How to buy a domain name – the checklist

The start of the year is normally our busiest time in terms of new domain name registrations. Everyone is eager to kick off a new project or site, and our domain registration lookup tool gets all the more love and attention.

The process can be a mix of fun and frustration; no doubt you’ve been there, always amazed that someone else has already beaten you to that amazing new domain name you think is surely available.

And then, after hours of research, you think you’ve found it, the perfect domain, finally! But wait, before you purchase a new domain, take a moment and quickly run through our domain name checklist. It’s worth spending a few minutes to run through some basic due diligence steps. After all, you could be using this domain name years from now.

Shorter is better

Generally speaking, people love a shorter domain name. It’s easier to remember and easier to type into a browser. It’s also easier for people to share, whether that be in conversation, or on the TV or radio (hey, you never know!)

The longer and more complex your domain name, the more chance of confusion, miscommunication, typos, and, well, less engagement for your website.

Assess for readability

Similar to the above, read your potential new domain name a few times. Say it aloud, tell it to someone else. Does it scan well, how does it sound when read aloud? Is there potential for misspelling the domain name?

Your domain name should roll off the tongue simply and saliently (see Rand Fishkin’s point on processing fluency).

Use a different TLD, perhaps

If you’re struggling to marry the two steps above with one of the popular domain name extensions, say .com or .uk, think broader.

With the massive increase in domain extensions of late, it’s possible you might find a far more focused and friendly domain name by exploring the options now available. Domain names like .bar for a local pub website for example. We offer more than 200+ types and are always adding more.

Check all social media

Before hitting the buy button, take a moment to check Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at a minimum. Will you be able to register social profiles with usernames similar to your domain? Maybe an existing user has a profile that’s similar or the same as your intended domain.

While you might not care about any of this right now, “Hey I’m just testing this out”, it’s a surprise how things can take off quickly and you don’t want to be stuck down the road with someone else effectively owning your brand name on social media.

Check a similar company doesn’t exist

Have a quick Google for your proposed domain name. Break up the keyword terms within your domain and Google those two.

34SP for example is also an acronym used by the 34th Street Partnership in New York City and is also a model of caravan (you’re welcome, fact fans).

If you’re purchasing a new domain name from scratch and/or creating a new brand, it’s worth seeing how unique your choice actually is. Will you stand out from the crowd? If someone Googles your name, will you be lost in a sea of similar sites?

Check other popular TLDs

Your might be free, but what about the .com, or maybe vice versa? It’s worth checking your intended domain name isn’t taken by some large site or business.

Sleep on it

This last bit is probably the hardest step, and one I’ve routinely slapped myself on the wrist for over and over again. With so much time, thought and energy invested into finding your new domain name, it’s easy to get swept up in the moment and hit the buy button when you think you’ve found gold.

Again, speaking from repeated personal experience, wait! Maybe talk it over with a friend or colleague and see what their initial reaction is when you tell them your domain. Then, give it a day; it’s amazing what a night’s rest and reflection can do.

I often find a day’s pause can work wonders (when I listen to my own advice mind you). By the next day I’m either far less enthused than I thought I was, or really excited to get started. There’s rarely a middle ground.