Lesson #5: How to Find a Winning .Com
Having reached lesson #5 in our course, it is now time for us to pick the perfect name for our new website. This will be YourSite.com, which is known as a domain name. In this lesson I will walk you through the process of finding and purchasing a winning domain name.
The one thing that makes picking a name so challenging is that much of what you want is already registered by someone else. If you want Knitting.com, youʼre out of luck, someone else already owns this. The best way to think of this concept is like a piece of real estate. While the site that we create might be the building, the .com (domain name) is like the land. You must reserve your plot before someone else beats you to it.
Elements of a Great Domain Name
Consider this section to be a quick primer in what makes a good domain. Here are the list of guidelines that I follow when finding my own names:
- Less Than 15 characters. Some names are just too long. Something like TheBestHomeTeethProducts.com is terrible. TeethProducts.com is obviously much easier to remember. But of course, the shorter it is, the more likely that it has already been taken by someone else. Now, if you find an awesome name that is 16 characters, thatʼs fine if you think it works. Use your own judgement here. This limit does not include the .com.
- Use Your Keyword. I will get into the reasons for this in future lessons, but your topic should always be included in the domain name. If you build a site about knitting, ALWAYS use knit or knitting in the domain name if you can.
- Make it Memorable. There is nothing worse that having a visitor who loves your site, leaves, and wants to come back tomorrow… but they canʼt remember where to find you. If you make your name too obscure, or too general, people will have a hard time remembering. Try to give visitors something to latch on to. With ZZZ Profits, for example, its easy to remember that ZZZ stands for sleep, and the site teaches you how to make money in your sleep. Most people will be able to remember this and find the site again the next day.
- Descriptive Works Best. It is important not to stray too far from your topic. While many successful sites (like Amazon.com) use names that have nothing to do withtheir topic, a site like StatCounter.com clearly describes what it does just by reading the domain name. It counts the stats for your website. When possible, try to choose a name that describes itself.
- Get Creative. Sometimes this takes creativity, but one of my tricks is to use the keyword plus something unique or descriptive. This doesnʼt violate the above rules and it adds some character. Like CircleDebt, BusinessGears, LoanSniper. Those are all actual names I have used in the past. Maybe KnittingAlley, whatever. They are visual, descriptive and interesting. Often, these names are more readily available, too.
Other than that, have fun coming up with creative ideas. Take a minute now on a piece of paper to brainstorm what might work for your topic. Write out some words, names, thoughts, whatever, even if they seem crazy, write everything down that comes to mind.
Best Domain Finding Tools
So – you have your list of clever domain ideas that meet the above guidelines, now what do you do?! How do you check and see if they are available or if someone already has them? Good question. To do this, we are going to visit this website:
This is Godaddy, you can type in your domain ideas in the big box and it will instantly let you know whether it is available or already taken. When you enter YourSite.com it will search and return: “Yes! This domain is available” or “No, someone else already owns this”. If you find something that works, that you like, and that is available, awesome! Click check out and you can buy your name right here for $7.49. If you still canʼt find anything…
This is the part where you may want to pull your hair out. I have literally spend days trying to find the right name and it can be a frustrating endeavor. Luckily though, there are some tools that can help ease the pain of this process.
By far my favorite is a newer tool located at http://wordoid.com/. This free service allows you to enter a word (preferably you should enter your main term like candle or knitting) and it will spit back a list of possible domains including that word. And it really works. Plus, it tells you right there whether or not someone already owns the name. Whenever I am stuck, this is the first place that I check.
There are also two other tools that I use: http://www.nameboy.com/ and http://www.bustaname.com/. They both offer similar features. Between these three tools, you should have no problems at all finding the perfect domain for your topic.
.com, .net, .info, or What?!
When you go to register your domain at GoDaddy, sometimes (okay, most of the time) it will be unavailable as a .com. But the .net, .info, .me, etc. is available. Should you just give up on the .com and use one of the others? My suggestion is to ALWAYS use a .com. The reason for this is that most people have come to think of anything but .com as either scammy or second-hand. Iʼm not sure why, but thatʼs just the way it is. If you really want to use a .net, go ahead but I wouldnʼt recommend it. My opinion is that a decent .com is much better than a great .net. Besides, you should be able to easily find a good .com with the tools mentioned above.
Buying and Registering Your Domain
This is one place where you are going to have to spend a little money. You need to actually buy your domain name, but donʼt worry – it will cost less than $10 per year. To do this, first make sure you have your final name chosen (you can also register several if you havenʼt decided, they are always nice to have for future sites), then visit this link:
This page will take you to a special offer from GoDaddy. I think their standard domain name pricing is $10 or so, but this link gives you a discount. Any/all domains you order are just $7.49.
When you register your domain, you own it for 12 months. After that, you must renew for the same price or your name will go back to being unregistered, your site will go down and anyone can take the name. But you can set auto-renewal to make sure this never happens and you will get plenty of notices, too.