Pick the perfect website domain name

A domain name is a big part of getting online. To get started, we’ve put together 16 pro tips to find the perfect domain.

The basics

Domain names are something most of us are familiar with. They aren’t all that different to an address for your home, business or favorite place. For instance, take the domain name for this site. It’s getprowebsites.com. It’s made up .com which is a generic top-level domain (gTLD) or domain extension. It also has a second-level domain (SLD), getprowebsites.

There are a variety of gTLDs you can choose from. You’ll recognize most common ones such as .net, .org and others. Then there is a growing list of niche gTLDs such as .ninja, .run, .xyz and many more.

Some domains such as sponsored top-level domains (sTLD) are restricted to certain groups. Examples include .mil, .gov and .edu. Similar to sTLDs, there’re also generic restricted top level domains (grTLD) like .biz and .name that be can used for specific purposes such as businesses and individuals.

It’s likely you’ve come across country code top-level domains (ccTLD) like .de (Germany) or co.uk (UK) too. If you are shopping online for that fancy suit or shoes you promised yourself from Italy, you may spot .it at the end of the domain.

Tip #1. Goal focused domains

Kick-off with the goal you’d like achieve and the user experience you want to create. For example, is the site a personal blog or a business that sells services and products? If it’s a blog about making the perfect pizza, you could personalize it with a domain like createperfectpizzas or getperfectpizzas to connect with your users.

Tip #2. Branded domains

A branded domain or a custom domain is a name that promotes your brand as person or a business. It’s a name you want users to recognize such as Apple and engage customers with e.g. apple.com.

Tip #3. Keywords in domains

Keywords can be nouns or adjectives. For example, if you decide to sell crusty pizzas, crustypizzas may just be the name for you. Keywords are an important part of search engine optimization (SEO). And while you could choose to have keywords in your domain, it isn’t necessary.

Tip #4. Empty vessels

Less to do with making the most noise, empty vessels are some something unusual or abstract that are don’t have a particular meaning like Cigna or Zapier. Empty vessels give you the opportunity to create your own story.

Tip #5. Portmanteaus

Portmanteaus are words that have been combined or merged. If you are having a hard time finding a domain, you could combine two or more words. Some of most well-known companies are a product of portmanteaus. For instance, there’s NetFlix (internet & flicks) and Wikipedia (wiki and encyclopedia).

Tip #6. Keep it short

A short name goes a long way. Seems counterintuitive at first. If users find that it’s too hard or difficult, you could lose a potential fan or customer.

Tip #7. Make it memorable

If you are just launching your idea or business and you don’t have a massive marketing budget, it’s likely that most people won’t know about your business or you just yet. You want to choose a name that’s memorable and easy to remember. People can generally recall 7 items from short term memory. If your name consists of common phrases such as face, book, you, and tube, each one of these is 1 item because they are words that most people are familiar with.

If it’s something unusual like loqbooq, it’ll be new territory for users and each letter will count as an item. So what may be look or sound like a single word, will require more effort from users to remember until it’s relatable or recognizable. For example, Facebook would be 2 items and loqbooq would be 7 items.

Put a list of names together that you can go through with friends, family or colleagues. Get their feedback on whether the names are catchy and easy to remember. If they find it challenging, go back to the drawing board.

Tip #8. Get those creative juices flowing

If you are running low on ideas or need a spark of inspiration, give name generators like Name Combiner or Word Mixer a go.

Tip #9. Keep away from symbols

Domain names support a limited range of symbols such as hyphens or dashes and diacritics e.g. ö, ä, ü and é. There’s always the off-chance that a user may make a mistake, forget to include the symbol or replace it with one that looks similar.

Tip #10. Winning numbers

Numbers can be either differentiators or confusing. They can be written as numerals e.g. 3 or as words e.g. three. 3M, 21 Forever and Saks Fifth Avenue are examples well-known brands. If you have your heart set on a domain with numbers, look at different options of increasing your brand’s identity.

Tip #11. False friends

These aren’t friends that forget birthdays gifts. False friends or bilingual homophones are words that look or sound similar but take on a completely different meaning in another language. Gift for example in Danish or Norwegian means married. Before settling on a name, check out the various meanings.

Tip #12. A bad rap and plenty of baggage

It has all the makings of a blockbuster movie. A hero, an ever twisting plot and a trail of misfortune. Unlike an ending that fills you with hope & gusto, it’s typically an adrenaline pumping story that leaves you picking up the pieces.

Domains often have a history. They may start out ready to take on the world or have the origins of a shady past. When picking a domain name, you’ll want to run a background check of sorts.

  • What was it used for previously?
  • Is it on a list of domains considered to be unsafe?
  • Was it part of luring phishing emails promising unimaginable wealth?
  • Did it infect unsuspecting users with malware?

A good place to start is the Wayback Machine. Think of it as a massive archive library that let’s you take a trip back in time with a glimpse of a website in the days of yore. It’s like the ghost of Christmas past.

Sites such as Google’s Safe Browsing give you a peek into whether a domain is safe or if it has blacklisted. And if you have an inner C. Auguste Dupin or Sherlock Holmes who’s itching for adventure, give SPFBL, PhishTank or NordSpam a go.

Tip #13. Slurls

They aren’t your typical slurs. SLURL is portmanteau of slur and URL, also known as Uniform Resource Locator. A URL is the complete web address to get to a particular website or web page. For instance, www.getprowebsites.com or www.getprowebsites.com/contact

Strange looks and laughs aside, slurls have the potential of damaging your brand. Slurls are two or more words that when combined take on different meanings or read differently. Let’s try the words childrens and wear. These look innocent enough. Let’s bring them together childrenswear. Or is it children swear? Slurls can be difficult to spot so always run your name past someone.

Tip #14. Men in black

No, these aren’t protectors of earth from extraterrestrial attackers. They could come in the form of legal action if you have a domain name that infringes on copyrights or trademarks that belong to another person or company. Check out local and international intellectual or trademark sites such as the World Intellectual Property Organization or WIPO for short before landing on a name.

Tip #15. Social networks

If you have a shortlist of names, you should run a quick check if they are available on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and others. Social networks are a great way to build your brand and users often use social media to connect and reach out. Sites such as DomainTyper or NameCheckr do all the hard work for you so you don’t have to go searching.

Tip #16. Choose a name that represents you

A brand is more than just a name. It stirs emotions and leaves memories. Go with a name that you are passionate about or have a vision for and can grow with.

Wrapping it up

There’s a lot to consider when you are looking for that perfect name. Keep it simple and think about the users, the experience you want them to have and the memories you want to leave with them.

If you need help or don’t quite know where to start, feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to work with you.