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How to pick a domain name

How to pick a domain name
Marketing / SEO

How to pick a domain name

A domain name is a very important aspect of the online business. As such you need to know how to pick a domain name. A lot will depend on the choice for your domain name.

But what is a domain name in the first place?

A domain name is a memorable string of texts that represent a numerical IP address. All servers/websites on the internet that are publicly accessible, are only able to do it via their IP address. But the IP address is not people friendly, its just a collection of numbers. So a domain name acts as a sort of alias for the collection of numbers.

Before we discuss how to pick one, we need to remind ourselves the entire purpose of a domain name;

  • A domain name is meant to give a memorable alternative to the IP address.
  • It also can serve as the name of your business and brand.

Keeping all this in mind, here are some tips on how to select a good domain name

Check to ensure that there is no trademark attached

Of all the how to pick a domain name tips, this is a crucial one. First things first, you need to ensure that your domain name is not someone else’s trademark. So how do you look up the trademark? Its quite simple actually. Most of the countries follow what is called the Madrid system for managing international trademarks. In summary, the system lets people register and manage their trademarks worldwide. As such it provides an easy mechanism to look up brand ideas and see whether they are taken.

They have this nifty searchable database you can use to that effect.

WIPO searchable database
WIPO Searchable Database

All you have to do is to enter your proposed brand name, the category(for example healthcare, interior design, entertainment) and see if its taken.

So what do you have to keep in mind?

When you find that your domain is not someone else’s trademark, the first thing is to apply for a trademark. In the US this is done via the US Patent Office. Then you need to register and pay for your domain.

Don’t worry about the extension .com. Chances are, it may not be available. The domain extension plays a small role in SEO. So pick a domain extension that is available and you like. Alternatively, you can prefix your domain. For example, if you wanted, but is not available, you could use As long as you are in a different business category with the rest of the similar domains, you should be ok.

Also, you don’t need to register every variation of your domain name. This is expensive and will serve no purpose. The thing about trademark is that, you don’t need to own a domain to guarantee your trademark. For example, lets assume your business is Acme LLC, and you deal in interior design consulting. So you go to the trademark office and you are granted the trademark for ACME in the interior design category. This means that no one can use the name ACME in the interior design business.

So, you don’t need to register all the ACME related domains available, for example etc. If someone registers a domain that contains the trademark ACME, they cannot use it for the interior design business. But they can use it for businesses that are not related to interior design for example, health products.

Avoid locations in your domain

This is a big one. Often times, when we are starting businesses we are local. We don’t envisage a future where our business has take off and grown. So we are tempted to add a location to our domain name. For example, someone would open a company and call it ACME DOG CARE OHIO LLC. They they would get the domain

This is a very shortsighted approach, because should your business be a success, you may have to rebrand it so as to make the brand relevant across the country and across the world. Rebranding is expensive. Trust me on that.

Essentially you have to redo your letterheads, your signs and posters, your ADs. In addition to that, you have to spend more money to advertise your brand to make people aware that you have changed your name.

So its good to have a domain name that is not attached to any location in particular.

A short domain is a memorable domain

The entire point of a domain is to be memorable. So if you have an super complicated domain, you are defeating its entire purpose. Have a look at some of the great brands for proof. For example, Google, Yahoo, Bing. Most of them area rarely more than seven characters long.

It will be difficult to find new, unregistered domain that are below seven characters long but you need to try. The length of your domain will determine its effectiveness, which in turn determines your chances of success in the online world.

You don’t have to get a new domain

There is a good probability that the domain name you wanted is taken. Here is the deal, there are lots of annoying people who buy up domains, not with the intention of using them but rather selling them for profit. I highly dislike them but they are part of the industry and we have to deal with them. You may have to purchase a preregistered domain from such people. It sucks and leaves a bad taste in our mouths but there is no other way.

The secret with old domains

A well kept secret with domains is that they maintain their history. For example, if a fashion company registers a domain, and conducts its fashion business online, then the business fails and they let the domain go, the domain still maintains its authority in the fashion space.

So if you are in the fashion business and pick up the domain, you will get far quicker results. As mentioned, according to Google and the other search engines, its not an unfamiliar domain. They know about it already. This is a nifty growth hack that you should definitely use.

A word of caution

Domains maintain their history, good and bad. So there is a chance, if you are using old expired domains that you may end up with a domain used by bad actors. So always be careful and ask the seller of the domain to show you its verifiable history.

Register and pay for a domain for years in advance

Once you decide on the domain, you need to register for it years and years in advance. This is an SEO hack. You see, Google and the other search engines try to avoid fly by night websites. They don’t want to risk giving traffic to a website that is not backed by people who are not in it for the long haul.

So paying for years in advance helps you establish that you are indeed serious about your endeavor and its often cheaper.

Keep your WhoIs public

This is another SEO domain hack. As you are paying for your domain name, you will be asked to provide contact information. Then the registrar will ask you whether you want that information public. At first most people will be skeptical. It is understandable. Putting your name and contact information out there is a scary thing. But you need to keep the information public.

Google and other search engines want to be sure that the websites they recommend are legit. If the owner of a website wants to remain anonymous, then this spooks Google and the other search engines. So it may be a bit hesitant to rank you. So don’t set unnecessary hurdles for yourself. Keep the information public and once you get your website done, the information on your WhoIs(the contact info) should feature prominently on your website’s contact page. This shows you are a legit and you have nothing to hide.

If you want more information on how to pick a domain name, build your website or get traffic, feel free to reach out to us.

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