Your search for a domain name for an online business may feel monumental — and kind of scary.
I’m here to make it easy, my friend.
My step-by-step process will help you go from …
“What should I name my online business?” to …
“Is the domain name available?” to …
“Check out my new domain name!”
… in no time flat.
First, let’s get a few questions out of the way.
What should I name my online business?
You’re in luck — I’ve written about this topic a lot.
In the early planning stages you’ll be deciding what to call your online business.
Your domain name and your business name need to be similar (if not identical). This article will help you find the best domain name for your business once you’ve decided what business name to use.
Get help choosing your business name in these articles:
Should I name my business first — or pick a domain name first?
When you’re starting an online business — in a perfect world — you would do these simultaneously.
Here’s the thing …
If you want people to transact with your business in this online environment, you need to own your business name on the web.
So if you’re starting completely from scratch, think about your business name and your domain name at the same time.
You’ll be happy you did.
It takes some extra effort but it will be well worth it.
Do I need to own the .com version of my domain name?
In short, yes.
When people search online, the default naming convention is .com. Owning the .com version of a domain brands you as the “original” domain owner.
If someone else owns the .com version of the domain name you want to use, don’t use an alternative like .net, .life, or .info. Instead, search for a domain name where you can own the .com version.
Because people will type in .com to find your business.
And if the .com version of the domain leads to someone else’s business, you’re sending business someone else’s way.
Finding a .com domain name that’s available — and that you like — is challenging, but not impossible.
Does my domain name need to include keywords?
A great question!
Domain names that included keywords had an advantage in the early days of the internet, but according to Search Engine Journal, this has not been the case for years.
They quote John Mueller of Google saying, “…just because keywords are in a domain name doesn’t mean that it’ll automatically rank for those keywords.”
It’s more important that your domain name tell people what your website is about — not search engines. Remember, search engines take their signals from what people do online.
What’s the best online domain name checker?
I have used a handful of domain registrars, and of all of them, I prefer Namecheap (affiliate link).
I like to search for a domain name using Namecheap because:
- Their domain search process is comprehensive and fast
- Their domain registration process is simple
- They offer free WhoisGuard registration, which protects your personal information
- They don’t tack on a lot of added fees
- They send handy reminders before a domain name expires
For all the reasons above, I use Namecheap to demonstrate how to search for a domain name later in this article.
I think you’ll see it’s pretty easy. And finding the exact right domain name?
Well, that’s a moment that sends chills down your spine.
How to search for a domain name in 3 easy steps
First off, take a deep breath.
Finding the perfect domain name may feel like a daunting process.
Today, though, we’re going to make it fun. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and settle in.
I wasn’t kidding about taking a deep breath! Stop and …
- Take a moment to think about your ideal customer.
- Remember why you want to build this business.
- Visualize how your new website — at the domain name you’re about to register — will reach the people you want to reach.
Ready? Let’s search for a domain name you’re going to feel proud of.
Step 1: How to start the online business name search
First off, type the service or product you plan to offer into a search engine and take a good look at what’s already available online.
Don’t be discouraged. It may feel like “all the good domain names are already taken.”
Never fear — I’ve got a workaround in the next step.
For now, just see what’s out there. Get a feel for the environment your domain name will exist in. See if there are obvious holes that can be filled — variations of words that haven’t been used yet.
Make a note of what you see.
Let’s keep going.
Step 2: How to come up with domain name variations
Visit Namecheap.com (affiliate link).
Under the search field, click on the “Get started with a .com domain” link.
Let’s say you want to build an online business where you coach high school theater students using video.
Type the first domain name option you think of into the search bar and add .com onto the end for good measure.
On the next screen, Namecheap will let you know if that domain is available. It is!
But it’s expensive.
Time to keep looking.
Here’s how to find other domain names to try.
- Use words your ideal customer uses. Be sure to avoid jargon or industry-specific words in your domain name. Instead, think about how your ideal customer talks about your topic and use their own words to come up with domain name variations.
- Consult a thesaurus. Look for alternatives for your descriptive words by typing them into a thesaurus and stringing them together in different combinations.
- Get specific. Going back to our example, since you want to coach high school theater students, why not specify that in the domain name? Try adding modifiers that talk about who you serve and how you serve them.
Getting specific will help your domain name meet the rule mentioned above:
Choose a domain name that tells people what the site is about.
Next, you try this domain name:
And voila! You have a winner:
Your new domain name:
- Tells people what the website is about
- Tells site visitors who the site is for
- Is easy to spell and pronounce
- Is memorable
- Is available in .com form at a reasonable price
Time to register your new domain name!
Step 3: How to register an online business name you love
Before you register the domain name you found, make sure it ticks all these boxes:
- It’s easy to say — the words don’t run into each other when you speak them
- It’s easy to spell — it doesn’t use any tricky words
- It’s relatively short — remember, some people will be typing your domain name into their phones with their thumbs
You may have found a domain name that checks all the boxes, but before you claim it for yourself, check in with your gut.
Are you feeling excited about the domain name you chose?
If you can’t wait to share your new domain name — and your gut is saying, “Grab it while you can!” — then it’s time to proceed with your online business domain name registration.
Click the Add to cart button:
On the next screen, if you want Namecheap to automatically renew your domain name before it expires, click Domain Registration > Auto-renew. Make sure WhoisGuard is enabled, and click Auto-renew here, too.
WhoisGuard adds a layer of privacy to your domain registration and Namecheap offers this extra protection for free, so take advantage of it.
Warning: Try not to search for a domain name too often
Now that you know how to do it, you might find yourself wanting to claim a domain name for every idea that crosses your mind.
But for the sake of your bank account, try to maintain a small list of domain names.
Owning domain names you don’t use can become expensive. Getting constant renewal reminders by email just adds to the clutter in your inbox.
To see all the tools I use to run this website and online business, visit my Tools of the Trade page.