The secret of picking the right domain name

Posted On July 19, 2007

Filed under Domain name

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Not that long ago, you could run an internet business without
domain name. Not anymore.
http://www.somefreeprovider.com/~myspace/mbusiness.html is a
guarantee to fail.

This little article tells you how to pick the traffic generating
domain name for your business. I assume you already know the
advantages of having a domain name: professionalism, traffic
trough search engines and directories, added value and so on.
Every domain registrar will tell you why you need a domain name.
But no one tells you exactly how to find it. Read on to find out.

Basically, there are three types of domain names:

1) Domain name is equal to your company name, like microsoft.com
or yahoo.com. Pretty good choices if you either have a
well-known company either have the marketing budget to make it
well-known.

2) Domain name consists of popular keywords relevant to your
business such as http://www.national-car-rental.com. These can
drive traffic to your site because of two reasons: search
engines attach some weight to the domain name, and surfers will
remember the name because of the connection between the name and
the business it stands for.

3) Bad domain names: all others. Why on earth would you choose a
name that nobody knows, nobody remembers and does not drive
traffic to your site?

For the rest of the article, I assume you don’t have a
well-known company or a big budget, but you still want a good
domain name. The logical choice would be to choose a
keyword-laden name.

I hear you yelling: “Okay, okay, I want a name. But keep it
short”. So I’ll offer you a seven-step plan. Here it is: 1)
Perform a keyword analysis. First list all words that are
relevant to your business. Now pick all those words that you
think people use to find you in a search engine. Rank these
keywords in order of popularity. You can use the keyword
research tool at http://www.jimtools.com/ to estimate popularity.

2) Pick your two or three main keywords. For each one, write
down synonyms or almost-synonyms. For example: if your keyword
is “car” you could add to this list: auto, automobile, autos,
cars, van, truck, vehicle, wagon,…

3) Combine the words in the lists to make candidate domain
names. From the first list, take the first word and combine it
with the first word from the second list and the first word from
the third list.

4) You can also have a list with prefixes like i, e, www,
b2b,… or suffixes like 4me, forsale, and so on. You can
combine these with all keywords.

5) Decide whether to use hyphens or not. A simple rule: “use
hyphens whenever you suspect people will type in your keywords
in one search term”. For example, “usedcarse4me.com” is better
than “usedcars-4me.com” because people won’t remember the
hyphen. But “national-car-rental.com” is better than
“nationalcarrental.com” because approximately 15000 people use
exactly these three words as search term each month and the
domain with hyphens is likely to show up higher in the search
results.

6) Decide on your top-level domain like .com, .org or .net. A
very simple rule of thumb: use .com unless you have very good
reasons not to. The fact that the .com is already taken is *not*
a good reason.

7) Rank the domain names in order of attractiveness, verify
whether they already exist with a whois tool, and register the
best one.

I can assure you, steps 3 to 7 are necessary but not quite what
*I* consider fun. I wrote a small program to do this for me. On
its first launch, I found the domain name “domain-name-tool”,
registered it and build a site. You can download the
domain-name-tool at http://www.domain-name-tool.com/. It’s
freeware. I mean “real” freeware.

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