Each website on the World Wide Web is labeled with a name. When thinking of a domain name for your website, consider it like giving a name to your baby – it is special and meaningful.
First, what is a domain name?
A domain name is to a website, as a business name to a company, as nickname to a person. It is used to identify your site on the web. It must be unique, one and only. As a whole, domain names are housed by a domain name system or DNS for short. Behind every domain name is a unique set of numbers, which are hard to recall. Thus, these numbers are given easy-to-remember names.
Where do you get a domain name?
The source of your domain name is you. You will be the one who will give a domain name to your website. Once you have thought of one, you must register it with a domain name registry. Think of it like registering a business name with the Department of Trade and Industry or the Securities and Exchange Commission.
To register a domain name is paid yearly – just around $5 – $15 a year. There are web hosting company who offer free domain for life; provided you sign up for a web host account with them. GreenGeeks is one of those who offer a domain name free for life as long as your website is hosted by them.
What name do you have in mind? The following tips will be helpful.
Best Tips In Picking A Domain Name
1 Use Your Company Name
If your company already exists, then use your company name as your domain name. It is rule #1 that your website is associated with your business. Can you guess the domain name of Bank of America? Most likely, your guess is right.
What if it is already taken?
You can tweak your company name. Just make sure it is really close to your business name. If you are not targeting the global market, use country-code top level domain (ccTLD).
Speaking of country-code top level domain
If your site targets a specific national audience, you have the option to use country-code TLD, ccTLD for short. Brainly.ph, for example, caters online study help for students in the Philippines. Among the first ccTLDs are .us (USA), .uk (United Kingdom), .il (Israel) .au (Australia), .de (Germany), and 6 other more. Currently, every country is assigned a ccTLD.
Dot tv is commercialized for websites related to television, but actually .tv is specifically designated to the country Tuvalu. Other country-specific TLD used creatively for other purposes are: for radio and music, .fm (Federated States of Micronesia) and .am (Armenia); for websites, .ws (Samoa), for companies, .co (Colombia) and for personal blogs, .me (Montenegro). Not all ccTLD can be used worldwide. Finland’s .fi is exclusive to Finnish citizens. If your company is not located in France, you cannot use .fr.
Ma.tt is the personal website of Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress. Dot tt is the country code for Turkey. If your name is Joseph, how does jose.ph sound? Cool, right!
Registering your domain name with ccTLD is expensive compared to the generic global .com, .net, .org.
2 Brand Your Name
Your name is as good as your brand. So, if your name sounds commercial, go for it. If you are not comfortable with branding your name, you have the liberty to think of something else. The advantage of branding your name is that you can own it heart and soul; it has a personal touch, therefore, makes you trustworthy and genuine. Branding a personal name fits well for authors, artists, performers, public figures, speakers, consultants, personal bloggers, and writers in general, to name some.
Chris Spooner is a creative designer whom I get inspiration from through his creative design site Spoon Graphics. His other site is www.chrisspooner.com. An award winning photographer of Sweden is Mats Almlöf, whose site is www.matsalmlof.se. Guess who owns www.jkrowling.com?
Read this related article who had an expensive lesson for not matching her domain name with her brand.
What if your name is taken?
3 Tweak It.
To tweak is either to add an extra letter, remove, or replace one. In a way you change its spelling but it still sounds good.
His name is George but george.com is no longer available so he registered instead geor.ge (.ge is the country code for Georgia). Some other creative examples are: disqus.com, tumblr.com, digg.com, flickr.com, and mural.ly.
Here’s how I tweaked my domain name. My site is www.amikvs.org. Amikvs comes from the old Latin word amicus, which means a friend. In the old Latin alphabet, U does not exist; instead the letter V is used. So, amicus would be spelled amicvs. To ensure that my domain name is unique, I tweaked it more by changing C to K. Thus, amikvs.
How would you tweak your name, just in case?
4 Keep It Short, Simple And True
The simpler the name the better. Simple and short names and words are easier to remember. It is important that when you mention your website to others, they will be able to recall it without pain. CNN opted to use more cnn.com instead of cablenewsnetwork.com because people are more familiar with CNN that its longer meaning. Other good examples are time.com, forbes.com, navy.com, and apple.com.
Pick words that are true to your business or activity. So, if your website is about recipes, you may add the word food or recipes. If your site is about health, would you name your site with the word tools? I guess not.
These straight-forward words are called keywords. There are websites that abused the use of keywords. Not a good move, so don’t.
At this time, with over
960 million 1.1 billion websites worldwide, most likely the simple words and shorter names that you would want to use have already been taken. It is for that reason why some domain names are tweaked.
Is there another way?
5 Invent A Word
Another way to brand your website is to create a new word. Famous examples are: twitter, fiverr, pinterest, google, mozilla, and skype. When you invent a word or a name, keep in mind that it would be easy for people to say it and spell it. Limit it to one to three syllables as much as possible.
Is amikvs easy to say and spell? I must admit, I am guilty. 🙂 I could have thought of something else. To tell you the truth, it is not easy to come up with a domain name that is unique from all the
960 million 1.1 billion websites worldwide.
Let’s go to tip #6.
6 Combine Words But Be Careful
Aside from tweaking and inventing a word, you can combine two words. Just make sure that they are still short, easy to remember, straight forward, and related to your website. Travelchannel.com is straight forward; so is foxnews.com. By a 100%, you would know that their websites are about travel and news respectively.
However, nothing would stop you from being more creative. Lonelyplanet was started by a couple who traveled across Europe and Asia. Greenpeace is a site dedicated to caring for the environment.
Would you have any idea what wordpress and facebook be all about?
Be careful, however, when combining words. Some words when combined form another meaning. Pen Island’s domain name is penisland.net. When the owners of expertsexchange.com found out that their domain name did not look right, they hyphenated it to experts-exchange.
Rule#4. Do not combine words with the intention to deceive or mislead. That is against the law.
Speaking of hyphenation.
7 Don’t Hypenate; Don’t Use Numbers
The problem with hyphenated words is that you would think twice whether the domain name is separated by a hyphen or not. That violates total recall. Same is true with numbers. Was it 528records.com or 168records or records825? Well, you can guess every possible combination if you have the patience. At least, you get the idea.
8 Use the proper TLD
Popular domain names such as facebook, twitter, google, yahoo, wordpress, pinterest – all of which end with .com because these sites are commercial sites. Some domain names end with .org (organization), .edu (education), .gov (government), .mil (military), or .net (computer network). These dot domains are called gTLD or generic top-level domain. As you register your domain name, you must pick the proper gTLD. Simply put, if your site is not a government site, then do not use .gov. This is rule#2.
You can combine gTLD with ccTLD. For example, you can end your domain name with .com.ph just like www.pex.com.ph, an online community in the Philippines.
9 Do Not Use Trademarks
Stay out of trouble. Rule#3. If a name has been trademarked, do not use it for your website. For example, you can never include sony in your domain name, not even a word that sounds like sony. Otherwise, Sony will run after you. Same is true with all other registered trademarks. To be safe, make a research before registering your domain name.
Domains and Domain Names
The following is going to be too techy but I will make it sound as simple as possible. You can skip this, if you like, unless you want to add a bit of info to your stock knowledge.
Domains are classified into levels: top level, second level, third level, etc. A top level domain may be generic (gTLD) or country-code (ccTLD). The other level domains are the host domain, subdomain, and root domain.
A domain always requires a host domain and a TLD. It follows any of the following formats:
Any domain that appears before a TLD is called a second level domain. Any thing before the second level domain is a third level, and so forth and so on. The root domain is usually a second-level domain. It becomes a third-level domain if it is followed by both a gTLD and a ccTLD like .com.ph.
The most common host domain is www, which stands for the World Wide Web. Other host domains are ftp (file transfer protocol) and mail. Example, ftp.amikvs.org, which I use to transfer files to – from my website. Perhaps you are familiar with mail.yahoo.com and mail.google.com. You use them to manage your emails.
A sub-domain is a sub-directory of your root domain. For example, amikvs.blogspot.com is a site within the root domain blogspot. Once you already have your own site, you can create your own subdomain. For example, I can create blog.amikvs.org, which is actually the same as www.amikvs.org/blog/, which means /blog is a sub-folder in the root amikvs.org. Unless very necessary, you do not have to create a sub-domain. The sub-folder format is good enough.
Which one is ideal for your domain name: gTLD or ccTLD?
When you register your domain name with a gTLD, the subscription price is cheaper. Domain names with ccTLD are more expensive.
If you want your site to sound global, use gTLD. But don’t expect the whole world to see your site in every search because search engines give priority to sites that are in your country. In that case, using ccTLD would be an advantage.
Where To Register A Domain Name
Now that you already have an idea how to ideate a domain name for your website, start brainstorming. Follow the same method discussed in how to “Brainstorm Ideas For Your Website“.
With a billion websites worldwide, it is now difficult to come up with a unique domain name. Brainstorm domain names and make a list of as many as you can before you register your choice. If your first choice is no longer available, try the next one in the list, and so forth and so on. Don’t give up if all the domain names you have thought of were already taken. Allow your mind to incubate the ideas. Soon, you’ll get your desired domain name. It took me a month before I came up with my own domain name amikvs.
With the exception of sub-domain names, all gTLD (e.g. .com, .org), ccTLD (.ph for example) and combined gTLD and ccTLD (.com.ph for example) domain names should be registered with a domain name registrar. ICANN is the organization that governs the allocation of domain names via authorized domain name registrars. If you already have a domain name in mind, you can check its availability with GreenGeeks, the network company that’s hosting my website.
In A Nutshell
Your desired domain name depends on your purpose: SEO or branding. If SEO, use keywords that perfectly describe your website. For example, “tropical gardening”. If branding is your purpose, use your name, if it sounds good; otherwise, invent a word. For whatever reason, be creative, make your domain short (3 syllables preferably), and make it sound easy to say and recall.
Use .com, first and foremost. You must first own yourname.com, otherwise, you would be competing with your own domain name that is owned by another. If your domain name is already taken with .com, try another domain name. Once you’ve owned yourname.com, get a yourname.org as well. Your brand is important, so make sure that you own it. For example, if your brand name is example, you must own the following domains: example.com, example.org, example.net or example.edu (if it fits your purpose), example.ph (if you are targetting the Philippine market), and example.com.ph.
If you are budget-constrained, at least register your domain name with .com.
Make a list of domain names before you register your choice so that if one is no longer available, you can register the next one. I recommend GreenGeeks because they offer one free domain name should you choose to have your website hosted by them. Registration of a domain name is usually bundled with a subscription to a web hosting company.
Your Next Lesson
In your next lesson, you are going to build a website of your own at no cost at all. So, be ready with your domain name and what your website is all about. Don’t worry, you don’t have to register your domain name yet because you are going to use a subdomain.
You may be wondering why my site is amikvs.org instead of amikvs.com. Well, I used to own amikvs.com. I tried to transfer it to my current web host, but philhosting.net didn’t want to cooperate. When my domain name expired, someone registered it. Now it belongs to someone else. That’s why, you must take care of your domain name.