How to Find the Perfect Domain Name

According to DomainTools.com, there are currently more than 118 million domain names registered, and 86.7 million of those are .com op level domains. Even if you haven’t had the pleasure of spending hours trying to find the perfect domain name for a new business, product, service, event or group, these numbers make it clear why it can be so challenging.

As more and more people get online, the process of registering a domain name will get harder and harder. In fact, only 44% of small businesses have a website, according to research completed by WebVisible and Nielsen. The already fierce domain name competition is only going to get tougher, especially when you factor in some of the domain name wish list staples, including finding a domain that is:

  • Unique and memorable
  • SEO-friendly
  • Easy to spell and say
  • Relevant to the copy on the web site
  • True to the brand

That’s a lot to look for in a quickly diminishing pool of available domain names. So, to make your next domain name search more productive and less painful, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Try the Obvious

Your first search should be the most desirable domain, even if it’s so common it seems like a long shot. Not only can this give you a starting point for exploring appropriate alternatives (many registrars will offer suggestions that can get you thinking), but you just never know. Maybe your perfect domain is available at the time you run your search.

Don’t Hesitate

If you find that your most-wanted domain is available, or even one that you’re considering but not completely sold on yet, register it. For the average cost of about $10 per year, you should consider registering all of the domains that are possibilities and decide later. The last thing you want is to lose a would-be perfect domain because you waited a day or two to think it over.

Be Creative

Okay, so the ideal domain name isn’t available. That doesn’t mean you won’t find a good one, you just need to be a little more creative and think beyond the obvious. Here are some alternatives to explore:

  • Try a different top level domain (.net, .info or .biz)
  • Add a “transition” word before your desired domain (the or a)
  • Add a generic word after your desired domain (company or service)
  • Use an abbreviation
  • Go with a short phrase or slogan instead

Brainstorm the possibilities and keep an open mind. You may be surprised what you come up with.

Buy It

If the perfect domain is taken and you just don’t want to use anything else, explore purchasing it or something similar from a domain name auction site like SitePoint’s own Flippa, for example. This may get expensive, but it’s definitely worth trying. You can even contact a domain registrant directly to inquire about purchasing the rights, especially if the domain is not actively being used.

Use Tools to Help

The good news is that there are a number of tools out there to help you find the perfect — or at least an acceptable — domain name. From search tools, to name generators, to word manipulators, there is a lot of help available. Review this post listing domain name generators and search tools to get started.

For me, I tend to think in terms of the domain name first when I’m naming a business, product or service that will require a unique web site, and let the availability of names guide me. What’s your process? Have you ever lucked out and landed the perfect domain name?

Thumbnail credit: ilco

Win an Annual Membership to Learnable,

SitePoint's Learning Platform

  • WebKarnage

    If you can get the domain name with the 3 words you think someone will stick into a search engine when looking for your type of service, GET IT! this article is so right. Did this for a guitar teaching website and got top ranking (immediately after the Google map) for the relevant local search in 5-6 weeks!

    with best regards,
    Karn.

  • http://www.modernscribe.com GeneralBill

    If you want to really feel good about your online venture, go drop a couple thousand dollars on a really good domain name (make offers directly to people through Whois record searches). When you realize that your website sounds as professional as one of the big players, that might be what it takes to get you to start really believing, “Hey, this can work – my site can become mainstream!”

  • Niubi

    Alternatively, go all web 2! eBay, DubLi, Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit are all pretty much made up words which have since developed into a brand in their own right.

  • http://www.pageaffairs.com/ ralph.m

    Don’t know if this is true or not, but I read some time ago that if you are checking to see if a domain name is available, DON’T type it into your browser address bar. If you search for a domain that’s not registered, apparently this can alert certain parties to your desire for this domain, and they may jump in and register it before you.

    Don’t know if that’s true or not, but I always check for the availability of domains through domain registrars, such as this one:

    http://www.planetdomain.com/

  • http://galengidman.com/ fendeanson

    I’ve been lucky in my domain name registrations… all the ones I wanted were available at the time of my search. I’m sure there are still lots of gems out there, they just need to be found.

  • Mike

    Great article and I totally agree with buying it … i spent $2300 on a domain once for a site that was netting $1200/mo. from great SEO of that name.

    Also, checkout http://BizNameWiz.com a totally new twist on the mundane domain name search.