Selecting a domain name – Part 2

Posted: March 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Domain Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »
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Selecting the Right Domain

So by now you have figured out the purpose of your domain name and more or less have an idea of the domain name you are looking for. Now you have to make a decision on what type of domain name is best for you. Before I purchase a new domain name for an upcoming project I consider the following: Exact Match, Keywords,  Spellings, Brand Name/Trademark, Hyphens, Length, and Radio Test.

Brand Name/Trademark: The reason I decided to start with this topic is because a lot of people don’t understand the severity and repercussions that come along with using someone else’s TM or brand in their domain name.   If you don’t own the TM or if you dont have a logical reason for utilizing a brand name then DO NOT register it -you have been forewarned. There have been many lawsuits against cybersquatters and TM abusers alike,  many ending in seven figure settlements to the plaintiff. The risk is not worth any potential reward in my opinion. Now if you are an affiliate or reseller of a brand or TM name then you can more than likely utilize their name without the likelihood of getting sued, but I would still double check with an attorney prior to diving in. If you aren’t sure if a term is trademarked in the United States you can use to check for a trademark.

But if you DO own a TM or have rights to a brand name that is a different story. More than likely you already own the TM domain name or brand but if you don’t its not that easy to get the domain. You can file a UDRP dispute but it must backed up with evidence that you have owned the TM prior to the domain name being acquired and that the current owner of the domain in question is using it in bad faith. It is an annoying process for both the TM defender and the owner of the domain, as the process is expensive and arduous, additionally if your plead is unfounded you may be labeled as a “reverse domain name hijacker.”

Exact Match: Exact Match domains are the creme de la creme, they are the products/services you offer, they are category killer domain names…think,,, or (redirects to Bank of America.) Exact match domains offer many benefits and usually are associated with a premium price; the domains mentioned before all would sell for over $5million without content. But that is the price you pay for owning prime real estate.  Chances are that the exact match domain related to your industry or product/service is already taken in every extension – but consider the benefits, the asking price is often justified, especially with the right development plan behind the domain.

One of the many benefits of Exact Match domains is the amount of type-in traffic associated with a given term, usually applies only to the .com extension. But this is free traffic coming into your site due solely to the generic nature of your domain name…5-10 years ago domainers were making mad money off type-in traffic but as parking revenue declined so has the value of their virtual real estate. Today the value lies in development potential and traffic.

I am going to do a follow up on why I would pay big money for an exact match domain name – stay tuned or subscribe.

Hyphens: A hyphenated  domain ( may not look pretty, but in terms of development/SEO it holds a lot of potential. First let me cover the negatives of a hyphenated domain: it doesn’t translate well when spoken, hard to remember, doesn’t look good, not brandable, potential for traffic bleed to non-hyphen, and seen as spammy. The benefits: has virtually the same effect in SEO as an exact match domain, is a lot cheaper compared to exact match, often times is available to register, is becoming more widely used as alternatives are scarce (commonplace in Europe), developers love them, domainers hate them because there is no type-in traffic (good for buyers).

I personally like hyphens, because I have seen many instances first hand where they have been used effectively and gained first position Google rankings for extremely competitive and saturated terms. With the proper resources hyphen domains can be developed into powerhouses, example (, the hyphens aren’t even in the right place but nonetheless this site gets tons of traffic and has ranked very well organically. My opinion is to have one domain designated for SEO and another as your brandable/marketing site.

Keyword Domains: Not everyone has the capital necessary to acquire an exact match domain related to their product/service, the next best option is a keyword domain. A keyword domain is a domain name that contains the exact match keyword but adds a prefix or suffix (MiamiHotelDeals(.)com) Keyword domains are still a good option as they can rank well with SEO/Development but they have a lower keyword density. Depending on the domain in question, keyword domains can work as they are often times brandable but can also be expensive.

Extension: The most prevalent extension is .com, try to stick to it, but if the cost of the domain is too high your next bet is .net or .org. I would not venture outside of these three as they are considered global TLD and can be used universally. Also, don’t get into the hype of all the ccTLD (.co, .me, .tk, .yu,.ru, etc.) they are meant for a localized/select country audience – these domains aren’t meant to be utilized for a global audience and can effect your Google rankings.

Length: In the domain world, shorter is better. Keep it short and sweet, memorable, and easy to type. Some words are hard to spell, try to avoid those and stay away from homophones.

Spellings: The trend is to start a tech company with a cutesy name that is spelled incorrectly ( – try to ignore the masses, I know it’s hard, and stick to real word domains that are actually searched.

Radio Test: When buying a domain name make sure it passes the “Radio Test.” Just imagine if the domain you are buying was being advertised on the radio, would people be able to spell it and remember it when they got home? ( doesn’t pass the radio test but does.)


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