11 Domain Naming Tips

There are certain things about some domain names that make them better, and more valuable, than others. What follows is a list of 11 tips that are recognised by many domain name experts as increasing the desirability, effectiveness and value of a domain name.

Go for the .com

There are lots of domain extensions (called TLDs – Top Level Domains in the domaining industry) but none beats having the .com. It’s the equivalent of Gollum’s precious – one TLD does rule them all! The .com was one of the original TLDs (along with .net, .org, .edu and .gov) and is still the most popular, and the most highly valued. Good ones are hard to find (and maybe outside your budget – PLENTY of .coms are worth six or even seven figures). Sometimes you have to settle for one of the second tier (and cheaper) extensions. Which brings me to the next tip.

.coms rule them all!

Register the .net and .org

If you can’t find (or afford) an available .com you might decide to register a .net or .org (which are worth around 5% – 10% of the equivalent .com). This could be a good way to go, at least for a start-up – maybe with the ultimate aim of buying the .com in the future. An alternative scenario is when you’ve found an available .com and want to protect your brand by registering the other popular TLDs. Called a defensive registration in the industry, grabbing these other extensions prevents your competitors from registering them and siphoning off some of your traffic. So, what do you do if the .net and .org are also unavailable?

Consider some of the newer TLDs

There are heaps of newer TLDs, and while not as popular (or as valuable) as a .com, they might make sense for you if you have a niche business. An example might be c.recipes – this could be a great fit if you were developing a site about cookie, cake or chocolate recipes for instance. Yummy!

Use the radio test

The radio test is widely used by domain name professionals as a basic screening test for a potentially valuable domain name. Essentially, if you can say the name on the radio without spelling it then you’ve passed the test. An example of a name that passes the test is ZebraSonic.com. Examples of names that don’t pass the test include Princesss.net .com and Z3bra.com.

Avoid name hacks

You should avoid name hacks (substituting a number for a letter like in Z3bra.com) where possible, because it fails the radio test and means you’re going to have to spend a lot to promote it as a brand before it becomes recognisable.

Avoid numbers and hyphens

Most domain name experts advise that you should avoid including numbers and hyphens in your website name. Apart from failing the radio test and name hacks rules, including hyphens or numbers can lead to SEO penalties and increase marketing costs.

Keep it short

Shorter names are easier to remember, easier to type and usually more value. Sometimes you have to compromise on this one, though, because a lot of short single words have already been registered. One option is to combine two short words – an example would be BuzzDodo.com.

Use descriptive terms, keywords and locations

Including words that explain what your site does builds credibility, improves consumer confidence and might get some direct traffic from people directly entering the name into their browser (called “type-in” traffic). Keywords are important for telling search engines what your site is about and also telling your customers what you do. And using your location in your domain name automatically qualifies your customers so that you know that they’re in the market for the product or service you’re selling. An example combining all three is SydneyJujitsu.com – this name makes the theme and location of the website completely clear!

Register an expired domain name

Many domain names have been registered before, but for whatever reason their domain registration has lapsed. Checking expired names can be a great way to find a cool name that works for you – and sometimes they come with backlinks and other SEO benefits. My favourite spot for finding expired domains is Expired Domains (expireddomains.net) – I’m going to record some videos on how to use it to full advantage, so keep an eye on mazedomains.com for upcoming details.

expireddomains.net is my favourite expired domain name search tool
(requires free membership)


Sometimes you need to break the rules

When all else fails, or you like taking risks, try breaking these rules. Sometimes this works because there’s always exception, and someone needs to set the trend!

Why you need more than one domain name

The days of buying just one domain name for your business are long gone! It’s easy to develop a digital strategy where you buy a number of related domain names that you redirect to your main website. When someone visits one of those redirected names, they will be automatically redirected to wherever you want. Another advantage of owning multiple domain names is that, if you own them, your competitors don’t!

Don’t be afraid to pay for a good domain name

Good domain names are like premium waterfront property – the supply is finite! So, that’s why names like cars.com and hotels.com are currently worth tens of millions of dollars, and why quality domain names usually increase in value over time. The lesson is that a few hundred (or thousand) dollars spent wisely now might pay off big time over the years to come.

I’ll leave you with a final thought. Once someone has registered a domain name, that name may never, EVER come back on the market – potentially the current registrant can keep it for the next fifty years if they want, as long as they keep paying the yearly registration fee. So, if you see a name that you want that works for you, and it’s on the open market, grab it while you can – it might not be there tomorrow, or ever again!!!

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