In general, you wan to choose a domain name that reflects your organization, is easy to type, is easy to remember, and has a TLD extension (.com, .org, etc) appropriate for your use.
1. The best place to begin is a domain name registry such as ICANNWholesale to help determine what domain names are available. You may have a name in mind already that you think is perfect for your business but it may already be registered by another business. Use the tools provided to search different variations. The tools come up with some great variations you may not have considered.
2. In general, if you are a business, and concerned about driving traffic to your site then try to find a .com address that matches your business name. People are so used to typing .com that your traffic may go to another business that owns yourbusinessname.com.
3. Try to choose a domain name that matches your organizational name. People may remember your business name and if they know you have a web site they will first try to find you by typing yourbusinessname.com.
4. If you are a non-profit of any kind you may want to consider getting both the .org and .com domains for your organization. Many just naturally type .com to the end of domains so you won’t lose that traffic. You may also run into the problem, if you become very popular, that people will buy the .com address that matches your site to get some free traffic. E-sword.net is a very popular free Bible software program. I’ve found myself, on several occasions, accidentally typing esword.com only to be taken to another domain. It is quite easy to forward the .com address to your .org address to take advantage of the added traffic.
5. Domain names can have dashes in them. If the domain name, thebagelfactory.com is taken, you may be able to buy the-bagel-factory.com. If you can get the domain name without dashes, choose that one. Use variations in capitalization to promote your domain name vice dashes. People forget to put dashes in domains.
6. It is key to choose a domain name that is memorable. People may find you on a search engine and if your domain name easily “sticks” in their head they will likely return to your site. If they constantly have to find you via a search engine, because they can’t rember your domain, then you will lose visitors. There are a couple of key factors to being memorable: brevity and relation to product or service.
a. Brevity: Short domain names are generally better than long domain names. The-best-chiropractor-in-town.com makes it difficult to type but also to remember because of all the words in it and it has dashes as well. Domain names that are too long will also get cut off in many forms or other internet apps. Keep it short.
b. Relation to Product: If you can get a domain name that people will naturally think of when they think of you they will more likely remember your domain. It’s a balancing act to find a domain that makes people think of you while keeping it short too. I always forget, for instance, that Merrill Lynch’s domain name is www.ml.com because, while brief, I don’t think of ml immediately.
7. Some will tell you that having keywords in a domain name helps you in the search engines if it relates to your topic. The domain best-temecula-chiropractor.com has targeted keywords in it but it is long, has dashes, and will be hard to remember. It used to be true that the search engines gave a bonus to keyword domain names in search engine results but the algorithms have improved. Keep your domain name related to your content but don’t sacrifice being memorable in the process.
8. Domain names are not case sensitive. TheBagelFactory.com resolves the same as thebagelfactory.com but is more readable. Try variations in Capitalization to see how your domain name reads. It helps when promoting your domain, to capitalize certain letters so people will see the distinct words in the domain rather than a bunch of letters run together.
9. Some domain names just don’t look right. Make sure you look at your domain name typed out before you settle on it. The domain name websiteexplained.com just looks weird because it has two contiguous vowels. There’s no hard and fast rule here but most people can “see” when a domain name just doesn’t work. One of the reasons Merrill Lynch chose ml.com, I would guess, is that merrilllynch.com just doesn’t “work” with three l’s run together.
10. Use a Thesaurus! If a domain name is taken, use a thesaurus to find synonyms to terms that you wanted in your domain name. You may find some memorable variations you had not considered.
11. For personal use or for other organizations where .com is not a requirement, don’t forget about all the other domain extension options available. There is .net, .org, .biz, and .us just to name a few. I find the .us domain to be a great domain extension for people who want to set up personal domains such as lastname.us. Just remember, though, people usually remember the first part of domain name and “default” to a .com extension. Always go with .com if you can get it.