What’s in a domain name? That which we call Amazon by any other name would be as sweet.
Think about it for a second.
We’re surrounded by millions of websites.
All clamoring for the spotlight whether it’s for business, branding, or just to get a message heard.
Amazon, for example, is so synonymous with online retail that it’s the first website you rely on to find great online deals.
We sit patiently, waiting for that brown box with the happy swoosh sign that has the subliminal message of “A to Z”.
I know I do it, I know you do too.
So, the question is: why does a name like Amazon, eBay, HuffingtonPost have such an attachment within our society and mind?
Surely you can find just as much great information and deals out there but we always come back to the juggernauts.
My goal with this post is to give you an idea of what it takes to not only snag up a good domain name. But, helping you land one with lasting power.
A domain name that people will immediately associate with what you have to offer.
What is a Domain Name? Better Yet, What Makes a Domain Memorable?
Think of those domain names…
Those basic file and server associations now branded so powerfully they’re part of our everyday vocabulary.
Could it be that each of these brands has been around since the early days of the Internet?
Not necessarily, especially with the fact that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube only really took off until around the mid-2000’s.
Well then, could it be that they’re simply so popular and loaded with traffic that we just immediately assume they’re the lead players in each industry?
Again, not really.
In the case of YouTube, there was Stage6 which already offered HD videos years before.
MySpace, LiveJournal, and other social networks were in full force before Facebook.
Even Amazon had competitors.
I know! It’s the advertising and marketing, yeah, that’s it!
Hold up, when’s the last time, besides a Kindle ad, that you saw advertising for Amazon? What about Facebook? Ever watch the Super Bowl and see some 30-second spot for Wikipedia? Nope.
Okay, I get it, where are you going with this Murray?
This is that idea we associate our emotions and trust behind a name even though we really don’t have a clue about the people behind it.
What makes Amazon such a powerful brand is a combination of lucky strikes and innovation. Amazon was able to survive the Internet bubble which basically eliminated most of the major eCommerce competitors. Likewise, it’s been around such a long time that we’ve come to trust what we find on the website despite the fact that most of the products are sold through independent vendors. We place trust in Amazon that we won’t be cheated on a deal as opposed to eBay.
There are also subtle things such as the A to Z item I mentioned; it represents that Amazon has everything … from A to Z.
You may not have noticed it but its there.
There’s not a moment, when buying on Amazon, that you feel “oh shit, I messed up”.
Each of the names I mentioned in the list has this same experience. There aren’t moments when you feel lost and confused.
But is all of this because of a domain name? Maybe there is something underneath it all …
How to Create a Domain Name that’s Magic
Whether you have one or a hundred online projects, the first place you’ll generally start is with the name.
Because you want to solidify your idea.
You probably get a lot of advice about creating a business plan before starting.
I’ve always found that doing the slog work, such as a business plan, to get in the way of the momentum.
Think about it, did you ever really spend an hour reading the rules of Dodgeball before playing or did you just jump right in?
The domain name can shape your overall plans, too.
When I was kicking around the idea for this website, I had a ton of names to choose from but I finally landed on Murlu. Murlu is just a simple combination of my name, Murray Lunn, but I played with the sound for a few days, how would it sound if people said it? What does it represent? What would you think ‘Murlu’ have as content?
These same struggles, in your mind, are ones that people have when finding your website.
The domain name has a few tasks:
- Explain what a visitor could expect to find
- Describe the brand you represent
- Offer flexibility into new ventures and projects
For a while, you could slap up an exact domain name website and be done with it but what you sacrificed was the long-term potential. Likewise, you could go full-on brand but then need to spend years getting the website found and ranked.
It comes down to this:
- Do you want the quick win?
- Do you want to be there in the future?
Those that answered the first should go ahead and dig into niche marketing; those that opted for the later should continue.
Let’s not be lazy here – we should be viewing our online projects as something we can pass on; something that we can be proud of, something that’s going to, even marginally, become the next Amazon, Facebook, or … whatever.
Get in that mindset for this next phase – think about what people will say about your website, brand, and maybe even business, in the next 5, 10, hell, even 50 years.
How to Brainstorm a Great Domain Name Idea
For some of you, the name of your business/website will just pop into your head.
Maybe it’s what someone said and you were like “yeah, that’s it!” Others may need the extra push to find that perfect domain.
Let’s focus on the later …
There’s no written ‘rule’ of domains but let’s try to set some boundaries:
- Keep it short (maybe a single word, tops)
- Make sure you can pronounce it easily (so people can recall your site)
- Try to avoid double meanings (does your domain translate into something weird?)
- Don’t add hyphens, they suck
- Always go for a .com (because really, when’s the last time you said .net?)
- Look to see if it’s already used but just not online
The first way I would recommend for coming up with the domain is to simply kick around names until it sounds good.
Just sit there, typing up domain names over and over and over again.
Do it to the point that you’re getting bored with it. Take a break. Come back and keep kicking out the ideas.
Eventually, you’ll write something that pops out – something that gets stuck in your head where it sounds great even a week later.
The second would use keyword research tools like the one provided by Google to match up exact keywords. Although I don’t really recommend exact domain names because they corner your potential to grow – they can still be very good depending on the niche and industry you’re in.
For example, something like PizzaHut.com has pizza right in it but there’s that extra ‘hut’ that completes it.
Third, if you’ve already got a business than just go with that but pull out parts that don’t really matter.
For example, a buddy and I set up a website for his dads business, the full name was Capillo Salon and Mt. Dora Day Spa but that shit won’t fly in terms of domains so we shortened it to CapilloSalon, easy, right?
Oh, and don’t go all goofy with the country extensions like Gobl.r or Y.uk; these come across as novelty plus people generally misspell them half the time (remember when it was del.icio.us?)
The Domain Name Registration Process (Without Going Overly Techy)
Okay, tutorial time.
I hope you’ve got to this point and realized what goes into a domain name and some tips on coming up with your own. Now let’s do a quick overview of the process …
I’ve been using GoDaddy for years now (I’ve used others like 1&1 too) and generally speaking, they’re extremely easy to work with if you just decline all the extras they want you to buy.
Registrars are there to … register the domain name.
All you’re really doing is setting up an account and telling what domain name you want.
However, if your domain seems to be taken I’d say to either go back to the drawing board or take a look at a few of their suggestions.
- Go to a domain registrar
- Type in your desired domain name
- Check if it’s available
- Add it to the cart
- Use a coupon to get a nice discount
- Fill in the details and checkout
There you have it.
What did you expect? You’re literally just buying a domain name.
I Want You To Do This Next
No need for a conclusion, just want you to take action if you’ve been on the fence about setting up your first website or if you’ve got other projects in the pipeline:
- Take about 20 minutes, today, to kick around some domain name ideas
- Send over your best ideas to a few of your friends to see what they think, ask your mother what she thinks the name means, figure out how it’ll tie into your overall message
- Go over and pick up the domain name (Use my GoDaddy affiliate links? Thanks!)
- Let it sit for a while or maybe put a coming soon page to start indexing. Why? Let the excitement build with the potential for the domain – you’ll kick up new ideas over the next day or so that you let it sit.
If you want to chat about domains, shoot me an email. For now, I hope you got a lot of info out of this post (or at least inspiration to get a new project up and running).