Picking a Domain Name

A week or so ago we spent a morning with a client discussing a new website they wanted to purchase and build, with a view to expanding their range whilst targeting a different audience. The key issue, however, was that they weren’t sure of the right domain name – their brand name already being owned by them.

Picking a Domain Name - Rippleout Marketing

Picking a domain name can be a difficult decision

As such, we spent a good few hours going through a number of potential options; weighing the pros and cons, looking at competition, and thinking about some of the issues outlined below.

Now, there is no hard and fast rule on how to pick a domain name, but there are some points that you should consider when doing so and that we considered when thinking about the new domain name for my client. These aren’t clear cut, and sometimes there are good reasons for including some of the below, but if you’re considering doing so, I hope this will at least make you think for a couple of minutes!

Picking a Domain Name


Having a date (such as 2014) in your domain puts a shelf life on it. In 2015, that website, and by extension your whole proposition, looks out of date. {Tweet}


Numbers in a domain name can cause confusion. If in doubt, imagine trying to explain your web address to someone over the telephone – is that a figure 2, or is it written out in full – two. There was a time when Rippleout was going to be called Ninteen90, or a derivative of this. In the end we felt Rippleout was a better name anyway, but the issue of the website made this a no go really. {Tweet}


Sometimes homophones are unavoidable – for instance in the case of the French sunglasses brand, See-Concept (sea, C). However, if you have a the luxury of picking a domain name and a brand name at the same time, then this is something to consider. {Tweet}


Hyphens are fine as part of a URL for things like blog posts (i.e. ‘how-to-pick-a-domain-name) but as a top level domain, again, think about talking to people about the domain. If you forget the hyphen when you say www.my-new-website.com are they going to be able to find it? What if they confuse a hyphen with an underscore? {Tweet}

Complex, rare or made-up words

The issue with these is people potentially mis-spelling the terms – through either the words themselves being complex in their spelling (think ‘Presbyterian’), or through them being rare enough that no one will have heard of them (think ‘qualtagh’ – see below). {Tweet}

The other element of this is for made-up brands. Well many of these are incredibly successful (Adidas for instance) you need to be careful to ensure that the word is memorable enough for people to remember if told and, also, that it doesn’t mean anything untoward in another language!

A good (or bad) example of this relates to a line of running shoes, created by Reebok in the mid 1990s and aimed at women. The shoes were marketed as Reebok Incubus – with an incubus being a demon which assaults women in their sleep. The brand later blacked the name off the boxes and eventually ended the line.

Summing Up

Hopefully some of the above thoughts will help you out when it comes to picking a domain name – they are of course, only thoughts, and you need to pick a domain which reflects your site, and that you will be happy with and be happy to tell people about moving forward. If you’re a brand, often the easy option is to just use your brand name – but if you’re on your second, third or fiftieth site, then picking a domain name which includes key words can often be a good idea.

And finally. as a side note, ‘qualtagh’ is a topical one given the time of year we’re writing this, as it is the word for the first person you see after leaving your house, particularly on New Year’s Day!


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