A domain name can be difficult to select because there are so many variables that go into it. But let’s get the basics out of the way first. In a perfect world, your name is:

  • Short
  • Easy to remember
  • Easy to say (explaining it over the phone to a prospective customer)
  • Easy to type

Think hard and check if it’s available by going here to GoDaddy.com.

If you have your domain after that advice, great! But most likely, what you just came up with is not available. So now let’s look at it a little deeper.

What’s your website going to be about?

In most cases, it’s going to be centered around one of three things:

  1. Your company – In this case, you want the domain to represent your business. This fits us. We’ve went through a few variations over the years – MindscapeCreative.com, MindscapeSolutions.com, and now Mindscape-HM.com.
  2. Your product(s) – In this case, you want your domain to represent your product(s). Let’s say you’re selling chef tools. Well, a great domain would be ChefTools.com.
  3. Your service(s) – Let’s say you’re a gourmet caterer. A good domain would be GourmetCatering.com.

Getting Creative

One of the ways to selecting a domain is relating it to the content the user will receive on the site, like we did above. But, it’s much easier said than done. As you notice above, the domains I am suggesting are taken. Just like millions of others! So this is where we need to get creative and look at the other variables.

  • Keyword focused – If you’re traffic is typically coming from the search engines, focus your name on the phrases people are searching for. As an example, working with Babbitt’s Sports Center we knew we wanted to focus a site on Polaris parts. So we got creative and came up with the name PolarisPartsHouse.com. It tells the visitor what the site is going to be about, but it also includes the valuable search phrase. Now search “Polaris parts” on Google.
  • Other extensions – .com is not the only domain extension, but it’s the preferred version. Unless you build your brand around a .net, .org, .biz, .tv etc, people will most likely try .com first. So we always recommend .com first, but if need be, other extensions are an option.
  • Extensions of your business name – You’ll often see companies adding inc, llc, corp, etc to their domain. Like GourmetCateringInc.com.
  • Local – If your company, products, or service are only local, consider including it in the domain. So GourmetCateringMI.com for a Michigan-based company. Or GourmetCateringGR.com for a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company. You can get as specific as you need to as long as it remains simple to explain and remember.
  • Dashes (last resort) – We’ve determined GourmetCatering.com is not available, so let’s try Gourmet-Catering.com. We have a dash in our domain (Mindscape-HM.com), but I wouldn’t recommend it unless absolutely necessary because it typically makes explaining and remembering a domain name more difficult. We have it included in ours for many branding purposes.
  • Using alternative letters (even more last resort) – We would never recommend going this creative. GourmetKatering.com. Swapping out letters that sound the same is typically a disaster. It’s simply too hard to explain, let alone remember. You’ll work very hard to drive traffic to the appropriate spelling of the domain name.

Getting REALLY Creative

And then there is the really creative way of choosing a domain name. Pick something that means nothing to most people and create something with it. Many companies have done this with a little bit of success. 🙂

And if you’re not feeling creative, here are a couple tools to help you out.

As of 3/23/09, there are 108,683,785 active domains. So the likelihood of your ideal domain being taken is fairly high. But with a little creativity, you can get a domain to build your online business around.