42 Killer Domain Secrets Exposed!
Every website needs a domain name. Example "WebBootCamp.com"
is a domain name. Your domain is your website address,
a.k.a. URL (universal resource locator). Should you use your
company name for your domain? Maybe, maybe not. Is it
memorable? Easy to spell? Does it contain keywords that
relate to your business? For more considerations on choosing
a domain, I've put together the following checklist.
Pick a memorable name. How catchy is it? Would the average
person be able to remember just your website name, without
looking through their bookmarks (if they have even bothered
to bookmark it, that is)?
Make it easy to spell! Face it, most people can't spell. Try
to target for the masses when you pick your name. Think of
everyone having a 7th grade education.
Make it short, try for a two or three word domain. When
possible, name your company the same as your domain name.
Whether you actually add .com to your company's name makes
Use keywords in your domain. Try services like
Google Adwords keyword tool, and
Wordtracker to see what people are searching for, in
BIG NUMBERS, related to your subject.
Don't use numbers or hyphens. These are easily overlooked or
forgotten when people type in your domain. Unless you're
using a stand out combination like 911alert or
123homerepair, don't go numeric. If you use hyphens, then
every time you tell someone your domain, you have to say
"it's blah-blah-blah.com - with the hyphens". This is not
impressive, and you risk losing traffic to blahblahblah.com.
You're asking your potential customers to work harder, to
remember tedious details about your name. Simplicity is
important, because you want them to find you. You're
building a brand here.
Don't buy any other extension except a ".com" This is the
best branded domain extension, highly known and trusted. Any
other extension is practically worthless, in my book. In
addition to being first in the minds of the public, remember
also that most people trying to find a company will put a
.com after that company's name in their browser. It's second
nature to most of us. A .org can bring attention for non
profits, but even most of those companies will try to
purchase a .com as well.
Avoid running names together that end in a vowel and begin
in a vowel. EXAMPLE: freeebook.com Also try to avoid having
the second word start with the same letter as the last
letter of the last word. These combinations can look weird,
and are often likely to be misread or simply forgotten. By
avoiding these two combinations, along with numbers and
hyphens, we make sure our words (and our brand) will stand
Good For Starting Sentences, Not Domains
Avoid starting your name with THE, or A, if being used as
the word A. EXAMPLE asimplehome.com - "a" is likely to be
forgotten. While it is true that directory listings usually
list alphabetically, search engines do not.
If you can come up with a catchy name starting with "a", by
all means, do so. You may find yourself first in the yellow
page listings. Have a look there first, and see what the
competition looks like. What are their names, how do they
Now, here's where it gets interesting. You'll see that names
starting with numbers get displayed first (for non paid
listings). So the big question becomes, is yours the type of
product or service that will do well from yellow page
traffic? You must carefully weigh this against overall
branding of your company.
You could of course, have more than one domain, and more
than one brand for your company, but be careful about
promoting the same sites with different names to the same
search engines. You could find yourself banned from those
search engines altogether.
Don't pick your name as your domain name, unless you're
famous. Names aren't keywords (won't help your search engine
rankings), and usually easily forgotten. Unless you've built
a big brand around your name already, stick to a good key
phrase! It is much easier to brand.
Who's who, and is my name taken?
To search available domains, and to find out who owns
registered ones, use the whois function at
whois.com and it will show you where it was registered. The next
step to detecting the identity of the actual owner, is to
visit the registrar (this is where the domain was
registered) site listed, and use their whois search. This
should provide you with name, address, phone number and
email of the rightful owner. Unfortunately, this information
is not always available, but it is most of the time.
A Common Myth Equals Missed Opportunities
All the great domains are taken. Hogwash! The dirty little
secret is, thousands of great domains expire every day!
When applicable, do try to get the singular and plural
versions of your domain like we just saw with
customoilpainting(s). When one could be easily be mistaken
for the other, it helps to be covered this way. You're also
protecting your brand.
Another expiring domain service to check out is
snapcheck.com. They have some interesting statistics for
expiring domains, such as google page rank and yahoo and
dmoz listed domains. Bear in mind that any "perceived value"
on a domain put there by a search engine listing or page
rank is inherently fleeting. That's because the content that
was responsible for that listing is now gone, and it is
simply a matter of time before the search engine's spiders
crawl the site again, and re-evaluate it's content. In other
words, the search engine ranking is very likely going to
disappear soon, unless you quickly repopulate the site with
compelling content, worthy of the rank the original site
Roads To Nowhere, No Stops Ahead
One tasty bonus that accompanies a popular site is link
popularity. This is how many other websites link to the
domain in question. Think of a link as a road into your
website. Quite often, webmasters do not update their links
when the site they're linking to changes or disappears
altogether. So if you find an expired (or soon to be
expired) domain with high link popularity (many links to the
domain), it may well stay that way for some time to come.
Case in point: special-report-network.net was once a very
successful ad network run by online marketing guru Allen
Says. For reasons unknown, he shut down the site and let the
domain expire. The domain had over 14,000 links pointing to
The domain got snatched up by Ultimate Search, a hong kong
company that registers thousands of domains, and makes money
from paid search results. The site has nothing to do with
the original ad network site that Allen built and made
successful, yet the links remain, and links equal traffic.
Bear in mind not all links are created equal. Link farms
(A.K.A. FFA or "free for all" links pages), and seldom
visited by real people. Instead, automated programs add
people's URLs when they submit to a mass submission service,
hoping to generate big traffic. Instead, all they get is a
bunch of spam, which they've agreed to receive, in order for
using the service.
How can I snag that expiring hottie?
When you find a name that is pending deletion (the owner
hasn't renewed it), the next step is to try to secure it,
the moment it becomes available. Strangely, domains do not
fall back into the pool of availability the day they expire.
It can take up to 60 days or more in some cases for them to
"drop", and the times are not announced. Thankfully, there
are automated services to perform this task for us, such as
Namewinner.com, Snapnames.com, Expirefish.com, and Pool.com.
Prices vary, and none can guarantee success.
Namewinner lets users bid against each other for expiring
domains and only the winner pays, while Snapnames and
Expirefish are first come, first served, meaning only one
user has a shot at grabbing a particular domain. Snapnames
also has the most registrar partners, (including Network
Solutions), which may give them an edge for securing
expiring domains that are currently registered with their
partners. They also have the highest price tag, and you pay
whether or not they secure your name. Pool.com is a newcomer
that seems to rival the services of Snapnames, with better
One more method you might try, is going directly to the
current owner. Let's say your desired dropping domain is
already "back ordered" on Snapnames.com, and Expirefish.com.
Now you can still bid for it at Namewinner.com, and
Pool.com, but you feel the odds are against you. If you're
really hot on the name, and willing to pay a premium, you
may be able to bypass the solutions above, simply by cutting
a deal with the current owner.
This can be a bit risky however, because once the owner
realizes your interest, they may decide to ask for a
unreasonable sum of money, or simply see value in the domain
again (generated from your interest), and renew it as an
investment. Assuming you can make a deal, you may want to
suggest using escrow.com, which eliminates the possibility
of fraud for both of you. The owner will need to renew the
domain before they can transfer it to you.
The Website Graveyard - Visit Those Spooky Remains!
Once you've found a deleted or soon to be deleted domain you
fancy, you might want to take a trip into the past, to see
what that site used to be! Now bear in mind most domains
that are registered are never developed, so there may be
nothing at all to see. But for those domains with a tangible
history, we can often peek at their ghost, courtesy of the
One Owner, Driven Only On Sundays
Another way to check the history of a domain, is simply to
search for it. Try searching google, and groups.google.com,
to see what people may have said about the site. You may
think twice about purchasing a domain with a sketchy
Don't go overboard and buy every known extension for your
brand - (.net, .org, .biz, .info, etc.). Big corporations
like google can afford to buy all the country domains. When
you're starting out, remember, domain fees are yearly, and
you need to consider the lifelong cost of each domain. For
most people, one domain is just fine.
You may think snatching up good domains and reselling them
would be a lucrative business. The problem is, finding a
buyer is not easy. In fact, that's an understatement.
Don't register domains containing trademarks. You will
likely here from that company's legal department if you do,
and will be forced to relinquish the name by The World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), or a lawsuit, or
Who's in charge?
Icann (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers) oversees the domain registration business. If you ever have trouble with
your registrar, it may be worth reporting to Icann.
Case in point: A client of mine tried to switch his domain
to another registrar (at my suggestion), to get added free
features (free URL forwarding), and save money. His current
registrar denied the transfer, and tried to charge him a fee
for leaving! Once we threatened to take up the matter with
Icann, and publicly expose them at Icann's forum), they immediately
backed down, and released the domain.
If you believe someone has registered a domain that
infringes on your trademark (or has infringed on your
intellectual property), the authority to see is The World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Capitalize each word of your domain in your sig files and
letterhead, and anywhere else you advertise your domain. It
helps your brand stand out.
Also, only add in http://www. when you're creating links
back to your site (i.e., email, websites, and online forms).
In all your offline advertising, such as signs, business
cards and letterhead, you should definitely skip http://www
and just use "YourDomain.com". You only have a second or two
of people's attention when they see your URL, so make it
count. Brand that name! Just make sure your web host has
your site set up to show without WWW. Most sites are
correctly set up to display when a person types in
"YourDomain.com", or "www.YourDomain.com" but a handful,
maybe 10% or so will show page not found, if you skip "www".
That could be devastating, so check with your host, and
demand that your site come up either way!
Ready To Buy Your .com?
Don't overpay! I'm still surprised that many people don't
know they can buy domains for under $10 these days.
Keep Your Registration Current!
Don't let your domain expire! You cannot afford to be even a
day late in payment. If it falls into the redemption period,
you may find yourself high jacked by your registrar for an
outrageous renewal fee.
If your expired domain falls back into the available pool,
it may be registered by anyone, and you may have little
recourse trying to recover it.
The easiest way to ensure you are sent renewal notices for
your domain is to keep your email contact current for your
domain. Perhaps the most common reason for people losing
their domains, is simply that they switch ISPs, and
subsequently, their email address changes, and they forget
to update that information with their domain registrar.
If you own a lot of domains, keeping up with administration
can be tedious. One trick I rely on, is to use one domain
for my primary business email address, and on that
registration "admin" contact, I use my ISP email. For
all my other domain registrations, I use my primary
business email address (based on my primary domain,
which I will never let go). Now, if I should switch
ISPs, all I need to concern myself with is changing that
one domain record, to reflect my new ISP email. All my
other domain records have that primary domain email as
the admin contact, so as long as I keep the one record
current (and keep the email account active), all will be
current, and all domain renewal notices will be sent to
In the end, it's not so much about the name, as it is what
you make of it. Just look at all the big successful internet
companies out there with strange names! Yahoo!
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