The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Finding a Great Domain Name

Discussion in 'Domain Names & Parking' started by watley, Jun 30, 2013.

  1. watley

    watley Power Member

    Oct 17, 2012
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    San Francisco
    I see questions on here a lot about picking the right domain name for a new site. Many of these people would have their questions answered by a single search of the forum. I aim to make this the ultimate guide to purchasing the right domain name - the guide you can point people to when they ask the same mundane questions over and over again.

    This guide is mainly aimed towards newbies who have not already formed their own highly researched opinions. However, even if you've been around the block a few times, this guide may still be useful to you. Maybe it will help you decide between two domain name options or maybe it will guide you toward the perfect domain for your site. Regardless, you're better off reading this than responding to some guy about whether or not using hyphens (dashes) in domains names is okay (answered later).

    Let's start off by deciding the right type of domain for your site. This is newbie stuff, so feel free to skip over it if you feel so inclined. However, I do offer some interesting viewpoints about when you should and shouldn't use a brandable domain...

    I categorize domains in two separate categories: brandable and keyword-oriented. Depending on the type of site you're creating, it may be a better idea to choose a certain one.


    If you went on Warrior Forum, this is what everyone would recommend. After all, if you're going to aim to be a phoney guru, you better back that up with a catchy name. However, there are really only a few types of sites that I recommend using brandable domains for. In these niches/businesses, having a brandable name may be worth the increased challenge of ranking for your desired keyword(s).

    If you're considering using a brandable domain, the first question you should ask yourself is "why?" What benefit does your website and/or business receive from having a name that is brandable? Are people more likely to listen to what you have to say or purchase your products? Are they more likely to be repeat customers or type the address in the search bar a month from now when they need the same thing they searched for today?

    If you were able to find some benefit, continue reading this section. Otherwise, skip to the next category.

    So, when should you consider using a brandable domain?

    • When you get only a small amount of your traffic from search engines. If you're doing most of your marketing on social media or offline, brandable may be a better choice.
    • When you're building a business - and I mean a real business (phoney little eCommerce sites don't count), the type of business that you'll register as a corporation (or LLC or whatever - I'm not your lawyer).
    • When you're looking to turn your website/business into a multimillion dollar operation someday.
    • When you're building something unique and looking to make a name for yourself - if you have your own ideas about the best way to lose weight and are going to blog about it, choose a brandable domain so you can build your own brand.

    I often see people choosing brandable domains for silliest reasons. I'm sorry, but your car insurance quotes site isn't a brand. It's a stupid-frickin' lead generation website. Your eCommerce clothing and shoes store isn't a brand. Unless it's the next Zappos, nobody is going to see its name on TV anytime soon. Your blog with the same regurgitated information everyone else is writing about isn't a brand. Either what you're doing is unique and you should brand it or you're creating a business and maybe you should brand it. Other than that, you'd be hard-pressed to find a good reason to choose a brandable domain if you're looking to do well in the search engines. If you have a standard blackhat site, you're just costing yourself money (the extra money you'll have to spend on SEO for the same results) by going this route.

    If you go with a brandable domain, you better have a good reason for it.

    Keyword-Oriented Domains

    Keyword-rich domains serve two purposes: better rankings and built-in authority. In a vacuum, visitors trust more than (both random example sites that do not exist), because has built-in authority from having exactly what visitors are looking for in their domain name. Since they're, they must be dog training experts (in the minds of your visitors). While may sound catchy, it will take a little longer for your website to gain your visitor's trust.

    Now, most questions I see here on keyword-oriented domains are in regards to the hierarchy of your domain name choices. More often than not, the .com for your desired term is not available. So, we have to improvise.

    I'm going to list options in terms of hierarchy below. The higher up in the list, the better an option it is for SEO in my highly researched opinion which is proven time and time again by my private case studies. Matt Cutts may say TLD doesn't matter, but his goal isn't exactly to make sure you rank higher in Google.

    The following list is based almost entirely on SEO factors. If you care about return visitors, you may want to sway towards a .com option.

    Note: If you are targeting a specific country and that country only, I recommend using the local ccTLD, as long as it's not the US you're targeting. If it's just the US you're targeting, I would put .us #5 in this list.

    1. .com/.net/.org exact match domain
    2. .com/.net/.org main keyword + keyword modifier (For example, has the main keyword "car insurance quotes" in it and the EMD of a longer-tail term, "car insurance quotes online.")
    3. .com/.net/.org exact match keyword + word, character, or number. This is really just anything added to the main keyword that does not create a long-tail term (Think,, and
    4. .co exact match domain (This is an interesting one - I'm tempted to group it with #2 or just below it, but my research so far has been inconclusive. danailo has a great case study about a .co EMD .co's with keyword modifiers and words/extra characters/numbers should come #5 and #6, but I'm not going to list them as I think it's pretty obvious considering the hierarchy with .com/.net./.org).
    5. High-end, industry exclusive exact match domain (Stuff like .aero and .travel. Same hierarchy as the other TLDs.).
    6. Hyphenated .com/.net/.org. (They have the keywords which is good, but the hyphens really hurt these days in the eyes of Google).
    7. All other TLDs.

    Finding Available Keyword-Rich and/or Exact Match Domains

    There are a lot of tools that can help with this, but we're going to do it the free way.

    First, go to the

    Sign in if possible - you'll get 8x as many results.

    Click [Exact]


    Type in your main keywords. Check "Only show ideas closely related to my search terms." Then, select "Advanced Options and Filters" and adjust for your desired search volume (or any other factors which you would like to consider). Feel free to readjust based on results.


    Search and then click "Save all" and then "View as text."


    Click "My keyword ideas" and then copy + paste them into Notepad.

    Press Ctrl + H. Replace both "[" and "]" by putting both of them in the top box (at separate times) and leaving the bottom box empty.


    If you do it right, you'll end up with a nice, clean list.

    Now, go to and copy + paste the list. Check all TLDs you're interested in (I checked .com/.net./.org) and search.


    I was fortunate enough to find a few solid keyword-rich, long-tail exact match domain names in a very competitive niche (which I decided to leave for you guys). You'll often find that many brand keywords are in there, so make sure to avoid those unless you know what you're doing when it comes to that sort of thing. Make sure to uncheck any domains you're not interested in or else they'll all end up in your cart.

    Godaddy usually has some great coupons, so make sure to search the rest of the for a compatible one before purchasing your domain(s).

    I hope you enjoyed my guide and found it useful. Good luck on finding that perfect domain name!

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    Last edited: Jun 30, 2013
  2. darkfury

    darkfury Regular Member

    Oct 23, 2008
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    Good write up mate.
  3. itsmytime

    itsmytime Regular Member

    Apr 4, 2012
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    Super stuff
  4. whland

    whland Registered Member

    Sep 13, 2012
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    That's a nice Article. Great information in there.

    I agree. A brandable domain isn't always necessary.

  5. nickcookies

    nickcookies Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

    May 29, 2012
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    Great! Thanks for the helpful post. First important step in IM.

    Posted via Topify using Android
  6. kiminkeys

    kiminkeys Newbie

    Aug 7, 2013
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    What about variations of words, for example 'bungeejump' v. 'bungeejumping' assuming the first is highly searched but the emd is unavailable? Where in your list would that be? I'm guessing maybe even better than keyword + modifier. Since Google supposedly equates singular v. plural, I'm thinking this type of variation might be similar. What do you think? Thanks
  7. watley

    watley Power Member

    Oct 17, 2012
    Likes Received:
    San Francisco
    I would put it second, before keyword + modifier. Google does seem to equate all the different variations of words (e.g. fast, faster, fastest) and this is definitely a good idea, especially when you don't like any of the keyword + modifier options available.
  8. controls

    controls Newbie

    Jul 4, 2011
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    What a great post good job! : )