How to hack and create quirky, memorable domain names

Domain hacks are domain names that use extensions such as .US and .ES to create a word, phrase or brand. Some well known examples you may have seen are del.icio.us, youtu.be, goo.gl, and fold.it. Fun, quirky and memorable – but are they for you?

by Meg - 26.03.2014

Domain hacks

Before the new gTLDs were launched giving us more choice, trying to find your perfect .COM domain name had become increasingly difficult. Domain hacks saved the day. You could create a domain name that broke the rules, was a bit kooky - domain hacks started a trend.  Originally they were created using country code domain extensions (ccTLDs), but the new gTLDs have broadened their scope. 

Pros & Cons

Finding your first choice of .COM was hard, and owners willing to sell could (almost definitely) ask for exorbitant prices. Creating a good domain hack was a challenge but brought advantages...

  • They’re fun and quirky, bringing a fresh look to your brand. Take a look at virg.in, pep.si, and instagr.am.
  • If you write a blog they're a cool way of displaying your name. WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg uses ma.tt.
  • If your brand name is long or you just want to be different, domain hacks can produce a shorter version for your social media sites. Twitter = t.co, Cosmopolitan magazine = cosm.ag, ESPN = es.pn, Google = goo.gl, and Facebook = fb.me.
  • Google recognises more ccTLDs as generic so you are no longer limited to a specific country. Here’s the current list: .ad, .as, .bz, .cc, .cd, .co, .dj, .fm, .io, .la, .me, .ms, .nu, .sc, .sr, .su, .tv, .tk, .ws.

Possible disadvantages...

  • Always remember that ccTLDs were created for localised websites so, depending on the particular registry, you may not be allowed to register. Also, some registries charge higher fees for non-residents.
  • Some ccTLDs are run by the country’s government and they can close domains during political unrest. In 2010, Libya closed their Internet leaving users of .LY, such as bit.ly, understandably concerned. Whilst their site was unaffected, they have since registered bitly.com as their main site.
  • Don’t let your imagination blur your brand name, it needs to work in print and speech.
  • If you're big into SEO (which of course you should be...), domain hacks aren't for you because you lose out on keywords by creating non-existent words, e.g. bettervocab = bettervo.cab. That said, they’re still pretty funky!

New talent

The arrival of the new domain extensions has made finding a more appropriate domain name much, much easier, and creates new opportunities for domain hacking. Here are some ideas using new domains...

mastercrafts.man | makingapro.fit | givingadv.ice | youst.ink

nosw.eat | sham.rocks | yourbreadkne.ads | summersal.ads | bikiniwax.ing*

* These names are not necessarily possible as registration restrictions may not allow them, plus they may now be unavailable as the extensions gradually go live.

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