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Is that domain name really what it seems to be?

Thinking about purchasing and branding a domain name? Here's a few tips you might want to consider before you go ahead and do so. You might be surprised to know what you think works... doesn't work for your visitors.

Author: Amber Jalink
Date: Jun 21, 2011 - 4:03:38 PM

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4 out of 5 said what?? (Here's what NOT to do when choosing a domain name).

A lot of thought goes into choosing a domain for most people. Since we own over 60 domains, (I've since sold some), I can attest to the different approaches you might take on coming up with those names.

You might for example, come up with a domain name loaded with the right keywords you want, specifically if you want to rank in the search engines.

(i.e., "")

Obviously those are usually seen as "search engine fodder" in some ways, but then again, they could get you ranked well if it truly represents the content (and not just the ads you put all over the site).

Others choose their company name, (i.e.,, is our official site).

Alternately, you might choose something a little more creative, depending on what you're trying to do.

And that is what the purpose of this article is about: be VERY careful and seriously think about what the purpose of your website is.

For example, if you were to visit a site that had classified ads, perhaps something you were looking for specifically, which do you think you would gravitate to: or ?

While obviously both domains are related to boats, the first one would speak to you more as a visitor seeking classified ads.

It's funny when we come up with creative names sometimes... (after all, most of the short domains are taken)... what we might think is "cool" or "catchy", sometimes completely misrepresents what we're actually trying to do.

I know, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Bing - they don't really explain what they are, but they've spent millions (literally) on marketing and branding.

Since most people don't have that kind of funding, rather than go with something totally unique, you might want to think about the implications of what you're trying to do.

I've just gone through this exact scenario - and the results were quite interesting.

See, as I mentioned, we look at creating something catchy, something that people will remember. (Heck, we don't "search" anymore, we "google it"... people don't often ask for Pepsi right off the bat, they order a "coke", even if they prefer pepsi). Now don't beat the messenger here, I'm just pointing out some facts.

Honestly, I always enjoyed coming up with funky, unique names... something that in the long run, I could brand. At times they've been pretty direct names. ( - pretty basic). (you expect something that helps you build a business online).

But at other times, I've too gone a little 'different' and that's what I'm talking about.

I was playing with domain names for a mobile type website strategy I was thinking of doing... and then the concept morphed into a daily deals concept. But what *I* thought was obvious... others didn't.

In coming up with the name, my thought was keeping in touch with people... friends, associates, business, etc. And after looking, I found the acronym, "kit" which stands for "keep in touch". Hence, I called the site "KitAlert".

Now, to me it was obvious, shouldn't be too difficult to brand.

Boy, was I wrong!

One of our associates was in touch with a well known PR firm to promote our site and get the brand name known. Apparently they didn't "get it" (like I thought they would...), and so they sent an email to survey their clients and ask what they thought of when they heard the name "KitAlert".

Well - I have to admit I'm glad they did.

4 out of 5 people said they thought of it as being something to do with emergency services, alarm systems, help for the elderly, that type of thing!

Wow, was that an eye opener.

Only 1 in 5 thought it might have had something to do with mobile.

Yes, I do know it's about branding - I could have continued and fought for that, but think about it from a marketing viewpoint:  wouldn't it be easier, faster (and cheaper!) if there's much less work to do, to get into a person's head, for them to remember you?

"Pizza hut" is pretty clear that it is a pizza place... so who was I to think I could change people's minds?

What's funny about this, is as we were putting it together, and I would tell people the name of the site, people would say to me, "What's kitalert?"

That should have been my first clue: I had to explain it to everyone. (And I do mean everyone).

Because of that, I had come up with the thought of changing the name before launch, but we thought of all the effort into it already and figured branding would work.

Now, I wasn't extremely worried, (remember this was before a major blitz), and I knew I had some other names, so I sent a quick email back to the PR company with my alternate idea, a domain I've owned actually for 4 or 5 years,

Again the PR company sent an email to their clients... and at the same time, I did the same to a small bunch of my friends who had no clue what I was doing.

Both of us asked, what came to mind when they read the words "24 hour madness".

Every single person replied with fast sales, huge discounts, great deals, shopping (using a variety of words), but they were all related to shopping.


So we did change the name to, and it is officially live after having to do the change over.

My point is, when you really want to create a website, especially if its something you really want to go "big" and viral, make sure you really think about it.

I suggest you take a piece of paper, write down the names you want, like (and of course, are available!), and then beside each name, leave a space to allow you to write out all the things that comes to your mind from the words in the domain name.

THEN... without telling people "what" you're doing, send out an email and ask them what comes to their mind when they hear the words in your domain name.

If they're way off... chances are it'll be harder for you to both promote and get recognition from.

Don't get me wrong here, it doesn't mean you can't be creative. If you're releasing a search engine, you don't necessarily have to have the word "search" in it... but it would be useful to have something people would connect with searching (like find, seek, search, look, etc).

If you're stumped, (and this is a trick I use often), go to and type in a word, (a real word of course), and see what comes up with other words of similar meaning.

You just might find some useful ideas, that will result in a better name.

(Then rinse and repeat again, surveying people!)

Amber Jalink is the President & CEO of DIME Consultants Inc., and the founder/creator of In addition to having over 14 years of marketing online for her own websites, she also does consulting with a limited number of quality companies who meet her criteria.  This article may be reproduced in its entirety providing all links and this "about the author" sig file remain in tact.

View all articles by Amber Jalink

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