4 Rules for Choosing a Domain

November 23rd, 2007 | Categories: blogs, launch, marketing, off topic, strategy

At some point in time, many of us are forced to choose a domain for a specific need - whether it be for an online company, a blog, or a web application. Some domains are clever and remarkable, while others languish. I’ve chosen several domains over the years and I’ve come to some important conclusions. Here is a list of the 4 rules I abide by (and advise others to abide by) when choosing a domain name:

1. Must be a .com - Forget what everyone says about .net or .tv or whatever. If you are truly looking to make an impact on the web, a .com is a must. Exceptions can be made for non-profits (a .org is a better choice) and for localized companies/services, where a country specific domain may be chosen.

2. Must be relatively short - I understand that 5 and 6 letter domains are hard to come by nowadays, but that’s not what I’m talking about. As a rule of thumb, I wouldn’t choose a domain longer than 15 letters or so. It may be hard for others to remember. You must also keep in mind that the longer the URL, the more likely it may be misspelled. In other words, if your URL is http://www.firefightersassociationofnorthamerica.com/, you may want to rethink your choice.

3. Must NOT contain dashes - Simply put, dashes are no-no in the world of top-level domains. Unless you’re creating mindless SEO-tailored landing pages, domains containing dashes should be nixed. In all likelihood, you will be driving traffic to the domain without the dashes. Moreover, I find that they take away from the professionalism of the site and/or service.

4. Must be memorable - Generic domain names are not only boring, but also dangerous. Their brand recognition is minimal and customer loyalty isn’t likely to be as strong. Generating a more remarkable, memorable domain name that can be branded is key. The loss in SEO juice will be more than compensated by an increase in brand equity and perception. After all, who’s going to remember a site called http://www.menstailoredsuits.com/? Not me… would you?

I hope this facilitates your quest for the ultimate domain name. If your choice fits all 4 criteria listed above, congratulations.

How do you choose a domain? What criteria do you use when searching for the perfect name?


  1. AC Says:

    This was reinforced at the recent Geodomain Expo in San Francisco. Associated Cities only allows dotcom versions of city names, and they have proven their worth in the marketplace and are now selling for millions.

  2. David J Castello Says:

    Excellent post, but don’t agree with you about #4. Generic domains (Hotels.com, Cars.com, Apartments.com, Lawyers.com, etc) are only “dangerous” to the competition.

  3. skip hoagland Says:

    DITTO DITTO, I would remember Menstayloredsuits.com not Joestayloredsuits.com, if I was looking for this product. The same for other products what I do as an intuitive thinking person is type in the exact generic brand name, not some other way that could be endless. Menstayloredsuits, Tayloredsuits, Menssuits, Suits all have value, Joe has very little and will need to go find another job.

  4. thislooksfamiliar Says:

    great article. short and to the point. i liked it. especially the point about .com being the best choice. though many creative extensions exist (.name, .tv, .travel, etc) the best one will always be .com.

  5. Choosing a Domain Name « Jarrod Morgan | The SlamBlog Says:

    […] November 28, 2007 · No Comments Recently, a few new projects have come our way that have required us to purchase a domain name. I always struggle with this part of the startup because so much is wrapped up in the name of your site. Mapping the web had a great post on this. […]

  6. Internet Marketing Consulting Canada Says:

    I think these are some good tips. Maybe you could also comment on what you think about subdomains? And also give some ideas on how people could think of a good domain name?

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