Updated on February 26, 2014.
Confused Business ManChoosing a domain name for your website can be a long, tiresome, frustrating process:

  1. Should I get a .com?
  2. Is .net really that bad?
  3. Is it OK to use hyphens? If so, how many?
  4. Does my domain name need to include keywords?
  5. What about lesser-known top-level domains (TLDs)?

In short?

If you can, sometimes, yes, 2 max, no, it depends.

.com is still the undisputed king, but other TLDs make sense in certain situations.
.org was originally intended for non-profit organizations (and is still used by many), but also works well for any “official” or “educational” type of website.
.net should almost always be your third or fourth choice following .com, .org and, in some cases, .tv. Typically, .net is a poor choice if/when you have several better options available (though there are exceptions (e.g. Distilled)).

Domain Hacks

Delicious, before becoming, was an early adopter of domain hacking. A domain hack is when you use a domain extension (typically involving a country code TLD, or ccTLD) to spell a word. In the case of Delicious, their original domain name was, as in
Other well-known examples include, and
While domain hacks can be fun and “cute,” I typically don’t recommend them unless you can also secure the .com variation for potentially missed traffic.

Hyphens in Domain Names

This is a personal opinion, but anything beyond one or two hyphens is bad news. Not only that, it looks spammy. When possible, avoiding hyphens altogether is preferred.
Legitimate, established websites that use hyphens have nothing to worry about, so don’t freak out if this is you, but the primary reason most people use hyphenated domain names these days is for keyword stuffing (which is a no-no!).
Ever come across a site with an impossibly long, awkwardly hyphenated domain name along the lines of
It’s available if anyone wants it.
Hideous! That’s what you want to avoid. Stick to something short, memorable and brandable.
It’s not necessary to have keywords in your domain name!

ccTLD Domains

Did you know that .tv wasn’t orginally intended for sites related to television and video, but was in fact reserved for the island of Tuvalu? The extension is currently operated by dotTV, but Tuvalu’s government still owns 20% of the company.
.tv has gained a lot of traction and I highly recommend it for sites focused on video content.
That said, unless your business is located in another country or you want to use a domain hack, I don’t recommend ccTLD aside from .tv and .us.

Domain Name Tools

There are likely hundreds of tools out there for finding and/or generating domain names, but for me the following two sites have proven to be the most helpful:
LeanDomainSearch LogoLeanDomainSearch
LeanDomainSearch is incredible. Simply enter the word(s) you want included in your domain name and it will present you with hundreds or thousands of possibilities by appending popular suffixes and prefixes. Using “vinyl flooring” as an example, this is what you can expect:
LeanDomainSearch Results
Panabee LogoPanabee
Panabee is very creative. After entering the word(s) you want included in your domain name, it shows you a list of clever possibilities by dropping letters, swapping letters, merging letters, adding suffixes and prefixes, etc. Definitely check it out.
Panabee Results
Some other popular tools include, and

Best Domain Name Registrar

This is slightly off topic, but I have experience with a handful of domain registrars, and the three I recommend most are GoDaddy, Namecheap and Dynadot.
GoDaddy is by far the most popular, which makes it extremely easy to push your domain to another user should you ever sell it. They also have some wonderful promo codes that can save you a lot of money, which you can easily find with a quick search.
Namecheap’s customer support is outstanding.
Dynadot is particularly great for international domain names (IDNs) should you ever need/decide to go down that path.

Miscellaneous Advice

Avoid .info and .biz domains; they are often associated with spam due to their low prices.
Avoid investing in all of the new domain extensions released year after year: .tips, .sexy, .photography, .guru, etc. Unless you find a true gem, these should be ignored (or used on side projects and microsites).
For premium and/or expiring domain names, visit Sedo, GoDaddy Auctions and SnapNames.
Question? Comments? Post them below and I will get back to you.