Whether you're starting a new project, blog or launching an entirely new business, a good domain name is vital. Just like the location of a retail shop can make or break its success, you want a domain name that's going to create a memorable "home" on the Internet. Because there are plenty of people who not only buy domain names for their active undertakings, but also dozens or hundreds of extras in hopes of flipping them to other buyers, it's easy to feel like there are no good domain names left.
Fortunately, although it may take some digging on your part, it's still possible to find solid domain names. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Stick to What's Proven: Over the last few years, there have been lots of trendy Web 2.0 domain names. These names are completely made up words or domains that use alternate extensions to spell out words. While it's always tempting to jump on the bandwagon, most startups that have gone down this route haven't succeeded. With a few notable exceptions like Digg and Flickr, most of these domain names have simply created more problems for themselves than traction. Despite the constant stream of new extensions, .COM is still king. If you can't find a .COM you like, stick with .NET or .ORG.
Make Sure You Pass the Billboard Test: People may forget to bookmark your blog when they read a post for the first time. They may also not make a purchase the first time they visit your business website. As a result, you want to do everything in your power to ensure they're able to remember your domain name. The best way to do this is to choose a name that passes the "billboard test." This refers to picking a domain name that would stick with someone even if they saw it on a billboard when they were driving down the highway at 70 MPH.
Keyword or Brand: A question that commonly comes up on Internet marketing forums is whether to choose a domain name that's keyword driven or more brandable. Although there are plenty of opinions on both sides of this issue, the truth is that you don't need to pick. Instead, you can combine both. For example, if you're a writer and want a domain name for a portfolio, consider using "Writing" plus a second word that you can use in your branding and design.
Use a Specialized Tool: One reason that finding a quality available domain name can be hard is because many registrars don't have very useful search engines. That's why it can be useful to use a free tool like LeanDomainSearch.com. This type of tool allows you to put in a keyword and then comes up with hundreds of available domains that aren't complete gibberish. Not only can a tool like this be useful for finding a domain, but it's also a good way to start brainstorming potential options.
When is the last time you purchased a domain name?
Craig Klein is the president of a CRM software company that in addition provides email marketing solutions.