The mad rush for vanity URLs has been around for quite some time now. Unsurprisingly, personalized URLs based on your name can be quite difficult to get hold of. But it’s not all over yet.
Where can I find you online? and Do you have a website? are two common questions people have for you when you’re networking, both online and offline. You better be ready with an answer, especially if you run an online business. In any case, isn’t it nice to have a slice of the Web to your name?
Aaron has even dispelled the common myths surrounding the creation of a personal website. So you have no more excuses not to have one. Getting the right domain name is where you should begin. But that’s easier said than done. If your name is quite common, it can be downright frustrating.
Thankfully, by using one or more of the following simple methods, you can find a domain name that you like and that can be registered.
Learn The Rules Of The Web
As messy as it seems on the surface, the Web is surprisingly quite well-organized underneath. There are also certain rules that define Web behavior and the management of our activity on it.
When I first decided to work online, ignorant as I was about the workings of the Web, terms like SEO and keyword research made no sense to me whatsoever. Being excited as only a 22-year-old who has discovered the key to an online income can be, I went ahead and registered a domain name without doing any research about the right way to choose one. After a few false starts and failed projects, I had no choice but to sit up and pay attention to what I had initially thought was useless Internet jargon that I could do without.
You can give yourself a better start by reading up on the rules of the Web. Ryan’s post on picking a great domain name introduces you some of those rules, so that you can be well equipped to choose a domain name that is not just appealing to you, but also comes with the best chance of being successful online.
Use A Tool Or Two
Not only do the top-level domains get taken up with shocking speed, but even the most bizarre combinations of names and words (like BarackObamaIsYourNewBicycle) get registered on a regular basis. You can still manage to finalize a domain with the help of tools like Domai.nr, which generates interesting combinations of names based on keywords you submit. The site also shows whether a particular domain is available for purchase.
While you’re going through this name generation exercise, use a tool like NameChk or KnowEm to see if the domain name you have set your mind upon is available as a username on some of the most commonly used websites. That will help you use the same name across the Web and keep your identity consistent.
Focus on the domain name ahead of the extension. Ensure that it is fairly short and readable. If it’s easy to memorize, that’s a bonus. Experiment with different combinations like Firstname, Lastname, Nickname, FirstinitialLastname, FirstnameLastinitial, NicknameLastname, NicknameLastinitial, etc.
Leave out the quirky spellings, unnecessary multiple letters, etc. Such tweaks do seem to work for various companies and services (ifttt, for example), but when used with personal domains, they only increase ambiguity and confusion.
While there’s nothing like getting a .com extension, if you don’t find one to go with your chosen domain name, don’t despair. Try extensions like .me and .name, which have come to be associated with personal domains. Going by its rising popularity, .co is another option worth considering.
If you’re planning to use the personal domain to promote your business, depending on your target market, you can opt for a country-based extension like .uk, .eu, .au, .in, etc.
I registered the domain akshatashanbhag.com after my full name, Akshata Shanbhag. My name can be somewhat difficult to read and pronounce, especially for those who are not aware of its origin. By clubbing my first name and last name, I complicated it further, both from my perspective and that of the potential visitors to my site. Clearly, I had not put much thought into it.
After sticking with that domain for too long, recently I decided to switch to a shorter one with just my first name. Unfortunately, the .com extension was taken. When I contacted the owner, he quoted a price that I thought was quite high, and frankly, it did not seem worth paying that much, so I registered akshata.co. If I had paused to think some more, someone would have probably snatched up that domain too.
Keep Your Eyes Open
Expired domain names are re-released after a grace period of about 75 days. Buying one of these domains can work to your advantage if the original domain was popular and generated much traffic when it was in use.
There are also other domains that are advertised for sale. These can turn out to be expensive, but if you spend some time doing your research, you can find a fair deal on them. The important thing is to stay alert for opportunities that have a chance of giving you a nice, workable url.
Have A Little Patience
The powers that be have given the go-ahead to expand the Internet by rolling out more than a thousand new domain suffixes. Can you imagine the number of options that you will have when that happens? If all goes well, as early as the end of January 2014, you can sign up for domains with suffixes like .bio, .page, .contact, and .web. Till then, work on getting a nice web design ready.
A Good Domain Name Is Important, But…
These days, it’s desirable to have a personal domain with a vanity url, especially if you have plans of showcasing your work online. But remember, if you don’t manage to find the URL you want, it’s not the end of the world.
Instead of fretting over it, choose the next best thing and direct your efforts toward putting up an appealing website and following it up with interesting content. Eventually, netizens will trace it back to you even without the help of the right domain name.
Did you have trouble finding the right name for your personal domain? How did you work around it? Let us know in the comments.