Naming a kid Apple? Simple, Gwyneth. Buying Apple.com? Good luck with that.
It hasn’t always been like this…
The 90s were a heady time. There were domain names for the choosin’. It was the era of Pets.com, Shopping.com, Boo.com and all sorts of other single-word site monikers. And tamagotchis.
But like fossil fuels, .coms are a limited resource. Bit by bit all the good names had been bought up or were being held hostage for loads of cash.
The problem was exacerbated by the fact that domain extensions were essentially limited to .coms, .nets or .co.uks.
In the new era anyone can be a .ninja
Over the next few years we’ll see domain extensions expanding from a cliquey posse of 22 to an army of over 1,300.
Among them will be handy business and subject identifiers such as .coupons, .mba, .cars, .rent, .cafe, .tickets, .golf, .tirol, .casino, .football, .physio, and of course the all-essential .ninja.
But even with this new smorgasbord of naming options, most of the obvious one-word domain options have already been snapped up.
So much for buying Turtle.ninja.
A local domain extension for the local pub
The limited availability of short, memorable domain names means that you’ll have to get strategic when playing the name game.
Here are our insider tips.
- Stick close to home. Sure, we all want to take our brand to the world, but if you’re based in Wales and your audience is local, the .cymru and .wales extensions are ripe for the picking. And Savethe.wales does have a ring to it!
Run a website about haggis? Give .scot a try. In Ireland? Try .irish. You might be in luck.
- Zoom in…and in… If your site or business banks on its Big Smoke location, opt for a .london extension. If you’re based overseas, or you’re looking to expand to multiple locations, other city domain extensions such as .paris and .berlin are options.
- Let’s get vertical, vertical. If location’s not your focus, your industry vertical might be the way to go. If you’re a personal trainer or you run a gym, .fit is a good fit.
- For hospitality and tourism, try .restaurant, .caravan or .hotel, or if you’re in retail, consider .fashion, .clothing or even .shop. Sell in bulk or targeting a thrifty audience? .save and .supply could be the answer.
When you don’t want to .compromise on your .com
Strange as it might seem, not everyone aspires to be a .ninja. The traditional .com does have a prestige element, and on a computing timeline it’s veritably steeped in history.
So what are your options when a .com is a must and a .compromise is out of the question?
- Pony up some pounds. Sites such as Sedo and Flippa hold virtual auctions for those elusive domain names, letting the highest bidder walk away with their coveted .com trophy. If auctions give you the jitters, lurk hungrily on sites such as DomainLore, and snap up relevant domain names as they become available.
- Great artists steal. Use SEMRush.com, Sistrix or SearchMetrics to see the keywords that are leading users to your competition. Take note of these results when brainstorming your domain name.
- Word up. Sites such as Domainsbot.com let you feed in a keyword and will give you a list of available domain names that incorporate it.
- Alternatively, you could go old-school and flick through a thesaurus, rhyming dictionary, or any of those dusty reference books that have been sitting on your shelves since high school. Watch out for paper cuts.
But remember: you’re more than your domain name
Don’t lose too much sleep over not being able to nab that perfect domain name. Your business is more than a web address: it’s a brand in its own right.
Think laterally and creatively when picking your domain name, and you may well come up with a gem that lends itself to marketing or branding.
Take Simple.com, an online-only bank based in Portland, OR. The bank’s premise is to make banking, well, simple, and that idea’s reflected in everything from its business model to its domain name.
Domains like Simple.com are great because in addition to being evocative, they also give you the flexibility to rebrand, pivot or expand your brand down the track.
The same can’t be said of descriptionofmybusiness.com.
Big Google is watching you
Get as creative as you want with your domain names, but being cheeky about it can get you put in Google detention.
Not long ago a bunch of websites were penalised for using the .co extension to signify “company”. It seemed like a good idea at the time – except that to Google and other search engines .co meant Colombia, and these sites dropped off the search rankings for UK-based searches. Similar things happened with .it and .at.
But times, they are a-changing. Domain extensions such as .io are now considered top-level domains rather than a site related to a British Indian Ocean Territory – except, hopefully, when they’re both.
Country-related domain names can be both a zingy shorthand and a great way to nab that elusive address.
But before clicking “buy”, to check that search engines are going to view them as top-level domains rather than country-specific ones. Better yet, cover all your bases by zipping into Google Webmaster Tools and configuring your geo-targeting settings.
Go forth and lay claim to your parcel of virtual land
It’s up to you now. Pick your coveted domain name and take it off for registration.
Don’t be afraid if you need to tweak it, opt for one of the new domain extensions, or try a keyword phrase option instead.
Because one thing’s for certain: it’s never been so easy to become a .ninja.