What do your favorite businesses have in common?
The brand itself varies from company to company. Some businesses are beloved because they’re brash and irreverent, and some are beloved for being kind and compassionate. It doesn’t matter what a brand is; it only matters that it exists. Your domain name is the cornerstone of your brand. Most of your visitors won’t ever meet you in person or step inside your store (if you have one). If you choose a domain name strategically, you can get customers who don’t even really need your product; they just want to participate in your brand. You can have people visit your website by the thousands, even though your website isn’t even close to being unique. That’s why web hosting companies insist that you choose a strong domain name. (If you’re clueless about what web hosting companies do, click here to read our quick guide.)
Domain names aren’t something you can treat as an afterthought. They’re crucial to the success of your website.
But hang on a sec.
We’re not being totally rude, are we? Have we just been blathering on about domain names without bothering to explain what they are?
What is a domain name and what is it for?
(If you already know this, feel free to skip this part.)
A domain name is the name of a website. It usually looks like this: www.yoursite.com.
Websites have domain names so people can find them. Computers don’t need domain names. They store your website’s IP address, which is a long string of numbers and dots that it would be impossible to try to remember. (You can probably remember a couple IP addresses if you try, but most people don’t visit just a couple websites.)
The right domain name will have your brand skyrocket to stardom, while the wrong domain name will cause your brand to plummet into obscurity.
How to find the domain name of your dreams:
1. Keep it short and sweet
A domain name isn’t the place to try to get cute with a long string of words that are only vaguely connected to each other. When it comes to domain names, memorability is the name of the game.
You don’t want people trying to recommend your website to a friend, only to find that they can’t remember the name of your website.
If you want to find the domain name that will help your website flourish, prune away any excesses in the names you’re currently thinking of. Get rid of adjectives and adverbs that don’t add anything new to your domain name and aim for a name that’s short and sweet.
2. Make it pleasing to the ear
The best domain names just sound good. They roll nicely off the tongue (We don’t get tongue-tied trying to say them), and they don’t produce ugly, clunky sounds. This is an easy one to test. Try saying your domain name out loud. If you stumble over it, then scrap it and come up with something new. And if you say it to your loved ones, and they only greet you with an awkward smile and nodding that looks just a bit too forced, same treatment: throw it out and try to think of a new one.
3. Cheat with a thesaurus
Rhymes and alliteration are easy ways to make things sound pleasant. It’s why they’re staples of songwriting and poetry. But most people can’t just alliterate on command. They can’t just think for a second, and simply say syllables with similar sounds.
Want to know a trick for coming up with great alliterative phrases and rhymes? Use a thesaurus.
If your sentence is perfect except for one pesky word that doesn’t quite fit, use a thesaurus to replace it with a word that pops right in, like a
great perfect puzzle piece!
That way, you don’t have to spend time trying to think of a rhyme or alliterative phrase right out the gate; you can think of a domain name that you like, then make it sound good later. This way, you can take the pressure out of brainstorming.
And remember: This is where your creativity comes in. You don’t have to use rhyming or alliteration. They’re just great places to start.
5. No hyphens or unnecessary symbols
This is part of making sure your domain name is memorable. Domain names aren’t like phone numbers. Most people don’t store them in their phones or anywhere other than their brains. So, you’re trying to find the domain name that will be so memorable that people who can’t remember what they had for breakfast two days ago will remember your domain name in their sleep.
That means no hyphens or unnecessary symbols.
6. Add keywords
This is a great way to improve your search engine ranking and make it more likely that your ideal visitors will find you.
Don’t force it, and don’t sacrifice memorability for keyword-stuffing, but if you can organically create a domain name that also includes a word that your visitors often type in when they’re looking for whatever you sell, you’ve hit the domain name jackpot!
Think of domains like Cars.com. Gold.
7. Make it easy to pronounce and spell
People shouldn’t feel like idiots when they’re trying to say your domain name. If people don’t want to say your domain name out loud just in case they accidentally say it wrong, or if they don’t want to write it down in case they can’t remember if a word in your domain has two “t’s” or just one, they’re not going to tell anyone about your domain.
So, make your domain name easy to say and easy to spell. That means no awkward sounds, no double letters if you can help it, and no obscure words that only five people know how to say. Keep it simple.
8. Register your domain name quickly
The most important thing to do when you think you’ve found the perfect domain name – one that sounds great, attracts your ideal visitor, and that no one could spell incorrectly if they tried – is to register it. Don’t wait. Don’t ask fifty more people if they like it. Register it before someone else does, and you end up having to start this whole process from scratch or paying hideous sums of money trying to get the name from someone else. (We only wish we were joking about this.)
So, think slowly and carefully about your domain name. Then register it as quickly as your little fingers can type.
Wrapping things up
Domain names can mean the difference between having your website be a ghost town or the talk of the town. Take your time scribbling down crazy combinations of words and interesting turns of phrase. Dig through your thesaurus for gems of genius branding. Brainstorm in the shower. Whatever you do, don’t rush the process.
When you find the domain name you’ve been searching for, your ideal visitors – the people you’ve always wanted to make content for – won’t keep eluding you. You won’t even have to bust your brain trying to think of ways to attract them. They’ll come running to you.