More often than not, I get a new client calling me for help building their new website who has a fantastic creative name for their business that has only one major catch: The domain name is not available. Perhaps someone else is using it for their domain, or often an individual or company has purchased the name on speculation and may be willing to sell it for a ridiculously large sum.
If you’ve tried searching for a website domain name in the past few years you know it is Not easy to find a great name that is still available.
Sound familiar? If you LOVE your name, and want to find a creative way to solve the domain name issue, here are a few helpful ideas to help you find a great fit for your website address.
1) Use Your Name
While sometimes even your name has been taken as well (perhaps by a chef or a real estate agent?), if you add your service term such as "doula" or "acupuncture" to your domain name it can be a good option. If choosing to use your personal name, make sure it is relatively easy to pronounce and spell, lest clients face great confusion trying to figure out how to type in your name-based URL and end up somewhere else. The luckiest amongst us have first or last names that carry some symbolism that relates to our work, such as an old friend whose last name was Seeds, and called her practice Seeds of Birth.
2) Use Your Town
This approach has become Way more popular in recent years so may no longer be a possibility, and no longer has the SEO benefits it once did. Your domain name could be as simple as "www.denvermassage.com", or "nashvillebirth.com". If going this route, make sure there aren’t too many others in your area using a similar technique, as it can cause considerable confusion for potential clients trying to discern between you. A location-based domain name in theory will no longer give you a boost in SEO, but can create a perception of your company as a leading provider of services in your region.
3) Add a Word to Your Doula Domain
While you love the name "lovelybirth.com", if it’s not available and the other person using it lives clear across the country, consider adapting the URL to make it your own. Variations such as "alovelybirth.com" or "lovelybirthing.com", could work. Don't even Consider this option, however, if there is any risk of confusion between your practices due to geographical proximity.
When I was looking for a domain name for my web design practice, my first choice of "websitedoula.com" was unavailable. A guy in California had purchased it years ago just in case he wanted to used it one day. I decided the risk was worth it, and made my name "thewebsitedoula.com". By adding a simple “the” I created a stronger brand identity with a unique name, and once I was well established it actually made it harder for him to consider using "websitedoula.com" for his own business. Last year I was fortunate enough to strike a deal and purchase "websitedoula.com" from him as well, thereby protecting my business identity. In the end, I've actually preferred being "thewebsitedoula.com"!
4) Seek Inspiration
We all have beloved poems or quotes in our lives. One of my favorite tricks if you’re feeling completely stuck is to take some time looking through your journal or your bookshelf. It could be hidden within those writings is an image, word or phrase that will speak to you. Alternatively, consider what led you to birth work in the first place, and the related words that describe what it means to you. In the past I have asked clients a series of questions about what they love about birth work, and recorded their words to then review and look for themes or imagery that we might be able to build upon when creating their brand, business name, or mission statement.
5) Consider the Suffix
While there are loads of suffixes out there to choose, be careful getting too creative with these. If lovelybirth.com" isn’t available, think carefully before using ".net", ".org", or ".us" instead. While likely available, these domain alternatives don’t tend to perform as well in search, don't look as professional, and your clients are far more likely to look for you by typing in a .com address. If you live outside of the USA, you have the advantage of being able to use a country-specific suffix such as .ca for those in Canada. This is only recommended if your client base is exclusively within your country.
6) Short and Sweet
Ok, I know this bit of advice is made a lot harder when it is already so hard to find a good domain name, but remember that it is the job of your website - NOT your domain name - to explain everything you do. Your priority is something that feels memorable and intriguing, not explanatory. Less than 20 characters is ideal, and you should avoid special characters such as hyphens and underscores.
7) Go ahead and register your domain name!
Once you’ve chosen a few potential domain names, be sure to run them by your friends and family for feedback. A name that seems fantastic to you may take on unexpected meaning in someone else’s eyes or simply not resonate with who they know you to be. A domain name is meant to be a long-term relationship for your business, and this decision is not to be made lightly.