Dec 172008
 

Ok, you’ve decided to build a site of our own and now you have to come up with a name for the thing. You head over to some domain name registrar and realize that a lot of names are taken. loans.com is long gone, as is VeryCool.com, and so on.

Don’t give up though, it just takes a few moments of thought and you will have a great domain name for that killer site of yours.

What is a domain name?

A domain name is simply the primary name of a website.  UnixTools.com is the domain name, of this site, for example. The .com part of the domain name is the extension. Since practically any word or phrase can be a domain and since there are literally dozens of extentions there are billions of possible domain name combinations. Change one letter, add a number, add a hyphen, use .ws instead of .com and you have a different domain name.

Then there are subdomains. This blog is on a subdomain of UnixTools.com: websites.unixtools.com. I’ll write about subdomains in a later post, for now we’ll stick with the primary domains.

Aren’t all the good domains taken?

As you may know pretty much any one word that you can come up with has already been taken by someone else, but this doesn’t mean that all the good names have been taken. Pretty much all the short names are gone, but a longer one may be better anyway, for you.

Actually, not all the short ones are gone. We just grabbed wotkk.com. That’s for the cookbook that my wife is writing, Wrath of the Kitchen King.

There’s also a market in expired domain names. These are the domains that were owned by someone, but for whatever reason their lease ran out and now they’re up for grabs. There are a number of brokers dealing in these expired domains and you can expect to pay a premium over a new domain.

Another option is to make a cash offer to the owner of a domain. He may just be willing to listen.

Just because the perfect name isn’t available doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with one that isn’t good enough.

How to create a domain name:

It really helps if you already have an idea of what your website is going to be about. Are you going to have a site about dogs? Fruit? Fishing? Sports? Writing? Politics? A particular model of Sony TV?

So let’s take dogs and see what we can come up with. Obviously dogs.com is taken as are dogs.net and dogs.org. If we stick a number on it though we might find something interesting. Checking with www.GoDaddy.com , as of this writing, dogs365.com is taken, but dogs365.org and dogs365.net, and a few others, are available. GoDaddy will also make additional suggestions.

.com is the way to go if you can get it, but only because .com is what everyone first thinks of with domain names. If someone is clicking a link to your site then it certainly doesn’t matter if you’re .com or .co.uk. By the way, GoDaddy frequently has .info names at a fraction of the cost of .com names.

Add a suffix or a prefix: mydogs, yourdogs, herdogs, dogsrock, bigblackdogsrule, unixdogs… Hmmm… I’ll bet that last one is available.

Let me check:  Oops, nogo. But it IS for sale (as of this writing) by the owner. The other extensions are available. Actually, so is BigBlackDogsRule.com. Since we really do have two big black dogs that one’s kinda interesting. Hmmm, I just checked (3/19/11) and UnixDogs.com is actually available.

So here’s your homework. Grab a notepad, real or computer, and jot down a few words that fit what your site might be about. Add a suffix and/or a prefix and/or a number. Combine a couple of words, mix them up, play with it a bit, and come up with a list of 10 names that will work for you. For example (feel free to use something other than .com:)

  1. blackdogs.com,
  2. bigblackdogs.com,
  3. dogsrulecatsdrool.com,
  4. dogsneedhugstoo.com, (ok, I’ll use some caps)
  5. My3bigDogs.com,
  6. DogsAroundTheWorld.com
  7. DogsAtWork.com
  8. 43dogs.com
  9. NothingButDogs.com
  10. DogsAreIt.com

Ok, that took a whole minute. Now lets see if any of those names are available (no, I’m not going to buy them.) We have (checking with GoDaddy:) dogsneedhugstoo.com, My3bigDogs.com, DogsAtWork.com (for the low low price of $2,688.00,) and 43dogs.com are all available. Four out of ten isn’t bad these days. Ok, three out of ten if you toss the expensive one.

Why’s that one so much? Someone probably grabbed it with the intent of reselling it at a nice profit. There are people who make a nice living at that game, by the way.

With a little brainstorming you should be able to come up with a good domain name for your site. Heck, you could even do like these newfangled Web 2.0 sites do and get a really weird name, such as Weebly.com. What the heck is a Weebly??? Qassia? Squidoo? At least HubPages makes some sense… How about Del.icio.us?

The point is, find a name you like and go for it.

3/19/11 – tweaked for spelling and such.