How to pick a domain name

No primary category set

how to choose a domain nameYesterday we looked at how not to pick a domain name; today, I’d like to be a bit more positive. Before we start, let me say that this post will have some examples of things that I consider to be bad ideas. Some of them will resemble the branding of people reading this post. So if that’s you and you’re about to get really offended, I don’t mean you: you should comfort yourself with the thought that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Really.

Consistent branding

If you like your eBay ID, then that’s what you should be using for your domain name. But as lots of us get into this by accident, we start off with eBay ID’s like “sueb1234” while we’re selling off our own old tat, and only later come to the realisation that our ID ought to match what we’ve decided to sell as a business.

Sellers who are in the fortunate position of wanting to change eBay ID at the same time they set up a website can check for availability of both eBay ID and domain name at the same time. Your buyers should know that you’re you, whichever channel they’re looking at. The chances of someone looking at your ID, wondering if you have a website, and typing it in are small – but if they do, it should work for them.

The difference between a domain name and your brand

Your domain name is what people type in to get to your website. It’s what they bookmark. Hopefully, it’s what they link to. But it doesn’t have to be the whole story.

For consistency’s sake (see above), your domain name and your site name shouldn’t be different (don’t try running Black Satan Biker Boots on – but your site branding can be a lot more than just your domain name. I like SEO-Gold’s take on this:

when we were deciding on a business and domain name for this web site we knew we couldn’t have the ideal domain names (for optimization reasons) because others already owned them. After a little keyword research at Wordtracker and checking various domains we settled on and general site name SEO Gold Search Engine Optimization Services (or in short SEO Gold).

You might be able to come up with something snappier, but the principle is sound.

How many keywords can I cram in?

It’s tempting to cram in as many keywords as you can to your domain name:, perhaps, or Resist the temptation. It looks spammy. It also looks massively insecure: as though the only way your site will get any traffic is by overwhelming Google with your keywordly goodness. And as we said yesterday, it’s not memorable.

One halfway house option is “brand + keyword”. I quite like this. “YooxFashion” isn’t quite as good as “Yoox” – if you have the marketing to back up the brand – but as an instant identifier, it might comfort the keyword obsessed.

Is it all about you?

This is one we see a lot on eBay: Becky’s Bags, Ed’s CDs (and Mr Biddy’s late lamented car spares Shop “Bart’s Parts” which still makes me LOL). I’m not quite sure how you put a possessive into a domain name effectively: is alright, but you can’t rely on everyone capitalising it correctly, and doesn’t look as good.

For those in need of inspiration

Right about now, someone is saying, but just tell me what to pick. I can’t. Because this is difficult. It’s one of the more important choices you’ll make about your business, and inspiration might take a while to strike. But it’s worth waiting for and working on. If you need help, then these places may provide it:

This post is overlong already, so the promised “5 things to think about” will have to wait for tomorrow.

2 Responses

  1. Sound advice as ever from Sue!
    We find the most difficult issue is not actually generating a moderately interesting domain name since that is the fun bit.
    But rather finding any decent domain name under 6 characters long that is not being domain squatted by Godaddy et al in the US is almost impossible.
    The availability of .com names is really dire unless you have deep pockets or like chancing your arm with overseas online auctions.
    Should note however that and .eu etc are often available if you can live without the top cover domain name being under your direct control.
    Be careful who you do the domain search search with as well as some log your enquiry and could reserve the name before you get there.
    We use and they are very good for searching and thoroughly recommended (we have no affiliation apart from being a user of their domain services).
    pip pip



123Reg to end direct debit payments


eBUYGumm wins Nominet dispute against eBay and Gumtree


After 7 years Amazon might own the .amazon domain


.UK domains coming in summer 2014


.eu domain names for 49p this weekend only

ChannelX Guide...

Featured in this article from the ChannelX Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.

Register for Newsletter

Receive 5 newsletters per week

Gain access to all research

Be notified of upcoming events and webinars