Picking a web name can be a daunting task. But it’s super important these days as the Internet increasingly becomes the marketing device and entry point to companies. Take the time to do it right. It’ll pay huge dividends and could mean the difference between success and failure.
1. Make it Short. Ideally the shorter the better as it reduces viewership impedance. Short names also brand better – i.e., shorter is easier to treat graphically. 6-10 letters is good, less is really good.
2. Make it Meaningful. The best names actually mean something. And that makes them intuitively easy to remember and pass on. Made up words may be cute or goofy, but they require marketing expense to get folks to remember them.
3. Use a Metaphor. Metaphors are a really efficient way to communicate a complex idea. They also can provide the basis for a great symbol or icon. For example, if you were doing a career site, the word “grow” or “sprout” might be better than “career” as you could then use a leaf or flower icon rather than a two-guys-shaking-hands-image.
4. Make it Likable. You want your viewers to want to tune in so likable means sticky.
5. Make it Easy to Convey. In part that’s why you want it short. But you also should avoid difficult spellings or pronunciations. Also, don’t use underscores or hyphens – they’re just too hard for people to remember and describe to others.
6. Get the .com Address. It’s the default. It’s the intuitive place for folks to go. Even if you are an organization and want to operate under a .org, get the .com and redirect it to your .org address. If you don’t, you could be inadvertently be sending traffic to someone else’s .com version of the site. Some Internet futurists believe that eventually it won’t matter what the extension you use, but the marketing guys have more of the pulse of the lay world and they universally agree that you should go for the .com… we agree with the latter.
7. Get All Similar Addresses. Domains are cheap – like $9-15/year so grab all the territory you can get. That includes alternative spellings, common misspelling, pluralized versions, and numerical alternatives (e.g., 2, to, too, two), etc. What you don’t want are squatters drafting on your name, particularly if there is a high likelihood of confusion. For example, in researching this post, I was looking for a site called www.BUYDOMAINS.com but inadvertently went to two wrong sites before getting the right one: www.BUYDOMAIN.com is a direct competitor and www.DOMAINBUY.com is a porno site – boy was I pleasantly surprised!
8. Grab All the Territory You Can. starting with a more generalized name is better as it allows for future growth. For example, in Hawaii, many sites use “HI” or “808” (the telephone area code) as part of their addresses like “restaurantHI.com” or “808golf.com” But “HI” is more expandable to other localities if the enterprise grows (and it’s shorter) so it’s generally the better alternative.
9. Make Sure Multiple Word URLs Read Well. Domain names don’t allow spaces, so make sure that the resulting coined word isn’t bad. For example, you don’t want to end up with “Sam’s Hits” becoming SAMSHITS.com (don’t bother trying to get it, it’s already taken and is a sex toy shop). Also, try to avoid repeating consonants like “Jims Salads” which would read as JIMSSALADS.com.
10. If You’re Not Using a .com Extension, verify that you’re not infringing on an existing trademark. The truth is that if the .com is available, you likely have no problem as the trademark holder would already own the address. But if you’re going for a more obscure extension like .biz or .tv, then you could be setting yourself up for a trademark problem in the future. If you must go down that extension path, check your name candidates with a trademark attorney or search them at USPTO.gov.