There is nothing to beat the excitement of choosing your first domain name. It is similar to buying your first car, or moving into your own place. Luckily it is not that expensive – at first glance.

It is actually quite easy to register a new domain name, and once you get a taste for it you might keep on registering new domain names just for the fun of it. In other words, you could become a serial domain name registrar…

But to register a domain for a business needs some forethought. Even though it is not expensive to register a new domain name, it can become a costly exercise to change it after it has been in use for a couple of years.  You are going to build up a business and branding around your domain and website, and the time invested in this can represent quite a big investment.

Here are some tips therefore in choosing the best domain name for your business.

My advice if you are starting a new business is actually to select the domain name first before even selecting a name for your business. The problem is that the domain name (your website name, in other words), is going to be your main branding on the internet, and it is a lot more difficult to find an available domain name than a business name. Think about it, it is a lot easier to register a domain name than a business, so obviously it is a lot more difficult to find an available domain name than a business name.

But let’s say you are not worried about linking your domain name to your actual business (company) name, you just want to create an online business and the domain name IS your main business name.

Questions that arise are:

Should you choose a long descriptive name or a short, snappy memorable name?

Use the following rules of thumb:

  • Avoid hyphens. It is difficult to explain to people that they should use a hyphen for your website name, especially if your are trying to explain this over the phone.
  • Avoid too long names, it becomes cumbersome to manage and remember, your email addresses are linked to this name as well.
  • Try and stick to one or two syllables. Make sure that that the syllables next to each other do not create a confusing spelling (e.g. All Life Insurance products – their website is alllife.co.za. The three repeating l’s next to each other does not make for easy reading of the name and can quite easily be misspelled with only two l’s)
  • If SEO rankings are important to you, try and combine a short syllable with your main keyword (e.g. booksnap.com or SEOcomp.co.za or something similar.
  • Try not to have confusing syllables or numbers in the domain name, for example try not to use the number ’4′ for ‘for’ (as in this domain!) It makes it difficult to explain to people when you say the name.

If you want to build a complete new brand from a short, snappy ‘nonsense’ name (e.g. yahoo, google, dig etc) there are some tools that will generate these names for you. There are also tools that will help you combine prefixes or suffixes with your main keywords.

Here is a list of domain name generating tools that I have found useful (or at least then, fun to use!)

http://www.dotomator.com/   (do try the ‘web 2.0′ domain name generator for amusing nonsense type names)

http://www.surf7.net/services/value-added-services/free-web-tools/web-20-name-generator/

 

 

 

 

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