How to Pick a Search Engine Friendly Domain Name for Your Business (Even if You Think All the Good Names are Taken!)

A lot of my clients tell me that it's "Impossible" to find a good domain name for their business that isn't already taken. While it's true that a lot of the obvious domain names are spoken for, with a little creativity you can still find a great domain name for your on-line identity that will rank well with the search engines – and help your potential customers find you as well.

Here are my 9 top tips for doing just that.

1. Choose a Top Level Domain Name

Start out by choosing a "Top Level Domain" Name, or TLD. These are domain names ending in .com, .net, (or .org if you are launching a non-profit organization). Most people when looking for a site online will default to .com or .net addresses, so they have more credibility with your potential customers than other choices like .biz or .us, for example.

2. Get a Dedicated IP Address to Host Your Domain

You'll want to get started on the right foot with your new domain name, so avoid "Shared IP" hosting solutions. The search engines look at all the sites on an IP address (the address the Internet uses to find your site); if you are on a shared IP with spammers or other unsavory sites on the Internet, the search engines may assume you are of the same ilk and penalize your site's ranking as a result. Always ask your hosting provider for a dedicated IP address.

3. Include Your Keywords in Your Domain Name

Identify the keywords that are relevant to your Website – the terms that your potential customers will type into search engines to locate you. If you own a brick-and-mortar store selling Skijoring equipment (the sport where you and your dog(s) cross country ski together), then the domain name "" would make a lot of sense.

It is true that some companies have done well with domain names that have nothing to do with the nature of their business (, Unless you have the marketing budget of an or a (think Super Bowl Commercial sized budgets here), don't try it – stick to keywords that have something to do with your business or industry.

4. Put Your Most Important Keyword First

If you also sell other pet-related sports equipment in addition to Skijoring supplies, then you might consider "" keeping your most important keyword first in line. Keep it short - try to use no more than 3 or 4 short words (55 characters) in your domain name.

5. Use Hyphens Between Words in Your Domain

Just as it's hard for you and me to read: "" when it's typed like that, it's also hard for the search engines. Always use hyphens between the words in your domain names (they act like spaces to the search engines and make it easier for humans to read, too!)

6. Consider Using a Plural of Your Keywords

If your main keyword choices are already taken, consider making one of your keywords a plural (or a singular) version. "" (instead of "supplies"), for instance.

7. Try Adding Numbers to Your Domain Name

Not something silly like "" – that won't make sense to search engines or your prospects. How about "", "", "", or "" – all are viable options and with some creativity replacing "you" with "u", or "four" with "4" you can often find a clever, catchy domain name you might not have considered otherwise.

8. Add Supporting Words if Needed to Your Domain

If you've tried plurals and numbers and nothing has clicked for you, you can consider adding supporting words such as "online" or "pro" to your keywords. For example, "" or "".

9. Write Your Domain Names for Your Customers

Think about your domain name in terms of how easy it will be for your customers and prospects to remember. Imagine you are giving your Website address over the phone to someone who does not have a pen and paper handy – or over the radio where people listening are often in their cars. If your domain name makes sense to your prospects, they are much more likely to remember it and type it in once they get to their computer. "" may be more easily remembered, for instance, than ""


Entrepreneur and outdoor photography adventurer Caroline Melberg is President and CEO of Small Business Mavericks, a division of Melberg Marketing. She has over 20 years of experience creating marketing communications materials and writing copy for some of the largest and most successful companies in the world. Her small business columns are syndicated online, and she publishes the popular eZine, "Small Business Maverick Secrets." Learn insider Maverick Marketing secrets you can use immediately ...

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