How to Pick a GREAT Domain Name for a Start-Up


in Articles and Thoughts,Product Development,Quick Notes,Tools

Are domain names important?

Could be – or maybe not.

It really depends what people use them for.  Some websites get all of their traffic through direct links, so people never have to type them in.

But … for most of us a great domain name can translate directly to better results.

NOTE: I said better, not good!

You have to start with value.

You can have the best domain name in the world and still go completely down the tubes.

That said a great domain name can add to the bottom-line so …

I’ve spent at least four solid days with the help of a number of people trying to choose a great one for my new start-up.

Guess what … it’s not that easy, especially if you want a great one.

Characteristics of a great domain name

  • Short
  • Memorable
  • Pronounceable
  • Easily Spelled (a single way)
  • Descriptive or Brandable
  • No hyphens or numbers
  • Multiple extensions available including .com
  • Easily typed
  • Inoffensive (or offensive if you want to go that route)

Sounds Easy!

Not really these days.

I spent a solid day using some of the standard tools that are available to try to come up with variations of words that might be relevant to what I’m doing.

Relevant is a good thing — even if it isn’t everything.

Here’s what the new site is about …

  • Mapping connections between people and organizations.
  • Finding people and organizations you need
  • Expanding your network
  • Measuring the impact of people and organizations
  • Helping people and organizations connect

It’s a cross between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.  It’s real-time, mobile and social.

So what should I call it?

Let me tell you what I did and then maybe you can give me some suggestions.

My first step was to start looking for domain name suggestion tools.  Here are some …

Useful Domain Name Suggestion Tools

Short Domain Name Tools

Expired Domain Tools

Premium Domain Names

It’s enough to make your head Spin!

I came up with hundreds of relevant combinations of words.

Most of them LONG.

Then I got together with my good friend Frank Sousa and spent another solid afternoon brainstorming short words that mean nothing.

Frank and I came up with a domain name that is short, is brandable and was available, but it has a couple problems:

Not very memorable.

I have a bad memory anyway, but it took me about 3 days to remember the word.

It turns out, that most people have a bad memory.

I took my list of possible domain names and read them off twenty at a time to my 17 year old son — younger mind, better memory right?

Then I waited 15 seconds and told me to tell me all of the domain names that he remembered.



I did this for hundreds of domains and then I tested it again with another person.

Same results.

People don’t remember so well.

That’s not to say we can’t.

When I suggested that he remember his favorite he could remember one.

The mind is a tricky thing, so maybe being memorable is not as easy as it sounds.

Can Be Spelled Multiple Ways

The name that Frank and I came up with ends in an “i”.

That means that people who hear the domain name might spell it with an “i”  or a “y” or an “ie” and the alternate spellings aren’t available.

Other than that, It’s a great domain name.

In fact after four days solid work, I may go with it.

But … just in case you have a better suggestion …

I’ve decided to ask YOU!

If you can come up with a BETTER available domain name than the one that I’ve picked.  I will give you a premium life-time membership to the new site when it launches.

Remember it needs to be:

  • Short
  • Memorable
  • Pronounceable
  • Easily Spelled (a single way)
  • Descriptive or Brandable
  • No hyphens or numbers
  • Multiple extensions available including .com
  • Easily typed
  • Inoffensive

DON’T Suggest your name here!

If it’s as great as it needs to be someone will grab it before I do, so just email your best suggestions to me directly at ken at

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

All the best,

Ken McArthur

  • Elena

    Hello Ken McArthur. You asked me to come up with a domain name. Let it be Extremе Do you agree? I wish you all the best. Write to me. Elena

  • This may be taken but why not: MyPeople…it’s from a line in a movie I think, but it plays on “Have your people call my people”. Old school but it’s easy to remember. Then it leads to: Who are your people?

    Hope that was a help:)

  • Hi Danica,

    Definitely taken, but thanks for the input.

    All the best,


  • Hi Elena,

    Many thanks for your suggestion. It’s a tough list of standards to meet.

    We are shooting for less than 10 characters, spellable only ONE way.

    Many thanks!

    All the best,


  • Hi,
    Just want to thanks you for the brilliant explanation on how to pick up a good domain name. I don’t know that this task is a bit difficult. Would love to read more on this next time. Still thinking what is the best domain name for me.
    I am not sharing my list with you though…. 😀
    See you around.

  • Hi, thanks for this great explanation. I have several blogger sites, but am still contemplating what domain to choose for my flagship personal/brand site. The one I originally had was too LONG and though it was only two words, had 7 syllables. People I’m sure would always have to ask me how to spell it. It wasn’t even that memorable. It was kind of something personal to me. I’m looking for a short, catchy one now. Thanks again and keep up the good work!
    .-= Josh@RV Blue Book´s last blog ..Why a Good RV Mattress Will Save Your Health and Sanity =-.

  • Great tutorial Ken,

    As if we should expect anything else 🙂 Domain picking is of extreme importance and I just found some tools I didn’t see before. Thanks
    .-= Alex Sysoef´s last blog ..Opinion: Why WordPress Should Never Be Used As Membership Management System =-.

  • Great information Ken!

    You saved me thousands of dollars. i can let go of all my long domain names.
    Now, what do I call myself since my name can be spelled to many ways?

    Jeanette (not Janet, not Jeannette) Fisher (not Fishcher)

  • Glad to help!

    Hope to see you again soon!

    All the best,

    .-= Ken McArthur´s last blog ..Impact Learning Center =-.

  • Hi Ken
    My wife is the domain name guru.
    I wanted a Public Speaking blog that obviously needed Public Speaking in the domain name.
    My wife came up with the prefix easy i.e. Easy public Speaking, which I liked because it’s easy to remember and the idea of making Public Speaking “easy” would appeal to people.

    Then I bought a theme called eBusiness not realising that my domain name abbreviated to eSpeaking, which I could use as the site title!
    Only realised that once I’d bought the theme.
    Fallen on my feet really but pleased with the domain name and site title.
    .-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..A helping hand… =-.

  • Online thesaurus and dictionaries are usually my first port of call. Then you have sites that can give your words that start, end or include other words, which are also very helpful.

    In your case I think a catchy name would be better than one that is made-up of 2-3 real words (longer may be). A mis-spelled word could do the trick and it’s a lot more brandable (like tumblr, posterous etc…)

    Good luck, finding a great domain name is never easy.
    .-= Tom@Your Practice Website´s last blog ..Websites for accountants – 7 specialist suppliers in the UK =-.

  • Dom Aina

    I really appreciate this article because it gives me more idea on what to do before getting domains. You can purchase domains from different sources as long as they are reliable. I recently got mine from

  • “Guess what … it’s not that easy, especially if you want a great one.”

    Great article Ken. Naming a company is one of the most important steps in the startup process but most don’t give it much thought. At Launch Lingo we have over 500 unique startup domains to choose from. We love naming companies so check us out when you have a chance at

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