Everything you need to know about domain hacks

domain dot hack

In the early days of domain registration (the dark times before the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) were launched), there was a point where it was quite hard to find a domain that was both short and memorable. Many of the good .COM domain names were taken, as were the more common words and phrases in various country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like .CO.UK and .CA. So what do people commonly do when there’s a shortage of something that’s in demand? They get creative.

The idea of a domain hack is to take a word or brand, like iwantmyname, and use the domain extension as part of the word. So instead of iwantmyname.com, a domain hacker would go with iwantmyna.me (using the .ME TLD) or iwantmy.name (using the .NAME TLD).

  1. Are domain hacks useful?
  2. What about domain hacks for URL shortening?
  3. Are there any tools for finding domain hacks?

Are domain hacks useful?

street art

Is street art useful? Not really, but it sure is fun to look at. With a domain hack, you can create a domain name that’s uniquely yours—one that may align with your whimsical brand mentality better than a .COM ever could. If the last few letters in your name happen to be a ccTLD, like .IS in Chris, then you have yourself a good domain hack (chr.is). If the last few letters in your brand happen to be a new gTLD, like .PRESS in Express, then you have yourself another (ex.press). Or if you just want to make something up, like beeris.gd… you get the idea.

As much as we like domain hacks though, there are some downsides you should be aware of:

  • Using a domain hack for your primary domain might not be a good idea (we recommend forwarding domain hacks to a primary domain). With more and more people using search engines and social media to browse the web this is less of an issue, but if you go with anything other than .COM or your local ccTLD, you’re bound to get people typing in the wrong thing. For instance, if our primary domain was iwantmyna.me, I’d guess that at least half (probably more) would reflexively type in iwantmyname.com.
  • Domain hacks are hard to say out loud. Again, as more and more people navigate with search engines and social it’s less of a big deal, but if you’re in an interview or meeting and have to say your domain name, you don’t want to sound like you’re stumbling over yourself. Just try to say chr.is out loud. “c-h-r-dot-i-s.” Or possibly “chris, but with the dot before the i-s.” It’s much easier to say “chris.com.”

What about domain hacks for URL shortening?

Short link

When Twitter was first created, links were a real problem. Just picture it—you have 140 characters to complete a thought, and links can be quite long. If you wanted to send a link to our .COM page (iwantmyname.com/domains/com-domain-name-registration-for-commercial), you’re looking at a hefty 67 characters. To get around that link bloat, a bunch of companies created shortening solutions which linked desired (long) URL’s to a short URL, like bit.ly/XXXXXX or ow.ly/XXXXXX (the XXXXXX being a randomly generated, unique string of characters). Then, using custom domain names, you could brand your short URL’s using your own custom domain name, so instead of bit.ly/XXXXXX, tweets would show something like iwmn.me/XXXXXX.

Today, Twitter wraps everything in their t.co URL shortener (which uses the original URL’s metadata to show a truncated version of the original URL), but companies like Bitly are still proving useful by giving users valuable link analytics for their tweets (or other social posts). If you have a data-driven approach to social media, link shortening platforms are still quite useful. But they certainly aren’t the must-have tools they used to be.

Are there any tools for finding domain hacks?

iwantmyname search

If you’re not specifically looking for one, domain hacks can be tricky to think up. Fortunately, the iwantmyname domain search has a basic domain hack finder built in. Just type any word in, and the second result (if applicable) will be a domain hack using one of our many domain extensions.

If you need a bit more though, try doing a search over at Domainr. Doing the same search I did above (whatismydomainname), they pulled out some crazy stuff like whatismydomainn.am/e, whatismydoma.in.na/me, and whatismydomain.na/me. Pretty fun stuff.