The name of a website is known as a URL (Universal Resource Locator) or domain name. The domain name for your website is utterly unique. No one else in the world has the same domain name.
The last three (or sometimes two) letters in the domain name are called the extension. Examples of extensions are .com, .net, and .org. New extensions are still created from time to time.
There are two basic rules for choosing a domain name:
1) The name should reflect to the greatest degree possible the purpose of your site.
2) The extension should be .com if at all possible.
The reason for the first rule is pretty obvious: you want people to know what your site is about. The name of your site acts as a keyword which should reveal and reinforce that awareness.
The reason for the second rule is that when most people think of web names they think of .com. Most websites have .com as an extension. Some have .net, .org, or other designations, but .com is the most common.
A .com extension is also better because .com extensions are more readily found and ranked by search engines such as Google, and ranking higher in the search engines means more traffic for your site.
It can be a challenge to find a good .com domain name because so many of them have been snapped up over the years. There is even a domain name industry where people purchase a domain name and then sell it — usually for a pretty inflated price — when someone wants it.
To find a domain name, you visit the website of a company that registers domain names. There are a lot of companies which register names. Here are a few:
When you go to the above sites, searching for a name is easy because they really want you to find one. They walk you through the process, and basically you just keep searching until you find a name.
As we did in the previous post, let’s say you want to build a site about cat nutrition. Catnutrition.com would be a logical choice for a name. Unfortunately, as of this writing catnutrition.com is one of those names that is being brokered and the owner wants at least $9,000 for it.
Since you can register most domain names for $8.00 to $12.00 per year, you may not want to spend $9,000 for a name. I don’t blame you. That sort of money is what a large company with a real interest in the name might pay.
But all is not lost. In fact, the news is quite good. Kittynutrition.com and kittycatnutrition.com are both available for $10.69 each per year through Namecheap, or at least they are as I write this. If cat nutrition is your thing, I suggest you get one of those names if they are still available.
There’s a bit of compromise with kittynutrition and kittycatnutrition. Either one may imply that your site is about nutrition only for young cats. But lots of people call their adult cat a kitty, so you’re not too far off the mark, and both are .com, which is very good. That’s the way it works with domain names: you get as close as you can to what you need.
The same process would apply no matter what the subject of your site will be. If a perfect name is not available, simply brainstorm and try different names until you find one that will work. Try to keep the name a .com. You can do .net or .org in a pinch, but .com is much better.
Sometimes numbers or hyphens or underscores are used so that a particular name which is not available can be modified a bit and still be used. Just be careful not to have the name too long or cumbersome. And be careful not to get too far away from the central theme of your site.
One thing you have to be very careful about is not to use trademarked terms in your website name. Also, never use typo names, i.e., words such as Microsft that are misspelled versions of trademark names. Check out a good article about this on Wealthy Affiliate which talks about trademark infringement as well as other practices to avoid involving domain names.
As mentioned above, the cost of names which are not in the clutches of a broker is just a few dollars a year. That’s one of the great things about starting an online business. Your “rent” or “mortgage” can be only $10-$12 per year.
A good domain name (or URL, as they are often called) is a great thing to have. A good name can even be motivating as you explore all the possibilities of your website.
If you have any questions or comments, just leave them below.