A domain name is a company's virtual real estate on the internet and it's best if it's memorable. This is one of the biggest decisions a small company or startup will face, particularly in regard to marketing and search engine optimization. But your creativity may go unrewarded as finding a great or iconic name that's still available is getting impossibly hard.
It's so hard nowadays to find something viable, you just have to be willing to try for a while and also be willing to take a longer name if you want a .com. By now, most .com names have been grabbed by businesses who came up with the idea earlier. The scarcity also stems from the presence of speculators, who register for domains hoping for a payday when an interested buyer comes along.
The most common top-level domains (TLDs) are .com, .net and .org. but plenty of companies still find other endings that suit their businesses. For instance, the recently shuttered Sidecar, a competitor to Lyft and Uber, had a perfectly fine domain in Side.cr. Unfortunately for the company, it failed for reasons other than its domain name.
You can do a quick search using a Whois-like search engine such as DomainTools. Also, you may want to check the Trademark Database Search System (TESS) before purchasing a domain name. It's a free and easy website operated by the US Patent and Trademark Office and it can save a lot of headaches to make sure no one else is already using the name.
After finding an available name, there's no shortage of potential registrars to choose. Does it matter which domain registrar you select? That depends. Sometimes there is a difference when it comes to service levels. Also, some providers have gone out of business, so it's worth examining their track record and their user ratings. Above all, you need to make sure that your domain will get renewed. As you can imagine, that's a very important consideration. So, yes, it does matter who you use, depending on your needs.
The cost of registering domains is inexpensive -- you can land a one-year registration with DomainsBuyDesign.com for $9.95 --
Each and every domain name comes with all you need to get online.
The registration process isn't complicated. Applicants provide the domain name, an address to use for the domain registration and the name they want the domain to be registered under. They also need to supply an accompanying email address that will get added to the public Whois record.
Venturing beyond .com
Startups frequently select oddball names to avoid paying big fees to domain holders of .com names. That's why Digg chose an extra "g" and Flickr is missing an "e".
There are plenty of extensions now that can fit a business -- or a location, such as in all the .nyc names. If you're considering any of the other new domain breeds -- such as .us, .biz or .info for example -- research whether there's a potential business penalty in not choosing a .com. If a business's web presence is really important and it matters how high you rank in Google, then make sure all those extensions are treated the same by the SEO gods.
Make sure to register similar names to your main one -- even including typos. Facebook fought hard against all the domain weisenheimers who registered names like Facebook and made a fortune monetizing the typo traffic that came their way. So if you're CoopRocks, Inc., you might want CoopRks.com or some other likely typo that's most important if web traffic is your goal. It's worth thinking about and not that expensive anymore.
There's no one best approach but as you get ready to select a domain name for your company, keep the following in mind: