The 7 Characteristics of Good Domain Names

By Daniel Scocco

Domain names are the real estate of the Internet. Just as a good location is vital for a bricks and mortar business, a good domain name will be the corner stone of your website’s success. But how to identify them? Below you will find the 7 characteristics of good domain names.

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1. They are short

Good domain names are short. It is not a coincidence that all the three-letter and four-letter .com domains are already gone, and that the five-letter ones are going fast as well.

There is no definite number of characters that you should aim for, just remember that the shorter the better. If you really need some guidance, try to go below 10 characters, and never exceed 20.

As for the number of words, one-word domains are gold, two-word ones are good, three-word domains are average, and above that it is usually a bad idea.

Example: Quotes.com is a superb domain and probably worth millions of dollars. ProQuotes.com is a good two-word domain worth thousands of dollars. ProQuotesNow.com is an average domain and could be used for a website. YourProQuotesNow.com is plain worthless.

2. They are easy to remember

Many Internet users do not use bookmarks. They just memorize the domains of their favorite websites and type them whenever they wan to visit one. Guess what, if your domain is complex and not easy to remember you will lose these visitors along the way.

Example: Brcwr.com is a short domain name, but is not easy to remember at all, so it would be a bad idea to use it for your website (unless the initials represent the name of the website or a memorable message).

3. They are easy to spell

The last thing you want is visitors misspelling your domain and ending up somewhere else.

Avoid unusual foreign words, words that have complex pronunciation, strange combinations of letters and anything else that might cause someone to misspell your address.

Example: CappuccinoBar.com might be problematic for English speaking visitors. Cappuccino is an Italian word, and not everyone is aware where the doubles are placed.

4. They have a .com extension

Organizations might prefer to register a .org domain, and companies targeting very specific geographical regions might want to register a local domain (e.g. .it, .co.uk, .cn and so on). Apart from these cases, however, a .com domain is always the best way to go. This extension is the most popular around the around, and it is already stuck in people’s mind.

Visitors coming to your site via search engines or organic links will pay attention mostly to the name and not to the URL. The next time they want to visit your site it is very likely that they will just type its name followed by a .com. Guess what, if you are not there when they hit enter they will just go somewhere else.

Example: Darren Rowse created his popular blog on Problogger.net. Despite having a strong brand, some visitors were still going to Problogger.com. After a couple of years Darren decided to buy the .com version for $5,000 and redirect it to his site, so that no more visitors would leak.

5. They are descriptive

Many visitors will come to your site through the search engines and via direct links on other websites. That is, they will come if the domain that they will see will be appealing.

Having a descriptive domain name will give visitors an idea of what your site is about even before they enter it. If related keywords are present in the domain it might also help your search engine rankings.

Example: You would be able to guess what TelevisionGuides.com is about even before visiting it right?

Put it in another way. Suppose you are searching for a movie review. You make a quick search in Google. The first result comes from MikesLair.com. The second result comes from MoviesCentral.com. Which one would you rather click?

6. Or brandable

A brandable domain will have a nice pronunciation, an interesting combination of letters or simply an appealing visual effect. Sometimes they will not be descriptive, but they can be equally efficient.

Brandable domains will make your visitors associate the name with your website and its content. (Notice that brandable domains can be descriptive at the same time, but that is not always the case.)

Example: Kotaku.com is one of the most popular gaming blogs on the Internet. The domain is not descriptive at all, but the brand is so strong that gamers immediately recognize it across the web.

7. They don’t contain hyphens or numbers

Domain names containing hyphens and numbers are cheaper for a reason. They suffer the same problem of domains not using a .com extension or with complex spelling.

Consider Tech-World.com. The names that will stick in people’s mind are “tech” and “world.” Many visitors will just forget the hyphen along the way. Eventually they will try to access your site by typing TechWorld.com, in vain.

Numbers, on the other hand, will confuse people with the spelling. Suppose you registered Tech5.com. Visitors might mix it with TechFive.com, if they manage to remember the number in the first place!

Example: Coolest-Gadgets.com is an extremely popular gadget blog, with over 70,000 RSS subscribers. With such a huge readership you get people often typing the domain directly on the address bar. Needless to say that many of them would just forget to add the hyphen. The owner of the site bought CoolestGadgets.com afterwards to fix the problem.

Final remark

Do not get discouraged if your current domain doesn’t have all these characteristics; or if you can’t find one that does. These are just factors that you should consider when evaluating domain names.

There are plenty of examples of popular websites with domain names that lack in one or two points covered on the list. Just make sure that your domain has most of the characteristics and you should be fine.

Update: If you are looking for a domain names ebook, check out “Killer Domains.” It has all the tools and techniques that I use to find great and available domain names.


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126 Responses to “The 7 Characteristics of Good Domain Names”

  • Ryan

    One of my sites breaks 5 of the 7 – it’s short and somewhat descriptive. But I’m in process of redesigning it and one of the goals is to start using one of the other domain names that I have that only breaks one of the above – it’s not short. It’s 3 words but it’s the same 3 words as my company name.

  • Ramkarthik

    Nice write up. My blog has satisfies almost all the characteristics. But my blog is a two word domain. Other than that, my blog satisfies all the other things.

    I agree with the point where you mentioned Easy To Spell. I have many times Googled for few blogs name when I wanted to visit them. Few of the good blogs indeed have a name that is very tough to remember or type correct.

  • Daniel

    Two words is very good Ram. In fact that is a point where I am not happy with DBT domain itself. If I was to start over I would definitely look up for something shorter.

  • Ramkarthik

    Daniel,
    Yes but your name is very descriptive and that scores more points for your domain name. You have actually started a ‘Daily’ blog series and this is a good thing which has helped you to build(almost you have built it successfully) a network like Crunch network.

  • Daniel

    Yeah, if its Daily, it’s here! πŸ™‚

  • Sharon Hurley Hall

    My blog breaks rule no. 1, but meets the others – and anyone searching online can also find it easily. Of course, then you have the issue of living up to the brand that you’ve created.

  • The Investor’s Journal

    I unfortunately didn’t know things like you listed and I made my domain with an extremely long name. It’s actually bothering me now and I’m not sure if I should create a new domain and move all my content. But then I’d lose all of those sites linking to me..

  • Daniel

    TheInverstorsJournal.com is long but not a bad one. You meet the other requirements as Sharon said.

    Depends on the plans you have for the site and how established it is.

    If it is not that developed yet and you have big plans for it getting a better domain could be an option, otherwise just stick with it.

  • KimC

    A suggestion: domains are cheap. Buy similar domains and redirect to your website. My blog is called Life in a Shoe. It’s at InAShoe.com, but I also own LifeInAShoe.com. Longer, but I suspect some people make that mistake. I would rather catch them than have them get lost or end up somewhere…ahem…less friendly.
    It’s often a good idea to snag the .org version of your .com site as well, just to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

  • paul

    Good list. it stinks that domaineers have gobbled up a ton of the best names. but i have found with a little bit of work and a lot of creativity, you can still get good names. i would also add to your list non sensical names – or new words – as long as they are easy to spell and remember.

  • Wayne Liew

    Hyphens will be a great weakness for a domain. It is so unnatural when I wanted to type the hyphen key on my keyboard.

    Domain names is an important factor of a blog or a site. The decision of wanting to make is descriptive or brandable must be decided when a site is to be started.

    Also, it is a must to include domain selection in a blog startup planning to avoid any regrets after a while of blogging. This is the time when such guides serve as a rule of thumb.

    Nice article. Stumbled!

  • Ravi

    This reminds me of a point I made on a Lifehacker post — we’re living in the era of (or shortly after) the domain name gold rush. Just think, if we think our choices are slim pickings, just what’s going to be left for future generations?

    I must’ve spent almost 6 months trying to come up with a brandable name for my new company. A corresponding domain name was a must, and every time I thought I had something amazing, something no one else had ever thought of, I found that it was taken (90% of the time by domain squatters).

    Ultimately, I settled on the Rodamus Group (rodamus.com, but its under construction atm). It’s relatively short (without sounding as bad as things like profilactic and jango and renkoo), sounds respectable, and ultimately brandable as long as I put the effort into it.

    Looks like I violated a few of these rules this time, but they’ll definitely come in handy next time around…thanks, Daniel!

  • Daniel

    KimC, my first rule is to always name the site after the domain name, that why there is no confusion.

    If you have a big site or a company one then yeah securing the other top level extensions is a good idea. For small websites it is not a big of a problem though.

  • Daniel

    Ravi, interesting point indeed. I also suspect that the prices of .com domains will only go up.

    The Internet grows by 20% every year, more and more people is jumping headfirst into it, and the number of domains is limited.

  • TechDune

    Should have got a better one, instead of techdune πŸ™‚

  • KimC

    Ah, but doesn’t everyone hope (at least secretly) to go “big” one day? And if you’re going to shell out the bucks for one domain and a hosting package, why not shell out another $9/year for another domain while you’re still a nobody before the squatters get it and try to charge $900? I know more than one person who started small, got big by accident, and found that they waited too long.
    I’ll bet Darren was wishing he had acted a little sooner. πŸ™‚

  • Daniel

    KimC, the deal is, to get a good domain these days you need to spend a couple thousand dollars, that is why the decision must be planned.

  • Kelly

    I agree with lots of these. I’m a tax attorney and my blog URL is short (taxgirl.com) but I am used to working with lots of attorneys who feel the need to use ALL of their names or initials in their URL. It’s confusing. And it screws up email deliveries! πŸ˜‰

  • INconstantIN

    Strangely as it may seem, but it is namely the search for a good domain that I am busy with these last two days. I made up my mind for a domain mainly due to the fact that some of the most important sites offering blogging oportunities require a domain and not a subdomain. So, I spent quite a while on searching tips and tricks for how to choose a domain. What you have here is, actually, a nice summary of the posts and articles I came across during my research. One thing that bothers me is that there is no general opinion about whihc one is better, a short name or a long but descriptive name, just like yours….

  • Daniel

    Kelly, that is a very solid domain.

    INcontantIN, I am all for short ones, even if less descriptive.

  • Ravi

    I’m going to disagree with you on questioning your own domain, Daniel.

    Despite being 13 characters, it sure doesn’t feel like it, because 2 of those words are 4 letters and one syllablle. It rolls off my tongue and I instantly remembered it the first time I visisted. And you can’t forget about the fact that you’ve got a brandable aspect to it (daily) and Google juice in the domain itself (blog tips).

    I have to say, I rather envy this domain choice.

  • Anthony Lawrence

    However, you can’t argue with Google πŸ™‚

    I actually have three domain names that currently all go to the same place: pcunix, unixish and aplawrence (all dot com).

    The last is the least descriptive, the least memorable, and the hardest for anyone to type.. BUT it was the one Google gave all the love to, so after fighting it tooth and nail, I gave up and stopped even trying to use the others.. other than as 301 redirects to aplawrence.

    This came about because I started with pcunix but soon added aplawrence because I wanted that in my email signature. Most inward links started using that, even though at that time the 301 was the other way around. Because so many links were that way, Google gave that name the love.. so here we are, years later and I’m probably stuck with it πŸ™‚

  • Bern

    @Ravi
    That’s a very cunning observation. I always wonder too, if today dot com’s are scarce, what’s left for the future generations ? People will inherit the great domains from their forefathers, who were quick enough to grab the gold. Or the money from it’s sale.

    @Daniel
    I think your blog has a nice mix of brand and description.

    On the blog I’m setting up, I’m aiming for that balance too, albeit I picked a two word. “Apps” gives me the keyword. Though it’s not a focused keyphrase, I can work on keyphrases on the content, while having it on the domain might provide me some extra google juice.

    With the two together I have some nice plans for the brandability (coupleapps would go for “few good apps”), and with it I hope to also achieve a descriptive name, once people easily make the association.

    I kinda worry that “couple” might not be the best word pronunciation-wise, and that it might be mistaken for the highly commercial keyword for married people. But anything can be overcome when good branding settles in.

  • Brian Auer

    Nice timing on this article! I’m actually trying to decide between two domain names for my new upcoming photoblog. I’m still stuck though.

    fineartphotoblog.com vs fineartphotographyblog.com

    Obviously the first is shorter and easier to spell, plus the site will be a photoblog rather than a photography blog. Then again, the second has that key phrase “fine art photography”, which is much more popular with the search engines. I would have preferred to go with something shorter than either of these, but I don’t have the money to acquire an existing domain.

    I’ve asked my readers which way to go, but they seem pretty split on the subject too. I’d be happy to hear any insights from others.

  • Daniel

    Brian, both seem too long for me.

    Rarely I get free domains for new projects these days. I prefer to invest some money (from $100 up to $2000) to get a good one and dont regret later.

    $100 is not that a big investment, and sometimes it can have a huge impact on the quality of the domain you’ll get.

  • Not John Chow

    I wish that I had read this post in October before launching my blogs. I will definitely bookmark this post for future reference!

  • Steven

    Excellent points Daniel. It’s getting very hard to accomplish all of these without spending a fortune. I guess you just have to decide what is most important to you and maybe be willing to give a little bit in some other areas.

  • Dave

    I wished I would have read this article before i registered my domain name. After exhaustive research I figured out these tips on my own before I registered http://www.tailgatingideas.com. For the most part my site follows these rules but this article would have saved me a week’s worth of research I did on my own.

  • Crystal

    This article makes me pretty happy about the domain I have. I hit 6 out of 7 on the list. The only thing I don’t have is keywords in my domain. (the name is Net Hustlin’). I still get some organic traffic from the word “hustlin” though lol

  • Jermayn Parker

    Would disagree with your point of .com, before .com was a must but these days people know of sites rather than just .com. .com should always be the first option but if that is not possible then go the others…

    I think a good URL must be rememberable and it can help to be unique and different. flickr and digg is different, unique and also rememberable..

  • Jeremy Steele

    .com is still a huge must – I still type .com for domains I know are .net or another extension. For example – I still type problogger.com a lot – thank god Darren finally picked up the .com version.

  • Nathaniel

    Let me think… all of my sites follow most of these rules… except for my person site which includes the word “chimeric” which isn’t something used in normal conversation… and thusly is hard to remember. The only other problem that my domain names tend to suffer from is the fact that the names are long.

    Great advice though, I’ll certainly keep this in mind for future domain name purchases.

  • NasirJumani

    I have chosen my new domain name two weeks ago which fulfills all the characteristics listed above except the keyword description on them because i want to brand my domain name by choosing a word not in the dictionary :D.

  • KimC

    Call me crazy, but I think the flickr domain is a bad one. They managed to successfully brand it, but I have always had trouble remembering exactly how to misspell the word “flicker.” I never find it on the first try. I think they are wildly successful in spite of a bad domain name, not because of it.

  • John Simpson

    Great write-up. I especially like the graphic you included. Very creative. I have several domains registered and I’ll have to remember this information the next time I go to register a domain.

    Thanks,
    John Simpson

  • Peter

    Well I screwed up on the first characteristic. Hopefully, though, I make up for it by fulfilling the second characteristic….

  • Mikael

    What a great post. You are so right about everything and I can see now that the domain I have chosen http://www.antphilosophy.com doesn’t folloe all the rules.

    On the other hand I’m getting visitors that are typing in “Ant Philosophy” when searching purely because of the domain name. So thats cool!

  • Terinea Weblog

    According to fasthosts, 43% of businesses take less than an hour to choose their domain name and 34% think they would do more business with a better domain name.

    Nice post.

    Jamie

  • Gerard McGarry

    Good post, especially the rule about hyphens. They do royally suck.

  • Edie

    Thank you for this useful post!

  • Niyaz PK

    I love my domain name….. πŸ™‚

  • Norman

    I wish I read this article before I selected my domain name. and I think I can make a lot of money by buying and selling domain name. There are all I want to say!!

  • David Airey

    Excellent write-up, Daniel.

    I thought my domain name was superb, until it was stolen. πŸ™

  • Design And Promote

    I think the main thing as far as the search engines are concerned is to make sure your keywords are in your domain name

  • i’mkidding

    a .com extension??

    man..!

    i’ve my .net

    is it too bad??

  • i’mkidding

    hey.. wait..
    did i see “short”?

    hahaha… is 13 characters short?? dailyblogtips??

    I’m just kidding Sir..

    peace!!
    πŸ™‚

  • Daniel

    @ i’mkidding, don’t want to be rude or anything, but where exactly did you see me claiming that my domain had all the 7 characteristics?

  • Pam Hoffman

    Very nicely put.

    I am wondering something though.

    Are these in order of priority of some sort?

    Is it more important to have the first one, first two or maybe the first three if any?

    How many rules can you break and still pick well?

    Heck, I think of amazon.com. Not exactly working for every ‘rule’ are they? They did manage to brand themselves since everyone thinks books when they hear amazon.com

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post,

    Pam Hoffman
    http://seminarlist.blogspot.com

  • Daniel

    Pam, the list was not created in order of priority.

    Personally I think that having a .com extension is the first one. Then point 1,2,3 and 7.

    Notice that points 5 and 6 are substitutes. You can have both in a single domain, but having just one should be enough.

    Amazon is brandable, though not descriptive. And it also is in line with all the other 5 points.

  • Keith

    Indeed, domain names must be short, understandable, brandable, and also typable!! Thanks for sharing. KCJ

  • Third World Engineer

    I just found out that my domain misses all the characteristics of a good domain name. I hope it won’t turn readers off from reading my blog. Cheers to you!

  • giftcardblogger

    I had to learn these lessons painfully on a previous project, so when it came time to choose a name for my gift card blog (www.giftcardblogger.com), I took the time to look for a name that reflected many of the characteristics you have outlined. In addition, i don’t have to explain to people what the blog is about because the name says it all.

    Don’t cut corners, take your time to pick the right domain name and it will make your marketing and branding much easier.

  • Terry Britton

    Great article! I’m trying to pick a domain name (I’ll use a similar example here rather than the actual domain I’m thinking about since I haven’t registered it yet).

    In my case the best keywords would be alaska travel, but these are very competitive. The second choice is alaska vacations which is not searched as much but also not as competitive. The website will offer the ability to plan alaskan vacations. So the best description and use of keywords would be http://www.alaskavacationplanner.com, but this is an awfully long domain name. Although I think the name would elicit clicks in google results for people who searched for alaska vacation.

    What does everyone think?

  • Ezra Hilyer

    I have been collecting some domains for a few years, but never really did anything with them. one I bought just because it was was a 3 character domain : 67z.com and another just ’cause it sounded cool: lowusa.com (seems to be suited to a price comparison site)
    but my Blog is: straypoetry.com and that I got because I love the sound of it.
    -ezra hilyer

  • matthew davis

    hi i am new to the internet but am thinking of starting a affiliate marketing site, i have the name nowherecheaper.com i know it is a long name but think it has a good ring to it, has anyone any good ideas for this name,i thought of useing it for travel what do you think,

  • John

    I wish I found this post before I bought my previous domains. Good Post.

    Just want to add something. I don’t think you will get a lot of issues with domains that only contain numbers.

  • freelance webdesign

    Thank you. Very good list…

  • Alex Griffin

    Excellent points Daniel. ItÒ€ℒs getting very hard to accomplish all of these without spending a fortune.

  • Sina

    excellent …Coolio

  • Chilli Flakes

    Thanks for sharing. I think the other point you could have emphasised is that how shared doamisn can be a problem and if possible one should go with own domain name. The blogspot, myspace etc. is goot to start with but you need extra effort to get popular with them. My own experience, I can be wrong though.

  • Domaineering and Domaineers

    Domaineering is the web-based marketing business of acquiring and monetizing Internet domain names for their use primarily as an advertising medium rather than as intellectual property investments for resale as in domaining. In essence, the domain names function as virtual Internet billboards with generic domain names being highly valued for their revenue generating potential derived from attracting Internet traffic hits. As with traditional advertising, domaineering is part art and part science. Often to be the most effective as advertising tools, the domain names and their corresponding landing pages must be engineered or optimized to produce maximum revenue which may require considerable skill and good knowledge of search engine optimization ( SEO ) practices, marketing psychology and an understanding of the target market audience. Domaineering generally utilizes a firm offering domain parking services to provide the sponsored “feed” of a word or phrase searched for thus creating a mini-directory populated largely by advertisers paying to promote their products and services under a relevant generic keyword domain. Occasionally content is added to develop a functional mini-website. Domaineers and some of those who advertise online using keywords believe domaineering provides a useful, legal and legitimate Internet marketing service while opponents of domaineering decry the practice as increasing the ubiquitous commercialization of the world wide web. Domaineering is practiced by both large companies who may have registered hundreds or even thousands of domains to individual entrepreneurial minded domaineers who may only own one or a few.

  • designwashere

    So would my long domain a good one?

    I just bought this recently. And I read your post just now, sigh!

    I hope i did the right decision though. ^_^

  • Seth –Political Blog Tips

    I just bought a blog domain as well and although it is 3 words, I brainstormed for a long time to figure out the best way to have it describe what I wanted… Alas, it turned out to be 3 words but I can deal with that.

    By the way, I wrote an article using your blog as an example of having a great community. Hope you don’t mind!

  • Max

    I’ve just seen a very interesting domain on ebay. The name is BloggerG.com
    It is quite cheap and memorable. I bet even Bill Gaits will be glad to own it :).

  • ConsumerBliss

    Do you guys think ConsumerBliss.com is too long? it is 13 characters

  • Viv

    Came across this post because it was referenced in another dailyblogtips.com post on direct traffic.

    How’s SALE.com for a domain name? πŸ™‚

    What do you think of when you hear/read “SALE.com”? What type of site are you picturing?

  • Maqbool Ahmad

    I agree there too. If I had a choice I would get both and do a permanent redirect of the “non dash” domain to the domain name with the dash. If you can’t obtain the “non dash” version the best thing you can do is brand yourself well. You did get the dot com, right.

  • Dave

    Great post. I definitely find the shorter and easier to remember domains work particularly well.

  • Video

    I just bought a blog domain as well and although it is 3 words, I brainstormed for a long time to figure out the best way to have it describe what I wantedÒ€¦ Alas, it turned out to be 3 words but I can deal with that. thanks

  • Christian Guico

    Thanks a lot for sharing. Very remarkable guide. Simple yet very informative. Finding a good domain these days for any site or blog you may want to start with maybe a little hard if you don’t consider these rules.

  • Joshu Thomas ( OC webmaster Blog)

    Nice post !! loved it !

    cheers
    Josh

  • chris

    Do you have any tips or suggestions for me? I have a short catchy .CO domain. My domain doesnt really mean much, its a buzz word, but I do post daily and have traffic that is on the rise. What do you think about .co domains? Do you think they are worth developing?

  • Tony

    Really good article. I have spent all morning looking for a good domain name, I have noticed that lots of good ones are owned by godaddy and they want like $80 just to see if it avaliable for purchase.

  • kaan

    Hi guys, I’ve taken the domain name “www.actionlook.com” a few days ago. I’m planning to start up an actionsports goods (snowboarding, skateboarding, shoes and lifestyle) online sales here. You reckon it’s a good name? cause I’ve doubts about it, thx for your help..

  • Samantha Dermot

    Great tips in this article. When I register a new domain, I want it to be the exact match of the keyword that I consider to be the most searched for, in that niche. Sometimes it helps ranking the website for that specific keyword. That makes the domain valuable.

  • nikeairus

    Thank you for your sharing .It’s let me well-known the Domain names is important.

  • Jerrick

    i believe that you forget something . To get a good domain name most ly is do contain a targeted keyword in the domain name.
    It help you lot in the organic search result and SEO .

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