Choosing a Domain Name When YourApp.com is Taken


Photo by Kevan

A reader recently emailed with the following question:

I am working with my business partner on building a web application and the domain name I’m looking for is already registered.I have done a ton of searching on the web, including forums like OnStartups and can’t seem to figure out which way is the best. Everyone seems to have contrasting opinions.

I am thinking of other ways to register my applications domain name, and I thought of a few possible solutions:

  • www.my-site.com
  • www.mysiteapp.com
  • www.mysitehq.com (I saw that 37signals uses this for some of there web apps and liked the idea)

I was wondering if you thought this made a big difference or not.

My Response
If you’re shooting for SEO and “mysite” is a term people are actually searching for in Google, an exact match domain is best, followed by the one with the dash (to find out if people are searching for this term look here, but watch out for these common mistakes).

However, if you want to seem like a legitimate business I would go with app or hq. You could also consider www.mysite.net. Personally, I like app the most since hq seems like you’re ripping off 37signals.

If you’re really going to be standing behind the business and making it a focus of your efforts for the next year or more, I would not use the dash. But if this is more of a niche site that will mostly rely on search traffic (and be monetized with ads rather than as an actual application) you can consider it, as it does come with an SEO boost.

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13 comments ↓

#1 Adnan Siddiqi on 07.05.11 at 1:00 pm

Twitter/Blogger’s Ev Williams about same issue:

http://evhead.com/2011/06/five-reasons-domains-are-less-important.html

#2 reaper on 07.05.11 at 2:10 pm

“I like app the most since hq seems like you’re ripping off 37signals.”

How on earth does adding ‘hq’ to a domain name sounds like ripping of 37signals? They were not the first ones to use it, nor hq is a trademark of 37signals.

Rob Walling Reply:

I wasn’t indicating it was a trademark violation, I was simply giving my opinion that when I hear “hq” I think 37Signals. Other people may not feel this way…but this is why I started that sentence with the word “Personally…” to indicate it’s my personal opinion and not a matter of fact that the world agrees on.

James Reply:

I agree with Rob here. When I see ‘hq’ at the end of a domain; I think of 37signals too. Even though it’s not TM or anything; they still branded the ‘hq’ if they meant to on purpose or not.

#3 reaper on 07.05.11 at 2:11 pm

btw doesn’t app sound like ripping of Apple?

Rob Walling Reply:

I’ve never heard of an Apple domain name that uses “app” after the product name.

#4 Silverhalide on 07.05.11 at 5:05 pm

I’d like to suggest that if app.com is taken and yourbizname.com is taken, find new business and product names.

Your potential customers will forever be forgetting the hyphen or hq or whatever you’re using to make you non-unique name unique. You are forever going to have to use SEO to get your app-hq.com to rank higher than app.com in a Google search for “app”.

If you can’t buy the intuitive domain name, find a new name.

#5 James on 07.05.11 at 5:05 pm

You may also want to try different ‘suffixes’ that works well right now, I used ‘ful’ at the end of ‘freelance’ to make mine. Few others are:

– ify
– able
– ‘un’ prefix
– y

#6 Crave Invoice on 07.06.11 at 3:41 am

I would also consider changing product / app name instead. If at all, I want to use the same name then adding “-” seems to be a good suggestion.

#7 sidesolo on 07.08.11 at 11:49 am

The other thing you should do is buy adwords for your actual business name, so that if a user gets close in google (and bing, yahoo…) they stand a chance of actually finding your site. These tend not to be expensive keywords because they are not common words.

#8 Surge on 07.11.11 at 12:15 am

SEO, of late, is less about the site name and more about getting people to your site and keeping them there. A name should provoke interest and the site needs to have content that is useful to the visitors.

#9 Roy on 07.15.11 at 1:44 am

Sometimes prefixes and suffixes can do wonders.

For example, when I was brainstorming for a domain for my Adobe Air community, I jotted down a couple of prefixes and suffixes that work for me. You guys can apply it to your own niche

Prefixes & Suffixes coupled with the word ‘air’ :
airnation
airjunction
airtalk
iair
1air
thinkair
airmonkey
aircommunity
airzone
air360
goair
airweaver
funkyair
airfunky
openair
airacrobat
airsnap
snapair
airdaily
airgarden
airgarage
beyondair
aircentral
airdynamic
airtalk
airmatters
airauthority
airworld
pureair
directair
airdirect
air365
air247
247air
airplanet
airpal
airpod
airnow
airvault
airhub
airbuzz
airalliance
airvault
airauthority
airinc
airlabs
eliteair
airnow
airbase
airspot

#10 Roy on 07.15.11 at 1:50 am

By the way, I settled on http://www.airacrobat.com but never did get around to working on it.

It has long since expired and is now available for registration. http://whois.domaintools.com/airacrobat.com

If you guys are interested, feel free to snap it up. 🙂