Sam Brown

Choosing a Good Domain for your Business

“Domain names are essentially virtual Real Estate, pick a good one and it will be worth a lot more to you in the future. The problem; there are lots of bad domain names and this is especially obvious with SME businesses that are not internet savvy.”

This has become apparent to me as I have several times in the past had to convince a client of one thing, branding. A good domain name is very hard to find, one that has not been taken already that is. On a few occasions my clients have wanted keyword specific domains, such as: etc.

These domain names have been taken and used for years now, and there is not much chance of getting one of them, or even one similar. Clients obviously wanting to stick with the .com extension, occasionally or have been lucky in getting some keyword related domain. My advice to them, and all of my clients has always been to get your company name, branding is key, and done properly will benefit you a lot more.

How to pick a good domain

There are several pit falls that I have seen many a time, but specific to offline businesses, that do not use the internet as a medium or as a selling point. SME businesses that want a website as a brochure or point of contact for their clients. A business that is going to be telling their clients in person or over the phone needs to have a domain name that is easy to understand, especially if they are going to be in contact with again, non-internet savvy clients of their own.

What to avoid if possible:

  • Numeral numbers
  • Numbers written as words (three or eight)
  • Hyphens
  • Hard to pronounce words
  • Incorrectly spelt words

Examples, what not to do

The company that I am currently working for is not one of the worst offenders, but it is an unfortunate example. The Topia Project is well branded, it is unique, and it is a Web Design Agency, yet we still have a lot of trouble getting the domain name out to people. ends up with us saying and spelling out “the t h e topia t o p i a”, a minor inconvenience but one regardless.

One of our clients at work was very adamant on what domain name they wanted, and what I can imagine was an endless battle we had to give in to their request. The domain they wanted was very long and had the problematic word net in it followed by a dot which may confuse some as a .net domain. Their domain name:

My last example of a poorly formed domain name is for a Paper and Plastic manufacturer in Australia, Merino. Not one of my clients, but someone I would be keen to inform of their slightly strange domain name. So they are a Proprietary Limited company, we know that, it does not have to be in their domain name. Do a Google search for ‘Pty Ltd’ and you will get 10million results, how many of them actually have it in their domain name? Very few. is available, and if I was asked to find their website I would not even have considered putting ptyltd into the domain. Usability, and findability scores are low for Merino.

Domains that work online

Lastly, there are a few domains that will work online, and work online very well. These domains being owned by internet savvy people, for internet savvy people are going to work. A couple of examples of domains that have struck me as being smart, clever and rememberable: f- &

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Mitch 6 June 2005, 00:06 #1

Well said sam, well said.
like the new layout as well.
keep up the good work :)

Tek 6 June 2005, 14:18 #2

Nice layout and great article! :)

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.