How to Pick a Great Domain Name
Your domain name is a major part of your branding – a foundational piece – so think carefully about it. Many of the following issues are really about what to name your business, but when your business name’s domain is taken, you may need to be creative. Just don’t be creative with punctuation, OK?
Consider how easy it is to spell. If you are telling someone over the phone, would you have to spell it out? The owner of Common Pulse (drum/rhythm stuff) explained to me that that’s why his business name doesn’t involve the word “rhythm” – nobody can spell it.
Dashes and numbers can lead to endless explanations. No, it’s a dash, not an underline. Yes, two words. Is that thirteen spelled out or 13? You could buy both, but it dilutes your branding somewhat to do that. Not that some companies haven’t made it work – 37signals for instance.
If Person A tells Person B (word of mouth), will Person B remember? You want to support the methods of marketing you are going to rely on most.
It is true that keywords in your domain name can give you an SEO boost. That’s why I named this site ‘E-commerce in Plain English” – e-commerce is in the title. But I didn’t name it “E-commerce Tutorials and Tips” because while there are more keywords in that title, it’s not unique or memorable and it doesn’t give a sense of the branding of the site. “E-commerce in Plain English” says practical, down to earth. It is a little long, but Practical Ecommerce was taken (by a very good magazine I highly recommend).
If you know a lot of your traffic will come from search engines, having at least one of your major keywords in your name is a good idea. If your marketing plan involves mostly word of mouth, it doesn’t matter as much. Still, it doesn’t hurt to cover both.
A final note about registrars
You can register domain through a registrar, or through your web host. My personal recommendation is to go through a registrar rather than through your host – it makes it easier if you ever decide to switch hosts, and dedicated registars usually have better tools to manage your domains. On the same token, registrars usually suck at hosting since it is an add-on rather than their main gig. So I would buy each from a specialist in that thing.
I use and recommend DynaDot as a registrar. They are customer-centric and pretty cool. If you decide to use them, my referral code is 7A8N7S6v6i8G7jW (thanks!).