Ah, how to choose a domain name – your home on the interwebz.
What used to be a simple task is now somewhat complicated by lack of availability, as the Internet ain’t exactly new and shiny anymore.
All the .COMs Are Taken
Unfortunately, all of the .coms are taken. Well, most of them…with the exception of, like, zigglebitz.com or dongledorff.com.
So if you had something simple in mind for your .com domain name, then you may be sorely disappointed. And yes, “.com” is the gold standard. Why? Because it is the most popular domain extension and the one that most easily comes to someone’s (er, a prospective customer’s) mind. Most major companies have .com domains.
Now if you already have an existing product or company name, and it’s not something like Zigglebitz, then don’t despair – there are other options.
Try Some Domain Name Add-ons
Try adding things like “the” or “hq” or anything else in order to create that name. So, if you’re dead set on marketingzone.com, but it’s taken, then try themarketingzone.com or marketingzonehq.com.
Alternative Top-Level Domains
If you can’t get your first choice as a .com, then try some other domain extensions.
Examples are .net, .org, .co, etc.
In order of desirability…
- .org (often associated with non-profits, but this is changing)
- Country options: .co.uk, .co.nz, .co.au (only if you live there, of course)
- Newer, fancy options: .io, .ly (Lyberia’s suffix)
- .me (for personal, or consulting sites)
- .xxx (yes this is real…and who knows, it could make branding sense depending on your industry…run these ideas by me 😉
- Domain hacks (these are domains that are created to form a phrase or word when put together)
- http://ma.tt (Matt Mullenweg’s site – the creator of WordPress)
DO NOT USE (because they are ridiculous and you will sound like a dork):
- .ninja (yes, this is real)
Try out this website for some ideas when searching for a domain: http://domainr.com
Where to Look for Domain Names
Namescheap.com – They are my favorite because they offer super cheap domain names and they don’t try to upsell you on sh!t you don’t need like GoDaddy.
If your domain name is not available and you’re freaking out…
You are dead set on owning IamTheBestest.com and it’s not available. Shit. What do you do?
Email the domain owner directly…
And make her an offer she can’t refuse…because apparently I think you are the Godfather.
To find the owner of a domain, go to http://who.is and type in the domain name. Here you should find an email address, unless the owner has paid for a privacy service.
If you get in touch with person and get his interest, be careful in the transaction (don’t get scammed!). You might want to try an online escrow company to safeguard your money during the transfer process.
Hire a domain broker…
If you can’t get ahold of the domain owner, then it might be time to try hiring a domain broker.
GoDaddy provides a service for this which you can look into by clicking here. If we’re talking hundreds to thousands of dollars, it is probably best to use a broker.
Social Media Account Names
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all require a name or handle which often corresponds with the pages URL. For instance, MarketingBeast’s facebook page is at http://facebook.com/MarketingBeastPage
Obviously, I wasn’t able to get /MarketingBeast, so I chose an alternative that was “good ‘nuff.”
Likewise, I wasn’t able to get the YouTube channel I wanted, so instead I secured http://youtube.com/MarketingBeastTV.
If you want a super easy way to check on name availability at multiple sites, check them all at once here: http://namechk.com/
For now, just check on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Most of the other sites aren’t something to worry about. But if you’re a crafter, you might be interested in Etsy, for example. Likewise, if you have a very visual service or product, you might want an Instagram account for your business.