Business Names

What’s in a name?  Frankly, a LOT.  Any marketing and branding agency can go through the important details of naming a new business or one that is renaming from a brand perspective. It’s fascinating how business naming research is performed, tested and consumer analysis is created – in fact I totally respect it. However (and this is important), it is essential that this research is embodied from an Internet Marketing perspective.

Here’s how to protect yourself from online blindness when naming your business:

#1 – Make sure the domain name is available or easy to acquire ahead of time.  Domain names, i.e. are the life force of branding online.  Your domain availability should include these principles:

  1. You can “see it, spell it.” In other words, it’s simple enough to resonate without a lot of possibly of misspelling.
  2. Determine that most or all extensions are available. Everyone thinks of the ‘.com’ but it’s important to grab the important extensions (.net, .org, .us, etc.).  If you’re a larger organization – grab as many as you can.  Brand hijacking – by your competition buying those domains is not a pleasant situation to find yourself in.
  3. Misspellings are available. If there is a possibility of misspelling your domain name, grab all the necessary misspellings too.  A random example would be: – be sure to grab and
  4. Moderate length. We get the question, “Is my domain too long?” quite a bit actually.  With domain names at a premium these days, it’s more important to “see it, spell it” than it is to keep it short.  Moderate length of the domain is okay as long as it’s not overwhelming.
  5. Domain names(i.e. business names) with search specific keywords have a double advantage.  Although sometimes this is not practical, it is helpful.

#2 – Evaluate the competitive landscape of your business name online.  If it’s competitive, be prepared to have the resources necessary (time and money) to effectively launch an SEO campaign early.  Here are some basic things to check when evaluating the competitiveness of your keyword phrases:

  1. Review the total number of Google results for your prospective business name.  (As a very general rule of thumb – If it’s less than a total 250,000 results, and incorporate SEO from the beginning, you’ll be golden).  Any words results over 1 Million – plan ahead for potentially robust ongoing SEO resources.
  2. Review PPC bids for your phrase, amount of PPC ads.  You can use Google’s AdWords toolto evaluate the average bid amount for your business name.  Anywhere over $1.00 per click mark may get expensive and is an indicator for the need of a moderately or severely competitive SEO marketplace.
  3. Evaluate the number of links/number of pages indexed of top results for your keyword phrases using tools such as the: Bruce Clay ToolbarSEO Book Yahoo Site Explorer.  Plan on acquiring the same amount of links and pages of content indexed as the other top 10 listings.  If this will take significant effort, that may be an indicator for a competitive marketplace.
  4. Evaluate whether you business name of choice has associations outside of your category.  For example, a recent organization named their business the same name as a popular TV show – their rankings were buried at onset outside of local specific searches.

#3 – Check to see if your Social Media profiles are available.  Social media is essential for business marketing in most all cases, so double check to see if your profiles/usernames are available.  The big three would be Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – but that’s just a start.  Social media profiles, such as: or are just as powerful, and just as limited, as domain names.  Check profiles using

As you can see, there are many factors to determining a valid, compelling business name at the onset.  Along with your branding, marketing research efforts – don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you get out of the gate by not reviewing the online marketplace of your potential business name F-I-R-S-T.

We welcome comments on example stories – please post!

By: Wendy Roe

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