What's in a name?

A guide to choosing domain names

Choosing a domain name is a big decision. When I originally started trading under "Taming the Beast" years ago, a search on that phrase didn't bring back too many results. A search on Google recently brought back 1627 results.....how times change.....Think up a number of possible domain names.Finding a domain name that isn't taken these days is pretty hard to do. If you have ever tried to get a user ID with a service such as Yahoo, you will understand how frustrating it can be when you think up the perfect name that nobody else could have possibly thought of, only to find that yes, you can have that name if you are happy to have 7865 tacked on to the end of it. King Solomon is reported to have said "There is nothing new under the sun".....or the Internet it would seem.

Don't set your heart on any one name, but make a list of possibilities. It's a good idea to be online at the time and to access a WHOIS application to determine whether a name has been taken.

Typing an address into your browser will not be an accurate way of ascertaining ownership as approximately 86% of all domain names currently registered are not in use. A WHOIS query is the most accurate way to tell.

Generic, Business names and Trademarks

Most people choose to register their business name as a domain name, but it's well worthwhile considering selecting a generic name, something that is related to your subject area or industry. Not only will it be easier for people to remember, but it will also have greater resale value if you should choose to sell your site in the future. It is also worthwhile to check whether the name you are registering encroaches on any other trademark. Many people have registered celebrity or company names hoping to make a quick buck by selling them back to their "owners". This usually backfires as it is an illegal practice called "cybersquatting". It's definitely not worth the court case, even registering a misspelling of a popular brand name can land you in hot water. Generic terms cannot be trademarked to the point of the exclusion of others using the word combinations. Since generic one word domain names are virtually impossible to locate now, try two word combinations that inspire and promote your products or services; e.g. solidbargain.com. 

A domain name should be short and simple

Ok, so you have found your name and decided that you wish to build a world wide empire. You have chosen www.zack-saysevry1has2visitmywonderfulsite.com ....what's wrong with this? Sure, it's descriptive, it challenges and it's generic. But it's also a mixture of numbers, letters, abbreviations, hyphens and horribly long. A domain name should be easy to remember, easy to relay to someone over the telephone and where possible, the first letter should be as close to the letter "a" as possible. A number of search engines and indices categorize alphabetically. Domain names should also be as brief as possible. As far as I am aware, all 3 and 4 letter names for .com and .net are taken at this time. Unfortunately, when I began "Taming the Beast" in the mid-90's I didn't consider some of these issues.

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