You would think that after over 20 years of the internet all the good domains would be taken. Some of them are, but surprisingly enough, there is still plenty of room out there for great domain names. If you know how to get them.domain name

Small business owners and marketers are always asking me about which domain names to buy, so today – I’m going to share my super-secret domain buying strategy. But don’t tell anyone I told you.

Brainstorm a list of potential domain names

Before you start searching domain names, brainstorm a good long list. You remember the number one rule of brainstorming — don’t discard anything just yet. Just create as long a list of domain names as you can.

One of the most common questions I get is whether or not to use keywords as part of your domain name. This is not a requirement. I like to say that keywords are nice but not necessary. If it’s natural to have a keyword as part of your domain — then go for it, but don’t force it. Google stopped giving a lot of importance to keywords in domain names, so it doesn’t matter any more.

Make it brandable

Another common question I get is whether or not to use a company name or not. The answer is YES – by all means use your company name, product name or your personal name. These are domains you absolutely must own.

Make it short, memorable and foolproof

These days the most desirable trait of a good domain name is that it is short and memorable. I’ve heard this called the “radio test“. Imagine that your domain was going to be referenced on the radio — your goal is NOT to have any misunderstandings and lost leads. The best way to do this is to follow a few simple rules about domains:

  1. Buy your brand name in .com, .net, .info and .org extensions. It may cost you a little bit more for the name, but the brand confusion and lost leads you’ll avoid will be worth it.
  2. Get .com or bust.? Avoid domains where the .com extension is already taken. Because .com domains are the norm, you want to be sure to own your brand or selected phrase name as a .com FIRST and then purchase the other three extensions to support it (see #1).
  3. Stay away from hyphens and dashes.? This harkens to the radio test. When your domain is spoken so that someone can write it down, hyphens and dashes get in the way. Avoid them at all costs.
  4. Avoid acronyms. ?Granted if your company name has an acronym you’ll want to own it, just know that acronyms are hard to remember and when spoken can be misunderstood. I have a client that owns the domains AFVexpress.com but their prime domain is altfuelexpress.com. It’s just easier to remember, brand and give the domain to others.
  5. Phonetic spellings and “Prince Talk”.? Remember the “artist formerly known as Prince” who changed his name to a symbol? ?Yeah — don’t do it. He also had the habit of using single letters for words i.e. “U” instead of “You”. Again, don’t do it.

Yikes! What if my ideal domain is taken?

Great! So now I’ve eliminated any hopes you’ve had of getting your desired domain right? ?Or, your desired domain is taken and you want to see if you can buy it, what do you do?

Here are my guidelines for getting that domain name:

  1. Find the owner using the http://whois.net/ search. Ask if it’s for sale.

  2. Figure out how much you’re willing to pay.

  3. Ask the owner how much they want.

  4. If their offer is less than what you were willing to pay in the first place, you can either accept right away or counteroffer with a slightly smaller offer.

  5. If the offer is more than what you were willing to pay, negotiate. The best practice is to see if the same version of the domain name is sold with other TLDs (top level domains). If you’re looking for a domainname.com, you have to see how much was domainname.org, domainname.net etc. Use that as ?leverage, although .com is always more expensive – but it’s usually not worth more than 10x the price.

  6. See the domain history – how long was it registered for? Is it only a year old? If yes, that means that it was bought at registration price (usually no more than $20/year). In that situation, you can always say that the owner of the domain cannot justify a high price.

And there you have it — the DIYMarketers guide to getting the domain name at a price that won’t break the bank!