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How to choose the perfect domain name – 11 expert tips

By Will Stevens - May 5, 2022

Choosing a new domain name is a weighty task – if your website is successful, the name you select will be with you for years, perhaps even decades. It may even feel like choosing the wrong name could end your chances of success before they’ve even begun.

With many of the best domain names taken, you may not be able to grab your dream domain name. This guide will help choose a domain name that works for you. By the end of it you should have a good idea of how to find a name that matches with your idea.

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11 Useful tips for choosing the perfect domain name

  1. Domains should be short and easy to spell
  2. Avoid using hyphens or numbers in your domain
  3. Pick a domain name that’s brandable
  4. Consider using keywords in your domain
  5. Consider including a location in your domain name
  6. Choose a suitable extension for your domain name
  7. Avoid using other people’s intellectual property in your domain name
  8. Use a domain generator for inspiration
  9. Check the availability of the domain you want to buy
  10. Register your domain as soon as possible
  11. Consider using domain protection

1. Domains should be short and easy to spell

A short domain name is easier to remember and easier to type. If your domain is more than about 12 characters (including the extension) then the chances are fewer people will remember where to find your website after their first visit.

You should also avoid using alternative or unusual spellings in your domain name, as this too has the potential to confuse people. For example, a punning baking blogger might consider “thebreadryeter.com”  as a domain, but it wouldn’t be a good choice as people who hear it spoken aloud could easily end up visiting “thebreadwriter.com”.

If a domain name you’re thinking of buying could easily be mistaken as being something else, you should probably choose another one.

2. Avoid using hyphens or numbers in your domain

Okay, yes. 123-reg.co.uk breaks both those rules, but… In general, numbers in a domain name can cause confusion (is it example8.com or exampleeight.com?), while hyphens are an extra thing for people to remember. Plus, if someone types your domain without a hyphen, they could get an error message or end up on a completely different website. (We also own 123reg.co.uk, if you’re wondering.)

3. Pick a domain name that’s brandable

In the past, the focus was usually on including keywords in a domain name. However, these days you’ll at least want to consider a domain name that’s brandable.

What counts as brandable? Well, think of something like Amazon.com. Once upon a time, it was just a river in South American. But, with a domain name and branding, it’s now a huge ecommerce business.

Branding can feel confusing, especially if it’s not something you’ve thought about before. If you’re not sure about how to get started with branding, this guide offers a good jumping off point.

4. Consider using keywords in your domain

Keyword focused domain names aren’t as popular as they once were and you shouldn’t think that just because you’ve got a keyword in your domain you’re going to top Google’s search rankings.

However, a keyword in a domain can still be useful, particularly if it helps people understand what it is you do. For example, if you’re a plumber having a domain with “plumbing” or “plumber” in it could be a good idea.

5. Consider including a location in your domain name

A location in your domain name will help people understand where your business is based. It can be a good idea to combine this with a keyword. For example, gosforthplumber.com might be a good domain for a plumber based in an area called Gosforth.

Don’t forget, you can also indicate the location of your business by choosing an appropriate domain extension.

6. Choose a suitable extension for your domain name

What’s a domain extension? Well, it’s the .com in example.com, the .co.uk in example.co.uk and the .london in example.london.

There are loads of domain extensions to choose from. Some are general like .com, some are location specific like .co.uk and some are industry specific, like .coffee.

As .com has been around so long and is so popular, you might struggle to find your ideal domain on a .com extension. Because of that, you may need to be flexible about your domain or your extension, or even both.

7. Avoid using other people’s intellectual property in your domain name

If your perfect domain name happens to include someone else’s trademark, you could be in trouble. You face having to rebrand your website after launch and you could even face legal action. Because of this, it makes sense to check that you won’t be infringing anyone else’s intellectual property before you buy. You can search a global brand database here and a UK trade mark database here. Note: Intellectual property laws are complex and just because a word or phrase appears (or doesn’t appear) in one of these databases doesn’t mean you can (or can’t) use it in a domain. If you have any doubt, you should seek professional advice.

8. Use a domain generator for inspiration

Finding the right domain name can be tough, so use a domain generator to help get you inspired. A good domain generator should provide you with suggestions based on varying extensions and synonyms.

For example, if you search for a domain name with 123 Reg you get a whole host of alternative examples. In the below example, we’ve searched for bigdogs.com (which is taken) and the screenshot shows just some of the alternatives suggested.

An example of a domain name search for BigDogs.com with alternatives suggested because the domain is taken

Note: Don’t forget, the rules about intellectual property still apply!

9. Check the availability of the domain you want to buy

Once you know what domain name you want to buy, search for it using a domain name registrar like 123 Reg and see if it’s available. If it isn’t, you’ll need to try something else. (Or see if the domain name is available to buy in the aftermarket.) For this reason, it’s probably a good idea to draw up a list of potential domains before you start searching.

10. Register your domain as soon as possible

Once you’ve found a domain name you like and is available, register it as soon as you can. If you delay, you run the risk of losing your domain to someone else. If it’s available, you can buy your domain name with 123 Reg now.

11. Consider using domain protection

A domain name can be a valuable business asset. A domain name protection service can help make sure your domain name stays safe. Our Domain Ownership Protection service locks domains behind a unique password, which means only you can make changes to things like contact details and transfers. You can add Domain Ownership Protection via your 123 Reg Control Panel after you’ve purchased a domain.

This video will help you pick a strong domain name.

Conclusion

Choosing a good domain name takes a little bit of planning and the willingness to compromise. Remember, the domain you opt for doesn’t have to be perfect. Just good enough for what you want to do.

You can search for and register a domain here, and then pick up one of our UK web hosting plans.

Once you’ve picked a domain name, take a look at this guide to help you get your business online.

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