Coming up with a business and domain name is a lot more difficult than you may think. Many people may be tempted to use their names or come up with something that is just descriptive, but if you only use your name, you may lose or discourage traffic.
For instance, if your name is John Smith, you may want a vanity domain like johnsmithstore.com. Such a domain name might sound fantastic to you, especially since it’ll get your name out there, but it’s not a very memorable name for your customers. Similarly, you don’t want a long domain name, as that may frustrate potential customers, so johnsmithpremiumgolfclubs.com isn’t a good idea either.
You’ll want something that is short and direct when possible. Take, for example, the following websites. For people who know nothing of these stores save for their domain names, what might they learn from these seeing these names?
You may be surprised (or not) to learn that these are all major automotive parts stores, but only two of those four auto parts businesses use the word “auto” in their domain name. The word “auto” clues customers into the purpose of the website.
Granted, most people will recognize most of those stores because they have thousands of physical locations around the country. If you have millions of dollars to spend on advertising, then any name will do. But if you’re just starting out, you need to come up with a short domain name.
Of the four names above, which do you think is the best?
Pepboys is short and memorable, but it doesn’t give much information about the website. Customers should have no trouble looking for your store, so a domain like oreillyauto.com is confusing because of the double “l.” These names also include an apostrophe when spelled, further confusing potential customers.
Similarly, napaonline.com is confusing because it doesn’t quite tell what the website offers. Is it a tourism website for the city in California? Is it somehow related to Napa Valley, wine, or the vineyards? Cabbage? While NAPA may be a recognized name in the automotive industry, it’s a bit confusing to those on the outside.
Autozone is arguably the best name of the four because it’s short, and it tells customers what the business does. Both the word “auto” and the word “zone” are easily recognizable. Indeed, site traffic information ranks AutoZone higher than their three competitors. Admittedly, this has a lot to do with marketing, but having a short, easy-to-remember name helps.
You’ll want a broad enough name so that your business can expand within that space, but you don’t want a name that is so broad it becomes vague or runs into the dominant competitor in that market. So if you’re selling shopping bags, you don’t want denimshoppingbags.com because that limits your store–you can still sell plastic shopping bags, but people looking for shopping bags will think you sell one type. Being too specific will drive away potential web traffic from your store if you want to expand later.
Something like shoppingbags.com might be a bit too broad, and you may be competing with the best business in that category. Our article here gives you some great tips for coming up with a company name.
That’s why having tools to help you with your business and domain name is so useful. You could spend countless hours coming up with a fantastic name only to try to register it and discover that it’s already taken. We’ve used these tools in the past, and we’ve recommended them to our clients.
Below we’ll list ten different websites that you can use to help you come up with and refine your domain name. At roughly $10-15 per year to register a domain name, you can reserve a few if you can’t decide and are worried about someone taking the name before you make your decision. Just be careful not to go overboard, as the costs can add up quickly.
LeanDomainSearch gives you domain name suggestions based on words that you type in. You can then click on the domain names to register them or to save them as favorites for review later. This website is great because it gives you available domain names that are color-coded, making it easier to navigate. What you’ll discover is that if you don’t use websites to help you find domain names, you’ll come up with fantastic business and domain name ideas only to learn that they are registered.
NameMesh is an excellent site as well. Like LeanDomainSearch, it gives you the ability to hide or unhide registered domain names. It also provides you other top-level domains as well, but we recommend “.com” for your business. Having a “.net,” “.info” or any other extension like “.space” just isn’t as familiar to customers. One option we like is the SEO domain name results. The layout here is also more pleasing, and the interface is intuitive.
Shopify is one of the fastest growing ecommerce platforms. If your business does not yet have a website presence, then you may want to consider Shopify for its ease of use, support, and availability of free and paid tools. This business name generator gives you a list of suggestions based on your keywords, and you can reserve it as well. While Shopify doesn’t offer as many suggestions as NameMesh or LeanDomainSearch, these options are more refined and realistic.
Impossibility is a little unique in that you can choose from the drop-down menu what to add at the beginning or end of your word. You can play around with the name generator and add adjectives, verbs, and nouns to the beginning or end of your keyword. You can also choose how many letters you want. Though the layout is not as pleasing as the other websites we’ve listed, it’s a great way to get ideas. You’re unlikely to use a lot of the results though, but this site is an excellent way to brainstorm a business and domain name.
You do not necessarily need to register your domain name at GoDaddy. In fact, you may want to visit our blog on Introduction to Domain Names and Web Hosting for more information regarding domain name registration.
Bust A Name is similar to Impossibility in that it allows you some control over name generation. The interface is pleasing, and it lets you choose what extensions it’ll display. You can also limit the number of characters (critical for short domain names) and include words or partial words. Like other websites, the automated process will give you a lot of “junk” names.
NameStall gives you more options and control over the kinds of names it’ll generate. One unique feature is the rhyming domain name generator. If you’re looking for a novel and memorable name, this might be a good option. Rhyming names aren’t necessarily great for businesses, but they are great for blogs or personal websites.
NameBoy gives you suggestions and a graphical chart of the suggested domain names, the different extensions, and their availability. It also gives you the ability to check and quickly register the available domains at GoDaddy as well.
DomainsBot gives you the ability to select extensions to search. The layout here is a lot cleaner than some of the domain name generators. Remember that we recommend the “.com” extension for your business, as that’s the most familiar to customers.
The website may be a little confusing at first since the symbols are not clear. The broken heart means that the name is not available while the blue heart tells you that the name is available. This site offers suggestions by modifying your keywords instead of ideas with appended (or added) words. One feature this site provides is that it tells you how the site arrived with the name, potentially giving you ideas of your own.
Domainr isn’t as intuitive as other website tools, but it does provide live search results as you’re typing in your keywords. You can also scroll down to see what top-level domains to search for, and it does give you a list of domain name registrars instead of automatically linking you to GoDaddy.
Dot-o-mator allows you to create domain names by combining keywords or choosing categories from the drop-down menu. This site requires a little more work since you’ll have to type out a list of beginnings and a list of endings to get a decent list of suggestions. However, if you’re sure you want certain words in your domain, then this may be a good site for you. It’s an excellent way to brainstorm ideas for your domain name. The site will also tell you about name availability.
This last website is for business name ideas. If you don’t have one, then using Name Combiner can give you some helpful suggestions.
Enter four different words, and Name Combiner will give you combinations of different names based on combinations of the words you’ve entered. While many of the suggestions may be terrible, there may be a few gems in the results. The point is to generate ideas and brainstorm, and this site is a good starting point for your business name.
Ultimately, you’ll want to use a few websites to get an idea of what variations exist for your business name and domain name. Sometimes, it’s too easy to focus on one name, so different results will give you a broader perspective. Once you have a good, marketable business and domain name, you’re set to expand your business! Our article on logo design tips can help you avoid making mistakes.