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Domain Name Hunting for Startups

Posted by on 16 May 2013.

In looking for a domain name for your startup, the same general rules apply. It should be short and catchy, easy to spell and pronounce, SEO-friendly, no hyphens, and a .com if possible. Your domain name, however, is more than a title. It’s an integral part of your brand so it should speak well for your business. In this sense, the domain name shouldn’t just be good; it should be a good fit for your startup.

According to Smashing Magazine, there are two main strategies for coming up with a good domain name: the discoverable and the brandable. A discoverable domain name is a generic word or phrase that people would be likely to type on a search engine. If someone searches for “vintage wines” and this happens to be your domain name, then you’d have a higher ranking on the search results.

In theory, a discoverable domain name will make you easier to find even by people who don’t know you. The downside is most single-word or common-phrase domains are already registered and are therefore more expensive. Another company may also be using the same or a similar name which would create confusion and thus, wouldn’t help your branding.

A brandable domain name is a unique word or phrase that creates a distinct identity. It can be a portmanteau like Pinterest, a variation of a real word like Klout, or a made up name like Etsy. The key is to come up with a name that connects with your brand and the product or service you’re offering. Klout is a good domain name because it describes perfectly what the site is about: gauging people’s influence or, well, “clout” in social media.

With a distinct domain name, you will rank high in search engines when people type your name. And there lies the caveat: people have to be aware of you first. You have to put in more resources to create buzz and raise awareness of your startup. Basically, if you have a brandable domain name, then you have to build a discoverable website. This will take time, money and a lot of work.

Figuring out what strategy works best for your startup involves an assessment of your goals, timeframe and resources. The perfect domain name may come to you in a “eureka moment” but more often than not, it requires a creative yet rational process.