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”

  • 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 .

  • nikeairus

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

  • 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.

  • 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..

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • Joshu Thomas ( OC webmaster Blog)

    Nice post !! loved it !

    cheers
    Josh

  • 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.

  • 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 wanted… Alas, it turned out to be 3 words but I can deal with that. thanks

  • Dave

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

  • 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.

  • 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? 🙂

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

  • ConsumerBliss

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

  • 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 :).

  • 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!

  • 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. ^_^

  • 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.

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