How to select a domain name for your site

Almost all of us spend a great deal of time deciding what domain to use for our site or venture. Moreover once you pick a domain, its very difficult to change it once you get some traction. Here are some reasons you don’t want to change your domain name:

  1. You users already remember your domain name. So changing it may impact your brand. You may argue that by setting HTTP 301 all the existing traffic can be diverted to new site, but it will still impact the brand.
  2. You might have created you channels, facebook page with username similar to that domain name, twitter handle etc. All that will have to be changed.
  3. It will be complex to do the transition and also preserve all the internet credibility (page rank etc) you site has built.

Some of criteria which I use to choose a domain:

  1. I try to get both .com and .in (or whatever country you belong to) extension of the domain. Unless your site is very specific to a country, its a good idea to  get .com extension.
  2. Try to call a friend and tell him the domain name over phone and see if he or she can figure out the spelling. If you have to repeat the spelling more than once, then its not a good domain name.
  3. Try to include full words in the domain name. That is good for SEO and also increases brand recall factor. But its hard to get such domains.
  4. Say the domain aloud few times. It should sound elegant. The domain should not be a tongue twister.
  5. Avoid cheap words. Avoid words which may hurt sentiments of some country, culture, etc.
  6. Avoid special characters like “-” or “_”.
  7. Avoid words where spelling of any word in domain is not unique or easy.
  8. Go to Google trends and see if you can at least get one trendy keyword as part of your domain. A keyword with high rank in google trend, will typically be a good candidate to be part of domain name. e.g. Here is how Google trend looks like for term “info”
  9. Search for something (related to what you are going to create) on Google and see how search results look like. Use google chrome developer tools to change the site domain name (in search results html) to your site desired domain name and see how it looks. Will people be able to recognize your domain/brand if they see if few times? Is domain recognizable if repeat visitor just glance at if for 0.5 second or even less?
  10. Looks at some of your competitors and their Alexa profiles (e.g. InfoHeap Alexa site info). See what kind of keywords are giving traffic to them. That can suggest you some keywords to include in your domain.
  11. Avoid too long domain names. I think if it is within 12 characters, it is good.
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