Finding the right domain name these days is harder than it ever has been. With so many businesses and individuals treating domain names like real estate and buying up everything in site, finding the right domain name for your new business, idea, or hobby can be difficult if not impossible.

The good news is that new sets of TLDs (top level domains) are making more names available all the time, and as extensions outside the traditional standards like .com, .net, .edu, and .org become more widely used, the general public is becoming more accepting of non-standard TLDs. Extensions like .ly, .media (like our domain), .co, and .me are beginning to gain widespread adoption and expanding the universe of generally accepted domain extensions.

As you begin your search for a new domain, it's important to do so in a way that doesn't expose you to some of the industry's less reputable tactics. Here is a list of tools I use on a regular basis to help generate ideas and check the availability of domain names.

1. Panabee

This is one of my favorites. Pop a few words into the search bar and Panabee reorganizes, removes letters, substitutes letters like 'y' for 'i' or 'z' for 's', and generates and tests a huge variety of options for you in milliseconds. You can choose directly from one of their suggestions that's available (you're able to view what is and isn't available without leaving the site), or you can click on one of the suggestions that's not available to see if it's available with a different TLD.

2. Domainr

I actually use this quite a bit when I have a very clear definition of the domain I want or need to register. Domainr is a quick and easy way to check a specific spelling or combination of words for interesting ways to construct the word into a unique domain if the .com isn't available.

3. Bust A Name

Essentially a domain search combined with a thesaurus, Bust A Name allows you to input a few ideas you have for your domain and then not only checks for combinations of those words, but other similar words as well. This is a great option if you have an idea first and are trying to come up with a catchy name to go with it.

4. Name Mesh

Name Mesh is a really deep idea generator that adds and removes words, hyphens, TLDs, and letters to try to come up with something close to what you were looking for. It provides hundreds of suggestions from just a few words entered by you as a start point. A great overall tool for your domain search.

5. Wordoid

Wordoid is a bit different than the rest of these in that it's goal is actually to make up new words, not find combinations of existing ones. That's exactly what I like so much about it. With the limited availability of standard .coms, making up something catchy is a great option for your new site. It provides a limited amount of multi-lingual support and allows you to try to insert your own word or concept into the new, fake words it generates for you. After all, nobody had ever heard of a Google or a Twitter twenty years ago, so might be a great way to start building your brand! (As a side note, if you turn that into a billion dollar business I expect my cut.)

Chris Searles is President of Searles Media and specializes in helping small businesses maximize their available resources to market themselves effectively using a wide variety of media. Visit Website

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