Choosing a Domain Name

By HBS Thursday, September 16, 2010

Choosing the name of your domain can be a difficult task.  Maybe you want it to match the name of your entity, but it is not available.  Or maybe you want something completely different but you don’t know where to start. There are so many choices and options out there and at the same time there are already countless names taken by someone else. So what do you do?

Brainstorm!  Yes, take the time to write down different ideas.  What is the purpose of your website? What are some key words that describe the purpose of the website? Who do you want to visit the website?  So, now you have a list of words and ideas. To get even more creative use your thesaurus. This is one of the best tools to have! A good tip to remember – Try to keep the domain name as short, descriptive, and memorable as possible.

When you feel that you have a good idea of the domain name(s) you would like to have then it is time to check on the availability. An easy site to use is GoDaddy. There is a place to do a domain search right on their home page.  Simply type the domain name and then choose the TLD (Top Level Domain) you are looking for and cross your fingers.  Don’t give up if the name is not available. GoDaddy will give you helpful suggestions that are available.  And don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Sometimes even adding a hyphen (-) between two words will make all of the difference in the world. Also, you can think about changing the TLD to something other than .com.

Not sure which type of TLD to choose? Here is a helpful guide to some of the most popular:

.com – The com stands for commercial. This is the most popular domain ending and it is open to the public, which makes the availability slightly more difficult than with other endings.

.net – The net stands for network.  This is slightly less popular than .com, but a good option. Also open to the public.

.biz – The biz stands for business. This ending is open to the public, but may be challenged later if it does not belong to a corresponding business entity.

.info – The info stands for information. This is open to the public without restrictions.

.org – The org stands for organization. This is open to the public, but typically used by non-profit organizations.

.edu – The edu stands for education. This domain is limited to accredited post-secondary institutions.

.co – The co stands for company or corporation. This is open to the public. This is not necessarily a top level domain, but GoDaddy gives this as a suggestion.

Even though .com is the most popular, you do not need to feel limited if your name is not available under the .com. It may help to try a different ending. To see other endings, to check a domain name, or to host your site, visit www.godaddy.com.

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