You’re finally ready to start your website! You have a great brand concept figured out and came up with the perfect name for it. It’s time to take the plunge and get started.
But you go to register the domain and…the name is already taken. Your hopes are dashed.
Don’t worry, this is actually a common problem and one that countless websites have overcome. Your website will still be awesome and have a name you like, you’re just gonna have to get a little creative in choosing the right domain name. We can help.
13 Ways to Brainstorm Website Name Ideas
1. Consider other top-level domains.
If you really like the initial name you came up with, your easiest option is to see what other top-level domains it’s available in. The most competitive top-level domain (TLD) by far is the .com, so you’ll have far more options if you’re open to considering .net, .biz, .shop, or one of the many other TLD options.
Different top-level domains do tend to stand for different things. For example, a .biz domain only makes sense if you’re website will be for a business, whereas choosing a .org domain signals to visitors that the website is for a nonprofit. To avoid confusion, make sure you understand what the TLD you consider means before you register.
But with hundreds of top-level domains to choose from now, you can almost certainly find an applicable one to register your preferred name with.
2. Consult your keyword research.
Keyword research is a valuable first step for several types of online marketing, including search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. It’s also a great tool for coming up with brand and domain name ideas.
Turn to free keyword tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, and Answer the Public to quickly generate a list of keyword ideas related to any word you plug in. All the suggestions from these tools will be based on the language people are actually using. And using a popular keyword in the URL of your website can be beneficial for SEO.
3. Pull out your thesaurus (or pull up thesaurus.com).
The English language is full of words that have the same or extremely similar meanings. Conveniently, we have a whole big book dedicated to making it easy to find synonyms to any word you can think of, and an online version of the book besides that makes searching for synonyms a breeze.
See if you like any of the synonyms you find just as much as you liked your original idea, and check for their availability as a domain name.
4. Look to other languages.
Sometimes, the word you’d like to use in English has a beautiful counterpart in another language you can use for your website instead. The website Translatr makes it easy to enter a word (or a few) and output a list of translations for the word in dozens of different languages.
While languages that use an entirely different alphabet probably won’t help you much here, you’ll likely still end up with a good list of words to consider.
5. Brainstorm related words.
As with the last couple suggestions, this is another way to build out a list of similar words to consider in place of the ones you originally chose. The website tool Related Words can, just like the name says, quickly produce a list of words that have some relationship to the word you plugged in.
6. Look to competitors for inspiration.
Seeing examples of what other websites have done can get your creative juices flowing. Identify other websites that provide similar products, services, or information to what your website will offer and make a list of the domain names they have. You want to be careful not to choose anything that comes too close to what a competitor uses, but you can use the words and phrases they’ve incorporated into their domains as a jumping off point for brainstorming more ideas for your own.
7. Consider relevant adjectives you can add.
Is there a meaningful adjective you can put in front of the main noun that describes what you do? Think of adjectives that sound nice and have some relation to the other word you plan to include in your domain.
A florist could go with something like Splendid Flowers or Dazzling Arrangements when trying to come up with a good descriptive phrase. In this example, adjectives like splendid and dazzling are memorable and give visitors a positive visual to associated with your brand.
8. Add another word.
Tack a word like Group, Ltd, People, or Store to the end of the domain name you had in mind and make it into a new name that works just as well. This is a simple way to replace your original domain idea with a very similar option that’s available, and still fairly easy for people to remember and find.
9. Add a cute animal to your brand.
This is a tried and true tactic that works well for the very website you’re on right now, as well as a number of other memorable brands.
Adding an animal to your domain name doesn’t just help you create a brand name that’s unique, it also automatically provides a clever branding opportunity. You can create a cute logo and mascot for your brand that’s memorable and inspires goodwill from your audience.
A lot of brands use this tactic (not just us). Think Firefox, Burt’s Bees, and FoodPanda. Brainstorm a list of animals you like and see if any seem like a good fit to round out your domain name.
10. Brainstorm objects or visuals to include in your brand.
Animals aren’t your only option, you can also think of objects that either hold some relevant symbolism, or that you just like. Brands like Apple, Android, and Monster.com employed this tactic in creating their brand names. Think about any objects that have significance for you, or that create a visual you like.
11. Brainstorm words you just like.
Some words just sound cool, or have an interesting meaning. Your domain name can be based on a word that you like the sound of—it doesn’t even have to be a word with a meaning that relates to what you do.
Brainstorm words that create imagery you like or have a nice sound when you speak them. Companies like Pandora (the music streaming site) and Serendipity (the ice cream company) use this approach.
You can find lists online that collect words many people find beautiful. Avoid anything that would be hard for your audience to spell or remember, and anything that has a meaning your audience might find distasteful or offensive. Other than that, the whole language is fair game.
12. Consider spelling variations.
A lot of brands change up the spelling of words to create a domain name. This is an especially popular choice for tech brands. Some examples include Tumblr, Tindr, Flickr, and Netflix.
This tactic for finding an available domain can potentially be risky if your audience finds the changed spelling confusing. But if you do enough marketing to help them internalize your brand name as it’s spelled—as all the companies listed above have—then it can be a clever way to still reference the word you want to use, while claiming an available domain name.
13. Make it local.
If you’re still having trouble finding something available that works, think about adding your city name onto the domain. Local versions of a domain name will be much less competitive than going for just the terms you had in mind themselves. You could also use the name of your street or neighborhood, if you like the sound of it.
For local businesses, this tactic gives your audience another useful piece of information about your business, while also making it easier to find an available domain name you like.
Register Your Domain Name Today
As soon as you find a domain name you like, don’t procrastinate claiming it. Who knows who else will have the same idea tomorrow. You don’t want to have to start this process from scratch!
You can register your domain name using the same HostGator tool you used to search its availability. And as a bonus, if you choose HostGator as your web hosting provider, registering your domain name with us means you can manage everything for your website all in one place.
Finding the right domain name is an important early step in creating a website. It can take some time and creativity, but once you find one that works, you’re on the path to launching a website that represents your brand effectively.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.