How to choose the right domain name

One of the most important decisions about your website is what will be your domain name. There are many constraints to chose the perfect domain name, one of them is it’s probably already taken. According to VeriSign, there are more than 350 million registered domain names right now. It means that if you are thinking about a domain name like MyFashionBlog.com or any generic name with .com, you can forget about it, it was registered in 2005. The good thing is, there are other possibilities and this guide will help you with finding an available domain name that you like.

Your perfect domain name is already taken

There is a good chance that the domain name you like is already registered. As stated above, there are 350 million registered domain names right now and this number is growing every day. The Chinese proverb “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” sums up pretty much when was the best time to buy your perfect domain name.

The sad thing is, a lot of domain names are not being used. They are parked and display advertising. You can try with the domain name listed above: MyFashionBlog.com. There is nothing on this domain name, only advertising links. The owner is waiting to receive a great offer that will make him/her rich. If you are launching your website, it’s probably not a good idea to buy this kind of domain names because the asked price could easily be around $5000 and there are a lot of better places to put your money.

The good ratio

If you read the three paragraphs above, you might wonder, how to choose the right domain name. I would call that process The good ratio. The good ratio is choosing a domain name that is short, easy to remember and available. There is nothing scientific about “The good ratio”, I just invented it while writing this guide. It’s not easy to find a short, easy to remember and most important, available domain names. You will need to be realistic about what you might find available.

Look for new domain extensions

The most popular domain extensions are .com, .net, .org and .info and .com is way above the rest and became the ultimate standard in term of domain name extensions. Every big company owns their .com address because of a non-official standard. In other words, it would not be professional if Apple’s website would be Apple.info or Apple.net. It’s sad that it’s like that but it’s like that and we have to do with it, at least right now.

In 2013, ICANN, the organization that is responsible for domain name extensions started to create new extensions because the availability of domain names with the extensions .com and .net became too low. Now there are hundreds of new extensions available to everybody. Here are some of the new extensions: .agency, .paris, .ceo. I will list more new extensions below this section.

The new extensions are still not being used a lot as people are scared to not be found or to not be understood by the general public as the .com became the standard. As it’s less popular and there are hundreds of extensions, there are still a lot of good domain name available.

In my personal opinion, if more people buy domain names with a new extension, faster it will become a standard and faster the general public will get used to seeing them. This might sound as a “do as I say and not as I do” as we use HookThemes.com as our main domain name but I still believe that new domain extensions are a good thing.

For example, if you are creating a blog, keep in mind that most of your visitors will come from Google or you different social media accounts like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Nowadays it’s rare to type complete URLs in your browser. Also, there is no proof that Google will index your website differently (in a negative way) if you use a new extension versus a .com domain name.

The new extensions could be even better than classic extensions as they would let visitors know what kind of business your website is about. Also, it was one of the reasons why those new extensions were established. For example, if a person is looking for a blog about museums in London and after a search on Google they see your website. In the search results, your URL will be displayed in the snippet: museumsoflondon.BLOG, the person might click more on your link than other links as they are looking for a blog. BTW museumsoflondon.blog is still available at the time of writing this guide and there are plenty of great museums in London to write about.

Here are more new extensions that could be used for your next website.

Arts and Entertainment
.actor .art .band .events
.gallery .movie .music .news
.photo .video .show .theater
Business and technology
.agency .app .blog .ceo
.click .digital .global .graphics
.marketing .media .solutions .website
Geography and Travel
.berlin .city .cruises .flights
.holiday .london .paris .tokyo
.vacations .vegas .voyage .wales

Here is few examples of websites that dropped their .com for a new domain extension:

  • barclays.com became home.barclays (.barclays is not a public new extension)
  • sierraep.com became sierra.finance
  • blacksea-estates.com became bse.london
  • internationalpreschoolcurriculum.com became ipc.education
  • melbournefestival.com.au became festival.melbourne
  • esnfpatientcare.com became triple.care

Buy expired .com domain names

If you are still not convinced to buy a domain name with a new extension, there is another solution. You can buy an expired domain name for the same price of a new domain name. Every day, people registered hundreds of thousands of domain names which also means that a lot of domain names expired every day. A domain name expires because their owner stopped to pay for it. There are multiple reasons for that, for example, you bought a domain name then found a better one so you will not renew the first one.

Now you are wondering, how to buy an expired domain name and is it easy? There are multiple websites that list expired domain names and yes, it’s easy. You buy an expired domain name the exact same way you buy a new domain name.

The biggest website to search for an expired domain name is expireddomains.net. I recommend you to create an account, it’s free, it takes 30 seconds and it will give you more options to search their database of expired domain names. Just enter a keyword in the top right search field and click enter. Once you have the full listing of your search, you can click on Show filter just above the results to filter your search. For example, you could only get the .com domain names, with no numbers and no hyphens.
Once you find a domain name that is available, try it in your browser to be sure it’s really expired and available. It could be possible that their database is not updated. If there is no website on the domain name, go to your favorite domain registrar, Godaddy for example, and put the domain name in the top search bar. If Godaddy let you buy the domain name, it means that it’s really available, if not it will tell you that the domain name is already registered.

Before you buy the domain name, I would advise you to make a Google search of the expired domain name. It could give you clues of what the previous website was. You might find a Twitter profile or Facebook page that are still using the domain name. You should search well as I’m sure you would not like to buy a domain name that was used with a “bad website”. A website that you would not like to be associated with. You can also use the Internet Archive Wayback Machine: web-beta.archive.org and type your domain name to see if there was a website on that domain name before.

Other things to consider

Finding an available domain name is alright a challenge itself but you might want to consider other factors. One of those factors is using generic keywords in your domain name. It might give it less personality but it will be good for your SEO. For example, if you didn’t know Google.com or Yahoo.com, you would have no idea what those websites are about. But if you take the domain name expireddomains.net, there are good chances that website is about expired domain names. You will need to find the good ratio between personality and keywords.

Copyright infringements is another factor. Before buying a domain name, do some research to be sure any parts of the name is not owned by a brand or company. As an obvious example, you could not own any domain names that contain google or yahoo even if they don’t own the domain name already. If you buy hilariousgooglesearchsugggestions.com, Google would have all rights to stop you using that domain name.

Do some competitors research. In other words, find your future/potential competitors and be sure that nobody is using a similar domain name to the one you are planning to buy. This was a mistake we did before starting HookThemes.com. We didn’t research the domain name enough. After the business was launched, I realized that there was a website using HookTheme.com. The same domain name as ours without the ‘“s” after theme. It’s not a big deal as the website is used to demo an old Drupal theme but we should have known about that site.

We covered many aspects of how to choose the right domain name and it might still be confusing if you have never done it before. Whether you decide to buy a domain name with a new extension or buy an expired domain name, my advice would be to take your time to research your competitors and research to see what kind of website was used before it went expired.

If you still need help or have other questions, please feel free to contact us.

Contact us now