Your Options for Grabbing a Good Domain Name

This is part two of the One Week Blog Challenge series.

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A rose.com by any other domain name would NOT sell as sweet

Picking out (or buying) a good domain name for your website can take a lot of time & creativity (or money). There are 3 basic ways to get a good domain name. Alternatively you can buy a an existing website at a place like Sitepoint, but I would avoid this option unless you really know what you’re doing and are an expert at valuing sites.

Here’s an awesome article about grabbing a domain name like a pro by James Siminoff and some of my older thoughts on the topic.

So here’s 3 ways to get a domain name:

1. Register a domain name that has never been registered

The obvious choice – go to Domain Tools Whois or GoDaddy and look up any number of domain names  (some people like using instant domain search to lookup domains, but I found it’s sometimes inaccurate so I prefer Domain Tools). This usually involves coming up with a clever new combination of words or taking a .net, .org, .me, etc. Here are some things to remember. You’re building a brand here – go with something that’s sticky and memorable.

Here are my general tips:

  • I would VERY highly recommend going with a “.com” over anything else. .com’s rule the jungle by a longshot and for good reason.
  • Avoid anything super web 2.0 ridiculous. Those are really passé.
  • Something short and easy to remember. If you have to spell out your domain name to someone it’s generally not a good sign.
  • Keep it to 2 or 3 words or a made up a word like gothamist.com or abroadening.com
  • Think of clever combinations or something that matters to you (ex: livingonimpulse.com, catswhoblog.com, incomediary.com)
  • Avoid numbers and dashes (a given).
  • Avoid using a trademark in your domain like googleizer.com or fordtruckseller.com
  • Go with a brandable domain name over any SEO-keyword-laden bullshit. smittenkitchen.com or aliceinstilettos.com is way better, brandable, and memorable than kitchencookingsupplies.com or fashionstyleblog.com. Have some personality.
  • We’re in the twitter age – brevity is advantageous.
  • See additional strategies and tips by SEOmoz. Keywords might be nice, but brands are the future so personal is better than keyword-laden imho.

Once you find something you like, check out “Registering Your Domain Name” at the end of this article.

2. Buy a domain in the aftermarket

You can go to sedo.com or buydomains.com to see what’s already been registered but is available and listed for sale. I’ve bought a few domains that way in  range of prices – from $70 to $1600. If you find an unregistered but undeveloped (or even a developed domain) you can lookup the whois email or telephone number and contact that person directly to see if they will sell you the domain name. I’ve had little success this way, but was able to pick up a few decent domains over the years.

3. Catch a dropping domain.

The third option is to catch a dropping domain. If someone has registered a domain and has let it lapse, eventually it gets released back into the wild, where companies or individuals snap them up. Don’t get fooled into thinking you can snag anything yourself once it drops – there are crazy systems that monitor and snag this stuff up, or at least the good stuff. You can go to NameJet or Snapnames (or even Pool even though I don’t like their practices as much) and see what’s dropping. GoDrops is a great website that monitors and sorts through the good dropping domain names.

#3 is how I got hotshotphoto.com – it dropped via NameJet sometime last year and went into auction where I picked it up for $200.

Registering a Domain Name

If you go with option #1 – registering a new domain name – I would use Moniker or Godaddy. Recently I prefer using Moniker because it’s cheaper and the contract is better from what I understand. (basically Go Daddy is likelier to capitulate and give away your domain name in a dispute). If you do go with Godaddy, just by the domain for any number of years you wish and don’t add any other services that they try to add on during checkout. You only need the domain. Definitely don’t buy hosting from them.

Next up – hosting

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Written by

AU Interactive with an interest in travel, photography, and social media.

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Comments

  • Brandon says:

    I always get stuck on this “branding” thing because there’s part of me that thinks about uniqueness and then there’s part of me that thinks about practicality. A good, funny, memorable, strange play-on-words web 2.0 name might work great for the young and hip generation and/or in an environment where your brand only appears as hyperlinks (which means nobody has to remember it’s spelling–they just click), but what about people in the “real” world who still use the YellowPages to find businesses and when they find one, they still pick up the phone to talk to someone?

    You brought up some good points and over the years, I’ve bought domains through all the channels you mentioned and have spent anywhere from $9 to $3000 on domains that I have re-sold, developed, let expire, parked, forwarded, etc.

    So what did I settle with?? Two domains–one for my old (and still used) Internet nickname, Ledfrog.com and one for my real first name, Brandon.me (just won the NameJet auction–yay!).

    I’m not too sure about the branding possibilities for either, but in the industry I’m in, I’m finding it less important for two reasons: the older people only care about quality service and the younger people only care about a trusted source. And more often than not, they go hand in hand. You could literally have lkdjfhsdhjsiouhoifweg.com and if you’re coming up high on Google, you’re getting traffic and very likely, business as well.

  • Sardegna says:

    Putting together a list like this is difficult, because there are so many influential bloggers out there depending on the niche (if they have one). Here are some of the other names I would throw into the ring: Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post), Michael Arrington (TechCrunch), Anil Dash, Heather Armstrong (dooce.com), Rob Neyer (baseball writer now at SBNation), Chris Guillebeau (Art of Non-Conformity) and so on.

    I’m sure you could do a Top 100 and not make everyone happy. I was going to add in the Boing Boing crew, Jason Kottke, and John Gruber, but their writing styles are very different from more “traditional” bloggers.

  • Grabbing a Good Domain Name – This part is the most frustrating for me because the domain names that I have chosen for my blogs were already taken. I’ve learned that before registering a domain name, I have to have at least 5 in my list so I won’t be left blank thinking what domain name to check next.

  • Namesbeyond says:

    Domain Name is very useful, buy the domain which was already registered and expired, because they will be more popular in the search engine, the pages would be crawled all ready by the robats of the search engines. their would be some popularity among the online users.

  • FERNANDO says:

    Valuable article, but I have to say when it come to Domain registration Godaddy is way low in their customer care and when it come to domain transferring support. And even if you look at the dashboard it’s bit complicated for a beginner to easily configure .

    After using GoDaddy and couple of other name registering services I finally decided Name Cheap is the best and most effective domain registration service on the planet.

    If you haven’t used it before you may check it out for your next domain registration! recently one of the domain I bought for ChudyPhotography was initially miss spelled, and when I contacted the Name Cheap customer support they were good enough to refund the money in couple of minutes and we could buy the correct domain back immediately.

    I would say they are working like Zappos!

    And when it comes to Hosting it’s without question Hostgator. The best possible customer service and the deal you can get. Even better than Blue host.

    It’s the weekend and I’m almost finish reading all the articles on your website. Great content and the speed of the site captured the attention.