42 Killer Domain Secrets Exposed!
The Basic Stuff
Every website needs a domain name. Example "WebBootCamp.com"
is a domain name. Your domain is your website address, a.k.a. URL (universal
resource locator). Should you use your company name for your domain? Maybe,
maybe not. Is it memorable? Easy to spell? Does it contain keywords that relate
to your business? For more considerations on choosing a domain, I've put
together the following checklist.
Pick a memorable name. How catchy is it? Would the average
person be able to remember just your website name, without looking through their
bookmarks (if they have even bothered to bookmark it, that is)?
Make it easy to spell! Face it, most people can't spell. Try to target for
the masses when you pick your name. Think of everyone having a 7th grade
Make it short, try for a two or three word domain. When possible, name your
company the same as your domain name. Whether you actually add .com to your
company's name makes little difference.
Use keywords in your domain. Try services like
wordtracker.com to see what
people are searching for, in BIG NUMBERS, related to your subject.
Don't use numbers or hyphens. These are easily overlooked or forgotten when
people type in your domain. Unless you're using a stand out combination like
911alert or 123homerepair, don't go numeric. If you use hyphens, then every time
you tell someone your domain, you have to say "it's blah-blah-blah.com - with
the hyphens". This is not impressive, and you risk losing traffic to
blahblahblah.com. You're asking your potential customers to work harder, to
remember tedious details about your name. Simplicity is important, because you
want them to find you. You're building a brand here.
Don't buy any other extension except a ".com" This is the best branded domain
extension, highly known and trusted. Any other extension is practically
worthless, in my book. In addition to being first in the minds of the public,
remember also that most people trying to find a company will put a com after
that company's name in their browser. It's second nature to most of us. A .org
can bring attention for non profits, but even most of those companies will try
to purchase a .com as well.
Avoid running names together that end in a vowel and begin in a vowel.
EXAMPLE: freeebook.com Also try to avoid having the second word start with the
same letter as the last letter of the last word. These combinations can look
weird, and are often likely to be misread or simply forgotten. By avoiding these
two combinations, along with numbers and hyphens, we make sure our words (and
our brand) will stand out.
Good For Starting Sentences, Not Domains
Avoid starting your name with THE, or A, if being used as the word A. EXAMPLE
asimplehome.com - "a" is likely to be forgotten. While it is true that directory
listings usually list alphabetically, search engines do not.
If you can come up with a catchy name starting with "a", by all means, do so.
You may find yourself first in the yellow page listings. Have a look there
first, and see what the competition looks like. What are their names, how do
Now, here's where it gets interesting. You'll see that names starting with
numbers get displayed first (for non paid listings). So the big question
becomes, is yours the type of product or service that will do well from yellow
page traffic? You must carefully weigh this against overall branding of your
You could of course, have more than one domain, and more than one brand for
your company, but be careful about promoting the same sites with different names
to the same search engines. You could find yourself banned from those search
Don't pick your name as your domain name, unless you're famous. Names aren't
keywords (won't help your search engine rankings), and usually easily forgotten.
Unless you've built a big brand around your name already, stick to a good key
phrase! It is much easier to brand.
Who's who, and is my name taken?
To search available domains, and to find out who owns registered ones, use
the whois function at
http://www.internic.net. If you come across a registered domain, it will
show you where it was registered. The next step to detecting the identity of the
actual owner, is to visit the registrar (this is where the domain was
registered) site listed, and use their whois search. This should provide you
with name, address, phone number and email of the rightful owner. Unfortunately,
this information is not always available, but it is most of the time.
A Common Myth Equals Missed Opportunities
All the great domains are taken. Hogwash! The dirty little secret is,
thousands of great domains expire every day! Here's a handy resource for finding
great expired and expiring domains -
- I've found some real gems here, like webbootcamp.com, webmastertoolset.com,
customoilpainting.com and customoilpaintings.com - all formerly owned and let
go, just to name a few.
When applicable, do try to get the singular and plural versions of your
domain like we just saw with customoilpainting(s). When one could be easily be
mistaken for the other, it helps to be covered this way. You're also protecting
Another expiring domain service to check out is
snapcheck.com. They have some
interesting statistics for expiring domains, such as google page rank and yahoo
and dmoz listed domains. Bear in mind that any "perceived value" on a domain put
there by a search engine listing or page rank is inherently fleeting. That's
because the content that was responsible for that listing is now gone, and it is
simply a matter of time before the search engine's spiders crawl the site again,
and re-evaluate it's content. In other words, the search engine ranking is very
likely going to disappear soon, unless you quickly repopulate the site with
compelling content, worthy of the rank the original site had.
Roads To Nowhere, No Stops Ahead
One tasty bonus that accompanies a popular site is link popularity. This is
how many other websites link to the domain in question. Think of a link as a
road into your website. Quite often, webmasters do not update their links when
the site they're linking to changes or disappears altogether. So if you find an
expired (or soon to be expired) domain with high link popularity (many links to
the domain), it may well stay that way for some time to come.
Case in point: special-report-network.net was once a very successful ad
network run by online marketing guru Allen Says. For reasons unknown, he shut
down the site and let the domain expire. The domain had over 14,000 links
pointing to it! The weird part is, it still does! Want proof? Go to
alltheweb.com and search for "link:http://www.special-report-network.net",
without the quotation marks. This will show all the sites linking to it. The
domain got snatched up by Ultimate Search, a hong kong company that registers
thousands of domains, and makes money from paid search results. The site has
nothing to do with the original ad network site that Allen built and made
successful, yet the links remain, and links equal traffic.
Bear in mind not all links are created equal. Link farms (A.K.A. FFA or "free
for all" links pages), and seldom visited by real people. Instead, automated
programs add people's URLs when they submit to a mass submission service, hoping
to generate big traffic. Instead, all they get is a bunch of spam, which they've
agreed to receive, in order for using the service.
How can I snag that expiring hottie?
When you find a name that is pending deletion (the owner hasn't renewed it),
the next step is to try to secure it, the moment it becomes available.
Strangely, domains do not fall back into the pool of availability the day they
expire. It can take up to 60 days or more in some cases for them to "drop", and
the times are not announced. Thankfully, there are automated services to perform
this task for us, such as
Pool.com. Prices vary, and none can
Namewinner lets users bid against each other for expiring domains and only
the winner pays, while Snapnames and Expirefish are first come, first served,
meaning only one user has a shot at grabbing a particular domain. Snapnames also
has the most registrar partners, (including Network Solutions), which may give
them an edge for securing expiring domains that are currently registered with
their partners. They also have the highest price tag, and you pay whether or not
they secure your name. Pool.com is a
newcomer that seems to rival the services of Snapnames, with better prices.
One more method you might try, is going directly to the current owner. Let's
say your desired dropping domain is already "back ordered" on
Expirefish.com. Now you can
still bid for it at Namewinner.com,
and Pool.com, but you feel the odds
are against you. If you're really hot on the name, and willing to pay a premium,
you may be able to bypass the solutions above, simply by cutting a deal with the
This can be a bit risky however, because once the owner realizes your
interest, they may decide to ask for a unreasonable sum of money, or simply see
value in the domain again (generated from your interest), and renew it as an
investment. Assuming you can make a deal, you may want to suggest using
escrow.com, which eliminates the
possibility of fraud for both of you. The owner will need to renew the domain
before they can transfer it to you.
The Website Graveyard - Visit Those Spooky Remains!
Once you've found a deleted or soon to be deleted domain you fancy, you might
want to take a trip into the past, to see what that site used to be! Now bear in
mind most domains that are registered are never developed, so there may be
nothing at all to see. But for those domains with a tangible history, we can
often peek at their ghost, courtesy of the wayback machine at
One Owner, Driven Only On Sundays
Another way to check the history of a domain, is simply to search for it. Try
searching google, and
groups.google.com, to see what people may have said about the site. You may
think twice about purchasing a domain with a sketchy history.
Don't go overboard and buy every known extension for your brand - (.net,
.org, .biz, .info, etc.). Big corporations like google can afford to buy all the
country domains. When you're starting out, remember, domain fees are yearly, and
you need to consider the lifelong cost of each domain. For most people, one
domain is just fine.
You may think snatching up good domains and reselling them would be a
lucrative business. The problem is, finding a buyer is not easy. In fact, that's
Don't register domains containing trademarks. You will likely here from that
company's legal department if you do, and will be forced to relinquish the name
by The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), or a lawsuit, or both.
Who's in charge?
Icann (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) oversees the
domain registration business. Their URL is
http://www.icann.org. If you
ever have trouble with your registrar, it may be worth reporting to Icann.
Case in point: A client of mine tried to switch his domain to another
registrar (at my suggestion), to get added free features (free URL forwarding),
and save money. His current registrar denied the transfer, and tried to charge
him a fee for leaving! Once we threatened to take up the matter with Icann, and
publicly expose them at Icann's forum (http://forum.icann.org/regxfer), they
immediately backed down, and released the domain.
If you believe someone has registered a domain that infringes on your
trademark (or has infringed on your intellectual property), the authority to see
is The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), at
Capitalize each word of your domain in your sig files and letterhead, and
anywhere else you advertise your domain. It helps your brand stand out.
http://www.WebBootCamp.com looks better than
Also, only add in http://www. when
you're creating links back to your site (i.e., email, websites, and online
forms). In all your offline advertising, such as signs, business cards and
letterhead, you should definitely skip http://www. and just use "YourDomain.com".
You only have a second or two of people's attention when they see your URL, so
make it count. Brand that name! Just make sure your web host has your site set
up to show without WWW. Most sites are correctly set up to display when a person
types in "YourDomain.com", or "www.YourDomain.com" but a handful, maybe 10% or
so will show page not found, if you skip "www". That could be devastating, so
check with your host, and demand that your site come up either way!
Ready To Buy Your .com?
Don't overpay! I'm still surprised that many people don't know they can buy
domains for under $10 these days. Shop around. Currently I recommend
They offer a lot of extras like URL and email forwarding, free.
Keep Your Registration Current!
Don't let your domain expire! You cannot afford to be even a day late in
payment. If it falls into the redemption period, you may find yourself high
jacked by your registrar for an outrageous renewal fee. See this illuminating
article for more about the redemption period - "Domain Redemption Period Farce
http://www.sitepoint.com/article/1034. If your expired domain falls back
into the available pool, it may be registered by anyone, and you may have little
recourse trying to recover it.
The easiest way to ensure you are sent renewal notices for your domain is to
keep your email contact current for your domain. Perhaps the most common reason
for people losing their domains, is simply that they switch ISPs, and
subsequently, their email address changes, and they forget to update that
information with their domain registrar.
If you own a lot of domains, keeping up with administration can be tedious.
One trick I rely on, is to use one domain for my primary business email address,
and on that registration "admin" contact, I use my ISP email. For all my other
domain registrations, I use my primary business email address (based on my
primary domain, which I will never let go). Now, if I should switch ISPs, all I
need to concern myself with is changing that one domain record, to reflect my
new ISP email. All my other domain records have that primary domain email as the
admin contact, so as long as I keep the one record current (and keep the email
account active), all will be current, and all domain renewal notices will be
sent to me.
In the end, it's not so much about the name, as it is what you make of it.
Just look at all the big successful internet companies out there with strange
To learn how to set up your domain to point to your hosting account, I
recommend the reading materials in Web Boot Camp, an all inclusive "how to"
guide for web business. Get web savvy today!
Copyright 2004 Jim Symonds
About The Author
Jim Symonds publishes Web Secrets Exposed! Eye popping, and jaw dropping,
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