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Finding a quality and free domain name for your online space these days is harder than finding a free parking spot in Central London or Manhattan. Chances are slim and yet you might just make it if you have a few tricks up your sleeve. Your imagination must be ahead of thousands of domain brokers whose job is to buy domains and try to resell them at a much higher price. Here are some rules and ideas for domain hunting that will hopefully get you a free name.

 

 

The Name Of The Game.

 
 

Never underestimate the power of a well-crafted company and domain name to attract viewers to your website – it is one of those things, along with the logo, that will make or break your startup. Make sure you put in the same effort in finding a good domain as if you are choosing a name for your child. A good website name has the three “s” – short, swift and sensible. A short domain name is perfect in terms of branding, logo design, SEO and it is generally easier to remember. A swift domain name sounds slick and catchy, it simply rolls off the tongue. You should also try to make it sound sensible in a way that it is aligned with the core idea and values of your brand. You can afford to make exceptions here – “amazon.com” is a perfect example where the name has nothing to do with sales but it sounds catchy and exciting nevertheless. And one last rule – rules are made to be broken… Experiment!

 
 

 
 

Go For “.com”… Or Don’t

 
 

A little advice on the extension – .com scores higher than .net and .org from SEO point of view and it guards against others using the same domain with a different extension, trying to get a free ride on your traffic and reputation. But it also makes no sense to end up with a ridiculous moniker for your company just because the .com version of your first choice was out of reach. Domains with the .co extension become more and more popular as a viable alternative, especially if you add a great logo and a short and catchy name to it. The perception that anything other than .com is a sign of weakness is somewhat fear based and has no real logic behind it.

 
 

Word Play

 
 

It is fiendishly hard to think of an original two word .com name that is not yet taken and free one word .com domains that make sense are pretty much extinct now. A clever way around that is to devise a new word, sentence of expression that gets across the same idea as your two or three word domain. Play around with words and ideas – relax, put away all rules of spelling and even try to combine two words into one complex expression that goes along with the core idea of your company. Here are a couple of examples of such famous domain names: “pinterest”, “investopedia”, “dribble”, “Flickr” and many more. Lets say that kites are your passion and you want to start a blog about kite flying – exkited.com is a pretty nifty idea for you. Or you are keen on recycling and you want to share your experience with it – recyclopedia.com is the way to go. The name of my studio came to me out of stubborn ambition to create something new and fresh and refusal to play by the rules of the domain vultures. It was born in a very groovy and artistic cafe that inspired me to think outside the box. What kind of places make your creativity flow? (click here for “Creative setting”)

 

If you have fallen in love with a domain name that you missed getting free by an inch, there are ways to come close to it. You can try to juggle with the suffixes and prefixes of the expression. If you like “lightbulb.com” for your inspirational blog, try putting “the” before it. Or stick an “s” at the end. Hyphens and letter alternatives with numbers like “road2growth.com” are generally discouraged for SEO and aesthetic reasons. You can also experiment with a different extension after the dot that completes your domain name like “shoot.me” for your photography portfolio or “ma.tt” for the blog of Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress.

 
 

Search For Solutions

 
 

Use domain suggestion tools like www.nameboy.com or www.domaintools.com. that let you type in a keyword and then run a huge list of suggested domains for you. Domain suggestion sites may not land you straight onto your dream domain, but they are a good starting point for a brainstorming session. You can also check recently expired domains at name.com or godaddy.com/expired-domains – who knows, another mans left over trash may turn to be your treasure!

 
 

Be Your Own SEO

 
 

SEO literacy has turned into a science of its own. The rules of Successful SEO practices are like an ever changing legal code and you have to keep reading your weight in SEO literature to keep up. I am not an expert on the matter but I might just be able to give you some well researched basic tips. Google makes subtle and major changes in its rules all the time. There are a few important things to keep in mind when you choose a SEO friendly domain. Try to squeeze in a key word in your domain name that comes up in the list of keywords for your website – that is important for your website ranking. Example: “wisdomcorner.com” may have “wisdom” in its keywords. Hyphenated and domains with numbers in them should ideally be avoided, they generally don’t look very reputable. A long, generic and hyphenated domain always looks suspicious and spammy (keyword-keyword-keyword.com).

Finally…

 

In case you pushed yourself hard but you feel stuck, there are still options. Buying an expensive domain with good type-in traffic is an investment that will provide an immediate boost and be a valuable long term asset. When negotiating with a domain reseller, you may not want to sound too enthusiastic about the purchase upfront or you may want to use a proxy if you are someone famous who is looking to start another big company. Try to bargain for a couple of domains that you are interested in at the same time and go for a reasonable trade-off between price and quality.


Anyway, do not panic if things don’t go your way the first time – quality service, original content, engagement and customer care are far more important for the success of your fledgling company than the perfect domain name. Don’t worry that much about the packaging, focus on the actual product or service that you are offering and things will work out in the end. Besides, if you have no prior experience and you are just starting out, you may want to try out what works and what doesn’t before you fully commit to a brand name and visual identity – chances are you will soon want to change those anyway.