Tips for choosing domain names

Domain name choice and registration is an important task, affecting you and your business choice for a long time into the future.

Following are some tips and guidelines to consider in the process of selecting an Internet domain name.

Domain name extensions

Aside from the country specific extensions, there are all sorts of extensions available at the present. The better known and recognized of the non-country-specific versions are .com, .net, .org, .info and .biz. Here's some additional information and tips relating to each:

.com, .net, .org, .info, .biz

.com, .net, .org, .info and .biz domain names can be registered by any organization or individual anywhere in the world, with ".com" having the widest recognition. Should your preferred domain name be available in the ".com" domain name space it would be wise to secure it as soon as practicable while it is still available.

Registering your existing business name as a domain

If you have an existing business that you want to give an existence on-line, register the domain name equivalent as soon as possible - even if you intend to use a different domain name for your actual website. This is because some types (known as "cybersquatters") make a living from registering existing organization and businesses names and then effectively blackmailing you to buy it at a ridiculous price! It can be a lengthy (and expensive!) process for you to regain control over the name through legal channels and depending on the circumstances, may not always be successful.

Also, don't underestimate just how important a good domain name can be for your business.

Nonspecific or common ("generic") word domain names

Finding a good domain name can be quite a challenge; especially if generic words are used, but it's well worth the effort. Generic words in an Internet domain name, whether hyphenated or not, can significantly increase your chances of being found on search engines.

Spend some time on thinking up some variations on your preferred domain name - make a list of possibilities. Then do a "domain WHOIS" search on the Internet to wean out those taken. Use the format "" for the search and be sure to include various extensions, e.g. ".com, .org, .net" etc.) There are numerous services offered on the Net, but DO NOT fall for their invitation to proceed with registration - you definitely want to do that with your chosen host (transferring a registration to another host is possible, but better avoided . . .) (More on this in Choose Site Host. A reputable Host will assist you in this weaning process with faultless tools, as well as more ideas: Just typing an address into your browser will not be an accurate way to determine if a domain name is already registered, as a large number of names currently registered are not in use.)

Since generic one-word domain names are rather difficult to locate these days, try two or three word combinations that are related to your chosen products and services. It is a good idea to use hyphens between the words - this makes it more readable to both human users and search engines.

Here's a very important tip: It's advisable to verify whether the name you are considering could be in breach of someone else's trademark or business name - usually a Google search can reveal this. However, generic terms cannot be trademarked - so these types of domain names can be safe to register if still available.

KISS - Keep It Short and Simple

A domain name should preferably be easy to remember, easy to pass on to someone over the telephone and should also be as concise as possible.

Domain name registration vs. domain name hosting

It is a common misconception that registering a domain name also includes web site hosting. It is important to understand that domain registration and web hosting are two completely separate services; but are often offered by the same service provider. Choosing your website host is really, really important - it will make, or break your online business without even trying.

Covering your backdoor

You may also consider registering an abbreviation of your trading name, add a prefix or a suffix, or include a hyphen (-). Also consider registering additional domain names that reflect your brands, products, services, venue, events, activities, professions, and/or trademarks. If you have a brand name that is commonly misspelt, it is suggested that you also register the misspelling as a domain name and redirect it to your main website.

Probable country-specific requirements

In some countries, to be eligible for a country-specific domain name (ending in ".uk", ".de", etc.) registrants could be required to be:

  • a registered company; or
  • trading under a registered business name; or
  • a partnership or sole trader; or
  • a foreign company licensed to trade in that country; or
  • an owner of a Registered Trade Mark in that country; or
  • an applicant for a Registered Trade Mark in that country; or
  • an association incorporated in that country; or
  • a commercial statutory body in that country.
  • .org and/or .asn

    Sometimes available for registration by "non-commercial organizations" only. In some countries, for a country-specific application, the registrant may be required to be:

    • an incorporated association
    • a political party
    • a Trade Union or organization
    • a sporting or special interest club.
    • That's about it. Choosing a good domain name will go a long way towards securing your online reputation and increasing your Search Engine visibility. If you also choose your Website Host intelligently, you're as good as made!