How to choose a domain name for your Website

Editor’s Note: Dana Greenlee’s column is running one day early – again – in order to make room in Friday’s paper for coverage of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce’s economic forecast luncheon.

The idea of having an Internet presence on the Web for your business as being a novelty is so last century. A Website is like having a shop on every corner in the world and your customers may live in its furthest reaches.
My friend, Craig Goebble of University Place-based LoanTek Home Loans and host of Real Estate Radio on Seattle’s KVI-FM, may primarily help radio callers with their real estate and home mortgage questions within listening distance.

However, on his website, listeners from Kyrgyzstan, Paraguay, Cocos Islands and Nepal hear the streaming version of his show.
Even if your South Puget Sound business only caters to the local folk, even they may want to know your location, hours or products and services without having to leave their home or bother with a phone call.

Getting a Website on the Internet is a lot easier, immediate and a lot less expensive than you might image. One of your very first steps is securing the perfect Web address, also called your “URL” or your “domain name.”
If your actual business name is already taken, here are a few do’s and don’ts regarding getting the right name.

While the availability of domains which follow all of these rules may have become limited, try to follow as many of these rules as possible:

1) Always use “.com.” If yours is a serious business site, avoid using domains ending in “biz” or “info” or any one of the score of new top level domains or from other countries. Your business will have little credibility if you do so.
You can consider registering a “.net” domain, but since most people are familiar with “.com,” it is better to stick to convention.

2) Don’t make your primary domain too long. Even though 67 character domains are a reality, exactly how many of your users will want to type a domain name like “”?

3) Avoid using hyphens in your domain. Domains containing hyphens are difficult to remember, spell and pronounce. I have a client who registered “,” which I advised against. I told them they would get tired of telling people about the dash.

However, they do seem to be doing okay with it anyway. If you register a domain containing hyphens, make sure that you also register the corresponding domain without the hyphens. Once you do that, you can simply redirect visitors from the domain without the hyphens to the domain with the hyphens.

4) Try to register a domain which contains a popular keyword applicable for your industry. This will help your customers remember your domain name better.

Furthermore, for searches conducted in Yahoo!, a higher ranking will be given to those Websites which contain the keyword in the title. And according to Yahoo!’s instructions, the title should always be the official name of the site.

Thus, if the domain name contains a keyword, you will be able to include the keyword in the title which will improve your ranking in Yahoo!.

5) Don’t register a domain containing the digit “0” in it, unless it is going to be part of a recognizable word (like 1000 or 2000). This is because the digit “0” is often confused with the vowel “O.”

If you feel that you must register a domain with the digit “0,” make sure that you also register the corresponding domain containing the vowel “O.”

6) Try to avoid using domains that contain ‘2’ for “to,” ‘4’ for ‘for,’ ‘u’ for ‘you.’ Your customers will easily get confused.

However, if you must register such a domain, register the expanded form of the domain as well, i.e. if you are registering “,” also register “”

However, good Internet marketing can overcome this challenge. One of my Website clients – a University Place firefighter/paramedic – uses
“” and has all the business he can handle!

7) Consider naming your company and registering a domain name starting with the digit “1.” Better still, choose a name starting with “1st.”
When people create directories of Websites, they have to decide how they are going to classify those Websites. The popular classification system is alphabetic.

Furthermore, depending on the industry in which your company operates, it may also send the right message across to your customers – it indicates that you are the first company to consider in your industry.

The mother of all directories – Yahoo! – lists Websites alphabetically based on the title that had been submitted. Yahoo! wants the title to be the same as the official name of the site.

However, this strategy of creating domain names starting with the digit “1” will not work with The Open Directory ( The Open Directory will only consider the portion of your domain that is really meaningful.

This implies that it will ignore the “1” or the “1st” in your domain and will consider the portion of your domain after the “1” or the “1st.” For instance, a site named “” would be listed with the sites starting with “X,” and not “1.” Of course, in order to “take care” of both Yahoo! and The Open Directory, you could have your domain start with “1st” and then have a proper English word starting with “A “ after that.

Furthermore, a small caveat here. If you are going to name a domain starting with “1st,” also register the domain which starts with “ist.” Then, have the domain containing the vowel “i” redirect visitors to the domain containing the digit “1.” This is because people will often type in “ist” when they mean “1st” and vice-versa

Also, this strategy of registering domains starting with “1st” is mainly applicable if yours is a somewhat new company.

If you own a well-established concern with a well known domain, you simply cannot change your company name and your domain in a hurry because you will confuse your existing customers.

You can check out the availability of domain names and register new domains at several Websites, such as, and

Dana Greenlee is co-host/producer of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show, a Tacoma-based nationally syndicated radio and Webcast show featuring technology news and interviews.


If you already have a very nifty Website, why not get into the spirit of the award season? Friday, January 23, is the deadline to enter your site for consideration for a Webby Award.

Take your place among the Web’s best Websites by entering the competition for the 8th Annual Webby Awards, to be presented in Spring 2004.
Enter in one of 30 categories: Activism, Best Practices, Broadband, Commerce, Community, Education, Fashion, Film, Finance, Games, Government & Law, Health, Humor, Living, Music, NetArt, News, Personal Website, Politics, Print & Zines, Radio, Science, Services, Spirituality, Sports, Technical Achievement, Travel, TV, Weird and Youth.

Nominees receive:
– Independent validation of excellence;

– Exposure reaching over 100 million people in outlets such as CNN, Time magazine, USA Today,, The Associated Press, Le Monde, and The Guardian (U.K.); and

– Increased traffic and awareness.

Don’t hesitate. Submit by Friday’s deadline at