Finding a free and neat domain name for your online space these days is harder than finding a free parking spot in Central London or Manhattan. Chances are slim and yet you might just make it if you are a creative genius or a scrabble guru. Your imagination must be ahead of thousands of domain brokers and resellers whose only job is to buy expired domains and try to peddle them at a much higher price. Here are some rules and ideas for domain hunting that will guide you through the Internet jungle.

The name of the game.

Never underestimate the power of a well placed domain name to attract viewers to your website – it is one of those things that will make or break your startup. Make sure you put in the same effort in finding a good domain as if you are choosing a name for your child. A good website name has the three “s” – short, swift and sensible. A short domain name is perfect in terms of branding, logo design, SEO and it is generally more easy going on your followers. A swift domain name sounds slick and catchy, it simply stands out from the crowd. Try to make it even better – go for a word play, it sticks better in the viewer’s memory. You should also try to make it sound sensible in a way that it resonates with the main idea of your website. You can afford to make exceptions here – “amazon.com” is a perfect example where the name has nothing to do with sales but it puts the website in a league of its own. And one last rule – rules are made to sometimes be broken! Experiment!

There are two ways leading to the top and a third way that we yet have to find out which is the right one.

It is fiendishly hard to think of an original two words name that is not yet parked and one word domains that make sense are pretty much extinct now. The clever thing to do here is to devise a new word, sentence of expression that gets across the same idea as your two or three word domain and make it look like a pun. Play around with words and ideas – relax, put away all rules of spelling and just try to combine two words into one complex expression that moves along the general idea of your website. Here are a couple of examples of such famous domain names: “pinterest”, “99designs” and many more. Lets say that kites are your passion and you want to start a blog about kite flying – exkited.com is a pretty nifty idea for you. Or you are keen on recycling and you want to share your experience with it – recyclopedia.com is the way to go. The name of this blog came to me out of stubborn ambition to create something new and fresh and refusal to play by the rules of the domain vultures. It was born in a very groovy and artistic cafe that inspired me to think outside the box. What is your inspiration nook? (click here for Creative setting”)

Grammar stammer.

If you have fallen in love with a domain name that you missed getting free by an inch, there are ways to come close to it. You can try to juggle with the suffixes and prefixes of the expression. If you like “lightbulb.com” for your inspirational blog, try putting “the” before it. Or stick an “s” at the end if “. Hyphens and letter alternatives with numbers like “road2growth.com” are generally discouraged for SEO and aesthetic reasons. You can also experiment with a different extension after the dot that completes your domain name like “shoot.me” for your photography portfolio or “ma.tt” for the blog of someone called Matt.

Search for solutions

Use domain suggestion tools like www.nameboy.com or www.domaintools.com. and other where you type in a keyword and a huge list of suggested domains runs down your screen. Domain suggestion sites may not land you straight onto your dream domain, but they are a good starting point for a brainstorming session. You can also check recently expired domains at name.com or godaddy.com/expired-domains – who knows, another mans left over trash may turn to be your gold treasure!

Be your own SEO

SEO literacy has turned into a science of its own. The rules of Successful SEO practices are like an ever changing legal code and you have to keep reading your weight in SEO literature to keep up. I am not an expert on the matter but I might just be able to give you with some well researched basic tips. Google makes subtle and major changes in its rules all the time. There are a few important things to keep in mind when you choose a SEO politically correct domain. Try to squeeze in a key word in your name that comes up in the list of keywords for your website – that is important for your website ranking. Example: “wisdomcorner.com” may have “wisdom” in its keywords. Hyphenated and domains with numbers in them should be avoided like the plague, they are not very helpful in terms of linkability and credibility. A long, generic and hyphenated domain also looks suspicious and spammy (keyword-keyword-keyword.com). Final advice is about the extension – .com scores much higher that .net and .org and it guards against imitators that may start sucking your traffic with a .com version of your beloved domain. Plan wise, be a strategist!

Finally…

In case you pushed yourself hard but you are still stuck with the domain name, there are still options. Buying an expensive domain with good type-in traffic attached to it is an investment that will keep you grounded to your project. You will think twice before quitting because of the financial commitment you have already made. When negotiating with a domain seller, you may try to bluff by convincing them that the domain name they are offering is worthless (if it is not a top level domain) and they might decide to relinquish it. You may just try to come across as not very interested in the deal and look as hesitant as possible to bring down the price. Try to bargain for a couple of domains that you are interested in at the same time and go for a reasonable compromise between price and quality. Either way, do not panic if things don’t move very smoothly here – original content is far more important for the success of a website than a glamorous domain name. Don’t worry that much about the packaging, focus more on the actual product and things will work out in the end!