Choosing the right company name, in the form of a web address (or root domain, as it’s often called) is essential for your online business. Your choice of web address should determine the legal company name that you register with your government, and not the other way around.
Just as important as choosing the right name is to research and register the name with care to avoid scam artists, as we’ll discuss in this story.
Guidelines for a Good Web Address
To help your online business grow, your web address should be:
- Easy for visitors to remember, and preferably not longer than 15 characters for better search engine recognition.
- Meaningful so that it includes one or more keywords that people can associate with your business. For example, “JoesOnline.com” would tell very little about your online fish food store, while “FishFoodSupply.com” does a much better job.
- Free of confusion – without hyphens, abbreviations, potential homonyms (like “capital” or “capitol”) or anything else that could prevent someone from typing the correct address after hearing the name spoken only once.
- Not similar to established business names that you know or discover, and not already taken as a “.com” Top Level Domain (TLD) name.
Brainstorm Your Ideas
Finding the right name can be a fun process if you work at your own pace, without feeling pressure. You can start by searching online for words that describe your business and then adding words of your own to create combinations that are memorable and easy to pronounce.
You’ll find that some markets – for example bicycle shops – seem to have enormous competition for domain names, while in other markets it can be easy to find a great name. After you write down a list of potential word combinations that sound good, are easy to remember, and follow the guidelines above, use only an encrypted domain name search to test if each combination is already taken as a registered domain. To avoid having your name taken by someone else:
- Never type the name into a browser address bar to test if it’s already taken, since those results can sometimes be visible to others.
- Never check the availability of a domain name with a web host provider unless you will pay to register the name at that exact time, since some providers reputedly sell those search results to outsiders.
- Never check the name in your state’s online databases to see whether a similar company name has been registered until you already own the domain name. I learned firsthand that individuals can monitor those search results and will try to hold your name for ransom.
My advice is to settle on the best combination of words that’s not already registered as a “.com” name, check for potential conflicts by searching the phrase in quotes (” “) on Google, look for any conflicting trademarks on the USPTO trademark website, and if you’re satisfied that you have a great original name, register the .com domain online right away.