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How To Choose a Domain Name: Recommendations & Tips

If you want to get your business on the web, or crave a little space online to call your own, you’ll need to choose a domain name. 

But picking a name can be overwhelming. Will people like it? Is it future-proof? Is it easy to remember?

So, what are the best practices for choosing a domain name? Are there any rules for choosing one? Are there any tips for creating a website name? 

In this blog post, you’ll find everything you need to know about the domain naming process. From best practice and things to consider, to helpful advice for creating your dream domain name, we’ll help you find the best domain names for your purpose.

Remember, it’s much easier to choose the right name in the first place, rather than change domain names in the future. With that in mind, let’s get stuck in!

What’s the Difference Between a Domain and a URL?

Before we go any further, some of you may be wondering what a domain is. Cast your eye up to your browser bar and you’ll see a bunch of text that begins with http://. The whole line of text is the Uniform Resource Locator, known as a URL for short. You may also know it as a web address. 

The domain is the second part of the URL, for us, it’s namecheap.com. The second-level domain (SLD) is namecheap and the top-level domain (TLD) is .COM

You can find more about this in our handy article on the definition of a domain

Why Is Choosing the Right Domain Name Important?

The importance of choosing a strong domain name is pretty obvious. If you manage to secure a memorable name, it will be easier for your visitors to remember you and to find you. A long name that’s hard to spell or difficult to read may mean that potential customers never even make it to your site.

A good domain name makes your online life just that bit easier. If you’re creative and clever, it will instantly communicate to visitors what your website is all about.

For example, you might consider a location-based domain name. Imagine you own a pizzeria in New York, a .NYC domain can tell the user where you’re based, even before your website loads. 

Many benefits come with choosing the right domain name, so make sure you take your time to think about yours.

How to Find a TLD That’s Suitable for Your Needs

As mentioned earlier, TLD stands for top-level domain. There are over a thousand to choose from, so how do you pick the best TLD for you? Here are some tips that should help you out. 

You can’t go wrong with a .COM… 

The .COM is known throughout the world and is part of the original line-up of six TLDs. Each had a different purpose, .COM stood for commercial, .ORG for an organization, .EDU for education, and so on. 

Partly because of its age, and the fact that domain usage isn’t so strict anymore, .COM was used for all kinds of purposes, and so it became the most popular TLD. Find out more in our article, What is .COM?.

…Or Why Not Try a New TLD?

Here at Namecheap, you can get your hands on plenty of new domain extensions. Whether you’re looking for generic top-level domain (gTLD) like a .INC.WEBSITE, or .APP, or a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) like .CA, .DE, or .CO.UK, there are lots of exciting options that may well suit your purpose.

How about a GeoTLD?

One of the easiest ways to tell users (and search engines) that your website is aimed at them, is to choose a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) or a geographic top-level domain (GeoTLD). While ccTLDs represent a country such as the US TLD, GeoTLDs refer to specific geographical locations. 

Let’s imagine you own several travel agencies all over the Philippines. You’ll probably choose a .PH which is the Philippines’ domain, a ccTLD. Next imagine that you were so successful (pat on the back!) that your company grew, and now own travel agencies across the whole of the continent of Asia. Now you might consider .ASIA, a GeoTLD.

Finally, imagine you’re in the US looking for a travel agency to plan your trip to Canada. Ultimately search engines look to provide relevant information to users, so that .PS will not show up in your results, and you’ll be shown localized websites instead.

Interestingly, even though a .CH registration might tell the world that your company is based in Switzerland, or  .CO.UK for the UK, it doesn’t always mean that you have to be a resident in that area. For example, if you register a .CO (despite being originally assigned to Colombia), it’s open to any person or organization in the world.

Hedgehog looking at different domain name extensions

How to Pick the Right Domain Name for Your Business or Personal Site

So, what’s the best way to pick an effective domain name? Get ready to discover professional domain name ideas and suggestions to help you decide! 

The easiest way to start is to grab a pen and some paper and start jotting down any words that relate to the product or service you provide. It’s possible the domain you want is already taken, so you may need to get creative, but more on that later…

If you’re wondering how to select a domain for a company then this section has your name on it. In reality, a business domain name isn’t so different from a non-business name. It should be interesting, short, and memorable. 

The best domain name for your business is out there! Let’s continue with some useful tips on choosing the perfect domain name. 

Consider a name that’s brandable, not generic 

A company with a good domain is easily remembered. If your name just uses keywords rather than showing some personality, you’re not going to stand out from the competition. The domain name pizzarestaurantnyc.com is fine, but frankspizzaslice.nyc is much more exciting. If you are a business, remember to pick a professional domain name. You don’t want something that will offend people and make them distrust your company.

Come up with unique domain name ideas

It can be tough thinking of a catchy and unique name for your website. Now you’ve got your list of words related to your product or service, start thinking outside the box, and add in words related to the weather, animals, or something completely unrelated! 

There are many TLDs around and some lend themselves to wordplay. Join the second-level domain to the top-level domain to make a word, like pistach.io, calyp.so, and bons.ai. Why not give it a go and see what you can come up with?

Keep it short (not long), and easy to type

One of the domain name tips you must remember is to keep it short in length. If you choose a long domain name, it’s harder to remember, and difficult to type out in the browser bar. Here’s a real-world example for you —  it’s easy to remember a name like Anna Lee, rather than a name like Anna Lee-Chastain-Tanner-Riley-Ross

Make your domain name easy to pronounce and spell

Let’s imagine you want to create an advert for a slot during the big game. If it’s difficult for an actor to say your name in that advert, how do you expect other people to be able to understand? The same goes for spelling. How do you expect people to find you easily on the web if they can’t even spell your domain name? 

Keep it clear and unambiguous

Think about the people you want to reach. If you’re trying to grow your audience, it may be sensible to use familiar words, rather than industry-specific terminology that a handful of people would understand. 

Don’t use characters in your domain name

Although you can use hyphens, it’s not a good idea. You already know that keeping it short and snappy is preferable, so popping in unnecessary hyphens will elongate your name unnecessarily. In some cases, you may consider using numbers in your domain name. Websites like formula1.com and coffee2go.ie are a good example of numbers that work well. 

Whatever you specialize in, let people instantly know what you offer by using keywords in your domain name. Let’s imagine you own a pizzeria. You might consider pizzaplanet.co.uk. Try to keep a healthy balance between keywords and uniqueness, or you could end up with a generic domain that’s easily forgotten. 

Choose a mobile-friendly domain name

Mobile phones have small screens, another reason why it’s great to have a short, easy-to-type domain name that everyone will remember. You don’t want to be typing on your mobile so try to think of something small and mobile-friendly, such as uber.com or google.com.

Share your geographical location 

There are plenty of ccTLDs and GeoTLDs available to use. Maybe you want a trendy .NYC for your fashion boutique in Manhattan or a .TOKYO for your comic book store in Japan. 

Alternatively, choose a generic top-level domain and use a geographical location in your second-level domain, like miamibasketball.com or londonrugbyschool.com. There are many different ways to communicate your location, so have a look and see what makes sense for the area you want to target.

hedgehog considering domains in other countries

Think to the future

If you’re planning to expand your product range or offer more services, it’s worth taking some more time to reflect. To choose the best website name ask yourself, will this name serve me in the future? You don’t want to register bathroomsbysam.com if you plan to sell kitchens in the future. 

One way to diversify your website is to create subdomains. Take Twitter for example. Twitter uses the subdomain analytics.twitter.com to display useful data on followers and engagement levels. You can find out more by checking out the blog post, What is a Subdomain?.

Make sure it’s not trademarked or already in use

It’s important to find out if your name has already been trademarked or currently in use. A similar-sounding or identical name might confuse visitors, and even worse, have legal complications, such as establishing intellectual property rights. Search the trademark database to see if your name has already been registered.

Check social channels and register yours

If you’re keen on getting your website noticed by others, it’s sensible to check that you can get your hands on social handles. As soon as you’ve locked down your domain name, get on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social channels to claim your accounts. 

Can You Name Your Website whatever You Want?

Yes, you can choose any domain name, however, you can’t choose one that’s already being used by someone else, unless it’s up for sale on a marketplace. Here at Namecheap we have our very own Marketplace, so why not check it out today? Your domain name must also be between three and sixty-three characters, and made up of only letters, hyphens, and numbers.

Pick your own name for a domain name

So, is using your name for a domain good idea? It depends. If you’re looking to grow a brand based on you as an individual, it is. A personal domain is a good way to make your mark on the web and show customers that you mean business. 

Alternative suggestions for domain name choosing

Here are a few unusual ways to choose your domain name.

  • Open a book and choose a word at random. Repeat.
  • Switch the television on and write down the first word you hear. Change channels and do the same again.
  • Run a domain naming contest with your friends. 
  • Try abbreviating words related to your industry. 

Let us know if you used any of these suggestions in the comments below!

Use our handy tools 

We have plenty of tools for you to use when picking a domain name. Try our domain generator to uncover thousands of great options and filter them down to the one you want. Alternatively, if you already know the domain name you want, use our domain name finder.

Worried that your name has already been taken? Use our Whois domain tool to see who owns it. Make an offer and start negotiating with the person that registered it.

Computer printing out potential domain names

Can You Choose a Domain Name after Building a Website?

Theoretically, yes, you can. However, it’s strongly advisable to secure your domain name first. This way you won’t be disappointed when the domain you had your eye on is unavailable. 

How to Protect Your Brand Name

If you’re worried about competitors registering similar domain names to yours, make sure you’ve snapped them up first. Choose your main website, then point your other domain names to it with URL redirects, and be sure that customers aren’t led elsewhere when looking for your products or services.  

Act Fast

Once you’ve chosen a domain name, there’s no point sitting around and twiddling your thumbs. Get that domain name registered before someone else beats you to it. 

Buy Your Domain Name from a Trustworthy Place

Good news, Namecheap is a great place to buy a domain. Find out how to register a domain name from us now!

We have everything you need to get your idea online today, but if you want to research more before making your decision, check out our informative articles below:

How:

What:

Get a Domain Registration with Web Hosting

Everything is easier when it’s in one place! We offer domain and hosting in one handy package deal here at Namecheap. It’s your opportunity to save on popular domains and get money off our Shared Hosting packages, perfect for any budget. 

If you’re not sure that you need a hosting package, but you’re curious about the cost, you can find out the domain name price per year on our pricing page.

website and computer servers

If Your Domain Has Already Been Taken, Try the Marketplace

A good domain name can define online success or failure. If there’s a domain you’ve got your eye on but it’s already been registered, you may be able to snag it from the Marketplace. Why not come and discover website domains for sale in our very own Marketplace today?

Take Care When You Buy Existing Domain Names

If you are considering buying an existing domain name, make sure you know what you’re doing. Much like a second-hand car, you may never get the full background story, and if it was involved in any dodgy dealings, such as spam content, it may look bad in the eyes of Google. 

Check the domain history using the Wayback Machine

If you’re willing to do some research, the Wayback Machine is a useful tool to look at the saved history of websites. Plus, it’s always fun to look at how website design has changed over the years!

Check the domain history using the Whois database

Another way to find out a little bit more about an existing domain is to use our Whois Lookup Tool. You’ll learn about the owner, the date it expires, if it’s available, and other useful information you may find interesting. 

How to Know If a Domain Name Is Good

By now, you should now know how to tell if a domain name is good. If you’ve got a domain name in mind already, make sure you picked one that is:

  • Short in length.
  • Easy to remember.
  • Unique.

If you have all three, you’ve got a great name to build your website, company, and brand online. 

Examples of the Best Website Names

The web is full of silly and fun website names. As a treat for reading this entire blog post, here is a selection of some good domain name examples to make you smile.

Cute and funny names

If you’re looking for cute and funny domain names, consider short options and for good luck, throw an animal in! Here are three memorable domain names:

  • oh.no
  • boredpanda.com
  • tinybuddha.com

Catchy names

Want to know how to pick a catchy domain name? Think simple and to the point. Here are three memorable domain names:

  • reddit.com 
  • fourhourworkweek.com
  • hired.com

Feeling Inspired?

Congratulations, you’ve finished reading about the most important things to consider when selecting a domain name. If you know anyone that needs recommendations on how to make a website name, please feel free to share this post with them.

I hope our selection guidelines have given you some things to think about. You now have keys to coming up with a good domain name, so off you go!

Search for your dream domain name now

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Colleen Branch avatar

Colleen Branch

Colleen is a content specialist with over 11 years’ experience. She loves to write honest, clear and concise copy, and her work has been featured in many places in print and online, including HuffPost UK and The Times. Colleen’s passions include cooking, playing pool, and board games. More articles written by Colleen.

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