How to Choose the Perfect Domain Name for Your Online Business
Written by Lusabara on April 11, 2018
At the time of this writing, any domains mentioned as examples were found unregistered or available for sale.
Choosing a domain name for your ecommerce website is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your business. Your name is the first piece of your brand users will experience, and serves as a symbolic placeholder for your business in the minds of users. To begin with, ask yourself these questions:
- What concepts and feelings do you want your store’s name to invoke?
- What steps can you take in naming your domain to find an appropriate place in the user’s mind, and stay there?
Many people imagine the creative marketing genius passively ruminating until the right idea strikes. But this isn’t how brilliant marketing happens in the real world. Success most often comes through a rigorous process with definable steps.
Today’s guide on how to choose a domain name will walk you through those steps, using a home care & medical supply store as an example. We’ll cast a wide net to compile the largest list of potential domain names we can. Then, we’ll set out guidelines to help you strike the non-starters from your list until you have a handful of appropriate, available domains to choose from.
Use our guide to determine which technique is right for your business, and follow along to create a superb domain name. Availability will be the primary major challenge in creating a name that sets you apart. You’ll need to brainstorm intensively about the nature of your business and customers to create something exceptional.
Prioritizing Branding or Discoverability
Will you prioritize uniqueness from the competition, or prefer to utilize market-wide keywords in your domain? To determine the answer to that question, you’ll need to answer a few others. How do you plan to get business to your site? Organic search traffic? Social media marketing? Pay-Per-Click advertising? What about affiliate marketing? If organic search engine traffic will be your priority, you’ll probably want to utilize some keywords in your domain. In most cases, a mix of both priorities is best, striving to create a brand name while also using discovery-related terms. Giving your brand a name that evokes more than what you sell ensures you will be not only memorable, but recalled with positive emotion by invoking concepts and feelings that resonate with your target user.
Step-By-Step Guide to Domain Name Creation…
1. When You’re Going the Purely Branded Route
Most ecommerce stores will not go the purely branded route. The purely branded approach avoids using market and product-defining keywords. In most cases, you want to ensure the name implies or explicitly states what you sell. Fun domain names with a whimsical or futuristic sound don’t meet that criterion. But there may be specific instances where it’s desirable. Tools like Wordoid and Domain Hole’s Domain Name Generator generate lists of pronounceable domains that aren’t real words. Scanning their results for words with a feeling and sound appropriate to your market will provide a great place to start.
Here are some examples of domain names we found that might be appropriate to a brand selling home care and medical supplies:
While these names are distinctive and fun, you might see how they could be lacking for an ecommerce store that wants to be clear about what is being sold.
2. When You’re Going the Purely Discoverable Route
You won’t often go purely discoverable either, as there won’t be many instances when domains composed only of market-wide keywords are available. But there are techniques you can use to come close. One reliable means of doing so is to append “store” or one of its synonyms to your market-wide keywords. You can even select a variant that captures your brand best, whether choosing “boutique” to imply high-class or “emporium” to imply a market with large selection and low prices. If your root keywords are on the long side, you’ll likely want to choose one of the shorter synonyms.
Keyword multipliers like SEOBook’s Keyword List Generator can combine lists of root keywords with suffix or prefix words like our “store” synonyms, to make this process painless and ensure all combinations are captured. Just add your root keywords (see below) separated by commas to one of the input fields, with your appended words in the next field. Then click Generate.
3. When You’re Going the Mixed Route
First, create a list of root keywords that define your niche or product offerings. It might also help to order them by preference. For our example, we’ve compiled the following:
Now we’ll use several techniques and tools to generate appropriate words and phrases with which to append or prepend our root keywords. By using lots of variations of the root keywords, including abbreviations and plural/non-plural variants, we’ll insure that we get the right sound, feeling, and length with the various words we’ll mix in.
The following step is the most important for the branding element of this technique, and should be as comprehensive as possible:
Create a list of at least 10 words that describe the brand personality you want to embody, the benefits of products you sell, or concepts with which you generally want to be associated. We’ll use “energy”, “vitality”, “freedom”, “well-being”, “renewal”, “peace”, “care”, “compassion”, “independence”, “comfort”, and “familiarity”.
Next, run each of these through a thesaurus like Visuwords or Thesaurus.com. Type in any other appropriate words that occur to you while using the thesaurus. Make note of any and all words you like. Don’t forget to click on the most relevant synonyms to see even more results. Once you have at least 25 (more is better!), start adding them to your root keywords.
Here are a handful of results based on the above root and word list:
In cases where we like synonyms that are a bit on the long side, we’ll be glad we have shorter variants on hand:
In addition to the above technique, you can use domain name generator Impossibility, which will append or prepend a set list of 4-6 letter words to your root phrase. It even displays only results for variants with available domains. While the results won’t be as on-point as those from above, they may spark great ideas you hadn’t considered. The 4-letter words setting can be particularly helpful when you want your domain to include specific, longer keywords. Here are a few we selected from our results:
Other Techniques for Creating Domain Name
Phrases & Sayings
Common sayings and idioms related to your market can spark great ideas for business and domain names. Input your descriptive brand personality terms into tools like The Free Dictionary’s Idiom Finder, Think Slogan, and Phrases.co.uk to look up related sayings.
Make note of all aphorisms and proverbs you like. Once you’ve compiled a list from all starting words, see if you can reformulate them into succinct names that invoke one of the phrases.
- Tender loving care >> HomeCarePackage.com
- Take care >> HomeCarePackage.com
- Care package >> HomeCarePackage.com
- Devil may care >> AngelMayCare.com
- Couldn’t care less >> AngelMayCare.com
- Care of the world on one’s shoulders >> WorldofHomeCaring.com
- Not a care in the world >> WorldofHomeCaring.co
A form of wordplay, blended words or portmanteaus utilizes an overlap in the sound of two words. You’ll have to review your root words and descriptor/synonym lists manually for overlap opportunities. You can also use Werd Merge to merge your root words randomly with other words.
Tweaking involves removing a letter or otherwise changing the spelling of a word for effect. Examples include Zoho (Soho), Zune (tune), Wikia, and eBay. This technique works best for high-tech brands.
Choose two or more words you want to associate with your brand. In this case, we want to imply we let people take control of their health. So we’ll combine variations of synonyms for “home” with “health”, “protect”, “wellness” and “care”. Run all your root keywords and brand personality synonyms through Bust a Name. You can also use SEOBook’s keyword multiplier tool from above to combine your root synonyms with brand personality synonyms. While this process will get by far the most relevant results, you can also use Domain Hole’s Name Spinner tool to compound your root words with random ones.
This involves affixing a suffix or prefix to an existing word. Examples include Napster, Todoist, and Feedly. The suffix “-ster” is particularly common. These can be a great way to add novelty while keeping character count down. Dot-o-mator is a great tool for this. You can add word and prefix/suffix sets of your own, or use pre-made, themed sets.
Domain Hacks & Unique Top-Level Domains
While many industry-specific TLDs are new and we aren’t quite sure how consumers will respond to them, we know that Google likes them. Furthermore, since they replace “.com” with a keyword, we can free up space in the rest of your domain name for other keywords. Input your root keywords in Domainr and Domain Hole’s Brainstormer tool to find such opportunities.
Domain Name Generator Tools
Here are a few more tools for a final sweep of potential domain names before we narrow our results.
How to Pick the Perfect Domain Name?
As you can see, some of these methods produce better results depending on the type of business you’re in. Hence the importance of casting a wide net. Now we need to narrow down your results to the one that offers the most strategic advantage. As you do so, keep in mind what sorts of themes various names might lend to your branding.
Here are some evaluative criteria to help narrow the field and help you choose the right domain name. For any that don’t fit the bill, strike them from your list.
Your domain name should be:
- Easy to remember (3 words or fewer is a good target)
- As short as possible (approximately 17 characters or less)
- Easy to type
- Easy to say out loud
- Easy to read (should not appear to contain other words when words are read side by side)
- Accurate and honest to your business
- Use .com domains only in the US, unless you’re going with a new top-level domain like .health
- Not be in use by other organizations
- Not contain numbers or hyphens
Don’t get married to one word or phrase. You may have favorites already by the time you get ready to narrow your results. If you find that it doesn’t fit criteria above, be ready to strike it and move on. Whether it’s in use by another organization, not quite accurate to what you sell, or just too long or complex, you’ll want to hold out for a more ideal domain.
Once you’ve got your list down to 5-10 options, you’ll want to make sure no variants are taken by other businesses, and that social media accounts are available. NameChk checks more than 150 social media and blogging platforms to ensure a user name is available, while Instant Domain Search checks the availability of domains and variants.
Finally, once you decide on a name, buy it and any important variations right away. There are bots that purchase domains similar to recently purchased ones in case the owner will want it and be willing to pay a hefty price later on.