Choosing Your Domain Name (updated for 2021)
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: <em>The domain name is not available.</em> 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.
Sound familiar? If you LOVE your chosen domain name, but it’s not available, fear not. There are creative ways to solve the domain name issue, here are a few helpful ideas to help you find a great fit for your website address.
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.
First and foremost, research domain names wisely.
Unfortunately, the world of domain name registration can be unscrupulous. Check out my blog post on how to safely research domain names to be sure you’re doing so in the right place!
Incorporate your name into your domain
While sometimes even your personal name has been taken as well (perhaps by a chef or a real estate agent or a mud wrestler?), 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 a dear old friend whose last name was Seeds, and called her practice Seeds of Birth.
Use your town or region in your domain
This approach to choosing a domain name has become Way more popular in recent years so may no longer be a possibility in your area. As well, using your town name in your domain no longer has the SEO benefits it once did, but does offer easy name recognition. Your location-based domain name could be as simple as “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.
Add a word to your domain
While you love the name “alignchiropractic.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. Domain variations such as “alignedchiro.com” or “alignedchiropractic.com” or “alignchiropractor.com”, could work. Don’t even Consider this option, however, if there is any risk of confusion between your practices due to geographical proximity. The extra word could be as simple as “a” or “the”, or it could be descriptive such as “truealignmentchiro.com”.
A quick story: When I was looking for a domain name for my new web design practice way back in 2011, 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”!
Creative sources of domain 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 this 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 their 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.
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
Short and sweet is best
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 for domain name length, and you should avoid special characters such as hyphens and underscores. Even better? Google likes shorter domains better for search results.
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.
Go ahead and register your domain name!
If you find a domain name that works for you, buy it! Don’t wait a few days or weeks or months to decide… Too many times I’ve seen a client miss out on a great domain name that was available not so long ago.
Understanding how to purchase and register your new domain name can be surprisingly confusing. Here’s my guide on how to register for a domain name, as well as another post on how to protect domain privacy so you can make an informed decision.
Do you still find there is a loud inner voice whining “but all the good domains have been taken already!!!!”
I don’t blame you. But with some creative thinking and research, you’ll be surprised by what you can come up with. As for the assumption that “all the good ones are gone”, I assure you that I have seen clients come up with some pretty fantastic domain names in recent years by being creative and flexible, and sometimes just plain lucky! In fact, there’s a doula or midwife domain name that I love (inspired by a favourite Mary Oliver poem) that is in fact AVAILABLE hidden right here in this post – have you noticed it yet? Good luck!