So you’ve got a new business or idea, you’ve decided on a name for it and you want to take it online with a website, but the website domain address for the name you wanted is already taken. What do you do?
Finding a good, available website address for your site can be difficult, but I’ll show you all the tricks I’ve learned to help you find the perfect website domain in no time.
What is a domain?
That’s what we call the main address of a website. So the domain for Facebook is facebook.com. The domain for YouTube is youtube.com. This is what you need to find for your website – a good domain that expresses your brand or what your website is about.
How can I find a website domain that is available?
My favorite tool for finding good, available website domain addresses is NameMesh. Just search for keywords and it will give you lists of options that are available. You’ll see more examples of how I use it throughout this post.
Do I need a .com domain?
There are lots of domain types to choose from. .com is the most common, but other common ones include .net, .org, and country-specific ones like .es, .ru, etc. There are hundreds of these types of domains (aka top-level domains, TLDs), including common words like .help, .agency, .reviews, etc.
When I was considering a domain for this site, the first thing I searched for was “web solutions” in NameMesh. Naturally, “websolutions.com” was already taken, but instead of .com I could have used:
The options are endless. But why did I choose to look for a “.com” domain? Because it’s the most common. When people search for a website, they almost instinctively type “.com” at the end.
If my domain was “web.solutions”, people would inevitably type “web.solutions.com” and arrive at the wrong site. Or if your website is “sillycats.net”, a competitor might use “sillycats.com” because people are more likely to type “.com” and go to their site instead of yours.
This doesn’t mean it’s necessary to get a “.com” domain. The reality is people are much more likely to search for you in Google rather than type out your website address. As long as Google can find you, it shouldn’t matter what your domain is.
So if possible, get a “.com” domain, but if you find the perfect name using another domain extension, as long as you use good SEO strategies, you’ll be fine.
Think of other key words
Maybe the name you want is taken, but perhaps you can find an available one by changing or adding another keyword to it. While I was thinking of names for this site I thought up the following keywords that express what I do that people might search for:
If “websolutions.com” wasn’t available, maybe “webservices.com” was, or “digitalsolutions.com” or “digitalwebsolutions.com”, etc.
Try playing around with different keyword combinations and see what you can find in NameMesh. In the “SEO” list that NameMesh gives you, it adds words for you, like “my” or “best”. Check it out.
Another good tool to try is LeanDomainSearch. It’s not as advanced as NameMesh, but it provides you with some quick domain ideas using a combination of small, but professional-sounding words.
Consider mixing words to invent new ones
If you haven’t decided on a name for your business or site yet, consider combining or altering words to create new, unique words. It’s what companies like “Grammarly”, “Thinkific” and “YouTube” did.
Can you combine words or change their endings to create a unique, available name for your website? NameMesh gives you some ideas in the “Mix” list it creates. A couple more good tools that show you interesting word combinations are Namelix and CunningBot.
America Online became popular with their abbreviated URL “aol.com”. The New York Times uses the abbreviated domain “nytimes.com”. Could you abbreviate your business name to create a shorter domain that’s available for purchase?
Use local terms
Does your business target a specific geographical area? Where is it located? Consider adding a word to your website domain that indicates that area. For example if you are in New York, you might consider adding “ny” to your website address (much like the New York Times did in theirs).
Tips and cautions to help you choose the perfect domain name for your website
Hopefully by now you’ve got some ideas for your website domain address. Now consider the following tips to make sure the name you choose is a name you’ll be proud of.
The shorter, the better
Why didn’t I go with a name like “digitalwebsolutions.com”? It’s too long! Shorter names are easier to type, easier to say, easier to remember and easier to share. Studies have found that the most popular sites tend to have shorter names, less than 12 characters long.
It’s getting harder and harder to find good, short domain names, but it’s still possible! Try using abbreviations like I mentioned earlier, or try finding synonyms or other keywords that are shorter.
One of the reasons we chose “Leo” for our brand name was because it was such a short word. And one of the reasons we opted for “Leo Web Services” instead of “Leo Web Solutions” was also because it was shorter.
Having a short website domain is great, but long names are not necessarily bad. If your business name is a bit on the long side, just be sure it’s easy to say and easy to remember.
Don’t choose a confusing domain name
One domain we considered for this website was “ezwebsolutions.com”. We ultimately decided against it because when we said that name to people, they would interpret it as “easywebsolutions.com”. We’d have to always clarify that it’s spelled with the letters “e” and “z”.
Don’t use numbers
This is also why it’s not recommended to use numbers in a website address. If your website is called “2sillycats.com”, every time you or someone else mentions your website, you’d have to clarify that it’s not spelled “twosillycats.com”.
Don’t use hyphens or punctuation
Again, when you tell a website address to someone, do you want to have to say “silly dash cat dot com” every time so that they know it’s spelled “silly-cat.com”? This goes for all punctuation – just avoid using it.
Don’t use words with multiple spellings
If you use the word “theater” in your name, expect people who speak British English to misspell it as “theatre“. If you use the word “role“, be prepared for people to confuse it with “roll“. Before finally deciding on a website domain address, think about how people might confuse the words.
Be careful when combining words
What’s the problem with the website domain “penisland.com“? When you see this address, is your first thought that it must be a website about “pens”?
Another option we considered for this website was “webadvant.com” – short for “web advantage .com”. We decided against this because it’d be easy to read that name as “we bad vant .com”. “Bad” isn’t the first impression we wanted to give to our visitors.
Also be careful about combining words that begin and end with the same letter. For example we wouldn’t go with the name “Web Builders” (“webbuilders.com”) because people can get confused about whether to type one “b” or two.
Check if the name is available on social media
If your business will have a social media account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., you’ll probably want the address on these social media sites to be similar to your website address. For example if your domain is “sillycats.com”, you might want to check that “https://facebook.com/sillycats” is available. The same for every social media you are interested in using.
How to purchase a website domain address
Once you’ve found the perfect domain that you’d like to use, you need to purchase it. If it’s freely available, you can purchase it for $10-15 per year at sites like namecheap.com.
If it’s not available on namecheap, try to visit that address in your browser. You’ll probably see the contact information or a contact form so that you can get in touch with the person that owns it and see if you can buy it from them.
Hopefully the tips in this post have got the creative cogs turning in your head so that you can find the perfect domain for your business with less headache.
Remember we’re always here to help you along the way. If you need more help with this process or with any web process, just contact us and let us know. Or sign up for a free consultation so that we can discuss your problem and give you clear advice and solutions.