One of the most common dilemmas for people starting a website is how to choose a domain name.
A domain name is much more than an address used to identify your website on the internet. It can make or break your business. A good name can help you establish an online identity, improve brand recognition and make a profit. A bad name can prevent you from achieving all of these things.
In short, there’s enormous pressure to choose the right domain name.
The good news is that there are many strategies you can use to create an effective domain name. This guide to how to choose a domain name will share 16 tips to help. The tips are divided into what you should do and what you should not do when choosing a domain name.
How to choose a domain name: tips 💯
- Use a domain name generator for ideas
- Choose your domain extension wisely
- Keep it short
- Add keywords
- Make it easy to pronounce and spell
- Make it unique and specific
- Check the domain availability
- Check the domain history
- Check if the social media handles are available
- Act quickly so someone doesn’t beat you to it
- Protect your brand
1. Use a domain name generator for ideas
Whether you already have something in mind or are completely clueless about your future domain name, name generators can help a lot. They can give you a good starting point or further improve your existing idea.
To give you a bit more background, a name generator is an AI-powered tool that is capable of generating dozens of domain name ideas within seconds. All you have to do is enter a keyword, click Search Domain, and see the results!
These are the results we got from DomainWheel when searching for the word “health”:
If you want even more creative ideas, you can scroll down the page to find suggestions for words that sound like or rhyme with your original keyword. You’ll also get some random suggestions. Click on any suggested word to generate a whole new set of domain name ideas.
This tool is free, so you can use it to run as many searches as you want.
2. Choose your domain extension wisely
💡 A domain extension, also known as a top-level domain (TLD), is the last segment of a domain name. It’s typically found after the final dot, such as
.net. These extensions can represent specific purposes, organizations, or locations. For instance,
.org is typically used by non-profit organizations. Choosing the right domain extension is crucial as it can convey the nature and origin of a website to its visitors.
At the time of this writing, there are over 2,000 TLDs (domain extensions) in existence  and new ones are being added all the time. The five most common domain extensions are
Using the trusted
.com TLD is an easy way to help establish your reputation as a professional, high-quality website – though there are plenty of use cases for choosing other TLDs as well.
Let’s explore that next.
The case for using .com
In general, the best domain extension to use is .com. There are a few reasons for this:
- Recognition and trust.
.comis the most recognized domain extension worldwide. Because of its familiarity, visitors tend to trust websites with a
.comextension more than lesser-known extensions.
- Default behavior. Many users automatically type
.comwhen entering a website into their browser out of habit. This means that even if someone knows your brand or company name, they might instinctively try the
- Versatility. The
.comdomain was originally meant to stand for “commercial”, but its use has broadened over time. It’s now applicable to any type of website, making it more versatile than extensions like
.org, which are typically associated with non-profit organizations.
- Search engine optimization (SEO). Historically,
.comdomains have been perceived to have an SEO advantage. While search engines claim to treat all TLDs equally, the trust and authority associated with
.comcan indirectly benefit rankings.
- Resale value.
.comdomains generally have a higher resale value compared to other TLDs due to the strong demand.
- Branding and credibility. Having a
.comcan enhance your brand’s credibility. Some customers view businesses that own their
.comname as more established and professional.
- Global reach. While some TLDs are country-specific (like
.comis universal and recognized globally, making it suitable for businesses targeting an international audience.
- Avoiding confusion. If competitors or other entities own the
.comversion of your domain, users might get confused and land on their site instead of yours. Owning the
.comreduces the chance of this confusion.
.com offers many advantages, it’s essential to note that depending on the nature of your project, other TLDs might be suitable.
When to use another domain extension
.com is generally the most recommended domain extension, there are a few good reasons to use another domain extension:
- If you want to focus on developing an audience in a specific country, you’ll want to use a country code domain extension like
.ca(for Canadian websites). This lets people know where you’re doing business and can be a particularly powerful strategy for local businesses like restaurants.
- If you want to signify that your website represents a specific type of organization, you can use a specialized domain extension like
.ai. The latter TLD has been used to great effect by many AI companies, such as ThinkDeep.ai, to signify that they work with this new technology.
- If you want to stand out from other brands in your industry, using a less common domain extension can be a great way to do it. For example, many social media tools and blogs use the regular
.com, but Revive.Social stands out because it’s using a unique domain name that tells you what it’s about: social media.
Essentially, if you’re going to choose something other than
.com, you want to know that it will strengthen your branding in some way.
Domain extensions to avoid
Google says that extensions do not affect ranking , but with so many online scams and spam mail, people may be less likely to click on a website with an unknown extension and open a mail from such a business.
Moreover, some domain extensions have commonly been used for scams, so you’ll want to avoid using them. ConsumerFraudReporting.com offers a list of the domain extensions most commonly used for scams.
Take a good look at that list and, if you’re considering any of the extensions on it, think about whether or not you really need to use that extension – or if you might be better off with a
3. Keep it short
According to available data, the most common
.com domain name length is 12 characters . While technically a domain name can have up to 63 characters preceding the extension, the golden rule in domain naming is that less is better. Namely, of the top 250 websites on the web (excluding those with country specific TLDs like
.th, etc), 177 – that’s 70% – had 0-8 characters .
Why is this the case? Well, shorter domain names are easier to remember, which makes people more likely to revisit them.
Shorter names are also typically easier to pronounce, spell, and type, which makes it easier for people to talk about them. This is not only relevant so that people can quickly find your brand, but also for them to recommend it to friends in person and on social media. Considering that a full 88% of people mostly trust recommendations from people they know , you definitely want to encourage word of mouth marketing in any way you can.
💡 For more on this, check out how long should a domain name be?
4. Add keywords
The next tip on how to choose a domain name has to do with keywords. Namely, making it easy for search engines to find you and place you in SERPs (search engine result pages) by using words that are clearly related to your brand. For instance, if you’re starting a coffee shop, you might want to use keywords like “coffee” or “cafe”. You might also want to include your location to ensure that search engines are pointing locals in your direction.
Here are some examples of how real websites are using this strategy:
- DomainWheel.com – Our own website is a great example of this. Our main offering is our domain name generator, so we included the word “domain” in our domain name.
- TorontoZoo.com – This domain tells you both the location and the purpose of the business it represents, making it helpful for both local and general SEO.
- ProofreadingServices.com – This name uses the terms “proofreading” and “services” to let search engines know what users will find here: professional proofreaders ready to work on their projects.
How to find keywords
In most cases, the best keywords to include in your domain will be self-evident, like using the word “coffee” in the domain name for a coffee shop. Sometimes, however, you may want to use a word that’s less obvious but still popular. You may also want to double check how often a word or phrase is searched for before you commit to it.
💡 Want more help figuring out this aspect of how to choose a domain name? Check out our guide on SEO domain names.
5. Make it easy to pronounce and spell
We already talked a bit about this in our “Keep it short” tip, but it’s important enough to the process of how to choose a domain name to talk about it separately.
If you want long-term success as a business, you want people to mention your business or website to their friends. Having a name that is difficult to pronounce or easy to misunderstand can make this difficult. In fact, it might send your potential customers straight to your competition. They will type in the wrong name in the search bar, search engines will provide them with the next best thing, and they are gone.
For best results, choose a domain name that is spelled the way it sounds. This will make it easy for people who hear your name to type it out and remember the spelling later on.
6. Make it unique and specific
Your brand and domain name needs to make a statement. It should be unique and memorable. It’s also best to have a name that gives a clue about the company’s niche, especially if this is your first time building a business.
There are a few ways you can create a name that is both unique and specific:
- Combine words relevant to your business model. For example, the business security firm Securiteam combines the words “security” and “team” to let you know that you’ll have a professional team helping make your business secure.
- Create a rhyme with your name. A great example of this in action is Lean Cuisine. The rhyme makes it memorable and you also know what to expect from the brand right away.
- Use alliteration, the technique of putting words that start with the same letter together. A great example of this technique in action is Encore Electric.
- Use people words to remind customers that your business is people-powered. The Moving Guys is a great example of a brand that has used this technique.
- Use your own name to connect your domain name and your brand to your personal identity. This can be especially powerful if you have an existing reputation in your industry, but you don’t need a well-known name to use this technique. An example of this technique in action is Angela’s Bridal.
Of course, there are plenty of company names that aren’t specific to the brands they’re connected to. If you didn’t know the established reputation of the brand, you probably wouldn’t think that Apple was the name of a technology company. The issue is that using a name like this means you’ll have to work harder to help customers make the connection between your brand name and what your business actually does.
💡 For additional insight into this, check out does your domain name have to match your business name?
7. Check the domain availability
There are over two hundred million websites that are currently active and more than nine hundred million websites that are inactive . Every last one of those websites has a domain name. So, once you’ve settled on a domain name idea you like, the next step in how to choose a domain name is to make sure that the domain name is actually available.
If you’ve used our domain name generator to come up with your domain name, there’s good news here:
DomainWheel automatically checks the availability of domains, so you don’t have to worry about this.
On the other hand, if you’ve come up with a domain name on your own, you’ll need to check if it’s available. An easy way to do this is to go to a domain registrar like Namecheap and search for the domain you want.
You can also search for it using the WHOIS database. If the domain is in use, this has the added benefit of telling you who owns the domain name. You can then decide whether or not you want to approach the owner about buying it.
8. Check the domain history
There is a chance that the domain you chose had a previous owner and, thus, history. This history can impact your brand in a few ways:
- If the domain history is connected to a brand that was popular at one time but no longer exists, using the domain may confuse users who are familiar with the domain’s former brand.
- If the domain has a history of producing excellent content and receiving high rankings on Google, that history may help your site earn a good reputation with search engines and viewers – but this type of domain will likely already be owned, so you’ll have to factor in the cost of purchasing it from its current owner.
- If the domain has a history of being used for scams, illegal activity, or activities that are often considered immoral like gambling and porn, it might be hard to build a good reputation for your brand using this domain.
💡 For additional tips on understanding the history behind your domain, check out our guide on how and why to check domain history.
9. Check if the social media handles are available
Another thing to consider in how to choose a domain name is social media. Ideally, you want to have social media handles that match your domain name.
You can manually search for your intended name on various social media sites, but it would take too much time. So, we recommend using Namecheckr. It allows you to check dozens of social networks with one click.
Note that some of the newer social media platforms like Bluesky and Threads aren’t currently included. However, these platforms are so new that you’ll likely be able to claim the username you want on them.
10. Act quickly so someone doesn’t beat you to it
Statistics say that there are 175 websites created every minute . So, by the time you finish reading this article on how to choose a domain name, there will be another 1,000 websites out there. The chances of someone else stealing your ideas are not that high, but they exist. So, don’t waste too much time overthinking things.
If you find that someone has beaten you to it, there’s still a chance that you’ll be able to claim the domain name by reaching out to the owner. This is especially true if the domain is parked and not being used to house a website. However, buying a previously owned domain will typically cost you more than registering an unused domain.
11. Protect your brand
As we’ve mentioned earlier in this guide on how to choose a domain name, there are so many extensions out there. And it is wise to secure your position by acquiring the most popular extensions of your domain name and the most common misspellings.
People may remember the name but not the extension. And when they type it, they might confuse them. This is an obvious example:
Now, these two companies are not in the same industry or niche, and they are not competitors. One company won’t steal the other company’s customers.
However, you can see the problem here:
If someone types in the wrong extension, they might think they’ve remembered the domain name wrong altogether or even that your company doesn’t exist anymore.
What not to do when choosing a domain name 🙅♂️
Okay, now that you have an idea of what you should do when deciding how to choose a domain name, it’s time to take a look at what not to do.
- Avoid using double letters, hyphens, and dashes
- Avoid funny spellings and slang
- Don’t use other companies’ brands
- Be careful about making it too niche-specific
- Don’t overspend
1. Avoid using double letters, hyphens, and dashes
You should avoid everything that’s hard to pronounce or explain verbally. Hyphens and dashes fall into that category. Aside from the explaining aspect, they are sometimes even hard to type (when switching keyboards, for instance).
On top of that, let’s not forget that the number of voice searches is on the constant rise and that AI assistants are gaining popularity. By 2026, more than half of internet users will use voice assistants .
Double letters are also on our list of things to avoid when choosing a domain name. You are simply asking for typos that will lead your traffic elsewhere.
💡 As an astute observer, you might have noticed that while we included double letters, hyphens, and dashes here, we omitted numbers. Using numbers in a domain name is a bit tricky and requires a bit of a lengthier explanation. Check out our dedicated article that covers using a domain name with numbers for a deep dive into that subtopic.
2. Avoid funny spellings and slang
Next on our list of what not to do when choosing a domain name is funny-spelled words or slang. These might seem fun and playful, but to an outside observer thinking about clicking on your website or opening your business email, they might look suspicious.
To minimize confusion, you may also want to avoid words that have many homophones – words that sound the same but have different meanings. For instance:
- To, too, and two.
- Ait, ate, and eight.
- Ade, aid, and aide.
- Peak, peek, peke, pique, etc.
3. Don’t use other companies’ brands
Getting sued for copyright infringement is certainly not at the top of anyone’s must-do list. That’s no way to start a business, but it is a way to end it.
So, it is best to do good research and avoid stepping on some corporate toes. You can check trademarks registered in the US on Trademark247.com.
Though most people would consider this bit of advice to be common sense, we still needed to include it on the list to be thorough.
4. Be careful about making it too niche-specific
Businesses develop over time; they expand or take different courses. For example, if you’re selling handmade earrings, you might consider a domain name like handcraftedearrings.com. But if you later decide to start selling other types of jewelry or accessories like handbags, those products won’t fit with your domain, so you’ll need to create a whole new website to sell those products on.
As you might imagine, starting a new website for every new type of product or service you want to sell can be time-consuming. You’ll need to choose a domain name, set up the website, and create new branding for that website.
Choosing a broad domain name allows you to expand your products or services without going through all of the extra effort of building new websites/brands.
The exception to the rule
When considering how to choose a domain name, choosing something that allows your business to grow is often the best advice. However, there are two instances where you might be better off going with that extremely specific domain:
- If you’re confident that you want to build your brand entirely around one highly specific product. A good example of this is Feltcave, a business that only sells one thing: felt caves for cats.
- If you want to create a micro-niche website for affiliate earnings. This is a site focused on a highly specific subsection of a niche in order to maximize earnings from a specific audience. For example, a niche website might focus on mental health in general, while a micro-niche website might focus on healing from burnout. In the latter case, you might use a domain name like healingfromburnout.com.
5. Don’t overspend
The final thing to consider in how to choose a domain name is cost.
Expenses are an important factor in any business, and you should keep them low – at least until you start getting some income. So, getting affordable hosting with free domain registration is a good starting point. We recommend Bluehost for this purpose. It is both affordable and dependable.
What if you’re not ready to buy web hosting?
If you’re ready to claim your domain name but you aren’t ready to start building your website, you can use a site like Namecheap to register your domain on its own. When it comes time to build your website, you can either buy a hosting plan from Namecheap or transfer your domain to Bluehost (or a different hosting company) so that you’re only dealing with bills from one source.
Choosing a domain name FAQ 🙋
At this point you should probably have a solid idea of how to choose a domain name. However, we know that sometimes readers still have some lingering questions. There are also some readers who scroll through an article before committing to reading it. Whichever camp you fall under, below are some commonly asked questions that we often get from people who are deciding how to choose a domain name.
Why is choosing the right domain name important?
The right domain name can enhance brand recognition, improve user recall, and indirectly boost SEO. It acts as your online identity, influencing first impressions and credibility.
How long should an ideal domain name be?
Shorter domain names are generally preferable, as they are easier to remember, type, and share. Aim for 6-14 characters. Longer domains can work if they are brand-specific and easy to remember.
Should I include keywords in my domain name?
Including keywords can help with SEO and clarify your website’s niche or industry. However, it’s essential to ensure the domain doesn’t sound too generic. It’s a balance between relevance and brand uniqueness.
How do I check the availability of a domain name?
You can use our domain name generator. It will not only give you a huge list of potential domain name ideas, but it will first check to make sure that every suggestion it’s giving you is available. Alternatively, if you are absolutely determined on securing a very specific domain name, then you can go directly to a domain registrar website and run a check. They’ll indicate if your desired domain is available, or suggest alternatives if it’s taken.
Is it worth buying a domain name if it’s already taken but for sale at a premium price?
It depends on your budget and the domain’s value to your branding. If it’s a perfect fit and you believe it will significantly impact your brand’s online presence, it might be worth the investment. However, always consider alternative names and weigh the pros and cons.
Final thoughts on how to choose a domain name
As you can see, choosing a good name for your domain is not that hard as long as you do your research. Choose a user-friendly name that’s easy to spell and remember, while also being unique and relevant to your brand.
Follow the rest of the advice you read in this article and you should be well on your way to picking a winning domain name.
🏗️ Now that you know how to choose a domain name, check out our guide to 👉 how to make a website!