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Website basics

Our best tips for coming up with domain name ideas

Reliable methods to narrow down your options and come up with the right domain name.

January 27 · 10 min read

Are you struggling with domain name ideas? You might be relieved to know that many others are in the same boat. In addition to defining your website, the domain name you choose will play a key role in communicating vital information to both online visitors and search engine crawlers.

That’s why for many, deciding on the domain name is one of the trickiest stages of establishing their online identity. And in most cases, once registered, there’s no going back to the domain registrar company to change it.

Fortunately, there are several reliable methods to narrow down your options and come up with the right domain name. We’ll explore these methods in this post, as well as walk you through the steps and helpful tools involved in the process.

Why you should put some thought into your domain name

Done properly, your domain name (aka website name) should add value to your website or professional practice.

And that’s why the process demands careful thought and consideration before settling on a winner. Other reasons include:

  • It defines your website’s address on the Internet and sets the tone for your brand’s first impression.
  • It has an impact on your brand’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. Some marketing gurus even believe your domain name is fundamental to your keyword optimization strategy.
  • It reinforces your brand identity and can improve recognition across the web.
  • It is for life. Choosing a domain name is akin to naming a newborn baby. For as long as your business or practice exists, that website name will be used to identify it. Sure, you can alter your domain name later on, but doing so can often lead to time-consuming complications and mess with your SEO.
  • To avoid possible copyright infringement. The last thing you want is to be mired in some form of legal action because you didn’t take the time to conduct proper research during your domain name search.

Two schools of thought on the perfect domain name

The perfect domain name is one that seamlessly embodies what your website is all about, in the shortest, most creative way. How you go about selecting it will largely come down to which school of thought agrees with your online branding strategy.

Discoverable domain names

The first school of thought asserts that a domain name should prioritize discoverability above other considerations. This means going for something descriptive and preferably containing a keyword relating to your business.

Proponents believe that unique made-up names, such as google.com, twitter.com, and godaddy.com do not make for a good domain name since they are not easily discoverable from a simple web search.

Discoverable domain names make it easy for someone who doesn’t know about your website but is conducting online web searches to find your site. When they type a search phrase or related words directly into the search bar of their browser, your keyword-optimized domain name has a better chance of showing up among the results.

Brandable domain names

The premise behind brandable domain names is that they are unique and therefore great for establishing a distinct identity while also evoking curiosity in the visitor.

Look at our website name for example — b12.io. At first glance, you’re probably not thinking that it has anything to do with professional web design and related services. But the name kind of makes you wonder and can prompt you to click the link to check it out.

Some brandable names are so unique that they are unlikely to be mentioned anywhere else on the web except your website and social media pages. This uniqueness can be a good thing because it strongly reinforces brand identity and recognition. When people enter the name into the search bar, they know precisely what webpage or platform they want to land on.

Discoverable or brandable?

So, what will it be for you — discoverable or brandable domain name? The primary consideration here is how you intend to drive traffic to your website. And remember you must consider both short and long term.

If you intend to rely mostly on organic search to drive traffic and promote brand awareness, a discoverable name may be the better option. The key is to think of a real word or phrase that other people are likely to think about when doing an online search.

The catch is that many of these words/phrases may have already been registered by someone thinking along the same lines as you. As such, you may have to shell out the cash to obtain the discoverable domain name that you selected.

On the other hand, brandable domain names may be perfectly suited to a traffic generation approach that is primarily based on paid search listings and online buzz through prominent mentions of your site. Because they are distinctive, memorable, and evocative, brandable domain names tend to stand out more.

Of course, this isn’t to say brandable names are not good for organic search, far from it. Websites with unique domain names can still enjoy superior organic traffic through other SEO strategies, such as keyword-optimized content, effective link building, and quality user experience.

How to come up with domain name ideas

#1 Use your registered business name

This is the easiest way to get a great domain name. Assuming you put a lot of time and effort into selecting a unique brand name, then you might as well use it as your domain name too.

The main advantage here is that you don’t have to spend any more time racking your brain and scouring the web for a good domain name. If your company name is unique, you can be sure your domain name will be unique.

#2 Add a suffix or prefix to make it unique

Maybe you’ve decided on the perfect domain name only to discover that it’s no longer available. Adding a prefix or suffix to the name can give it a uniqueness that you can then exploit. Some classic examples of prefixes and suffixes include the, pro, super, meta, free, web, net, labs, guide, city names, and so on.

However, one thing to note is that adding these suffixes or prefixes makes your proposed domain name longer. This can mean going against one of the basic tenets of choosing a great domain name, which is to keep it short and concise.

#3 Hold a brainstorming session with key stakeholders

“Two good heads are better than one,” as the saying goes. Sit down with your team and brainstorm good domain name ideas relevant to your business. Encourage everyone to think broadly and list down creative domain names that come to mind. You never know where the inspiration for the perfect domain name will come from.

If you’re a one-person startup, ask your friends, mentors, or partner to weigh in with their own ideas. In most cases, an outside perspective can help push you in the right direction, or at the very least, help you realize what kind of names you don’t want to use.

#4 Use relevant keywords

If you’re going the discoverable name way, researching relevant keywords is the fastest way to come up with a domain name. One key advantage here is that you’ll likely have a list of keywords that you can target as part of your SEO strategy at the end of your keyword research so you don’t have to start from scratch.

As much as possible, choose a short, catchy keyword or phrase because it’s very likely that you’ll need to combine it with your business name for the sake of uniqueness. It’s almost impossible nowadays to find a domain name with a single keyword that is not yet taken. Don’t be afraid to mix things up, but remember the key is to have a memorable, unique domain name.

#5 Utilize a domain name generator

At this stage, you should at least have a definitive list of domain name ideas. The domain name generator’s role is to help streamline these options until you’re left with the perfect domain name. The process is simple — all you need to do is enter the names and keywords on your list into the domain name generator and it will furnish a list of available domain names.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, you should also know about domain extensions, also known as Top-Level Domain (TLD). You’ll need to enter your preferred domain extension as well into the domain name generator.

What are TLDs

Top-level domains are the end part of your domain name (.com, .net., .org, .biz, .io, etc), which is why they’re also called domain extensions. Currently, .com domain extensions are the most popular, with over 137 million .com domains already registered. Additionally, they are also the most recommended for startups and small businesses since they are the most relatable.

Since a significant number of TLDs are already used, this can make choosing a domain name a bit more complex. In fact, the usual practice for most companies is to purchase their preferred domain names with other domain extensions. They would then redirect those other domain names to their primary domain.

An example is godaddy.com. If you typed godaddy.net or godaddy.org in your browser’s address bar, you would still end up on godaddy.com.

The good news is that TLDs are as varied as they come. You could easily use newer domain name extensions like .io, .biz, .co, .club, .agency, and so many more. These newer TLDs are usually niche or location specific and can help make your overall domain name more unique. For example, if you wanted a domain name for a membership club, you could use “membership.club” instead of “membershipclub.com.”

Examples of domain name generators

Here are 20 of our top picks when it comes to domain name generators:

  1. Domains Bot
  2. Name Boy
  3. Bust a Name
  4. Lean Domain Search
  5. Hostinger Domain Checker
  6. Domain Puzzler
  7. PanaBee
  8. Zyro Domain Name Generator
  9. Name Smith
  10. Namecheap domain name generator
  11. Name Mesh
  12. Domain Wheel
  13. Cool Name Ideas
  14. Domain Typer
  15. Instant Domain Search
  16. I Want My Name
  17. Shopify domain name generator (for eCommerce sites)
  18. Dot-o-mator
  19. Naque
  20. Domain Name Soup

All these domain name generator tools work pretty much the same way — enter your domain name ideas and preferred domain extension, then simply wait for the generator’s algorithm to come up with a combination of available domain names. Some of these domain name generators double as business name generators as well, which will come in handy for new startups.

Related: How to choose a domain name that customers remember

What if my preferred domain name is taken?

Domain availability can be a big issue, especially for businesses in really competitive industries. There are a few ways to get around this, the first being to get creative. Get out a thesaurus and look for synonyms of your preferred domain name.

Another option is to use a different TLD. For instance, if the .com version of your preferred domain is taken, use .net or .co.

Though not really recommended, the third option is to intentionally add another letter or character to your preferred domain name. For example, the domain name “webdesign.com” is already taken, but “webdesignn.com” is available.

If you’ve got the cash to spare, another option is to approach the domain name owner and work out a trade. However, in addition to being quite expensive, this option is only really available if the domain name is not yet connected to a fully established website.

If all else fails, then it’s back to the drawing board to develop new domain name ideas.

Once you’ve selected a domain name, purchase it ASAP

According to Verisign, a global provider of domain name registry services, the 3rd quarter of 2020 saw over 370 million domain names registered around the world. To put that into perspective, that’s enough for everyone in the UK to have five domain names and still have some leftovers. Expect this number to keep rising over the years as more and more countries join the internet revolution.

Purchasing a new domain is a straightforward process. Simply visit your preferred domain registrar — GoDaddy, NameCheap, Bluehost, HostGator, Dreamhost…. there are so many to choose from. Do a domain name search and select your preferred domain.

The search results will also include domain name suggestions related to your original search terms. This is also where you can add your preferred domain name with other domain extensions and purchase them all in one swoop.

The domain registration cost will vary based on several factors, such as the name’s uniqueness, the popularity of the keyword used, and even the domain registrar. For the most part, regular domain registrations usually cost around $8 to $25 per year.

Related: How much does a domain name cost?

Can I get a free domain?

The short answer is yes, you can indeed get a free domain. There are mainly two main ways:

One, you get a free domain with your hosting plan. The online landscape is getting more competitive and hosting providers must find more effective ways to bring in new customers. Including free domain registrations in their hosting packages is one way to do that.

The second option is to use a free domain that comes with a brand extension. For example, if you wanted to set up a WordPress site but don’t want to get a custom domain name, you could use a WordPress branded domain name for free. Your website will then look something like mybusiness.wordpress.com.

As you can see, this option is not ideal for businesses as the domain name looks weird and is not really evocative. Best to reserve them for personal websites and blogs.

What next after registering my domain name?

Put a website behind it! If you’re brainstorming how to come up with domain name ideas, then it’s time to start looking at the website that it will embody. We can certainly help!

At B12, we are revolutionizing the web design and development process using the best of artificial intelligence. Our unique approach allows us to make the process more efficient and build a website that’s not only ready for your visitors, but for search engines as well.

Get started today with a free draft of your website in as little as five minutes. You can also visit the B12 Resource Center for more tips and helpful info on setting up the perfect website.

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