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There are more than 252 million registered domain names(2)  (Mar 2015) . This can make it difficult to find a name that suits your needs.

Here are some tips on how to pick the right name(3):

  1. It should ideally contain the name of your business, or at least part of it. The name of the website should form part of the branding of the business.
  2. Keep it short and meaningful (wm.co.za vs wowmedia.co.za).
  3. Say the name out loud to yourself. Will the client understand the name the first time you say it ? Can the name be misunderstood or easily spelt incorrectly? For example: surf.com vs serve.com, or kulula.com and kalula.com.
  4. Use a-z, o-9 and the hyphen (minus sign only). No other characters are allowed in the domain name.
  5. Consider buying the .co.za, .com as well as the .net.
  6. For local trading buy a .co.za, for international get a .com or .net. There is no technical difference – the .com is just more familiar to overseas clients.
  7. If you buy more than one domain name, make only one website the primary and point the rest to it.
  8. Try to include one keyword in the name. Search Engines like this. For example africanskytraining.co.za rather than africansky.co.za.
  9. Be careful which words you put together. (4) For example www.ipanywhere.com (If you’re looking for computer software) and www.expertsexchange.com (Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views).
  10. Watch out for copyright infringement. The obvious things are using coke.co.za or microsoft.co.za etc. There was a legal dispute between a student called Mike Rowe and the Microsoft Corporation a few years ago (5). Mike Rowe was a Canadian high school student that registered the domain MikeRoweSoft.com. He used the site for a part-time business designing websites. The Microsoft Corporation sued Mike Rowe for trademark infringement. After some legal wrangling the parties settled and the Microsoft Corporation got the domain name, and Mike Rowe some compensation. Among the items Mike Rowe received was a trip to the MicroSoft Headquarters and an Xbox.
  11. It’s important to register your own domain from the start, especially for a business. Which sounds best: facebook.com/wowmedia or wowmedia.co.za?
  12. If the name you want is not available, try other extensions like .com, .za.net, .org.za, .net, .biz etc (there are hundreds of extensions available. See http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db.

Sources:

2 http://www.daniweb.com/web-development/web-design/html-and-css/news/380974
3 http://www.terinea.co.uk/blog/2008/01/09/21-quick-tips-for-deciding-a-domain-name/
4 http://independentsources.com/2006/07/12/worst-company-urls/
5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_vs._MikeRoweSoft