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The Secrets to a Great Domain Name in 5 Easy Steps
by Joe Chapuis

Before you register another domain name, here are a few things you should know that will save you some time and money: - what your domain name should REALLY say - how to find a great name that will get you noticed - where to register a domain name for about the price of a pizza For starters, don’t think of your domain name as simply a title for your business or web site. You should think of it as a headline - something that appeals directly to the wants, needs, and desires of your target market. It probably doesn't hurt to use "your" name (BobsPlumbing.com). But, you really should be thinking about a name from the perspective of your clients and prospects. I hate to tell you, but they don’t care about your name (or you, for that matter). People want benefits and solutions, and you should be telling your prospects what benefit they will receive by doing business with you - in a great domain name. Despite what you might think, all the good ones are not taken. Granted, generic one-word names (i.e. business.com, computers.com) are not available or are very expensive if for sale - but that’s OK. There are alternatives, and good ones.

 Step 1: Brainstorm some ideas. Make a list of keywords related to your business. Include some powerful, emotion-stirring adjectives, or at least words that might pique one’s curiosity. Put them together in two or three word combinations. Get creative.

 Step 2: Go to http://www.namebargain.com, where you can search up to 30 names at once for free - a HUGE time saver. I’ve had good experiences with them. You can register names through them for $9.99 (unfortunately, they've got a ten name minimum for the first purchase.) Also, try http://www.whois.net where you can look for hidden gems among the millions of recently deleted domain names (names that were once registered and are now available). You can also search by entering multiple keywords, and combinations of these words are automatically checked. Nifty. If you’re really serious about finding good domain names, visit http://www.softnik.com. They offer a wonderful program called Domain Name Analyzer which can help you quickly and easily locate a great name. It belongs in the toolbox of any online professional - and it’s free.

 Step 3: When you find something you like, before you take the plunge, ask a few people what they think. Get an objective opinion from someone who could be your customer. How does it sound if you say it out loud? If you advertise on the radio, you better make sure it's clear. Remember: this isn’t 1994 - you can only be so choosey when it comes to selecting names. The one you really have your heart on may be taken. If it is, but doesn’t appear to be in use, contact the owner and ask if it’s available. Detailed name and contact information can usually be found by doing a search at http://www.betterwhois.com. Once you locate the owner, don’t offer anything up front, just inquire (Remember this important rule of negotiating: The first to name a price usually loses). To get an idea of how much similar names are going for, first visit one of the good domain name auction sites like http://www.afternic.com.

 Step 4: Before you register a name (especially if you’re in the US), you may want to do a free search at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office web site (http://www.uspto.gov). It’s a good way to see if your proposed domain name may potentially violate a registered federal trademark. Don’t assume that because it is available, it’s not trademarked. I've seen it happen. It could be a costly mistake if you assume and you're wrong. In addition, there are also state and international trademark issues to consider. Internet and trademark law can be a bit overwhelming to the uninitiated. Here’s a good summary of trademark-related questions: http://www.trademark.com/new_tmdocs/faq.html For more info on “CyberSpace Law”, check out http://www.ssrn.com/update/lsn/cyberspace/csl_lessons.html Other considerations and recommendations: - Stay away from hyphenated names unless you also own the unhyphenated version (no one remembers the hyphen, and people will accidentally visit your competitor). - Opt for “.com” if possible. There may be more options with “.net” and “.org” (or any of the other zillion new extensions), but “.com” is still king. People remember “.com”, and again, you don’t want to send prospects to your competitors. - Stay away from numbers (i.e. Websites4you.com) - sounds and looks cheesy; plus, it creates confusion if you advertise on the radio.

 Step 5: You’ve done your homework, you’ve found a good, “benefits-focused” name, and you’re ready to buy. Here are few places you may want to register your domain name (I haven’t personally tried these, but the prices look good): http://www.GoDaddy.com - $8.95 http://www.joker.com - approx. $11 http://www.orderyourdomains.com - $12 http://www.dotster.com - $14.95 Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll soon be on your way to finding a great, memorable, traffic-generating domain name (for about the price of a pizza). Wishing you much online success...

 

 

 

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