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Find a Domain Name

If you listen to the pessimists you'd be led to believe it's impossible to find a good domain name nowadays. Don't you believe it!

I'm always able to find a good domain name when I start a new site. It's true that most, if not all, of the single word domain names are taken, but there are still plenty of good domains left if you use two or three words, or use a hyphen or even a number in the domain name.

What Makes a Domain Name Good?

It's important to understand the qualities that make a domain name good. I believe there are two primary qualities.
  1. You want your site to rank well in search engines for keywords related to your content, so your domain name should have a keyword in it that relates to the site's content or purpose.
  2. You want people to remember it so it should be reasonably easy to remember, and if it's catchy too, so much the better.
Now, the first thing you might think in reading that first item is, "Well, doesn't have a keyword in it."

True enough, but I bought that domain name in 1997, when it wasn't understood how important having a keyword in your domain name would become years later.

There's a story behind that name, but it's not a name I would choose today for a site about web design. When I started a membership site about web design a while back, I registered for a domain name. With "webmaster" in the domain name, it's great for a webmaster resource site.

The Power of I

When trying to think of domain names, one technique is to add an "i-" in front of the keyword. There are many great single-word keywords left for the price of adding i and a hyphen in front of the keyword.

The hyphen is read as a space by the search engines, so with i-webmaster I have a webmaster resource site with the keyword "webmaster" in it. There are TONS of great single keywords left if you just add the letter "i" and a hyphen in front of it.

There are those that will say a domain name with a hyphen isn't as good because it's harder to give the web address to others verbally.

Oh really? How hard is it to say "i dash webmaster" as compared to a much longer domain name? A longer domain name would also have a greater chance of being misspelled or a typo being made.

If I wouldn't have used a hyphen I would have had to go with a less desirable combination of words and keywords, which wouldn't be as strong with the search engines.

Besides, how often do you pass on web addresses to others verbally? If you're like me, it's not often. Most of the time when I share a website with someone I pass it on via email or instant messenger.

Let's be realistic—very little of your website traffic will come from someone verbally passing on your web address. The overwhelming majority of the traffic will come from search engines and links from other sites, especially if you learn search engine optimization and apply it to your website.

As more people catch on to the "i-" prefix strategy, it will become commonplace to see domains with this style name. There are plenty around, but they're not as well known yet because the majority of hyphened domain names were not started until after most single-word names and many non-hyphened two-word names were already taken.

Another tactic is simply to use the "i" without the hyphen. I'm not as big a fan of this for two reasons. One, not all search engines will separate the "i" from the rest of the domain to reward the site for having a keyword in the domain name. Secondly, some people may not get it either.

Domain Name Modifiers

Another strategy is to use a modifier with a keyword. For example, suppose I'm an apple orchard owner. I'd like to have but that's taken. So, I use a modifier before or after, or both before and after the keyword apple or apples.

I found all those in about 3-4 minutes. I'm sure I could find a lot more, maybe even a few better ones, if I took more time. Any of those names would do well for search engine purposes, and most are quite memorable. Who could forget

In case this wasn't immediately apparent from those examples, try using plurals. Instead of, try

Other ways to add to a keyword you want is to use words like: the, site, my, big, best, shop, store, directory, list, guide, and so on.

For example: isn't available, but is. redirects to Nabisco World, but is waiting for someone to take it. The point is, use your imagination, there are hundreds of ways to create a winning combination.

By the way, if you wanted to sell cookies online, build a recipe site, or build a site along those lines, is a great domain name. Someone will probably grab it after reading this. If you do, send me a finders fee . . . or at least a few peanut butter cookies. :)

More Domain Name Finding Strategies

Here are some other strategies that have been useful for me in coming up with good domain names.
You may know every word in a thesaurus, but chances are you won't think of every word you know when you're trying to find a good domain name. Keep a thesaurus at your desk to help you.

You can also use an online thesaurus. is a popular one, but a lesser known site is Finding words that rhyme isn't the only feature of this utility, it also finds synonyms, antonyms, related words, definitions, similar sounding words and more.

Domain Name Suggestion Utilities
There are several web sites that will make domain name suggestions based on your input. They also indicate if the names they suggest are available. I've had mixed results using these, but using them can also spark your own imagination. NameBoy is one of the better ones.
Deleted Domain Names
Another way to find available domains and to spark your imagination is to search through the deleted domains at Deleted domains are domains that the owner let expire and have recently added back into the pool of available domains.
Alternate Domains Extensions
While a .com extension is generally considered the best domain extension for any business purpose, don't automatically rule out alternate extensions. The .net and .org extensions are well known, and newer extensions like .biz and .info are gaining acceptance.

For search engine purposes, it's better to get a domain name with a keyword in it than not, even if it means using a domain extension other than .com. Still, I'd advise exhausting all the .com possibilities before looking at the other domain extensions.

Specific vs Generic Domain Names
I know everyone wants a great generic domain name like,, and so forth, but there's nothing wrong with a more specific domain name. Sites like have done nicely. A domain with your name, or an alias, and a keyword can do just fine.,, get the idea.

Domain Name Length

The general concensus is that a short domain name is better than a long one because it will be easier to remember. However, that's not always true. If a longer name is more descriptive it could well be more memorable than a short, but non-descript name.

For example, is nice and short, but what does it mean? It won't mean anything to a search engine because there are no real words in it, and it doesn't offer any meaning to someone reading it.

However, if that acronym is short for a business named River City Book Emporium, then would have meaning for a search engine and human eyes.

Locally, if that store's customers were trying to find that business online, they'd try that domain name or search for River City Book Emporium, but few people, if any, would think of searching for RCBE unless the business was already known by that acronym.

So, short isn't always better. Go for what is easier to remember and better for search engine rankings. Sometimes using your common sense rather than blindly following the general consensus is the better idea.

Brainstorm Domain Names

Gather your family or friends so they can help you brainstorm domain names. We all think differently. One of your family members or friends, even if they know little about the Internet, could come up with the winner.

Good luck domain hunting!

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Domain Name Exceptions

While I suggested finding a domain name with a keyword related to your site's content or purpose, the exception might be if you already have a business and want to use your business name.

It's important to realize using an existing business name likely won't rank as well for generic searches unless you happen to have a keyword in your business name.

You see, most searches are generic in nature, that is, they are not brand specific. The Internet is a worldwide market.

However, if you're more concerned with local customers finding your site and aren't concerned with ranking well for generic keywords, or if you're not interested in finding new customers outside of your local area, then using your business name is probably the better way to go.

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