How to choose a domain name: 10 expert tips (2023 update)

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Find your perfect domain name

Choosing a domain name is like choosing a company name — it requires a lot of thought and consideration. Your domain name, sometimes called your website name, is your identity on the web. You want to make sure you choose a domain that not only fits your business but is also easy to find and promote. However, it can be hard to know what makes a good domain name. If you need help choosing a domain name, read on.

What makes a good domain name?

A good domain name is unique, short, and easy to remember. A good domain name avoids using other people’s trademarks, complicated words and words that have similar spellings to other words (too/to for example).

Let’s go into more detail about what makes a good domain name.

How to choose a domain name

  1. Choose a domain name that is short and easy to type
  2. Choose a memorable domain name
  3. Choose a domain name without numbers and hyphens
  4. Consider using keywords in your domain name
  5. Choose a domain name that targets your area
  6. Consider a branded domain name
  7. Research your domain name
  8. Secure your domain name fast
  9. Choose an appropriate domain name extension
  10. Protect and build your brand

1. Choose a domain name that is short and easy to type

Choose a short domain name that is easy to type

Finding a domain name that’s easy to type is critical to online success. If you use abbreviations (u instead of you) or unusual spellings (xpress instead of express), it might be harder for customers to remember the name of your site. This an important consideration when choosing a website name.

2. Choose a memorable domain name

Choose a memorable domain name

There are millions of registered domain names, so having a domain that’s catchy and memorable is essential. Once you’ve come up with a name, share it with close friends to make sure it sounds appealing and makes sense to others.

If they, or even you, easily forget the domain name you’re considering, then it’s likely that others will have the same problem.

3. Choose a domain name without numbers and hyphens

Avoid numbers and hyphens

Numbers and hyphens in domain names are often misunderstood — people who hear your website address don’t know if you’re using a numeral (5) or it’s spelled out (five). If you’re using hyphens, people might put them in the wrong place or forget them altogether.

Numbers and hyphens complicate your domain name, making it harder to remember and type. That makes your business harder to remember.

4. Consider using keywords in your domain name

Consider using keywords

You might want to use keywords that describe your business and the services you offer. For example, if you’re a plumber you might want to include the word plumber in your domain name.

However, it can be hard to find a suitable domain name which includes keywords.

Plus, even if you do find a keyword domain name that’s suitable, it isn’t guaranteed to give you a search engine rankings boost.

On the upside, it will let people know what you do.

5. Choose a domain name that targets your area

Target your area

If your business is local, consider including your city or area in your domain name to make it easy for local customers to find and remember.

As with including a keyword in your domain, it may be hard to find a suitable domain which includes your location.

However, it will let people know that you operate in their local area. You may be able to indicate your location using an appropriate domain name extension. See the section on choosing a domain extension below.

6. Consider a branded domain name

Consider a branded domain name

As it’s difficult to get a good domain name that includes a keyword and your location, you should also consider opting for a branded domain name.

This is the approach taken by most of the world’s biggest online businesses (think Amazon.com).

Don’t get too hung up on whether your branded domain name sounds like it’s the perfect name for a business site. After all, how many people would have said Amazon.com was a good domain name for a business website before it launched?

If you decide to opt for a branded domain name, you’ll still need to make sure it follows the other rules we’ve laid out in this document.

You can use GoDaddy’s domain name generator to help you create a branded domain.

7. Research your domain name before choosing it

Research your domain name

Make sure the name you’ve selected isn’t trademarked, copyrighted or being used by another company. It could result in a huge legal mess that could cost you a fortune, as well as your domain name! You can find out who owns a domain using this tool.

8. Secure your domain name fast

Secure your domain fast

Domain names sell quickly. Thankfully, they’re also inexpensive, so register a domain name as soon as possible.

If you’re having trouble finding an available name, domain registrars like GoDaddy will suggest alternative names during your domain search to help you find the perfect domain name. This is probably the most important of our domain name tips – if you’ve found one you like, get it as soon as you can or someone else might snap it up!

Try it now!

9. Choose an appropriate domain name extension

Choose an appropriate extension

Extensions are suffixes, such as .com or .net, at the end of web addresses. These can have specific uses, so make sure to choose one that works for your business. The .com domain extension is far and away the most popular, but it can be tough to get a short and memorable .com domain name because it’s been around for so long.

However, there are loads of other domain extensions available, so why not consider something other than .com?

There are geographic extensions, such as .london, and industry-specific extensions such as .coffee. If you need help deciding which domain name extension to use, you can learn more about generic top level domains here.

Check out this guide to see if a .com domain is better.

10. Protect and build your brand

Protect and build your brand

To protect your brand, you should purchase various domain extensions, as well as misspelled versions of your domain name. This prevents competitors from registering other versions and ensures your customers are directed to your website, even if they mistype it.

Having multiple versions of the same domain name across different extensions can help you protect against cybersquatting and the damage it can do to your brand.

Bonus tip: Choosing the right domain name registrar

So far, we’ve looked at tips for choosing the right domain name, but who you registrar that domain with is also important.

Here are some things to look out for when choosing a domain name registrar.

A strong track record

There’s an extra level of reassurance that comes with teaming up with an established business. If you use a domain registrar that has been around for a long time, you’re less likely to end up on the wrong end of the kinds of teething problems newer businesses can experience.

You don’t have to completely avoid newer domain registrars, but make sure you can trust any business before you hand over your cash.

Good reviews across the web

It always makes sense to check the reviews before handing over money to any business, so see what other people are saying about a domain registrar before you commit to buying your domain.

Visit established review site such as Trustpilot and see what people have to say about any registrar you’re considering using.

A reputable registrar should have largely positive reviews. It’s also a good idea to check how a company responds to negative reviews as this will let you see how it handles complaints and bad experiences.

Look out for special offers

If you’re on a tight budget, then a special offer on your domain name can help cut the cost of getting online. Offers shouldn’t be the only factor you use in choosing a registrar, but take them into account.

Check renewal pricing

If you’re getting a special offer when you registrar your domain name, you should check to see how much you’ll pay when it’s time to renew your domain. This will give you a better idea of how much you’ll pay in the long run.

See what other services the registrar offers

Getting a domain name is only the start of getting online. You’re going to need other services such as web hosting or a website builder. If you buy your domain with a registrar that also offer additional services, you’ll be able to manage everything in one place.

Summing up

Choosing a domain name can feel like a big task if you’ve never done it before. However, by keeping things simple and avoiding numbers and hyphens, you’re more likely to come up with a memorable website name. It’s also important to opt for a domain extension which suits your business and location. Finally, be sure your chosen domain doesn’t violate anyone’s trademarks or copyright. When you’re ready, buy the domain names you’re interested in as soon as possible so they don’t get snapped up by someone else.

Image by: John Picken via Compfight cc

Will Stevens
Will joined the GoDaddy EMEA team in 2017, following the acquisition of HEG. He covers all aspects of digital marketing, from SEO to email, for the GoDaddy UK blog. Previously, he has worked in online journalism and also conducted online marketing campaigns for a number of well-known brands.