How do I choose a website name

share tweet post Pin Post Like
How do I choose a website name

Aug 8, 2017


Today’s Question:

“So… I have a business name, which I love, but how do I check if the website is available? 

and do you go with .com, .co.za URL [aka: your countries “. ____”]?

Actually… back up Emma… what is a URL? HELP!”

Ok, Wait… Let’s just say…

YAY! You have a business name… that you love…tick!

After all, it can be overwhelming to pick a business name that you love!

[BTW… If you missed my first post in this series… I asked some critical questions about whether you should DIY or not… if you haven’t read it… start there! Don’t worry – this post will be here when you get back 😉 ]


What I’m covering in this post:

// How to see if your website is available

// Securing your website… all for yourself… step by step.

How do I choose a website name


Let’s start with your URL, what is it?

A URL is basically the address you type in when you go to a website:

or “www.somethingclever.co.za”
or an acronym “www.ibe.com

Please note… none of the above are actual websites [that I know of] and are purely here to help explain 😉

So, Now that you have figured out that a URL is a website address…

You’re probably wondering “Is my URL available?”

Before we go there… let’s just quickly chat about what comes after your business name…

Understanding the “.com” part of a website:

Qu: Why do some people go for a .com, and others go for their countries “end” i.e. “.co.za” or “.co.uk” or “.nz” or “._____”?

.com was originally designed to indicate that a website was commercial [vs educational or governmental].

So businesses who set up their website in the early days had a really easy job of making their URL

i.e. www.mybusinessname.com

Ps… the “.com” part of your URL is known as a TLD’s [or Top Level Domain].

Here are the main website TLD’s that you need to know of:

  • .com – This is the main and original domain name [then, because we ran out of .com’s – they have created “.co”]
  • .org – originally intended for non-profit
  • .net – originally intended for a network of computers [I don’t really get this one]

However, some people bought URL’s as a hobby [with the idea of them being able to make millions off other companies], and soon, the common URL’s were zapped.

Then they brought out country specific TLD’s [i.e. South Africa have “.co.za” as our local TLD] – check your countries TLD here

And subsequently… I have seen that they have brought out “.co” as an alternative to “.com”

You see… if a business has a common name [or someone else in a different country got their website before you] the .com will more than likely be taken… and people have either started looking at creative names or other TLD’s.

Qu: Should I have a .com TLD/URL for my business?

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself first:

  • Is my business international or have the potential to be international… then go .com
  • If you are worried that someone will steal the .com – then buy the .com
  • If you are a local business… keep it local [go “.co.za” or “.co.uk” or “.nz”]
  • If it hasn’t been taken and I’m local [The choice is yours… I’d probably suggest buying it, in case someone else takes it down the line]

How do I choose a website name

Ok, What about the middle of this URL…

Qu: Do I go with my business name?

So… after “www.” what comes next???? Do I just go with my business name?

You can.

But here are some tips to consider when naming your URL:

  • If it’s a short business name [and not common]… absolutely, hopefully it will be available  [don’t be upset if it’s already taken – this cropped me up a few times!].
  • If it’s a short / common name… chances are that someone has already grabbed it, then you’re going to need to get creative!
  • If you have a super long business name, you may want to consider shortening it [especially if you want to use twitter… each character is precious… I found that “inspiredbyemma” is a tad on the long side – and limits my messages sometimes!]
  • Watch for spellings… if it’s hard for you to spell, it may be hard for your client to spell
  • On the converse… if your URL is your actual name and their are hard aspects to spell, this may be in your favour [people tend to pay a bit more attention when things are not common… take my surname “Weise” – it isn’t common, and would easily stand out – vs a more common surname – like “Driver”].
  • If your business name has an “&” or “+” or any other element that is not a character… sorry, but you’re going to need to get creative [For my Dream + DO Project – I couldn’t keep the +… and had to decide whether to drop it, or write out “and”… considering length, you know which option I went with… right?]

Some creative URL’s that I’ve come across:


Checking Availability of my URL + Costs

Qu: Ok… So, now that I get all of that… I think I have a URL in mind… now how do I check it?

The company that host my domain [Hetzner], have a search facility – where you can see if your URL is available:Hetzner’s domain name search

It’s super easy to check… all you do is type in your ideal business name, and the kind of TLD you’re interested… and let them do all the work!


Another thing to check… Social Media!

You want to search all your social media accounts, and check to see if your ideal business name has been used.
In my case: Inspiredbyemma is a unique name… so I was pretty much good to go… but my other company FreshSage had other people using that name on social media… so in this instance, I have chosen to go with FreshSageSA on a few of the social media sites, as I didn’t feel that it held me back at all.
You may feel differently, and it would be wise to check these aspects out first!

HELP! My Name is taken!

Qu: What do I do if the .com is taken, but another option is available [like a .co.za or .co]?

This is where Google becomes your best friend.

When you google: www.yourbusinessname.com – what happens?

  • If it’s a go-daddy or buy-this-website type site… then good news… someone has bought it, but hasn’t done anything about it [you can try and locate the owner, and buy it for them… or just leave it].
  • Someone is using the .com, then:
    • Are they in the same business as you [say you’re both graphic designers – that could be a problem, because you’re at high risk of losing potential work to them]
    • They are in a different business to you – the question to ask:
      • If someone was looking for you and landed on the .com site… would they think it’s you [Would you’d loose the business to the dot-com?]
      • Are they dodge? Aka: you don’t want your name being associated with that URL by mistake!

Qu: What about the cost? How do I buy this URL?

The good news, is that it isn’t as expensive as you may think. Some hosting companies will buy the domain as part of the package [we’ll cover that in the next step], and with others, you’ll need to buy it.

If you purchase it, There are two costs:

1. A cost to buy the URL [and make sure that it’s YOURS]

I purchased mine through Hetzner.co.za – they are a great local hosting company [No, I’m not paid to say this, I’ve just always used them], some of my friends have gone with Bluehost* or go daddy… but I can’t vouch for them… shop around, look for the best option… see what works for you.

Ps… Items marked with an * means that the company will buy my a cup of coffee to say thanks


Then you need to get your company to “keep” it for you… they “Host” your website [Bonus about Hetzner, is that you get a email address with your business name on it]

  • Don’t really want to have a website just yet, but want to get that email running… Go for a Micro account
  • Want a wordpress website [which you more than likely will want], you’re going to need the standard option.

And that’s it…

You have officially just purchased your own business website address!

Whoop Whoop!

The next step to consider: Getting a website designed and up!

You’re going to have to wait for next week’s post though 😉



Here are links to the full series:

  1.  Should I DIY / Not?
  2. [this post] Qu: “I love my business name, how do I check if my website is available?”
  3. Qu: How do I set up my Website?
  4. Qu: How do I Customise my website… Why do I need a theme?
  5. Qu: Which plugins would you recommend?

About the Author

Emma is the Chief Coffee Drinker here at FreshSage. With over a decade in branding + another decade in corporate business - she's always balancing the creative with business strategy + goals. She believes everyone has a purpose + calling, and secretly loves helping her clients find theirs. When she's not building brand experiences, she's spending time with her High-school sweetheart + kidlet, tinkering in her veg garden, painting an abstract, and enjoying vino with friends.

Related Posts

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This