Finding Brandable Domain Names

This is a guest post by Lewis Ogden, founder of Lewis has been extremely successful with his online ventures and stays ahead of the curve with his “outside the box thinking.”

Finding a brandable domain is a hot topic these days. Lewis breaks down what you need to know about finding a great domain name that has lasting power.

Thanks for the fantastic information.

Take it away Lewis!


A Changing Landscape

500x500 brandableThere is nothing more popular right now than Niche Sites.

Sure they’ve been around in different forms for a number of years. First you had your micro niche site, a small 5 page website that targeted a single keyword or phrase with not much chance of ranking for anything else.

Then Google got angry and went to war with SEO’s and Internet Marketers. These Micro Niche Sites had trouble maintaining their previous market dominance due to their spammy nature and lack of useful content.

We then got smarter, we moved onto niche sites. These typically contain around 20+ pages of content, which gives them a huge amount of scope for additional long tail traffic.

To me niche sites and authority sites are much the same. An authority site ALWAYS starts its life as a niche site, then if things start moving in the right direction, we can quickly turn these into an authority site.

This should be your goal with any niche site you start, to extract the most amount of value and to give them the best possible chance of becoming BIG.

Take Pat Flynn’s, this site began life like any other niche site with just a few pages of content. However Pat continued to build and expand the site which now has pages upon pages of content. This has helped turn this simple niche site into an authority site that dominates the search engines for his niche, and bring in around $1,500 /month from AdSense.

The thing with these authority sites is that they need to be treated as a real business. You need a plan, you need a structure, you need to know who your competition are and how you can out-play and out-rank them.

Before we do all this however, there is one very important step in the creation of an authority site, and that is Branding. More specifically your brand and domain name.

Why Brandability Is So Important in 2014

There have been a number of case studies over the past few months which have highlighted the effects of having a brandable domain name.

Take Perrin’s APennyShaved site. This is a perfect example of an authority site built on a brandable domain. I’m a little jealous that I didn’t come up with that one, however under the guidance of Spencer, Perrin has built what I consider to be an awesome brand and he is continually developing and increasing his reach.

Another example is Matthew Allen from Matthew shares how he built a niche site on a bad domain and how he overcame that by switching to a brandable domain.

Along with these case studies we have seen good number of blog posts on the subject of branding and brandable domains. One example is from Spencer of, where he shared his thoughts in this article on why exact match domains are out and brandable domains are in.

There are many reasons why you should choose a brandable domain, however 3 of the most important are:

  • Easy to remember and bring back repeat traffic
  • Less chance of over optimised anchor text when using your brand name and URL
  • They look and sound better and their future potential and resale value is magnified 10x or more

TLD’s, EMD’s & PMD’s

If you are targeting a specific country other than the US market, then I would say buy the countries TLD.

For example I am from the UK and I buy many brandable domains that have the extension. For the simple reason that I have found country specific TLD’s rank better in that country. Without getting into SEO too much here, it’s not always the case but it does help.

Same goes for niche sites that target the Canadian market, go for the .ca.

The largest market by far however is the US market, for which I buy .com and .com only. Why? Because it’s the most widely recognised and it screams brand.

No EMD’s required

I will put this plainly. EMD’s, from an SEO standpoint, DO still work. I have the research to back that up.

However, if you are wanting to build an authority site in any niche, stay away from EMD’s and PMD’s (partial match domains), we want brandable, roll-off-the-tongue domain names only. No brand has a domain like:

Now if at this point you’re thinking about Pat’s site in my example at the start of this article, let me tell you right now, Pat is the exception here. The SEO he performed to get this site to number 1 in Google DO NOT work today, at least for an extended period of time. The reason Pat’s site is still ranking #1 for its main keyword is that he has built it out into an authority site.

(plus having such a huge audience talking about and sharing your site helps 🙂 )


What we want is a domain that has the legs to carry us into 2015 and beyond.

If you are looking at the bigger picture, you may eventually consider selling your website for a multiple of the monthly income. That multiple is enhanced greatly by a brandable domain name with a .com TLD.

Selling up should be a part of you thought process before you start each site. Have a look on for previously sold sites and see which ones fetch the highest number of bids and final sale value.

Tools & Resources I Use

Below is a short video featuring a selection of tools that I use to find great brandable domain names.

Forum Resources

As I mentioned in the video, below are some of the forums I use when hunting for these brandable domains.

  • – Buy, Sell & Talk Domains
  • – a .UK TLD forum with a very active member base and some great domains.
  • – A forum for domainers that also buy & sell
  • DigitalPoint Forums – I have seen some good domains here, just be sure who you are dealing with as PayPal don’t cover digital items.

New vs. Aged Domains

There are pros and cons of buying a new free to register (FTR) domain vs. an aged domain. The primary difference between the two is often the price. You can pay upwards of $500 for a good brandable domain name, however this is not always the case and there are some great domains you can pick up for much less than that, by using the resources in the video above.

However, that’s not to say you cannot find great Brandable domains that are free to register, you just need time and patience. For example back in January I registered the domain, for a project I am working on with a couple of other guys.

Before I began my research I was certain that I would have to make some sacrifices in my selection criteria. However after a week of searching (around an hour per day) I finally came up with this gem which explains my brand perfectly whilst maintaining an air of authority.

I have since had many questions from my readers on how I managed to find such as great name that was available to register. If you follow this guide you will be able to find your own super brandable domains for your niche sites.

There are of course other things to consider in the New vs. Aged domain head-to-head, such as:


It is know that having a domain with age that has a previous history with the search engines can accelerate the growth of your niche site. The speed in which your pages are indexed and the immediate authority/recognition the search engines give you is certainly a bonus.

Recently however I have seen some great results from brand new domains, I have found that this all comes down to niche selection and the market competition.


If you are stuck between a New FTR domain and an Aged domain, there are steps that you can and should take to help make up your mind either way.

The first step is by checking the current backlinks of the aged domain. Using the 3 tools below, you can see just what kind of sites and links are pointing to the aged domain.

  • OpenSiteExplorer – Along with the commonly used DA (Domain Authority) and PA (Page Authority), OSE also offers a free snippet of the top backlinks to the domain, along with a “Top Page” feature which I often use to look for any inner pages with existing backlinks and the related anchor text.

OSE Top Pages

  • Ahrefs – I have found the ahrefs provides the most complete backlink profile of all three tools and often brings up links the others miss. They also offer a page dedicated to anchor text breakdown, which provides a quick overview of the general market the domain was once operating in.

Ahrefs Anchors

  • MajesticSEO – I use Majestic for the cool anchor text pie chart they provide, along with the TF (Trust Flow) as a guide to the ‘neighbourhood’ the domain resides in. Majestic looks at the number of clicks from trusted sites to score this metric. There is also CF (Citation Flow) which is scored by the number of citations (or Links) to a given URL.

Anchor Text Chart

Possible Penalties

There are also free tools that can give you an idea if a domain has been hit with a penalty in the past (although they are no replacement for good old common sense):

  • – a fairly simple tool that checks for 3 Google penalty identifiers, Deindexed, Penalised, Sandboxed.
  • – a free tool that will check for a Google penalty along with a whole host of other features such as checking PageRank, Backlinks, DMOZ and Alexa etc

Site History

Using the WayBack Machine from, you can go back in time to take a look at what the domain you’re considering once looked like. A few things to ask yourself are:

  1. Was the domain part of a bad neighbourhood, such as being used for Adult, Pharmaceutical or Gambling. (if you are in any of these industries, a bad neighbourhood to me means anything that Google doesn’t like to give love too!)
  2. What was the content like? The quality, quantity and was it helpful or spun junk?
  3. Did the content contain unnatural looking outbound links (OBL) that used keyword anchor text?
  4. Was there any audience engagement and participation? A site with comments is a good sign of a ‘normal’ none spammy domain, but not in all cases.

Domain Metrics

Again, using OpenSiteExplorer and MajesticSEO we can get a good feel for the quality of the expired domain. For Private Blog Networks, I typically look for a DA over 20 and a PA over 30. However for a brandable niche site domain, any kind of authority is welcomed.

The important thing to look for here is the quality and relevance of the existing backlinks and the anchor text. Look for branded or URL anchor text over spammy keyword anchor text, that is used to manipulate the SERP’s.

Doug has also started a New vs. Aged domains case study so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for his updates.

Example Brandable Domain Names

I thought what better way to show you how effective these tools are, than to go out and find one domain from each resource and share them with you, along with an example of how you could use each one.

Domain #1

Domain Name –

Tool –

Price – FTR

Niche – Automotive

Idea – An affiliate or Dropship model in the automotive industry. Amazon has plenty of products to promote, from car polish to exhausts. Alternatively if you’re feeling adventurous you could use Magento to build a ecommerce site and contact manufacturers and offer to dropship their products. The margins are higher than on affiliate products but there is an added element of selling involved.

Domain #2

Domain Name –

Tool –

Price – Backorder (NameJet)

Niche – Exercise & Fitness

Idea – Perfect for an information site with either clickbank products or again our favorite Amazon associates program. Its a large market and some say it’s saturated but I know firsthand from a client site that I help rank, that this is not the case. Do some product specific research and you will find hundreds of low competition keywords out there.

And YES you CAN outrank Amazon.

Domain #3

Domain Name –

Tool –

Price – $100 USD (Make Offer – GoDaddy)

Niche – College Magazine/Hub

Idea – There are hundreds of affiliate programs out there for student related products. The student loan niche pays out very well. Check out Jon Havers blog for example. Alternatively online magazines are killing it right now and have sold very well in the past on Flippa. Check out as an example site that targets a demographic very well. could be your next big win!

Domain #4

Domain Name –

Tool –

Price – $25USD (Buy It Now)

Niche – Scuba Diving

Idea – Just to whet your appetite, Amazon products are perfect for this niche along with the hundreds of manufacturers and ecommerce stores that offer affiliate accounts. Just looking at the prices of some of the items on Amazon should give you an idea of the kind of commissions that can be made here.

Domain #5

Domain Name –

Tool –

Price – $1,500 USD (Buy It Now)

Niche – Food and Cooking

Idea – Food blogs are huge right now, a little tip for those of you thinking of entering this niche.

Food Blog + Pinterest = TRAFFIC

To Wrap Up

With the end of EMD’s & PMD’s comes a more exciting time for those of us involved in Internet Marketing. We can now use our imagination and creative flair to build our sites on a foundation that is set up for continued growth.

No longer will your domains look out of place in the top 10 of Google, now we can compete with the big boys…plus having a brandable domain looks super cool…!

Author Bio

Lewis runs a blog over at where he talks about what’s working right now in SEO and Internet Marketing. Some of his more popular guides cover how he made a $1,000 /month niche site in just 4 months, along with his how to guide for building a private blog network. Head on over to his site and say hello or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

22 comments… add one
  • hazrienne

    Hi Lewis,

    Thank you for such clear explanations between brand name and EMD. I did create an EMD website when I started this and creating a long name for your site name are quite a hassle for anyone to remember it especially when you use a keyword tools like Long Tail. I would like to ask is it advisable to change your existing domain name from EMD to a Brand Name and do a 301 (redirect) to the new brand name?

    • I’ve done this Hazrienne. But only because I discovered that my EMD was previously owned and had been penalized. The strategy worked!

    • Hi Hazrienne, as Matthew states you can do this if you domain has been
      penalized, however it really depends on how your site is doing right now?

      I wouldn’t switch domain if your site is doing fine in the SERPS, it
      certainly can be done however there is an element of risk involved with a 301.
      generally the site will drop and then regain it’s rankings but this is not always
      the case.

      Personal preference also comes into play, if you prefer a brand domain and
      you can find a nice one then go for it. otherwise i see no need to switch. Just
      make sure your next domain is a brandable domain 🙂

  • I had no idea that Lewis read my blog! I was shocked to see a link to one of my posts in here. It fit nicely with the topic though. So thanks for that link.

    I agree with Lewis’s final thought too. The fact that brandable domains are the new norm has absolutely made the internet a better place and more fun for us as internet marketers.

    • Hey Matthew, sure I like to read too 🙂 Your article resonated with me and it’s something I’ve had to overcome in the past, so thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Hi Doug, thanks for allowing me to be a guest on your site, keep up the great work!

    – Lewis

  • Good stuff as usual guys. About a month ago I bought myself the site, which I thought would be great if Vicky and I ever pursue sort of a food business site (posts about running food businesses, podcasts with business owners, that sort of thing). Not an expired domain so not juice unfortunately but I liked the name so I grabbed it!

  • Theodore Nwangene

    A very awesome post Lewis,

    A lot have indeed changed and is still changing as far as SEO is concerned which is why they said that change is constant.

    Having an EMD or PMD domains is no longer relevant and might cause you more harm than good so, Branded domain name is really the way to go now if you want to remain in the market for long.

    Some of the tools you mentioned here are still new to me and i will take time to check them out one by one :).

    Thanks for sharing Lewis.

    • Hey Theodore, another point on this is that if you are picking up an aged EMD or PMD, then there is a high change another IMer or SEO has had it before you and it has been badly treated where link building is concerned.

  • John

    Great post Lewis,
    i check my site pixelgroove dot com / serp / sandbox_checker it says its sand-boxed or Penalized, i check again then it says looks OK!

    • Hi John…humm that doesn’t look too clever does it. What is your gut instinct on that particular domain?

      • John

        hi Lewis, i check again and now its ok, always okay..

  • Interesting Stuff lewis – I think that brandable domains are here to stay, and they can also help you move from one content area to another without making your domain name irrelevant to the topic.

  • Great article, I totally agree that brandable domain/business names are the way of the future for online marketing. Recently seen some quality yet cheap brandables at such as my fav, the made up/blended/hack words .com domains like: Peakbility Innoventing Buildler Leapler Hornzy Pawify Saverfy Snapably Yellzy Hentworth

  • Isagani Esteron

    Great content here! Thanks for this!
    I do have some questions though.
    I am worrying about using FTR domain names vs Expired Domains simply because of the delay FTR domains have to get on SERPS, is this much of a factor?
    Also, I have found a brandable expired domain but from the looks of it was once used as a PBN site, would this be okay to build a new niche site on? or even another PBN site?


  • In a sense EMD is a dead term as most names are now considered brandable to an extent. How a domain comes up in search is due to many factors, the domain name probably not counting towards that significantly if at all anymore. So-called EMD names are good for human intuition, in that we are more likely to click a link that has our query within it.

  • I am stuck in both worlds, I came up with investing in keyword domains but have shifted our portfolio to 50/50 now with half in brandables. 2 keyword brandables actually have been our best movers.

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