Registering a domain name is always special. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first domain name or your hundredth, there is just something special about the process when you register your domain and basically have your own little real estate on the internet.
It’s also exciting because you’re starting from scratch with a new project and have no idea where this new journey and website might take you. However, when registering a domain name it’s important to understand what type of name to pick, how it might affect your business and brand, and why the wrong domain name can cause you a bunch of headaches down the road.
To help with this process, here’s a look at five great tips to secure the best domain name possible. As someone who has secured several great domain names over the years, be sure to follow these tips and you might find yourself with a nice little portfolio of domains as well.
1. Start with a general domain name search
One of the most immediate steps you should take when you want find a domain name, is to perform a simple domain name search. This will allow you to get a feel for the demand on your name, see if it’s already registered, and other options that might be available.
If your ideal domain name is super generic, good luck! Nearly all of the major top level domains (TLDs) are taken. However, you can always consider other options including .net, .org or .co if the .com option is taken.
2. Register your personal name (no matter what)
As unique as your personal name is, it’s very likely someone else or many others share it. With this in mind, it’s important to register your personal name as a domain as soon as possible. I personally have my own name as a.com,. net,. org. This wasn’t an easy process, but it was something I was able to complete over the past several years by using many of the methods mentioned in this article. However, the same can’t be said for these celebrities and politicians.
When it comes to purchasing domain names, they are extremely cheap when they aren’t registered yet. But once they get gobbled up they are most likely gone for good. If you get lucky and a domain name is purchased, but isn’t yet built into a major website, you might be able to purchase it for a few hundred or sometimes a few thousand dollars. Although, this isn’t what you want to do. Bottom line, if your name is available as a TLD, register it now!
3. Stay away from numbers, hyphens and weird TLDs
Domain names come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Some people like to get creative with their domain names, while other people like to have generic ones. The more generic, simple, short, and direct a domain name is, the more it is worth. With this in mind, stay away from getting too creative with your domain name. The last thing you want is to always have to spell it out for your audience, remind individuals of your website name or have your audience visit the wrong website because it is just simply not easy to remember or understand.
Stay away from using numbers, hyphens, and registering domain names outside of the most commonly used TLDs. As great as it might seem if you find a generic domain name available with a weird extension like .ws or .biz, just remind yourself that it’s still available for a reason.
4 – Search online auctions, expired, and premium domain sites
If all else fails, and you can’t seem to find a domain name that you are happy with, there are still a few other options to consider. One such option is to search through online domain name marketplaces, where domain names can be listed for sale at a premium or even through online auctions. One of the most popular sites for this is Flippa.com. Another option is to create a list and join an expired domain name registration service.
As mentioned earlier, once a domain name is registered, it is likely gone for good. However, every once in a while a domain will expire because it wasn’t paid for and renewed. When this happens, domain expiration services often pick up these domains and sell them at a premium or in an auction. It may take years of waiting, but you would be surprised by some of the quality domain names that drop. Two of the more popular sites for these types of services are Pool and Namejet.
5. Focus on the branding and authority of your domain name
Just look at domain names and brands like Google.com, Facebook.com, and Snapchat.com. When they were all first registered, they meant nothing. In fact, they probably wouldn’t have sold for anything special or even had a premium on them either.
It wasn’t until these sites became what they are today and built a brand, that the names and domain associated with them became worth so much. For example, Etsy founder and CEO “Robert Kalin sought a meaningless word that he could turn into a brand. He listened to foreign movies, wrote down what he heard, and turned it into the company’s name.”
Buy a great domain name
No matter what domain name you select, make it your own and turn it into something amazing. At the end of the day, you don’t need to have a generic one-word domain name or spend thousands of dollars on a domain name to find success online. Instead, you just need to create content people enjoy and find value in, while you build a powerful and respected brand in the process.
Zac Johnson is an entrepreneur who blogs at ZacJohnson.com. Follow his journey as he documents more than 20 years of experience and success in the world of online marketing and branding. Connect with @zacjohnson on Twitter.