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How to Search for and Register Domain Names

by Chris CounteyFebruary 26, 2017
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Searching for the right domain name for your website is an important step in branding yourself online. For established brands, choosing their brand name + .com is an obvious choice.

But if your business is new or you’re launching a blog of your own, finding the right domain name requires the right combination of research, creativity, and luck.

If you want to learn more about domain names and websites, please read the Intro to the Internet.

Find a Travel Domain Name

Travel blogs are extremely popular and the travel blogging space is extremely crowded. I will use them throughout my tutorials to show you how to break through the noise with your own website.

Read this before you search!

Because of its popularity, travel-based domain names are a hot commodity. So before you type “domain name search” into Google, it’s important to mention that sites like GoDaddy and NameCheap will use your domain name searches in their reseller research. In other words, if enough people search for a phrase using their tools, they will likely purchase the domain name themselves and sell them back to the public for an inflated price. What should cost about $15 at the time of your search may turn into thousands of dollars a week later. So be ready to buy your domain name the same day you find it.

For this tutorial, I am going to assume that you have not yet decided on a travel blog name. You have a passion for travel and photography, maybe even video, but you’re not sure what domain name to use, or if it’s even available. If you already have a list of words you’d like to use in mind, use my ICANN Domain Name Search Tool. Click File > Make a Copy on the Google Sheet to create your own version and paste your keywords into column A. The sheet will look up domain registrar information for the keywords you chose.

Domain Name Checker

I picked a few travel-themed keywords to demonstrate the tool above, but it looks like they’ve all been taken. The domain search tool is really just a faster way of visiting a URL (website address) to check the status of a domain name, such as https://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=travelplaces.com. Thinking ahead to marketing and sharing your new website, I suggest sticking with .com and .net domain names. New domain extensions, like .travel and .food, are being released every year, but we haven’t accepted them quite yet. We still expect the best sites to have standard domain extensions, like .com. However, the content your website (the stories you tell with words, images and videos) is going to ultimately decide how much traffic you get.

About Domain Search Tools

The information below shows some details about if the domain name is registered, when it will expire and who owns it.

Domain Name: TRAVELPLACES.COM
Registry Domain ID: 3620896_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.enom.com
Registrar URL: www.enom.com
Updated Date: 2016-02-05T03:03:15.00Z
Creation Date: 1997-08-04T04:00:00.00Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2017-08-03T04:00:00.00Z
Registrar: ENOM, INC.
Registrar IANA ID: 48
Reseller: NAMECHEAP.COM

Perhaps the most important thing to note about the information above is the “Reseller” identification. This generally means that someone (more likely a company) is “squatting” on the domain name and isn’t actually using it. They own it because of its potential value and are looking to sell it for an inflated price. According to Wikipedia, cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using an Internet domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.

In other words, in the early days of the internet, squatters would purchase domain names like “Panasonic.com” and then sell it back to the brand for a high price. Today, squatting is more limited to buying “exact match” domain names – domains that contain unbranded words, like “travel places”, that are likely to get searched a lot on sites like Google. TravelPlaces.com can be purchased through NameCheap.com as shown below:

The “Make Offer” reveals that a minimum offer of $199 is needed to even start the process of buying this domain. Meanwhile, a brand new domain name costs about $15. Domain squatting is big business, as the gentleman in the picture below can tell you. He is reselling GoingPlaces.com and thousands of domain names that contain keywords or phrases that Google considers to have “high search volume”. The goal of this tutorial is to help you find a great domain name that hasn’t already been found – or has expired.

Domain Squatter

Set aside a few hours to research your new domain name and commit to buying your favorite the same day. I have two favorite domain search tools, but I suspect that they both feed search data to companies like GoDaddy. Once you find a domain name you like using these tools, buy it right away.

My Favorite Domain Name Search Tool

NameMesh.com is my favorite domain search tool. Prior to building this website, I purchased new domain names frequently and I used NameMesh to do it. You can read more about that journey here. NameMesh can help you uncover an awesome domain name in minutes. Starting with a few keywords you like, NameMesh will return a variety of results instantly. These results often spark new ideas and word combinations until you find that one domain name that wins.

NameMesh breaks out its results into a few categories:

  • Common – Likely the best choices for your new domain
  • Similar – NameMesh will use synonyms in its search
  • New – These results include new domain extensions, like .travel
  • Short – Top Level Domain Names with Country Codes (tldcc) use extensions for other countries (like .es and .in) to form words
  • Fun – The NameMesh algorithm misspells and shortens phrases, mashing them together to create new words
  • Extra – More alternate extensions, like .asia
  • Mix – NameMesh appends letters like -ly and -oid to your search, creating new words like Paperli for domain names
  • SEO – SEO stands for search engine optimization; these results add words before or after your exact search and pair them with .com extensions; Google is believed to favor exact match domain names and .com extensions in some form when ranking search results

For best results, I recommend narrowing down your search to something your travel blog (or any blog) speaks to specifically. If you have a niche, use it your advantage. For example, if you blog mostly about traveling on a budget, try that in your domain search.

I’ll update this post frequently, so check back often! Until then, find your great domain name and go buy it!

About The Author
Chris Countey
I am a Technical SEO Manager in Philadelphia by day and gamer by night. All opinions and bad jokes here and on social media are my own and do not represent the beliefs of any organization.

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