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Create a Great Domain Name

You know the feeling - the classic 'lightbulb' moment. The greatest web concept ever has just formulated in your brain. All the details seem bright and crystal clear. Even the URL you dream up is perfect. Excitedly, you race to the computer and check for the availablility of that domain and it's ... already been registered!

Annoyed, you decide to see who could possibly be using your magical domain name. There's generally three possible outcomes:

  • you find a website that is already doing what you thought was your personal revelation

  • the website you find is totally different than your idea, but is a 'real' website

  • there is no website or there's a link farm (and an advertising / link farm style page is the most likely outcome)

LightIn any event, you could try to buy the domain name if you absolutely must have it, but coming up with a unique name is generally simpler. Note I said simpler, not necessarily easier. Particularly in some fields, such as web design, almost every clever name you can think of is already registered. Here are some websites and tools that can help you stretch your mind a little and come up with some unique names.

1.)World's Largest Registrar - GoDaddy.com
GoDaddy Rocks! Really they do. I have A LOT of domains registered here so I think I can say I'm an authority on the subject. When you search on a domain name, and if it's not available, GoDaddy will give you some helpful variations. The suggestion boxes contain common prefixes and suffixes that might be good options for registration. You can also see what domains are for sale that may match up with your requirements.

As far as I see it, you can't go wrong at GoDaddy - excellent prices, straightforward control panel, great customer service, even when you need to phone.

2.) DomainsBot
I enjoy this site - a list of domains that have expired each day. And there are literally thousands that do, some with lots of links already pointing to them and established traffic. For free, you can search on keywords and see what has expired. Or, you can subscribe to them and get the lists every day. An excellent value - I purchased my first one-word domain as a result of subscribing to this service.

3.) Domain Name Generator
Use DNGenerator Pro or Plus to generate hundreds of domain names with as little as 1 keyword! Your keywords are combined with dozens of possibilites to generate hundreds of names. You can also hide names that have already been taken if you don't want to get excited about what you can't have.
(Important Note: Registration here is more expensive than GoDaddy.)

4.) NameBoy
Go to NameBoy's main page, type in one or two words that either describe the theme of your site or words that you need to have in the URL, and presto, NameBoy will generate a list for you of possible domain names. Some will already be registered, but if there's any you like, you're cooking!
(Important Note: Registration here is more expensive than GoDaddy.)

5.) Domain Fellow
Another litle handy tool that will let you search on a keyword then it will add some prefixes and suffixes for you. Good when you're stuck for ideas.
(Important Note: Registration here is more expensive than GoDaddy.)

6.) And this is most important: search on the keywords that best describe the content of your website. And then try to register variations of those keywords. This will help your search engine ranking over time. Check out my search engine optimization page for a quick introduction to this topic.

Designer's Tip: Some hosting companies will register the domain for you at no charge if you sign up for one of their hosting packages.

Another Idea: I often use dictionary.com or thesaurus.com to come up with words related to the one I initially wanted to register. Write down your best finds and start searching!

And Last: Check out the forums (like DigitalPoint) for great domain name registration coupons and you can save a few dollars. Just do a search for "GoDaddy Coupons".


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