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4 Things To Check Before You Register A Domain Name

Domain Name

If you are serious about your new website, you understand that your domain name is going to be your brand name, so think twice before you register one. A while ago I wrote a post on this topic giving some practical tips how to create or brand your domain name. And now a follow up to this – no matter how much you may like your newly invented domain name, you should first check if there are no hidden issues that might be invisible at the moment. I usually use 4 tricks to make sure I am going to have no problems with a domain name:

1. Google for it:

  • search for both [domainname] and [domain name] to see if Google considers it a typo; if yes – that’s a bad sign. Bare in mind, that each time a surfer who already knows about you but uses Google to reach you [and you will be surprised to see how many people actually search Google for a domain name instead of going directly to the site] and sees that did-you-mean-x message, you risk losing a valuable visitor who really meant to find you. All your branding efforts can come to nothing just because you’ve overlooked this tiny detail.
  • search for [domain name] to evaluate how hard that will be for you to manage your brand/reputation. For example, looks nice if you are planning a nice site on traveling but cannot be branded effectively just because if you search for ‘tour wiki‘, you see [yeah, quite naturally] at the top – can you compete with it? Probably, not.

2. Check what your domain name may be associated with. Ebay is a good way to search for word associations. I also often check urban dictionary to make sure the word has no negative connotation in the Internet, school or urban slang. [did you know that ‘lex‘ means ‘Rolex‘, well, maybe you did, but it simply never occurred to me :) ]

3. Make sure both plural and singular forms are available and better register both. You don’t want to let your direct visitors go to your competitor who is a lucky owner of (pl) website while you own (sg), do you?

This won’t take you more than 5 minutes to use the tips above but let me tell you – it’s much better to try to foresee potential problems than find out about them when it’s already too late: your website is live, has accumulated some links and enjoys its natural growth.

Post image credits: Got Names

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  1. 31 Responses to “4 Things To Check Before You Register A Domain Name”

  2. Hi Ann..

    Great post! (giggle)

    These are helpful tips that I may have to go into sometime soon at “Learning SEO Basics”..


    By spostareduro on Jan 17, 2008

  3. I think I have domain name registering disease. I plan on getting another 20 today.. when is enough .. enough?
    My best: That was a score and a half!

    By Takeabreak on Jan 17, 2008

  4. Grat Post Ann.
    It is really very useful information and it is necessary to consider this points before purchasing a domain.

    By Gunjan Pandya on Jan 18, 2008

  5. I have posted it in Sphinn

    By Gunjan Pandya on Jan 18, 2008

  6. We’ve purchased over 100 names that are variations on our company’s name and the service we provide. After 7 years in business, I found today that someone has bought (in December 07) a name similar to the URL for our main website, but without an “s”. I think the domain was being cyber-squatted on in the past, but we didn’t catch it when it was available.

    We have had other parties offer to sell us variations on our name but our attorney said to forget pursuing them, just go out and buy more variations. We did this, but to continue this for every cyber-squatter out there is like playing wack-a-mole.

    This all seems like a waste of money, especially with the need to renew domains annually. Ultimately, you can’t brand a URL without tons of legal funding behind you — because it’s possible for other parties to simply add an “s” or some dashes and have nearly the same name as yours — and still not be guilty of typo-squatting.

    Back to this person who bought a name similar to ours. Any tips on how to get the name without alerting the person to become an opportunist and charge us an arm and a leg?

    By Barista33 on Jan 18, 2008

  7. mmmm Cupcakes.. what were we talking about?

    By SEO Rob on Jan 19, 2008

  8. The “does Google think it’s a typo” is a good one. I wonder though how long it would take or how popular the brand would have to become before Google no longer thinks it’s a typo.

    By Marios Alexandrou on Jan 21, 2008

  9. Nice post, Ann, but you got me a little confused. You talk about four tricks, from one to three but with two in one and one in two and three, so two should be three too and three four, right?

    Well, no matter how many they are, they’re good points :)

    By Hjortur Smarason on Jan 21, 2008

  10. I hope many people read this post, it would sure help them to make a good decision and keep them from make bad decisions about the name they wanna be associated with

    keep on the good work !

    By Lieven Vandenbroucke on Jan 21, 2008

  11. Another one: Make sure the domain wasn’t banned because of a previous owner. We’ve managed to get back into the index, but we’re still a whopping PR 0 even though there’s lots of good content and backlinks.

    By Don Draper on Jan 22, 2008

  12. @Gunjan Pandya: Thank you for sphinning!
    @Marios Alexandrou: With one of my domains (about 400 uniques per day) it shows a typo for a year now, so it can take quite long. I guess things might be much quicker if you run an Adwords campaign with your domain/brand domain to show Google that it really means something (never tried to do that myself but I heard that it helped).
    @Hjortur Smarason: Yes, 2+1+1 (2 tips in one) make it 4 :)
    @Lieven Vandenbroucke: many thanks for your thumbs up!
    @Barista33: I tried to email you asking for some details but delivery failed.
    @Rob: Lol :)
    @Don Draper: you are rights, many thanks for your awesome additions!

    By Ann Smarty on Jan 23, 2008

  13. One more tip: take into account your domain name extension. For example, if you registered both and, the prospects will have more chances to find you :)

    By on Jan 25, 2008

  14. I’d like to add: beware of *where* you search for domain availability or your not so nice registrar will take the domain for you (or will let a friend do it or will ask on other whois databases than its, where servers are sniffing requests).
    It could result in domain parking, squatting and other nasty consequences …

    So query on safe sites and don’t wait too long before registering!

    By Felipe on Jan 27, 2008

  15. I like your blogs because the contents are so fresh that visitors are looking anywhere for these contents.

    By naturalherbalproductz on Feb 8, 2008

  16. A note on the misspelling statement. A domain that I recently bought was listed initially with a “spelling suggestion”. After my site was spidered and external links began pointing to it – Google stopped making suggestions.

    By Aiden on Feb 10, 2008

  17. @Aiden: Thank you for sharing. Like I said I, unfortunately, had quite a different experience with Google typos

    By Ann Smarty on Feb 11, 2008

  18. 2. Check what your domain name may be associated with.

    Right you are, and this is especially true for inter-cultural communication, when words in different languages are associated with completely different things. (Remember the Mitsubishi Pajero[=mast*****or in Spanish] or Ford Pinto[=pe*is in Portuguese] fun?)

    So when deciding on your brand name, take some time to Google for its meanings worldwide.

    BTW – ZaZa means “plenty” – and we didn’t know that until we registered the domain :))


    By LinkZaZa on Feb 12, 2008

  19. Good article I never would have considered how hard it will be to manage my brand / reputation when selecting a link.

    There are so many important factors, I’m learning new things everyday, thanks.

    By Tony on Feb 14, 2008

  20. Thanks good information.

    By Jhon on Apr 1, 2008

  21. Barista, not much you can do about it. Why didn’t you just buy variations of .com names only. 100+ is a bit accessive.

    My advice is to register a backorder watch say via Godaddy and just wait. If you contact the owner, he will continue to register it…

    By Best Blogs Asia on Jul 24, 2008

  22. These are very helpful tips. I wished I would have used them earlier. Now that I have read this article, I will certainly take them into consideration.

    By Levitra on Aug 19, 2008

  23. Number one is a very good point that I never thought of.

    It’s true many times when I am telling someone my domain name I find out they are searching for it. It’s really amazing how many people will search the domain rather than typing it in the address bar.

    By Gerald Weber on Nov 6, 2008

  24. Also a buyer should check copyrights and also what the name sounds like/has a different meaning in another language.

    By Misohoni on Nov 10, 2008

  25. Thanks for great tips, I think we should also check whether that domain is in blacklist.

    By Phaoloo on Mar 21, 2009

  26. Thanks for the great advice. I had never thought of most of these things before! I’m definitely saving and bookmarking this :)

    By Kaye on Mar 21, 2009

  27. Hi …ur link 2 urban dictionary is broken u need to take the “s” out of the http:// ….cheers

    By reddwarfnz on Mar 25, 2009

  28. Fixed this, thanks a lot!

    By Ann Smarty on Mar 26, 2009

  29. great ideas. I hate my domain name. I actually hated every name I ever created. In the beginning when I first created it, it seemed to work, Then, after some time as my site developed it seemed stupid and irrelevant. The sometimes the name seemed to make sense again. I think the important thing is to name your site based on the intrinsic content. The further you stray away from that to be cute or accepted the more trouble you get into. The reason people closely copy accepted brand names is to shorten the curve to profitability. A lot of times business people forget that foolery is a short term strategy. Solid needed products with differentiation is king. You can call your site MUDD, but without a decent product and delivery system you’re dead in the water. (Wait..Mudd is a successful product) Bad example. It’s just that so many brands have been established by now, and on top of it companies buy domains by the thousands now, so all your left with is adding suffixes etc. to words. It’s not even a strategy, but a built it function when you just trying to sign up for yahoo or Twitter with the name FruitLoops. It says, “Try again, We suggest FRUITLOOPIES.” lol

    By Howard on Nov 29, 2010

  30. Thanks for great advice, the wrong domain selection can get you into trouble and cause you much difficulty later on. Most importantly, a right domain name selection may increase your opportunities for getting better Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings. Taking time to research and learn the history of your domain will be imperative to your long-term success. keep on the good work !

    By Naren P on Feb 12, 2014

  31. Thanks for the great tips. i will defenitely use this for my next website

    By Nancy on Nov 28, 2015

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