Help Me Choose a Domain Name!

Deciding on a name for your online business can be a challenging creative process in which even trivial points can take on a huge significance.  Many people will remember the film, The Social Network, in which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg initally chose as his domain name  Later, this became simply  This was at the prompting of a business associate, who in one scene of the film points out that the domain name is better without ‘the’.

He was right of course, but it must also be acknowledged that there are no ‘hard and fast’ rules in domain name selection.  ‘The’ sometimes can work, and really, the decision on which domain name to adopt for your online business is subjective and determined by the unique circumstances of the venture.  It’s about branding, and to an extent, it’s also about SEO.  Nevertheless, here are a few tips to help you when deciding on what might be a ‘good’ domain name for your new online business:

  1. Start by thinking-up plain names that express what the business offers. For instance, might be better than  By matching a name to the product or service you offer, you make your marketing and advertising efforts much easier – including your SEO campaign – and you ensure that users know what they will find on your site.  An example of a successful plain-named e-commerce site is
  1. If you would prefer to develop your own unique brand-name, then unless the name will be linked with the generic product or service, you will have greater costs on the advertising and marketing front.  This is because you will need to ensure that users associate the brand name with the product and service on offer.  Paradoxically, a compelling or interesting name might make this harder.  Short and simple is usually best.  Names that offer tangential allusions to what you do can also work – for example, Google is a name is derived from googol, a large number, and alludes to the vast quantity of information collected for users; and, Amazon alludes to the raw materials of traditional publishing.  On the other hand, an example of a pure brand name that works is Orange (telecommunications, nothing to do  with oranges).
  1. If you are stuck and cannot think of a good name, then use a thesaurus to play around with words and phrases – perhaps existing, well-known websites – until you come up with something you can call your own.
  1. Once you have decided on a name, make sure you secure it through one of the online hosting services.  If the com suffix is taken, then decide whether you will accept an inferior suffix for your business.  Normally, it is best to find a name that has the .com suffix , as these are the most-recognized by users and likely to receive the most visits online.
  1. Do not overlook the importance of checking that no-one else is using the same or a similar name.  Start with the main online search engines – Google, Bing, Ask Jeeves and AOL – and also carry out a search with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  An I.P. or e-commerce attorney can help you with these searches and ensure that your domain name selection will not infringe anyone else’s intellectual property rights.

Let me know if you’d like to schedule a brainstorming session.

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Eric Wagner

Eric is a CEO with a background in marketing and search engine optimization specialist (SEO). In his free time, Eric enjoys exercise, gardening, technology, a good book, and spending time with family and friends.

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