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Domain Name Choice

by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

 You’ve made the decision – you’ll start your own business. You know what your business will do, have great ideas for promoting your business and have a designer working on your web site now. You’re pretty sure about the business name, too.

 Or maybe you have the business already, but have now decide to get a web presence by developing a web site.

 But what do you call your domain name?

 Having your own domain name gives you a more professional appearance and is usually easier for people (read that as ‘potential clients’) to remember and type into their browser.

 Excluding the domain names already in use, there are many, many different names that you could use for your business. How do you find them and how to do choose between them?

 Keep the following guidelines in mind as you choose, and your domain name will be more effective as a business tool.

  • Keep it short – Will your clients remember www.short.com or www.thisismybusinessnameandilikeit.com? If it’s easy to remember, you will get more people coming back to you. And very long names are harder to fit onto the page anyway!
  • Make it relevant – Sure, www.website.com is catchy, but it doesn’t help you sell garden hoses or bridal veils. As much as possible, have your domain name match your business. Some good examples are ‘giftsofluxory’, ‘babessafety,’ ‘webgraphicsbyemail,’ ‘kidsnmore’ and ‘businessmums.’
  • Consider the extension of the domain name as well. If you want the site to carry an Australian tag but don’t want a long domain name, consider having .au in the name. A site that is designed purely to inform others, may find .info a useful extension to communicate the site’s purpose.
  • Be careful with abbreviations. Some businesses have many parts to their name and are tempted to use the initial letters as a domain name, such as ‘Fred Nerk, John Smith and Associates’ becoming ‘fnjsaa.’ This does represent the business but is very hard to remember and typos will be made frequently. Some abbreviations work well, especially if they are already recognised. For instance, a domain name of ‘ATO’ for the Australian Tax office is highly effective.
  • Include the business name if possible as this increases familiarity with the business name and that is a crucial step for any business. Obviously, the entire name can’t always be used so it may need to be part of the name or an abbreviation. Again, just make it as easy as possible to remember the url.
  • Avoid having a name too similar to another business – especially not a competing business. No matter how good someone else’s domain name appears to be, a copy of it usually looks unprofessional and will result in clients in accidentally going to the competing site.
  • Simplicity is good – adding extras such as ‘_’ can make the url harder to recall and more liable to be misspelt (‘_’ can be entered as ‘-‘, ‘ ‘ or missed.)
  • Ensure that your domain name is not breaking any laws, such as trademark or copyright Regulations. If your business is a franchise or somehow affiliated with a bigger organization, check your contract for restrictions on use of the product or business names and trademarks.
  • Including keywords into the domain name can be an advantage in terms of search engines finding and ranking your site. So if you sell tools for sharpening knives, a domain name like www.sharpenknife.com or www.knifesharpener.com makes it clear to a search engine, as well as to clients.
  • Be careful to use the full name in all uses of the domain name, especially if the name includes precursors like ‘the’ or ‘my.’

 Even within the confines of the above tips, there is a lot of scope for choosing a domain name. There is also room for creativity.

In the initial phases, forget rules and let your mind wonder. By brainstorming and word associations, you should be able to gather many potential domain names for your site. The guidelines can then help you eliminate some ideas before checking which domain names are still available.

 Having chosen a name you like, you may find that it has already been taken. At this stage, you can find another name or consider using the name with a different extension or a small modification.

 For instance, you chose www.greatidea.com.au but it has already been taken. Some alternatives to consider are:

  • www.greatidea.com
  • www.greatidea.net.au
  • www.goodidea.com.au
  • www.greatidea.info
  • www.greatideaaust.com
  • www.greataussieidea.com
  • www.greatideas.com.au
  • www.mygreatidea.com.au
  • www.great_idea.com.au
  • www.idea.com

 and so forth. Of course, take care that your business isn’t very similar to www.greatidea.com.au before using a small modification in your name.

 Like a business name, the domain name is an important decision and thus it’s worth putting some time and effort into the choice.


Tash Hughes is the owner of Word Constructions and assists businesses in preparing all written documentation and website content. Tash also writes articles for inclusion in newsletters, blogs and websites.

This article is available for free use on your web site or in your newsletter.

It must be acknowledged as written by Tash Hughes of www.wordconstructions.com.au and copyright remains the property of Tash Hughes.

Please notify us of your use of this article or to request information on commissioned articles.


© 2003 - 12, Tash Hughes