How To Pick a Great Domain

When you’re starting a new business or trying to build your online presence with your existing business, picking the right domain can be incredibly difficult. Not only do you need a domain that conveys your brand identity, you need one that makes it easy for people to find you. After all, that’s the entire point of your site. The problem? All the best domains are already taken.

Many business owners will simply pick a domain that’s available without taking the time to find one that will help grow their business as much as possible. This is a mistake. Some domains will help you a lot more than others. Some will even slow you down. Below, I’ve listed 8 rules I follow when picking domains. These rules will guide you in picking the domain that will help your business the most and make it easy for customers to find you.

If you’re selecting your name from scratch, just start brainstorming before worrying about the rules below. The longer the list, the better. Don’t even check to see if the names are available. Your goal is to produce a list as long as possible. I recommend starting with a list of at least 50 names. You may have to do this several times before you find a name you like, fits your target market, is available, and follows the rules below.

The 8 Rules I follow When Picking a Domain:

Your domain and business name should be the same. For existing businesses, this can be a deal breaker. Often, the domain of your business is already taken. Make sure to avoid this and pick a business name with the domain in mind. What if you’ve already built a brand and the domain is taken? Pick a domain that’s as close as possible to your actual name and make sure your site has been built for SEO. Your goal should be to rank at the top of Google’s listings for your name as quickly as possible.

No more than two words. If you have a name with three words or more, people will want to start using the acronym. this will create confusion for people that only hear the acronym and search with it instead of your full name. Ranking for your business name in Google can be hard enough, ranking for an acronym can be impossible.

No more than four syllables. Any more than this and the name gets hard to say and hear. This will slow your growth from word of mouth.

It must pass the bar test. If you say the name in a noisy bar, the person listening should be able to easily understand the name without needing it to be repeated. They should also be able to immediately write it on a napkin or google it after hearing it.

Avoid weird spellings. A name with a non-standard spelling will only make it more difficult for people to find you as they attempt to use the normal spelling.

The domain name must be available. Trying to buy a domain from some random person is not easy and is usually really expensive, especially if it’s a really good name. I would avoid any name that isn’t immediately available unless you have mountains of cash. The .com domain is the most important and I would avoid using a .net, .co, .ly or any other “domain hack.” The .com is the easiest to rank in Google and the domain that people trust the most. You will also want to get the .net and .org to protect your brand name.

The domain needs low competition in Google. Before picking a name, do a quick Google search for it. If a bunch of really strong brands come up, pick something else. The easiest way to rank in Google is by going after keywords that no one else has gone after. If a keyword/name has a lot of competition, it’s going to take a lot of work to rank for it. Also look at the types of pages that come up. If they’re all really professional, you probably want to pick a different name. But if they all look like they haven’t been updated since the 90’s, you can probably dominate the search results with some halfway decent SEO.

If you have to break one of these rules, break the word or syllable rules. It’s not ideal but these rules won’t be deal breakers. The others will.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Mubashir Ali May 20, 2017, 7:32 am

    Is it better to buy a great domain from any web based marketplace like sedo or flippa ? Recently I found found a domain ( in Flippa listing , should I buy it?

    • Lars Lofgren May 21, 2017, 5:22 pm

      That’s a pretty big question. Buying a domain comes down to:

      • Your ultimate goal, do you want to build off a business that’s already started or do you just want a domain with some domain authority and age?
      • The strength of the brand that this business may have already built
      • Are you planning on scrapping all the content on the site or will you be building off of it?
      • The quality and volume of the traffic that the site already has
      • The price of the site and quality of the domain name
      • How well the site aligns with your vision

      For beginners, I’d advise against it. The risk is a lot higher and you really need to know what you’re doing to make sure you’re getting a good deal on the site. For most folks, they’ll have a much easier time building their first site from scratch.


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