Choosing the "Right"
Domain Name

Dear fellow entrepreneur,

Shakespeare wrote "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Of course, Shakespeare wrote that four centuries before the Internet was developed... and when it comes to domain names, Shakespeare's philosophy is dead wrong.

Your domain name is the primary way in which people can find your website. So choosing the "right" domain name is essential. (However, determining which name is the "right" one is a much tougher task.)

To start with, let's put to rest the myth that "all the good domain names have already been taken." That's simply not true! HOWEVER, domain names are being snapped up by the thousands each day, so when you find a domain name that you want, GRAB IT!

Even if you don't have a use for it right now, grab it! If you need it sometime in the future, you'll congratulate yourself on your foresight. And if you later determine that you don't need the name after all, you've spent less than ten dollars per year by protecting it from being taken by someone else. (Ten bucks a year is the cheapest insurance you'll ever find!)

So let's get started with finding the "right" domain name(s) for you! Here are my recommendations —

  • First, I would only consider domain names that end with ".com". Most people automatically assume that a domain name ends with ".com", so you're stacking the marketing deck against you by picking other extensions like ".info", ".name", and so on. However, there are a couple of exceptions —

    • If you are getting the domain name for an organization, ".org" is tolerated as a domain extension. In this case, I would get both ".com" and ".org".

    • If you are getting a domain name for a TV show (or if you think your project will ever be associated with a TV show), then I would definitely get the domain extension ".tv". (If it's available, I would get the ".com" version also.)

    That's it. Otherwise, I'd stick with dot-com names. Any others will probably be more trouble than they're worth.

    However, that's just my opinion. Other people disagree. So even though I recommend that you stick with dot-com domain names, you can buy any available dot-extension that you want.

  • Next, if your name (like John Ricardo or Joy Lee) is still available, grab it now! (You can find out if your name is available right here.) Many people don't realize that anyone can reserve your name... and then sell it back to you at some exorbitant price. Be smart — if your name is still available, grab it now.

    (This warning doesn't just apply to your name. It also applies to the name of your company (or the name of the company you're going to form in the future), the name of your book (or the names of the books you're going to write), and the titles of your programs and speeches! Even if you don't need them yet, it won't do you any good to wait until you do need them... only to discover that some identity thief got there before you!)

  • If your name isn't available, try modifying it in some descriptive way. For example, www.johndoe.com may well be taken... but www.johndoethespeaker.com may be available. Or maybe www.theoneandonlyjohndoe.com. Or www.johndoethegreat.com.

    You can even incorporate some valuable marketing into your domain name. www.johndoe.com doesn't really tell you anything about what John Doe does. But www.johndoecustomerservice.com or www.customerservicebyjohndoe.com certainly does!

    (Remember, you can check to see if your name is available right here, at no cost.)

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  • Next, when you think you've found a good and available domain name, check it carefully to see that it works, both visually and when you read it out loud. Getting an inappropriate domain name isn't illegal, but it can be embarrassing. I've collected some examples of somewhat ineffective domain names so you can see what I mean.

  • Finally, when you find a domain name that you like, it's available, and you've checked it for appropriateness, all that's left for you to do is grab it. Grab it as soon as possible.

Of course, getting your domain name might be just the first step in your process of creating your websites. Although it doesn't hurt anything to have a domain name that doesn't "point" anywhere, it doesn't accomplish anything either. (Except to stop someone else from "stealing" your name!)

As always, wishing you every Internet success!

signed Jim Barber

Jim Barber