1. How easy is it to type?
Whether on a desktop keyboard or on your smart-phone? Are there any special characters? Is it possible/likely someone might mis-spell it?
If it’s too difficult to type, even on a touch-screen phone (like an iPhone), I’d consider choosing another domain all-together. Think simpler.
2. Say it out-loud. How does it sound?
If you tell someone to visit your domain name, can they understand how to spell it?
Sure, you’ll have business cards with your domain name typed on them, but when you’re having a casual conversation at a networking event or when you’re on the phone with someone, you’re likely to say, “visit my website, the URL is ___________________.”
It’ll either sound just fine and the person will be able to pull up the web address right, or they won’t because they don’t get it.
Again, aim for simple.
3. A keyword rich domain is great, but not at the risk of skipping points #1 and #2.
DomainsBot is a pretty neat domain look-up tool. The site will let you search for a specific domain name that you are interested in or you can even search by keyword. If the particular domain/keyword that you looked up is taken, DomainsBot will show you alternatives such as .net, .org, .co suffixes and more.
If you can get a relatively short, keyword rich domain name, go for it. Otherwise, I’d prefer something brandable like:
pasadenaviews.com vs pasadena-ca-homes-for-sale.com
The second one doesn’t read quite as well and frankly, it’s a pain in the *ss to spell.
4. Before you register your domain, make sure it’s available on social media.
It’s great that you secured the URL. Now you can build your website and brand your email with your new polished domain name. But if the name you used for your domain name is taken on all of the popular social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et cetera), you’re losing out. Securing your new brand name on each of the major social networks is a big part of the new media branding puzzle.
KnowEm is a great tool that lets you search names/keywords to see if they’re taken on over 500 social networks.
5. Buying and hosting your domain name.
Once you’ve settled on a strong domain name that reads well, is easy to spell, and is brandable beyond the site URL and email (i.e. other social networks), you’re all set to go out and buy it.
Really, there are tons of companies where you can purchase a domain name and hosting. Here’s what you should be looking for in a hosting company:
- A company that allows you to purchase multiple domain names and offers unlimited storage and bandwidth.
- A company that has around-the-clock customer support (live-chat and 24 hour phone support for example).
- A company that doesn’t require annual contracts or agreements.
Lastly, be sure to set your domain name to auto-renew. You don’t want to forget to pay for your domain name one day and have an empty website (I’ve mistakenly done this before).
What else do you recommend?
Any other tips for choosing a domain name? Who do you host your domain(s) with and do you recommend them?