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How To Choose A Website Domain Name

Suggestions On How To Find A Cool Website Domain Name

An easily brandable website domain name (URL) is normally best. Do you want to establish yourself as a brand over the medium to long term?

From a branding perspective, a catchy, ambiguous title like Google is vastly preferable to a multi-word domain name like This type of keyword rich domain name name might even irk the SE's in time, but, at the least, it'll certainly bother you every time you have to type it, which will be often!

The value of keywords in domain names is not that important to SE's any more (if they ever were). In fact, there is consensus that too many dashes in a domain name might even be detrimental from an SEO point of view. Domains names without dashes are certainly 'cleaner' and more attractive than those with dashes. Sometimes you don't have a choice, as the preferred single word domain names are already taken. (This website domain name is a case in point)

Dashes can be appropriate on occasion. In the example of it 'reads' or flows well, as the first word ends in a consonant. But with the word break is not so clear, so is easier to remember. Use your discretion, with a name that lends itself to a strong brand your overriding determinant.

In the following well known and real examples of funny domain names some dashes would have helped the search engines and readers not arrive at ambiguous assumptions, although one can argue that that is exactly why they have a value - the exposure these sites have received due to their controversial names is inestimable.

Funny Domain Names

Who Represents - agencies for the rich and famous
Experts Exchange - a knowledge base for computer programmers
Pen Island: Site about pens
A plant nursery

Local .CO.ZA versus .COM domains

First, understand that a local domain name ending in can compete globally and a .com can compete locally. If you are certain your business will remain 'local' and not extend beyond your borders at any stage, certainly choose a domain name.

If you are a plumber or CCTV installer, with your potential clients geographically restricted to your city/town and surrounds, you would probably choose a domain. A consultant, on the other hand, could conceivably find themselves offering services online, anywhere, even though at this point their business is derived locally. In this instance they might elect to go with a .com extension.

Either way, it is recommended to register both your and .com version, to both protect your brand and make provision for the eventuality of going 'global'. A good name is also an investment, as is an established website that receives healthy traffic. There is a growing market for websites that are 'going concerns'.

It is easier to achieve high rankings (locally) with local domain names, hosted locally, due to the less competitive nature of local South African searches. You will also be more readily accepted into the major directories.

Researching Your Website Domain Name

'Google' your proposed domain name ie. type the name into Google and see what comes up. You might find that a company or product with the same name exists, exposing you to potential litigation, or confusion at the least, when your brand becomes more established. You could even find it means something embarrassing in another language.

Use Google's 'definition' feature to find meanings of your intended name in other languages. Type your single word into the Google search bar, click on 'definition' in the 'Results' bar and scroll down to see foreign meanings.

Ideally you want a website domain name that is:

• Easy to remember
• Relatively short
• Easy to spell
• Not embarrassing or difficult to repeat
• Distinctive & attention grabbing
• Has a professional ring to it
• Relates to your products or services
• Is legally available for use
• Possibly the same as your existing company

Once you have arrived at your shortlist of names, bounce your selection of potential business/website names off family, friends and colleagues before finally committing yourself. I say business names, because that is, in effect, what you are starting.

So concentrate on finding a nice catchy title and be less concerned with keywords in your name. You can create plenty of pages to capitalize on those profitable keywords later.

Does your brand name resonate with them? Do you feel that it is 'you'? Then you are ready to register.

Registering Your Domain Name

Register your website domain name as soon as you are sure about it, so Google and the other SE's can get start their indexing process.

When you register, pay for your domain name for at least 2 to 5 years in advance. Some SEO's speculate this indicates to the Search Engine's (SE’s) you have long-term intentions for your site. Register with an email address that will be in use for a long time – you don’t want to miss your renewal notices.

Don’t live with an unsuitable domain name that is going to unnecessarily impede the growth of your website.

Buying an Existing Domain Name

It sometimes pays to buy an existing domain name. There are plenty of sites that make a business reselling domains. Or approach the site owner directly, if you have a name you just have to have. You can use the site or WhoIs to get owner contact details.

The advantage of an existing domain name is the opportunity to leapfrog the ranking process and possibly avoid the Google sandbox new websites experience. Google definitely favours websites that have been in existence for a while and have established their credentials.

Ensure it has no skeletons in its closet or been previously banned.

Resources – Trademark & Copyright Violations

The safest way to avoid getting a Cease & Desist letter is to employ the services of an attorney. You can also check your proposed name for possible copyright infringement at these websites:

Resources - Domain Name Registration & Hosting/ISP Services

International domains:
DirectNIC ($15.00 per domain name). My personal choice for registering my domains, as their range and quality of service is outstanding. A bit more expensive, but you get free services such as URL forwarding, email forwarding, Web hosting, for sale pages, and free domain parking.

GoDaddy ($9.00 per domain). Popular, but limited with their range of services. I’ve heard of problems transferring domains from GoDaddy.

NameParkIt! $9.95. I use SBI! NameParkIt!For most of my site registrations. They have the most comprehensive hosting service, with fantastic tools and advice on selecting a domain. If you register through them, the domain registration fee is included in their price. Only catch – you need to be an affiliate, but that can be lucrative anyway.

South African domain name registration: Deal directly with them and save money. The cost is R50.00 per domain, and you must have your proposed hosting/ISP company information available. Your ISP can also help you with the technical bits. A commercial company charging approx R85 per registration, but they simplify the process for you. use WebAfrica as my South African ISP. Their service has been nothing short of exceptional and their prices are excellent, too.

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