a specific domain if someone offered it to you. If your answer is not above the registration fee than it will also not be of much interest to others, so do not register it.
Domaining beginners should always have in mind that domain buyers often expect a domain name to have certain characteristics so you should be aware of them before trying to build a large domaining portfolio.
You will probably want to use advanced methods and tools that make the process of choosing domains easier, we are preparing more for you shortly.
Domains for personal use
For personal use I would suggest to look for something appealing, that could be a combination of your name and your hobby for example, just do some thinking and check if the domain is still available. You might also want use another TLD (eg. .eu/ .net/ .name / .me) if your proposed name is not available under .com.
Domains for business use
For business use it is important to spend a little more time on finding the right domain name. Be aware that it is the one name you are presenting yourself to the public. First of all check if your business name or field is still available under .com or under the TLD of your country (eg. .de in Germany) and/or the TLD of your region (eg. .eu). Of course if you have some kind of business restricted to a city then you might want to use a combination of your business and city (eg. CarrepairHouston), but if you are thinking of generating online sales you should not think regional and use a domain that targets your country, region or the whole world instead.
Especially for those businesses that want to target a larger audience it makes sense to think carefully which name to choose. In the long run buying a domain might be the best option of all, as it is only a one time investment for unlimited use. Considering what marketing campaigns in newspapers or on tv cost, domains are still available at a reasonable price. Furthermore don’t underestimate the fact that a good generic domain is already a brand in itself.
You should also register as many variations and misspellings of the chosen domain as possible to prevent others misusing them in the future.
What makes a domain a good domain
When choosing domains have in mind if they have good development potential.
Do not register or buy some nice sounding domain just because it is available or cheap, especially companies should buy one that people can associate with their business. So, if you are selling umbrellas get a domain like umbrellastore instead of rainyday.
The shorter the better, as it is easier to remember and better for marketing campaigns.
Get your domains without the hyphen, unless you are a company that wants all possible variations.
Usually these domains (keyword and number) are worthless, there are exceptions, but prices are very far from the version without the number.
If it is easy to pronounce it is usually easier to remember.
If there are lots of search results it seems to be a major topic.
Try to get a .com or the country code or regional TLD of your region (eg. .ca / .de / .eu). Other TLDs like .cc are not considered as trustworthy, also they are harder to remember and you do not want to lose your prospective customers to a competitor with the .com.
Advantages of a good generic domain
The public will notice your brand immediately.
Once you own the domain no competitor can get his hands on the domain anymore.
Even top domains are still very cheap compared to other means of advertising as they can be used forever while still growing in value. In addition renewal costs are very low at under $10/year.
Any name or expression paired with your domain is possible. Imagine having something like firstname.lastname@example.org, but in your business field.
There are several marketing benefits: It is easier to remember generic domains and they will be associated directly with you or your product, this is a huge plus when doing ad campaigns. Also do not underestimate the branding and credibility factors in marketing.
Instant cash-flow (eg. through parking the domain or new customers).
Having your main keyword in your domain seems to help you rank better, as people are using your keyword in almost any link to your site.
Can also be forwarded (eg. to your main site).
A good domain is considered more trustworthy (ancestors.eu in contrast to findyourancestorsonline.eu) and has a higher credibility. That can also lead to more clicks in search results.
The domain is always a valuable asset that an be sold.
Two words of caution
Be aware that registering domains that contain trademarks belonging to others, names of celebrities, other established rights or names can have negative consequences, so it is best to stay away from them.
Also: If you are working with a company that designs your web site and you are getting your domain registered through them, make sure you end up being the owner of your domain in the whois records. Some companies register domains using their own name, this can lead to major problem.
Ready for the next step? Find out how to buy a domain or how to register a domain in our other sections.