“Choosing a name for our website was harder than choosing the name of our kid!” That’s what he told me as we sat across from one another at the University Club. I’m not going to lie, I laughed, but I do understand his frustration. We’ll call him Robert (name changed to protect him from … his wife).
Robert was launching a new business and wanted a domain name that described what the business did and who they served. The business idea was good, but if you or I were to describe it, we’d use common terms such as personal trainer, personal training, or fitness coach (he wasn’t in the fitness space, but you get the idea).
Robert’s problem was that he wanted the name of his website (URL) to describe his business, but all the names he and his team could come up with were taken. In fact, it’s said that every word, up to seven characters, in the English language is already taken! He also didn’t have the marketing budget to throw at making up a name that didn’t exist or wasn’t relevant (Yahoo!).
He was screwed. Or at least he thought he was.
“Doug, we’ve spent hours typing in name combinations into GoDaddy to see what’s available. Nothing. What do we do?” he asked.
I could tell Robert was at his wit’s end. He knew his business depended on Internet traffic, he wanted a name that would correlate with his business, and he knew that having keywords in his URL would help with his search engine optimization. What he didn’t know was how to get all of those problems handled and stop wasting hours inputting names into a domain registration service only to find out that most, if not all, have already been taken.
Enter my solution – a domain name generator. A domain name generator is just like the name implies, though they vary greatly in their level of sophistication and help. I always recommend NameStation.com.
NameStation has too many options to list here, so I’ll cover the ones I recommended to Robert. The first, and most used by my team, is the “Append a Keyword List” function. With this option, you enter your keyword and select both your keyword list and extension (.com, .net., etc.).
Your keyword is the term you’d like to see listed in your URL. If Robert owned a winery, then his keyword might be wine, or winery, or something along those lines.
Your keyword list is the list the database provides you. If you opted to pay for the service (it’s worth it!), then you have options such as corporate prefixes, corporate suffixes, top 1000 keywords, and many more. This is where the ProPlan really comes in handy.
Your extension is the typical .com, .net., .org, or less common in the States, .de, .ca, etc. Most people opt for the .com and unless you’re a not-for-profit company, this is what I recommend.
Other options include List Position (Append or Prepend), Word Blending (None, Medium, Short, and Shortest), Options (Pluralize List), and Translate (Do/Don’t Translate).
Once your list is generated, you’ll see the domain names with your keywords that are available. This is a huge time saver and can help your team get their creative juices flowing. Please note, most of the names are horrible and won’t apply to what you want to do, though officewine.com does sound appealing right about now.
I mark those domain names that I like by selecting the star on the side. You can make notes and come back to those late. I also read each of them out loud quickly to see if any of them catch my attention or those on my team working on the project. This allows us to get through them very quickly and your first impression is usually the right one.
Once you’ve gone through one keyword list, move on to the next, making sure to target those lists that best suit your business. For the wine business, I’d skip “legal terms” unless it was a last resort or I was creating a site for a lawyer that specialized in the wine industry (hint hint).
There is also an alternative keyword recommendation.
It took Robert and I 15 minutes to come up with 3 solid name possibilities to help him get started. Robert then presented them to his team, and his wife, and came up with a name he was proud of.
We’ve since built out his site, set up a marketing campaign, he’s at the top of the search in his category, and his business is growing.