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Choose a Website Name - Secrets, Tips, and Tricks

How to brainstorm and research names, check their availability, and register your site on the internet.

If you are looking to start a business whether it will be a purely an online business or a bricks and mortar shop you will most likely be deciding on a good website name. If you have never been through this process before this can seem like an impossible task, but with the right knowledge and tools this can be a very fun and easy process.

Step 1:

The first step that I recommend is brainstorming and writing down all the possible names that you can think of for your website name. This might seem obvious but when you write the names and ideas out it sometimes becomes painfully obvious that some of your ideas that seemed great at the time might not seem so great later when it is time to actually select the name. Take as long or as short as you like to generate this list however I do recommend that you generate as many ideas as you can before moving on to the second step of the election process.

Step 2:

The second step I recommend is to walk away from the list. Physically walk away from the list and move on to a different task, eat a meal, or just let it sit overnight while you sleep. When you return from your break pick up the list and before you start reading change your mentality to a third party person evaluating the list for the first time. Be super critical on each name designation that you wrote. What you will find is that some terms that you wrote where actually sub-ideas of other thoughts that you had during the first step. Sometimes the ideas will be too broad, some too short, this step of evaluation will help you zero in not only on your possible website name but it may help define or change the original identity that you had in mind.

Step 3:

The third step is to take your new filtered list to a trusted like-minded business person for additional input. Here is the first input that you will get from a third party source. Their opinion will help you vet out the ideas that don't make sense outside of your own head or just don't have enough appeal from an outside view. These opinions may not be what you were thinking or you may not agree, however your task is so just listed to their opinions and points and take notes. You may or may not change the list from this input, however if you do not you might want to do some introspection with regard to your thoughts if you are vesting you time and efforts in the right place. In most cases, the third party is right on at least one if not many of the list items.

Step 4:

The fourth step is to research your chosen names for availability on the internet.

    There are many places to do this some of the resources that I use are:
  • DirectNic.com
  • GoDaddy.com
  • Whois.net

Each of these websites / services has a section for looking up your domain. You simply enter the name that you are looking to register and it will search the registries for you and tell you if they are available or not. Many times these sites will also let you know alternative or names that are close to your chosen name. Most often the name that you are searching for will NOT be available. With the boom of the internet most names have been reserved either for resell or are being used actively today. So don't be surprised if simple names are taken like "doctor", "gardener", or "dog" .com are taken.

This is exactly why I recommended that you do your brainstorming up front for different names and ideas. You may need to combine ideas and words to find the best available moniker for your business. For instance you might need to put a few ideas together like "good" "doctor" or "New" "York" "pizza" "guy" dot com. Finding and registering a domain name lies somewhere between your ideal name and what your businesses unique selling proposition. These days this process in never easy, but if it was then everyone would already have the best domain names and there would be no advantage to getting this formula right.

Just remember that you can always add more words to your domain name to better describe your business. However, be wary of making your website name too long or having repeat letters in your website name. For example, try to avoid names that are too long like "WebsitesForYourBestShoesOnTuesday" although it could be a very fitting name the length itself can sometimes cause your customers to not get to you site via misspellings or typos in one of the words. The other thing to keep in mind is to try and avoid names that cause letters to be repeated which can also lead to misspellings. For example, try to NOT do this "doctorsserviceexcelence" as you can see in even looking at it the name gets confusing when letters are repeated after each other in the name.



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