Choosing Domain Names For Startups
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What makes a great domain name?
Choosing the right domain name for your business can be difficult. There's so many to choose from, and you have to be certain as you wouldn't want to change it often and create inconsistencies in your branding. It is one of the first things your customer will see and judge about your online presence, so it is essential you choose a good domain name.
How to choose a great domain name for your startup
Keep it simple and memorable
If anyone tries to type your domain and doesn't find it easy to spell or remember, then there is a problem with your domain name. A short, memorable domain name like Google.com looks professional and saves your customers time. If someone wants to visit Twitter, Spotify, or Youtube, how long do you think it would take them to reach the website?
The best domain name is one that is predictable with your branding. For example, if your business is 'Morgans Car Parts' and you are based in London, your domain name probably shouldn't be any more complex than MorgansCarPartsLondon.co.uk. Additionally, a name like this that includes keywords for your business is great for SEO.
Customers should be able to guess your domain name based on your brand so that they don't have to copy links from elsewhere in order to visit your site or share it with others. If you said your website's name on the radio, could a listener find it? This is known as the radio test, and it exists to ensure that a domain name is easy to communicate.
Opt for a name that has a "nice ring to it".
Short, easy to read and pronounce names go a long way when it comes to your domain name. Some of the biggest brands in history use portmanteaus as their names. A portmanteau is two or more words combined into a new, made-up word that encompasses the meaning and value of both of those words.
Netflix, Pinterest and Microsoft are all examples of successful portmanteau brand names. Your domain name should sound nice and should make sense to the average person.
Brainstorm with online tools
If you're having difficulty coming up with an original and creative brand name, you can use free online tools that generate names based on keywords and themes. Let's say you had a website focused on space-related media.
Keywords you could enter into one of these sites could be space, media, planet, images etc. Many of these sites have blogs with tips on how to name your companies or services and other related posts, such as how to make your brand name easier to remember or whether you should use hyphens.
Some also have a marketing email list you can subscribe to where they send out suggestions and naming advice. Here are some handpicked online tools that will go a long way in helping you come up with the perfect domain name:
- https://namelix.com - Uses artificial intelligence to generate a short, brandable business name
- https://businessnamegenerator.com - Generate thousands of unique business name ideas for your brand or company
- https://howtostartanllc.com/business-name-generator - Combines keywords, industry and location to form the perfect brand name.
Doing the proper research early on can save you from any legal trouble in the long run. You wouldn't want to spend hours deciding on the perfect name only for the name and all variations of it to be already taken by established businesses. An available domain name on a registrar doesn't necessarily mean it is one you can legally take.
MikeRoweSoft.com was a part-time web design business launched by a 12th-grade Canadian student, Mike Rowe. Microsoft decided this name was too similar to their trademark and demanded Mr Rowe forfeit his domain.
They eventually reached a settlement where Mike Rowe received multiple Microsoft perks in exchange for the domain name. The end of this dispute, albeit amicable, shows that even similar sounding domains aren't safe from legal troubles.
Think outside the .com box
Instead of going with the traditional .com domain, you could choose innovative, industry-relevant domain extensions like .io for your business. Consider the two following domains: JaysComputerStore.com and JayComputers.tech. The second one appears more modern, creative and professional.
If you're in the UK, a co.uk domain is a better choice than .com as it shows your customers where you operate. If the domain name you're interested in is taken, you could find one that matches but uses a different domain extension.
How to Purchase a Domain Name
At this point, you already have an idea of your business name, and you are ready to purchase your brand new domain name.
Is My Domain Name Available for Purchase?
Firstly, you should type the domain name in your web browser. If it resolves to a website, you can check on that website if the domain is for sale. You can do a "WHOIS" search via a site such as DomainTools.com to check if the owner's details are public. The best way you can check if a domain name is available is by searching on a reputable registrar like NameCheap.com or GoDaddy.com to see domain name availability.
Domain Name Brokers
If you are not familiar with domain names, unsure about anonymity, or are not confident negotiating a sale, you can consult a reputable Domain Name Broker. With an increasing demand for premium domain names, virtual real estate is comparable to the housing market. It can be extremely difficult to find the perfect 'home' without the help of a professional.
Experienced Domain Name Brokers fully understand the domain valuations and landscape. They have access to unreported trends and sales, ready-to-go legal templates, and connections with key stakeholders, registrars, domain investors, domain market places and escrow providers. Do your research before choosing a Domain Name Broker.
You can use sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to see reviews and the professional's qualifications.
Making Offers on Your Own
If you decide you would like to purchase your domain without the help of a broker, it is important you do the proper research. If you were to walk into a new neighbourhood, you wouldn't be able to make an accurate offer without knowing how much nearby homes sold for. The same applies to aftermarket domain names.
Research similar domain name sale prices and submit your offer in line with these current market values. Let's say your dream domain is "KylesTiles.co.uk". You can use Namebio.com and search for the keyword "Tiles" to see the prices of similar domains. If the seller's price or counteroffer is too steep, you could explore lease-to-own or payment plan options.
Once you have settled on a price for the domain name, it is now time to securely settle the deal. A third party Escrow site like Escrow.com is the safest way to avoid scams. The exact escrow steps for each escrow site may slightly differ, but this is the typical payment flow:
- The transaction is initialised with the escrow provider.
- The escrow provider sends the buyer payment instructions.
- The payment is sent to the escrow provider. It is collected and verified.
- The seller provides the transfer code and unlocks the domain.
- The buyer submits a transfer at the registrar of their choice.
- The domain name will be transferred into the buyer's registrar account (This can take up to a week).
- The buyer notifies the escrow provider when they have the domain.
- The escrow provider releases the funds to the seller and closes the transaction.
Public vs Private Registration
After acquiring your domain, you must choose whether you would like your personal details to be public or not via the WHOIS database. Public registration will show your name, address, phone number and email. Private registration will instead show the details of the WHOIS privacy service that you chose to hide your details.
Locking your domain
You should lock your domain to prevent unauthorized changes, such as the domain being transferred to another owner and registrar. Finally, enable auto-renew through your registrar/hosting site, so you don't have to re-register the domain every time it expires.
Are you ready to buy a domain name?
Contact our domain name specialists today to discuss the purchase of your next domain name.