How to choose a good domain name

Right.  You’re ready to set up a website for your company, or your new blog, or your hobby.  Exciting!

Now you have to decide on your domain name – the bit between the www and the dot com – also known as the URL.

Maybe the best domain name for your new site is completely obvious, and no-one is using it already, in which case great stuff!  Your work here is done.  Move along please, nothing to see here.

Or, maybe you need a little inspiration.

Use your name?

An oldie but goodie.  Examples among my clients include and

On the upside, your name hopefully won’t be in use already.  It’s a simple approach, and helps you build up a brand as you, yourself.

On the downside, your name is probably not something people are going to be typing into Google, if they’re hunting around online for the thing you’re selling.  And if you tell someone your URL, they may not find your name memorable.

Go quirky

Do you have a bright idea that’s outside the box?

Virgin, Amazon and Apple are examples of huge brands that don’t have anything in particular in common with that they’re selling.

Or make up your own word: Uber or Trivago.

Quirky, memorable, stylish.  Go for it.

It says what it does on the tin

Or go super-practical: or

Not very exciting, but nice and clear, and with a chance of picking up some traffic from Google.

Like having your shopfront on a street with good footfall.

Emphasise a benefit

In an ideal world, your domain name itself will help people inch closer to being your customers.

How can it do that?  By emphasising a benefit (to them) rather than a feature (of you).

Can your domain hint at what’s in it for them?  Rather than describing your business, can it describe why they’ll enjoy being your customer?

Easyjet, say.  More appealing than Cheapjet, right?  Or, if you’d never heard of either, more appealing than Ryanair?

But … is it already in use?

Now that you’ve come up with a great concept for your domain name, the bad news is … it may already be in use.

Check by searching for your idea, and similar spellings and variations, on:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • And anywhere else that your tribe might hang out

Also try just typing the URL into your browser.

If someone is already using the name, for a similar type of business, I would go back to the drawing board if I were you.

The last thing you want, in a few years time, after you’ve built up a thriving business under your lovely new brand, is a cease and desist letter.

(If you’re determined to plough ahead regardless, I’d recommend consulting an intellectual property lawyer.  And also consider whether you want your shiny new brand tangled up with someone else’s.)

But, if it’s looking good, and no-one is already in your space, then take screenshots of all your searches and save them somewhere, so you have evidence in the future, if you ever need it, that no-one else was there before you.

.com, .biz, .co?

You could drive yourself a bit crazy buying up every ending for your domains.  Plus, it would cost you a fortune every year.

I’d definitely recommend buying the .com if you can.

It’s the simplest ending.  Most people who are typing your domain name into their browser from memory will probably try it first.  Or if they Google you, this is probably the first variant they’ll click.

And then maybe also buy the or the, or anything else that is popular in your geography or your industry.

(Your hosting company will be able to ‘forward’ these additional addresses, so that if people type them in, they’ll arrive at, say, your .com.)

HOW to buy a domain

You can buy (or really it’s more like rent) domains from a multitude of sources online.

It’s worth planning ahead.  In due course you’re also going to need hosting.  Whoever you buy the hosting from will probably also want you to transfer the domains to them as well.

Domains are generally fairly inexpensive, but hosting can be pricey, so the hosting choice may feel like the more important one.

So you can save admin if you buy your domain from the same company you’d like to buy your hosting from later.

I’m currently using TSOHost for my domains and hosting.  I have to say I find some of their pages for managing my account a bit unintuitive, but otherwise it’s going well, my site works and their support has been prompt and helpful when I’ve needed it.  (And that’s an affiliate link, meaning I’ll get a commission if you buy from them, but that’s not why I’m mentioning them!)

In any case, choose a host to suit your needs.  If you’re planning to have a WordPress site for example (which I would often recommend), choose a host that offers WordPress hosting.  They will create your site for you, and add you as an admin, so you (or your web developer) can just log in and start tailoring your pages.


So have fun.  Good luck with choosing and buying a fantastic domain name, and creating a wonderful brand.

And if you’d like some help with setting up your site, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Image: Pixabay

About Jessica Kennedy

Authored by Jessica Kennedy, the Marketing Chihuahua. Jessica writes text for the websites of small businesses and charities, and provides coaching in blogging and social media. She really enjoys helping people and organisations express themselves fluently online, in painless and practical ways.