How to Name Your Domain

When naming a company, the first thing most people do is pull their hair out trying to find an available domain name. And if the pure domain name they want is in use, they give up and move on. That’s nuts! Even if you have a pure online business, the availability of a domain name is not a deal breaker. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself a 5 simple questions about how you find things online.

  1. When you are shopping online and, for example, Google “lemongrass candles,” do you really care what the domain names are of the companies that appear in the search results?
  2. Do you look at the domain names of companies that come up in search results?
  3. Do you mistrust a company because they don’t own the pure domain of their business name?
  4. Do you refrain from doing business with companies that have the dot net (instead of the dot com) of their name?
  5. Do you flat out give up looking for a company because the URL you typed in your browser doesn’t go to what you thought would be their website?

I suspect you answered “No,” to all of the above questions. So now you understand why not having the exact dot com of your business name is really not that important. Just as we ran out of 800 numbers and moved to 888, 877 and 866, no one cares, no one loses credibility, and no one really notices.

At my naming agency, Eat My Words, the last thing we do on a project is look at domain name availability. If the pure domain is taken, we just come up with a creative way around it. For instance, we named a company Wavelength. (They connect the leaders of world’s most visionary companies with social entrepreneurs.) The domain wavelength.com was taken. Did they abandon the name? Of course not. They got www.thesamewavelength.com, which is even better because:

  • it reinforces the brand
  • it’s an easy to remember phrase
  • it was available for around $9.95

Here are some more tips:

  1. Don’t give up on a great brand name even when the domain appears to be in use. Tricky cyber squatters often disguise “parked” sites as real businesses. Do a little clicking and you may find it’s a pay-per-click website. The sneakiest one we’ve seen is, ironically, www.sneakers.com. Click through any of the sneaker brand logos and you’ll discover it’s a slick pay-per-click site. (Editor’s note: sneakers.com seems to be an attack site, so we didn’t link to it here.)
  2. Don’t think just because a site is “parked” that the price is astronomical. Spoon Me negotiated SpoonMe.com for $5000. EatMyWords.com was a bargain at $1200.
  3. Don’t think “not for sale” is written in stone. If you pony up enough cash, some people will sell a domain, even if it’s an existing business. We named a “luxury on the installment plan” shopping website Venue. Even though Venue.com was in use by another company and there was a notice on the site that said the domain wasn’t for sale, our client persisted and got it. (It sure beats their old name, Peach Direct.) On the other hand, the company we wanted to name The Gravy could not get the guy to sell thegravy.com, despite the fact that his band, The Gravy, has disbanded. He had dreams that they might make a comeback one day.

Want to learn 8 more valuable tips? See How to Name Your Domain on the Eat My Words website.


Alexandra WatkinsAlexandra Watkins is Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Eat My Words, a nationally-recognized branding firm known for creating names that generate buzz and revenue. They love naming retail businesses and have an affordable “Snack” service for non-funded start-ups and entrepreneurs.

How to Brand and Market Yourself with LinkedIn

Recently, when I was teaching my Spring Quarter Stanford CS class on business writing, we got to the topic of LinkedIn and how to write a good summary. This led to a surprising revelation that most of the 40 students didn’t really have a well developed, branded LinkedIn profile. And to my surprise, when I asked my own international clients (who live in Silicon Valley) most didn’t have an interesting, well-thought-out LinkedIn profile either. Why not?

Some of the comments I got were:

  • “I didn’t have time yet, but have been meaning to fill it out completely”
  • “I don’t need LinkedIn, I have a job”
  • “In my profession, I can’t really write anything, it’s all confidential”
  • “None of my colleagues has a LinkedIn profile, why should I?”

I don’t understand these arguments, isn’t LinkedIn the perfect vehicle to get your own persona brand out to be seen and read by the very people you might want to reach in the future?

LinkedIn is free or if you do upgrade to the paid account, it’s very inexpensive.

Three Key LinkedIn Profile Tips

The profile will take some time to write, I agree and the three key places in your profile are:

  1. The Headline under your photo – Have a good headline under the photo; this is your personal brand statement. You have 120 characters with which to write a good sentence, which captures the essence (and where you are different) about what you do.
  2. Your Summary – Your summary is where you can write from the heart – I know this sounds really corny – but people are tired of reading artificial jargon filled resume language. Just say what you are passionate about in your job, what makes you go to work every day and why you are good in what you do.
  3. Specialties, Experience, and Interests – In the sections, Specialties, Experiences and Interests, besides filling them out with relevant information, this is the place to load up on keywords that will lead people looking for your specialties to you.

There are lots of articles on how to find relevant keywords. Thomas Petty in particular, can give you all the information you ever wanted about finding and using the right keywords.

To complete your profile, get 3 recommendations from colleagues or supervisors – now. Besides, if you don’t ask now, you will hardly be in a position to if you are laid off in the next months or if you wanted to look for another job at a later date.

Finally, be sure you have a professional, or at least a good quality profile photo.

These tips can all help you brand and market yourself in the future. After all, you want to position yourself in the most positive light possible – just in case that next opportunity comes knocking.


Angelika BlendstrupAngelika Blendstrup is an expert at International Business Communications: Personal Branding, Accent Reduction, Presentation/VC Pitch Training; Author & Speaker Professional Business Communications.

How To SEO Your About.me Profile Page – Personal Branding At Its Best

Thomas W. Petty About.me profile page

Thomas Petty's About.me

I’ve given talks about personal branding, and always encourage business owners to make sure they optimize their name for the search engines, as much as their business itself. After all, people do business with the person, not the company.

I like to tell people, “People buy into you before they buy from you.”

As someone who is in competition with another much more famous Tom Petty, I’ve worked hard to brand myself on the search engines as “Thomas Petty”. Unfortunately for me, there’s another famous person, Dr. Thomas L. Petty, a pioneering pulmonologist who recently passed away. He too has been in the news because of the work he’s done in his medical specialty.

When I saw that About.me was inviting people to claim their own name, I jumped on and grabbed my own name before the “other” Tom Petty got it. Now that I have my own Tom Petty profile, I wanted to see if I could get it to show up on the search engines for some of my personal branding terms.

About.me Has a Simple Interface

When you claim your name on About.me, they only give you a few things you can do. You’re basically creating a simple one-page profile that brands it as you. The first thing I did was created a background image for the page, but that doesn’t help with the search engines.

Next, you have to fill out some information about yourself, like name, headline and biography.

After looking at the html that the page generates for you, I discovered the following:

The two name fields become your Title tag in the page code. If you’ve done any SEO work at all, you’ll know that the Title tag is probably one of the most important factors for getting listed on the search engines like Google.

So I decided to manipulate things a little bit. They give you two boxes, presumably for First and Last name (even though they aren’t labelled as such). So I put my full branded name in the first box, and a key phrase, “SEO Consultant” in the second box.

Those same two boxes also automatically code my name as an <h1> tag or primary header tag for the page. The <h1> is also important from the search engines’ perspective.

Next, the “Headline” gets turned into an <h2> tag directly below your name. This too can be an important factor for the search engines, so I put in a couple of my key words there too.

Finally, the first 157 characters of your biography get coded into the Description META tag. So doing a little wordsmithing using a text editor (I love Textpad), I got it down to where it fit in the Description tag.

The Description tag isn’t a factor in the search engine ranking, but it is an opportunity to market to people who see the listing in Google.

The Results

thomas petty about.me profile shows up in Google

Google results

After waiting for a few weeks for Google to pick up the changes, it appears that a little bit of effort has paid off. Doing a search for things like “livermore ca seo consulting” gets my About.me page showing up in position #2.

Pretty cool for free and a little fiddling around. Does it get much traffic? Absolutely not, but it’s one more notch in my personal branding efforts, and possibly a link or two back to my website.

Yahoo! and Bing have yet to index the page, so I will have to wait a little longer to see if it’s helping there.

I’d be curious to see how you implement these ideas and what your About.me page looks like, so post a link in teh comments below.


Thomas Petty is a Certified Internet Consultant at his consulting company, WSI Smart Solutions, and he works with businesses who are struggling to get new clients through the Internet. He also teaches beginning, advanced and master-level SEO classes at the Bay Area Search Engine Academy.