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What's in a name? A guide to selecting domain names.
Finding a domain name that isn't taken these days is fairly 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 that 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 is a good idea to be online at the time and to access a WHOIS application to determine if 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 is 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 is 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.
Choosing a domain extension
Many countries now lease out the rights to use their extensions globally. The best example of this is the .tv domain, which actually belongs to Tuvalu. There are now over 250 TLDs globally. A number of new Top Level Domain (TLD) extensions including .biz and .info were also recently released amid a great deal of fanfare. These are usually more expensive to register.
There is the temptation that if your first choice of names is not available as a .com, to register the name as a .net, .biz or .tv etc. Think carefully before making this decision. Not only might it cost you more, but also these extensions do not have the recognition of .com - which is the "Beverly Hills" of domain extensions. One of my biggest mistakes in selecting my domain name was to wait for too long - the .com version was already taken by the time I had got around to domain name registration and I had to settle for the .net version of my site. Many people now go to the wrong address!
Nationalistic pride is great, but remember that the Internet has broken down international barriers. Think of your target audience. If it is only the people within your own country, a country specific domain is fine; but remember that we are still in the growing stages of the real global economy and it is best to go for .com - why limit yourself? Also, some countries such as Australia have very complex requirements for registering a local domain name.
Popular Domain Extensions
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Note: Essential Tips
Keep it 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.zacksaysevry1has2visitmywonderfulsite.com
what's wrong with this? Sure, it's descriptive, it challenges and it is generic. But it is also a mixture of numbers, letters, abbreviations, hyphens and is 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 categorise alphabetically. Domain names should also be as brief as possible.
As far as I am aware, all three and four letter names for .com and .net are taken at this time. Unfortunately, when I began my first major site in the mid-90s I did not consider some of these issues.