Some websites have amazing domain names. They’re funny, evocative, and fit perfectly. And other websites have domain names that are boring, bland, and baffling. Domain names are undeniably important, so why do some website owners come up with great ones, while others seem to phone it in?
The truth is that creativity is hard. It takes a bit of work to come up with the perfect domain name, and some people kind of just crack under the pressure and choose the first (terrible) domain name they think of.
Creativity isn’t a mystery. If you want to come up with a great domain name, there are eight steps you can follow. But just so we know we’re talking about the same thing…
What’s a domain name?
A domain name is your website’s address. It usually starts with “www” and ends in “.com”.
Why do you need a domain name?
Computers don’t think in words. They think in numbers. So, even though websites appear to us as an easily recognizable word or combination of words, that’s not how a computer stores and locates the website. Instead, websites are stored on servers and identified by their IP address, which is a long string of numbers and dots. An IP address might look something like this: 193.75.688.912. Meanwhile, the domain of that same website would look something like this: www.goatsinboats.com.
An IP address is great for a computer, but human brains just aren’t that great at retaining long strings of numbers. Our brains prefer words and images. That’s why you need a domain name. Without one, nobody would be able to find your website.
How do you choose a good domain name service?
A domain name service, or domain name registrar, is a company that lets you register your domain name. To choose a good domain name service, look for these features:
- Their prices are within your budget
- They allow you to transfer your domain
- They offer add-on services like domain privacy
- They have a clear expiration policy
Now that you have a handle on the basics, it’s time to learn to make a devastatingly good domain name.
8 tips to register a domain name that stands out:
- Register a domain name with a sneaky keyword
- Avoid dashes, numbers, and abbreviations
- Get inspired by the most popular domain names in your industry
- Make it short
- Make it creative and memorable
- Make it easy to spell
- Make it easy to pronounce
- Make it intuitive
1. Register a domain name with a sneaky keyword
If you know anything about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you know that keywords are crucial to getting web traffic. When your customers type something into their search engine, the search engine gives them a list of web pages, ranked in order of relevance (among other things). When your domain name includes a keyword (one of the words they’re likely to type when they’re searching), this increases your chances of having your website rank high enough in search results that they’ll see it (and click on it).
2. Avoid dashes, numbers, and abbreviations
Some established brands can get away with having dashes, numbers, and abbreviations. But to be on the safe side, it’s best not to confuse your visitors with dashes, numbers, and abbreviations. Remember that the whole point of a domain name is to give your customers something easier to remember than a string of numbers and dots. When you add symbols and numbers to your domain name, you raise the energy they’ll have to expend trying to remember the name of your website.
3. Get inspired by the most popular domain names in your industry
If you ever get stuck trying to come up with a great domain name, get a piece of paper and write down the domain names of some of the biggest players in your industry. Why do their domain names work so well? Are they alliterative? Do they rhyme? Are they funny?
Try to come up with an alternative domain name to their domain names. Play around with this. Combine domain names, use alliteration and rhyming. Get creative. You could come up with a domain name that makes them green with envy.
4. Make your domain short
The less you give people to remember, the better. Keep your domain name short and simple.
5. Make it creative and memorable
Creativity comes from combining familiar things in a way that people have never seen before. The best domain names combine words in a way that’s new or unexpected. If your brand makes something adorable like bunny slippers, play around with adding words that aren’t very adorable, like “lab”, “construction”, or “factory”. This newness makes your visitors’ brains latch on to your website, so they can try to figure it out. This makes your domain name memorable.
We also tend to remember things with which we have an emotional connection. Words like “love”, “obsession” and “addiction” will create a stronger emotional reaction (and stronger memory) than words like “paper”, “cotton” and “window”. So, try to work some of these strong words into your domain name as well.
6. Make it easy to spell
It’s true that most browsers have an auto-complete function that reduces the need to ever type out the full names of frequently visited websites. But your domain name still needs to be easy to spell, in case your visitors need to pass it along to someone else and that person asks them to spell it.
Also, if enough time passes between visits, your visitors’ auto-complete might not help them out with spelling your website. So, cut your visitors some slack. Make your domain name easy to spell.
7. Make it easy to pronounce
Okay, the other tips on this list seem to make sense, but what’s with this “easy to pronounce” business? People aren’t going to be saying your domain name, are they? So, what does it matter?
The thing is, you want people to be able to say your domain name, even if that’s not usually how they’ll be interacting with it. Your domain name should be easy enough to pronounce that your visitors will be able to tell their friends about their new favorite website.
There’s also the fact that being able to pronounce something is closely related to being able to spell it.
8. Make it intuitive
If you’re lucky enough to have your website show up in the search results of your potential customers, you don’t want them scratching their heads trying to figure out how on earth your website is relevant to what they’re looking for.
Your visitors should be able to look at your domain name and figure out exactly what it is that you do.
A great domain name should sound intuitive and effortless. With a bit of creativity and a lot of brainstorming, you can register a domain name that you (and your visitors!) will love.