One of the hardest things for me when setting up new websites is thinking up good domain names. Not only do they have to be catchy, they have to be available. From my experience, any good domain name that's 4 words or less is probably taken.
Here's a great article I read about this problem: Welcome to the world of cybersquatting. This is when someone registers a domain name purely with the goal of selling it later. They never intended to build a website at all. In that article, there was a guy who grabbed TomCruise.com and other star names, to re-direct users to his gossip website. Pretty sleazy.
I had this problem when I tried to get the name for a social network site I wanted to create. Let's say it was "battlebeat.com" (not the real name). When I entered the URL, it went straight to a price list that said "Domains for Sale." The person wanted 55,000 British pounds (US$90,665.98) for the domain. Ridiculous! But I found the plural version of that name was available, "battlebeats.com." I was able to secure that domain for $9.98 a year. Whew!
Here are a couple of tips:
--Create a new word. This often involves creative misspelling. The downside of this is that your marketing has to really stress the spelling, to make sure users get it right. For example, Digg.com has two g's.
--Use a foreign language. For now, English is the default language in domain names. So people often don't think of using other languages for their website names. When Jeff Hoogland created his own Linux distro with the Enlightenment deskop, he called it "Bodhi Linux." Bodhi being the Sanskrit word for "enlightenment."
--Use four words or more. The longer a name is, the more likely it is to be available. The disadvantage is that it's harder for users to remember. One of the longest domain names I've seen was www.thebestpageintheuniverse.com.
--Don't go for the .com. The .com is the main top-level domain (TLD) and the first choice for most web entrepreneurs. But there are many others that might be a better fit for your site. I think the .tv extension will get more popular as web video proliferates. If you're a nonprofit, the .org extension might make more sense.
Getting the right name can be a big deal. Your website will be instantly recognized in people's minds, which is a boon for branding. The SEO benefits are considerable, especially if you have keywords in the name. So-called "exact match domain names" often get ranked on the front page of Google. I had this happen once. Within 48 hours of setting up a site, it zoomed to the top 5 results on Google for my chosen keywords.
Have you guys ever had trouble getting the domain names you wanted?