Doesn’t matter if it’s for your company, your hobby, or yourself if you want to have a more personal presence online you need a domain name of your own. Now sometimes getting that name is easy. Like my personal domain is trishussey.com … yeah that’s pretty easy. Robert Scoble has had scobleizer.com for years, because “scobleized” and “scobleizer” was something that came from his college days. If you’re lucky enough that your company name is available, again, all set, but what if you need more help? What if the ideas are just not coming to you? What if you need a little help?

You’ve come to the right place, welcome to …

Tips and Tools for Picking the Right Domain

Keywords

First tip isn’t related to tools at all, it’s about words. Think keywords when you’re picking a domain. Think about what words you want tied to your idea. What is your site going to be about? Is it more than your business name? Are we talking about an idea? For a now-defunct cocktail blog I came up with DrinksAfterDark.com … it was available, had a good keyword in there, was easy to spell…

Spelling

Oh yes, spelling. Nothing worse than a domain no one can spell. Too long, too complicated … mixing zero and the letter “o” … all those things make for bad domains, well except for spelling something entirely else.

Make sure that your domain doesn’t spell something you’d rather not have associated with your company. You know like, Mole Station Native Nursery using molestationnursery.com or Who Represents as whorepresents.com or Experts Exchange as expertsexchange.com. Yeah, you’ll become a joke in all Internet marketing 101 classes from now on.

Okay, these are ground rules, things to start off with. Remember: Keywords, spelling, easy, understandable.

Now, for that domain.

You can brainstorm ideas for a while, but honestly that gets old after about 5 or 10 minutes, and that’s what we have computers for. So armed with the info on what makes for a good domain, let’s take a couple apps for a spin to see what we can come up with.

Domain Recommendation Apps-Websites

There are a couple different ways to attack getting a domain, but let’s start with the keyword-based approach. A site like NameBoy.com lets you put in a couple keywords and returns a list of potential domains. So, let’s say I was going to start a blog on fountain pens, so using “fountain pen” in the first box (primary keywords) and “advice” in the second, I get a list like this:

2010 12 01 20 22 46 How to: Choose the right domain for you

Yeah, maybe not the best first start, but lots of ideas there.

Oh and a note on hyphens. I’m not a fan of those in domain names. When I’ve had domains with a hyphen I was always saying “blahblahblah hyphen blahblah dot com” which isn’t great for clarity or communication.

If you don’t like the results from NameBoy, try NetTumbler.com. NetTumbler will return a massive list of domains, again…maybe no winners right off, but certainly more ideas.

But what about something a little more … current? You know like Instagram using Instagr.am, using a word as a domain? No, I can’t keep all the TLDs (top level domains) in my head, nor can I just pull cool words out of my head that will end in the right dot suffix, but wordy can!

Finding those “word” domains

Wordy let’s you type in a word and you get domains that use all or part of the word. I came up dry using fountain pen, but Vancouver returned vancouv.er! It’s a lot more error for all the trying, but no doubt it’s fun. Just remember, these domains are trendy now, but it might also become tedious having to spell out your domain all the time. Yeah, .com is boring, but .com is what people know.

2010 12 01 20 35 36 e1291269467623 How to: Choose the right domain for you

Speaking of trends, what about short domains? Like our own tnw.to or my tris.me? As trendy as these might be, they are trendy and useful. Figuring out a cool short url can be tricky. In Canada we’re pretty lucky because our TLD is .ca so we can start with the shortest TLD possible, but what about other options? I have just the thing for you: Domainr.

When shorter is better

Domainr is the tool bit.ly suggested when they came out with bit.ly pro (which I got into in short order). Domainr is as simple as all the others, start with a word and start getting suggestions. If there is a green box next to the name, it’s available. Yeah, I wanted tr.is, but I couldn’t get it. I could get tristr.am … for about $60-70.

2010 12 01 21 33 56 How to: Choose the right domain for you

Right.

This is the other important thing to know about domains. A lot of these new “fun” TLDs like .tv (Tuvalu), .me (Macedonia) and .co (Columbia) come at premium prices. Not many $10 a year domain deals here.

Still stuck? Yeah, I feel your pain. I’ve had to come up with dozens of domain names over the years, and frankly most of the best ones have come like a bolt from the blue. Course you can attract that bolt by using tools like NameBoy, NetTumbler, wordy, Domainr and others (a great list is in this post) to start playing with ideas and keywords.

The rest…is up to you.