How not to choose a domain name

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domain nameIf you were anywhere near the internet last week, you probably saw the admirable Messrs. Ferreth and Jobs, and their website… Ahem.

They join a venerable tradition on the net: who can forget, and

If an idea for similar wordplay presents itself for your own domain name, I advise you to take it. Because no amount of Google Adwords, SEO and patient social media marketing is going to get you as much publicity as a million people on Twitter going OMG THEY HAVE SOMETHING RUDE IN THEIR DOMAIN NAME!!!1!.

But it probably won’t. How do you pick a domain name that wouldn’t upset your granny? This question comes up so often on the PowerSeller Board that eBay should probably buy a domain name registrar and sell domain names onsite. The advice that’s usually given is to think about what you sell, and cram your domain name full of keywords: if you sell bags, then you might think about handbagsRus, handbags4u, handbagsinfinity, and so on. The idea is that people will link to your domain with your domain name, and that will give you a boost for your desirable keyword “handbags”.

Don’t bother. Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. You’re thinking “now, where did I see that great bag last week? was it handbags2me? handbagshandbagshandbags? handbags4eva? ohhh I know it began with handbags but I don’t remember the rest…” and they’ll never find your site again. Generic keywords aren’t memorable.

Do something different. ASOS isn’t called “DesignerClothes4U”. It’s called something short which only means itself. Yoox, same deal. Even the late unlamented Work on that.

There’s another reason to avoid generic words as your company’s strongest identifier. If you want to buy your name in Google Adwords, it’s going to be a lot more expensive than if you’re just buying a brand name that only means you. (Real life example: at work, our company name is 4p a click: our nearest competitor, named with two generic keywords, is £2.)

Coming up tomorrow: How to pick a great domain name, 5 things you need to think about before you buy it, and one thing you’ll almost certainly forget.



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