In setting up a website for a new business, one of the most difficult tasks is finding a good name for the site. Untold millions of people have bought domain names ahead of you. There is a great likelihood, therefore, that your name of choice is not available.
But don't let this deter you from finding a good name for your site. There are still thousands of great names available. You simply must use greater creativity in finding just the right name. Here are some guidelines to help you.
- Select a .com name. If the name you want is already taken with a .com extension, resist the temptation to buy that name with an extension like .biz or .us or even .net. General run-of-the-mill computer users think in terms of .com. Therefore, when they type your website name into the browser, they will often add .com instinctively. When they do so, your name just took them to a competing website.
- Avoid hyphenated names. I made this mistake myself with one of my earliest websites. People routinely left out the hyphen when typing the name. As a result I found myself continually reminding people that there was a hyphen in the website name and in my email address. Moreover, if you are choosing a hyphenated name, it's probably because the same name without the hyphen is already taken. That's another reason not to choose the hyphenated name. When people omit the hyphen, they will end up on some other website.
- Try to find a website name that promotes either your brand or the service you provide. For instance, my leadership development company uses the term LeaderPerfect Solutions as a brand for its services. Consequently, I registered LeaderPerfect as a trademark and named my website www.leaderperfect.com. My professional speaking website is www.hearmike.com. And a website promoting my book Leadership and the Power of Trust is called www.trustispower.com. Each of these names highlights a brand or a message that I want to convey.
- As an alternate to a name that promotes your brand or service, choose a name which contains an industry-related phrase. Intuit has done this with their QuickenLoans.com website. The word Quicken does not tell you much (except perhaps that the company is fast). But the word "loans" lets you know that they are in the business of lending money. Therefore, before starting your quest for a good website name, make a list of terms — key words, as it were — that are associated with your line of business. See if you can incorporate one of these terms into the site name.
- Strive for brevity. The longer the name of your website, the more likely people are to mistype it. And it also looks awkward on business cards. Hold the name to no more than seven syllables, and make it five or less, if possible. The name should contain a maximum of three words, and preferably only one or two. Not only do shorter names minimize typing mistakes, brief names are more easily remembered.
- Make it easy to type. If you use numbers in the name, put them at the beginning or the end of it. Most people are not great at typing numbers on a keyboard. And numbers in the middle of a string of alphabetic characters only increase the typing challenge. Also avoid non-standard abbreviations. I recently attended an international event hosted by a huge trade organization. Its members include a broad cross-section of the Fortune 100 companies. But their website abbreviates the word "council" as "cncl.". As a result, whenever I type their web name, I have to stop and carefully think through the way it is spelled.
- Decide whether you need to buy additional website names that allow for variants on the name that you have chosen. When I opted to call this website StartupsAfter50, I realized that people who heard the name might think that the number 50 was to be spelled out. So I also bought www.startupsafterfifty.com. Then, using a service that any internet service provides with your account, I redirected users who typed "startupsafterfifty" to "startupsafter50." (You can make a similar redirection if you purchase both the .com and the .net variant of the same name, which I usually do to prevent someone from starting a .net website that has my preferred site name.)