You can choose and buy a domain name in less than one minute, and sometimes that is *too* fast. Did you fail to check the spelling when you found DomaldTrump.com was mysteriously available? Did you ask someone else about your domain idea before lashing out on CowsHit.com?
We’ve all made mistakes because we didn’t think twice and make simple checks. Here are the five most important checks to make before paying for *any* domain name.
Where are you going to buy it from?
Is the name reseller going to publicise your search? If they do and you postpone your buying decision, there is a high probability that an unscrupulous person could buy “your” domain on a sale-or-return basis. When you come back with your credit card tomorrow, you find the domain that was available yesterday is mysteriously Unavailable today. Surprise, surprise when you go to the web address, you see it is for sale for £250. If you refuse to pay, the owner returns the domain as not needed and gets their money back.
Ask the site you plan to buy from whether they sell your search data. Trustworthy domain sellers will assure you that your data is 100% safe, whereas a dubious company will refuse to give you a straight answer. Even if the support person assures you that your search data will not be sold, you should test the site by searching for a domain you have no intention of buying, something like WhyLionsPreferFemaleWildebeest.com. Search, then leave the site: If the address is still available tomorrow, you can trust the domain name site with your real search.
Search social media
There are two reasons to search social media channels for your domain name:
Is the username available
Has the domain been associated with any unpleasantness in the past
Your website name will be your brand, so you need the same brand name on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If someone else is using your brand name, they could do you irreparable in no time at all. Check the hashtag and variations of it such as *****scam, *****ripoff, and *****fraud to ensure there is no negativity attached to your new brand.
Check its history
If the domain has existed previously, you can often find the previous website using a search using the Wayback Machine. Owners can request removal from the Wayback Machine, they archive > 1.5 billion URLs/week and there is no delay between when they are archived and when they show up in the Wayback Machine.
You cannot use any domain name that includes a recognised trademark, nor any part that could be confused with that trademark. You cannot use FordMondeosSuck.com, or ForrdMondeosSuck.com because in both cases you would be attempting to exploit the Ford Mondeo brand that the Ford Motor Company has spent millions promoting.
If you anticipate using your site to attack anyone, think again because you can’t afford the legal bills, especially if it is an American company that would pursue you through US courts.
Legalities aside, your website needs to convince browsers that you are trustworthy and dependable: A play on another company’s name gives the idea you are some kind of shyster.
Easy to spell and pronounce
You need to make it easy for your customers talk about you in the pub. They don’t want to spell out your website name every time they mention you, so choose a name that rolls off the tongue smoothly.
Avoid numbers, hyphens and underscore characters because anyone mentioning you in conversation would have to say, eg ‘Smiths underscore Brothers’ or ‘Brown Sisters NUMBER two zero one eight’. That’s not going to happen. If SmithsBrothers.com is not available, then choose another domain name that people can pronounce such as SmithsBrothersPlumbers.com. Similarly, if BrownSisters.com has been taken, then look at MobileBrownSisters.com or something similar.
The short version
Domain names may be cheap, but it is still worthwhile doing your due diligence because it could save you a lot of grief down the road.
These five checks are all essential, but the first check you should run should always be on how trustworthy your domain name reseller is: Ask, check and test before entering a domain you have a genuine interest in buying.