Web Developer's Guide to Selecting Domain Names

By Forum Member Web Developer

Finding an available domain name is getting harder and harder these days as domains are being registered by the millions by developers and domain speculators. In this tutorial for the web developer I'll tell you some tips to help you find that valuable domain that hasn't been thought of--yet.

Finding Available Domain Names

Many times web developers want to put their knowledge to test by creating a website, but they don't have any topic in mind for that site. Thus, the first step is to first decide on an idea or focus for your site. Inspiration can come to you quite easily if you follow these pointers:
  • Think of a topic that is something that you are personally interested in.
  • See if there are sites on the web for your hobbies which you reckon you could do better.
  • Think about what you would find useful online, for your potential site's focus.
  • See if there are any competitors in that focus/topic.
  • Think of the keywords associated with that focus/topic, and search for them online.
  • What is your potential site visitor looking for when they search online.
Note: If you can't think of an idea, skip ahead to "Finding a Domain Without an Idea".

Perhaps you have an idea for a site and are wondering how to switch that idea into a domain name. I shall explain the process of finding a great domain name through means of an example. Say you decided you wanted to create a website which shares your garden tips.

A simple search in the thesaurus for 'tip' will give you words people haven't thought of for domains. I quite like 'clue', and find that in fact 'gardenclues.com' is available! Here it is best to go for the plural 'clues' because it makes more sense to make a website comprised of many clues instead of just one.

This would be a good domain name, but you can try and find a better one. What comes to my mind when i think of gardening is 'planting', of course 'planting.com' will be taken but 'bestplanting.com' is available! Here I added 'best', just one of the prefixes which I woudl have tried ('best', 'the', 'easy', 'web', 'e', 'great'...). This is a good name, but not a great improvement, if any. I now try 'plantingpointers.com', which uses the planting of the second idea and another synonym of 'tip'. Indeed, this is available- this is, in fact, my favourite gardening tips domain because of the alliteration and the memorability of the name, despite its length.

Finding a Domain Without an Idea

What often works for me is thinking of a domain name before thinking of a website idea; so, how is this done?

First, you can come up with a domain name by listening to what people say, reading books or watching the TV. Let ideas come into your head and check the availablity of domains related from your ideas as you do.

Let's say you heard someone say the phrase "That is doing my head in" you could check "doesmyheadin.co.uk", indeed this is available. Great, you have a memorable domain name! Now's the hard part--thinking of a winning idea.

  • Think about what the domain brings to mind.
  • Decide whether the ideas the domain brings to mind could be the focus point of an online community. From our example above, perhaps you could create a community which discusses what "does people's heads in." Just create a forum. This would probably be popular, similar to fmylife.com.
  • Think of any kind of database of entries you could create on the subjects brought to mind on the first bullet point. Maybe the winning idea would be to make a database of things which annoy you, rather like a blog.
  • Think whether the domain would be a good one for a simple blog.
  • Think whether you could use the domain with any affiliate scheme you know of.
  • Think about what you'd expect to load up when you type the domain name into the address bar.
So, as you can see, you should arrive at an idea sooner or later. Always remember, if you can't think of an idea, but still have a great available domain name in mind, you could always sell the domain later to someone who can think of a concept that suits the domain.

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