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Review my startup - Lean Domain Search: The fastest way to find a domain name (leandomainsearch.com)
178 points by matt1 on Jan 16, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 152 comments

This is a great start. I built Instant Domain Search (IDS) almost 7 years ago, and have learnt a lot from the experience. Some quick thoughts:

1. There are no margins in the domain industry. Start thinking about building a hosting company. Your site is cool, but weebly.com and heroku.com are real businesses. I work full-time for Facebook, not IDS. (BTW, Facebook is hiring people like you, message me at http://www.facebook.com/beau if you're interested.)

2. It needs to be faster. For example, to squeeze another few hundred milliseconds out of our search, we built a distributed search infrastructure described here: http://instantdomainsearch.com/articles/faster_domain_name_s...

3. You should search names listed in the aftermarket and include them in your results. I've worked with http://www.buydomains.com/ for several years, and am happy with them. I can make an intro if you'd like.

4. Consider extracting words and doing a basic thesaurus search. We're doing something like that at http://instantdomainsearch.com/suggestions/

Hope this helps!

Hey Beau, thanks for the feedback. I've always admired your work with Instant Domain Search and appreciate you taking the time to give me feedback on this.

When you say "there are no margins in the domain industry", I assume you're talking about registrars and how domain names don't make them money, hosting and other services do, yes? LDS is not a registrar; revenue is purely through the affiliate links. Assuming people use them, the margin on this should be decent. It's no Heroku or Weebly, but that's not necessarily the goal either.

There's definitely room for speed improvements; I'll be work on that over the next few weeks.

I'm not sure I want to partner with any of the aftermarkets just yet, but that's not a bad idea long term. And I definitely want to add thesaurus results.

Again, appreciate the feedback.

When I see stuff like this, I always think "feature" not a company. There are two directions you can take this to avoid the "but its just a feature" issue -

a) build it so that you can license the technology to people that have made a company out of selling domains (domainsbot.com is a great model to take a look at)

b) become a reseller or registrar so that you can fully deliver the service and collect the recurring revenue.

There's still lots of room for innovation in this space and I think you are leaving a lot on the table if you don't flesh out the business model a bit more.

(obDisclaimer: I work for a registrar.)

I was recently at a talk where someone rallied against this whole "just a feature" argument. They made a compelling argument that there's a fairly natural evolution you see many start-ups go through from feature -> product -> business.

The rationale being that you initially build some specific functionality you can't find in the market (feature), over time rounding this out into a product and finally evolving into a business as you understand how to monetize it and where opportunity for growth lies.

You don't need to have your business totally conceived on day one. And in fact, finding where the business lies (or whether you even want to grow your idea into a business) is something you'll have a much better understanding of after a few months of being out there.

Personally (disclaimer: I run the domain search site Domize - http://domize.com) I think it's wonderful we can launch these "just a feature" websites and evolve them into products or businesses over time (or not). These 'better mouse-trap' sites are a fantastic, low-risk way of generating passive income and if you can string a few together you can potentially get to a stage where you can live off them. At the very least, you've demonstrated the kind of initiative and creativity that will provide you with a great talking point on your resume.

Let's not forget, both YouTube (embeddable video for eBay auctions) and Twitter (group SMS updates) started as "just a feature" and evolved into billion dollar businesses.

I don't disagree. I probably should have been more precise than "its a feature". My real point was more "protect the real revenue stream". Doing all the hard work to find leads, qualify them, get the lead interested in converting and then handing it off to a registrar for a one time bounty is selling the potential short. There are a ton of ways this "feature" could be launched with a fully-realized revenue stream - just simply tossing it out back-ended by an affiliate program does a lot more for Godaddy than it would do for the OP.

I guess if I had a summary point it would be "don't be so quick to give away your customers..."

I see what you're saying, but there's a big issue in doing this with domain names - the margins are slim to none (at least they are if you want to be price competitive).

Whereas registrars are paying 10%-20% on sales affiliates generate.

You need to think about whether you can actually beat this margin on your own, taking into account overheads like payment processing fees, customer support, billing issues & fraud etc. Not to mention the hassle of it all.

That's why Beau talks about branching out into hosting below.

GoDaddy make money off domains because they have massive scale, recurring billing, and a hell of a knack for in-cart up-selling.

Personally, I don't want to get my hands dirty with any of that!

I run a profitable registrar at scale and can appreciate the comments about low margin, costs, competition, etc.

My point is simply this: don't underestimate the value of a recurring revenue stream vs. a one-time payout to your business.

With a strong product and good customer service, you can count on a customer relationship for a number of years allowing you to amortize your customer acquisition costs over a much longer term than an affiliate relationship permits.

That said, if you've got the stomach for arbitrage, then go for it - there's a lot of potential for the right business to strictly focus on lead gen and delivery. However, I don't get the sense that this is in the OP's wheelhouse. I have a bias that those with a product focus tend to operate with fatter and more sustainable margins on the basis that its necessary to support their development of the product. Marketing organizations OTOH would never start with a comment like "look at the product I built on the weekend, what kind of a business can we build with it..."

If you want to build a business that focuses on affiliate lead-gen, then this prototype is the wrong place to start. I mean, you might get there accidentally, but its definitely the long way home.

"a) build it so that you can license the technology to people that have made a company "

Better yet a white label website that refers business back to the reseller or registrar and can be operated as a subdomain to the resellers or registrars main website ie suggest.registrarname.com. Do this on a monthly fee basis that is reasonable not per name registered.

"b) become a reseller or registrar so that you can fully deliver the service and collect the recurring revenue."

Reseller makes sense. Becoming a registrar doesn't. Using this as the cornerstone of an idea will never result in enough to cover the ongoing costs.

Fair points --

There should be a lot of value in being the first site people visit when searching for a domain name though. We'll see.

Sell advertising. The registrars will bid each other up to get first crack at the registration business. Other providers (hosting, developers, designers) will also be interested in your traffic.

GoDaddy et al might replicate your functionality. But they won't replicate a look at the competition for the business.

Better yet, be a brokerage portal. Get registrars to bid directly for the work. You also provided curated search on "best registrar" questions -- fastest, reliablest, fewest / most stolen domain problems.

If you can work out some means of obtaining good names held by squatters, that's better still -- and a real value add that would be harder to replicate. (I actually have some idea along this line.)

Why try to run a registration business when you're already good at generating traffic?

Possibly, but then it feels like you are betting your brand awareness against Godaddy's. That's a tough battle to fight. And there's nothing stopping them from implementing something similar.

I will say from first-hand experience that, technically, you are correct. However, much cash is generated through the friction of their purchasing path.

Yeah, totally true. That still doesn't make it easy for an unknown to come in an topple and established brand. That said, Google did it.. :)

Out of curiosity, would you call imgur a feature or a company?

they are definitely pursuing a business model in a pretty logical fashion, so I'd easily go with company.

relying on the affiliate model feels like a betrayal in the UX and it essentially hands over one of the most obvious ongoing revenue streams to the registrar. Why not take that margin and recurring revenue for yourself? Its not like its hard nowadays to set up as a reseller - getting accredited is slightly more complicated, but it you can make it as a reseller, then even that hurdle becomes pretty achievable.

> When I see stuff like this, I always think "feature" not a company.

People thought that about search too until Google came along.

And Facebook, and Twitter. And I believe Steve Jobs said that about Dropbox, too.

Hey guys,

About three years ago I built and launched Domain Pigeon, a web app that listed available web 2.0-style domain names each day [1]. The site did fairly well, but it was my first foray into web apps and I lacked the experience to grow it into something bigger. Eventually I moved on to other projects and closed Domain Pigeon down, which has been one of my biggest regrets.

My original vision for Domain Pigeon is what Lean Domain Search now is: you type in a search phrase and the app would pair it with hundreds (in this case 1,000) keywords to generate domain names and show you which were available. I lacked the technical skills back then to do bulk domain search quickly, which is why I settled on simply generating web 2.0-style domain names. Fast forward a few years and I've picked up those skills so I decided to take some time off my other apps and finally build this tool.

Hope you guys like it. Let me know how I can make it better.

[1] http://www.hnsearch.com/search#request/all&q=domain+pige...

How are you bulk checking now? I've been in the industry a long time and it's always been a pain in the ass to do anything in bulk. I've had lists so big registrars didn't want to run them for me :( Using APIs really isn't an option when you have a million names and 1 per second limit. Automating a bulk checker, most of them disable/play with it after a certain number of times (so even at let's say 500, i might be able to get 20 tries in there before they mess with it).

The best solution I've found is checking against the zone file, but I am curious what you're doing.

Based on a few tests, I think he's just doing DNS queries and assuming any NXDOMAIN response means a domain is unregistered, which is not always the case. Sure, users figure out the domain isn't available once they try to register it, but by then you've already dashed their hopes.

It's fine to use DNS queries as part of the checking process, but if you get a NXDOMAIN, you need to follow that up with some kind of check against a WHOIS server or root zone file (which is slower and harder to work with).

I'm guessing zone files. If you load zone files into something quick to search like an indexed DB table, memcache, etc they are super fast. They are also inaccurate and give you false positives since a domain can be out of the zone for a multitude of reasons.

You can do the initial search in the zone file and then if it doesn't appear there you hit the Verisign registry whois (for .com and .net). The amount of times the domain doesn't appear in the zone file is nominal.

Magic (and a lot of experimentation).

Good concept, congrats on this getting out, etc. but...


I clicked on five random ones marked available but always got '... is not really available' when I clicked 'Double check availability of this domain'

If there was a checkbox that said 'take more time but be sure of the available ones before showing me the report', I would have checked it.

Good answer, don't give away your secret sauce. Having said that, your magic isn't working too well. I searched for http://www.leandomainsearch.com/search?q=apps and literally EVERY SINGLE GREEN hit isn't really available after double-checking it. Seems like you'd need a 2nd secret sauce to further distill whatever the 1st run returned.

Hey -- there was a production bug that caused every result to come back as registered when you clicked "Double check availability". I fixed this a few minutes ago. Sorry about that.

Great! Thank you!

I really like it. This proves there's still an immense number of viable domain names out there for startups.

Since you asked for some feedback, here's my two cents: I'd like to be able to sort the results by having my search term at the front or at the back of the domain name.

Highlighting the difference between verbs, nouns and adjectives is also something I'd like to see, taking a page from the book of http://impossibility.org/

Great ideas, especially about filtering by starts with vs ends with. Appreciate it.

Domain Pigeon was a brilliant site, I mourned its loss. It's wonderful to see that you've built a new site.

The execution is simple and easy to use. I'd be conservative when it comes to adding features or futzing too much with the UX. I find the color scheme very readable, although of course that might be different for some people. Thumbs up from me.

A post-search filtering mechanism might be useful, although of course you'll want to balance the benefit of a feature like that with the impact it would have on the elegance and simplicity of the design.

Thanks Jayson.

I've considered adding Domain Pigeon-style domain names to a separate section of Lean Domain Search, but as you note there's also a lot of value it keeping it simple ("do one thing well"). So we'll see what people want.

Agreed on the post-search filtering. Other than alphabetical and by length, is there any other way you'd like to filter it?

I'm a fan of the filters that NXDom provides: http://www.nxdom.com/ I suppose it's as much about sorting as it is about filtering, actually. I particularly like their ability to sort by length and readability.


Added two filter options for ya'll: alphabetical and by length.

I love it. Looks like you've added at least one more registrar and a super-helpful "double check availability" feature.


Very cool. Bookmarked. Thanks!


Suggestions (I may be wrong): 1) I don't like very dark sites, yours look nice, but anyways... 2) I have no idea how you check the domains, but: In case you get your results one by one, you should display them while they were loaded (instead of that "loading" screen)

Yeah, I mostly do light sites and figured I'd try something different here. Will A/B test down the road maybe.

All of the results are returned at once so it wouldn't make sense to show them individually (go JSONP!).

It'd be great if when I double-check a domains availability and it comes back negative, it turns red and is removed from future searches.


I added an option to double check its availability on the registration dialog.

First impressions: http://i.imgur.com/gOeyj.png

Superior in practice: http://www.bustaname.com/word_maker

Though I prefer where you've started.

Also, your favicon is... suggestive of something entirely different. Perhaps a less literal image would be better?

I like your first impressions -- I laughed.

Anyone else seeing very faded sidebars like that? I don't know what would cause that; if you have the technical skills do inspect it on your end to find out, please let me know.

Can you elaborate on what specifically you like better about bustaname?

Sorry to worry you, I darkened the sidebars so as to suggest that they are a bit "loud" compared to the primary content. They only contain tertiary tasks, though I suppose that's arguable for the legend.

I like BustAName's AJAX-powered containment of the features, though a redesign is in order.

Aside from design considerations, you may want to look at how you can point users in the right direction before they arrive at the results page and then have to starting filtering or start over to achieve more desirable results.

For example, you could offer corrections to potential typos. If a typo is not detected (or disregarded), provide some likely criteria for the eventual results, starting with common scope limiters for domain names.

I acknowledge that your product name is "lean" but there are possibilities for domains that I can safely opine that a significant majority of users will be uninterested in, and I'm not sure from the results page effectively communicates whether those have been sifted out or not.

Seems there is still demand, and room, for simplified domain search. Cheers!

Here are a few people doing similar things.

There are also a few patents on this concept if I can find the link to the patent I will post.




One comment I have on your site is that you give to many choices (it's not lean) on one page and there is no organization to the choices. Also similar to what others do there should be a way to enter a secondary characteristic.

Oh, here's a bonus benefit to your site that I just noticed and a new place to market using the site.

The ratio of red-registered to green-available is helpful in determining how valuable or in vogue a domain name is that contains a particular word. I would compute a ratio of green to red.

(see as a test "search" or "social" vs. some other less popular word like "opthamology")

Also you don't appear to be checking the actual word that is entered to see if that is available. And you aren't indicating which TLD's so I'm assuming all your suggestions are in .com

Example: "Found 1000 available domains containing "ycombinator""

I'm working on something VERY similar to this actually, so I'll refrain from any critiques in lieu of just saying "I'd do some things differently."

Regardless, it's quite nice, and I'm already very jealous of how quickly you're doing the bulk lookups. It is much faster than my implementation.

There's a surprising amount of overlap, which tells me we're either both very right in a lot of aspects, or both very wrong. I'll take the optimistic route and figure we're both doing things right.

Best of luck. It's certainly a needed tool (IMHO).

Great job and super fast results.

It's great to have tons of inputs and tons of results, but we need a tool to get all these great results into a funnel that at the end you can easily spot a great name.


1) Modifiers to minimize results like max chars in the domain name.

2) Take the word or phrase the person typed in and throw it into reverse dictionary [1] and then take those results and re-run them through your site (ditto for thesaurus.com).

3) Option to remove a result when one word ends and another starts with the same letter and try reversing to see if available (ie ramppart.com).

4) Option to include tons of different mythology dictionaries [2] and include names where definitions include the user's inputed word/phrase.

[1] http://www.onelook.com/reverse-dictionary.shtml

[2] http://www.ventrue.net/GSA/myth.htm

Great suggestions -- thank you.

I just added an option to sort by length, which should take care of #1. #3 is also a great idea -- I'll see what I can do.

Can you walk me through how #2 would work in practice?

I wouldn't call your service a startup.

So, this is like my unfinished domsrch.com, my experience is that people don't really need this service this much and there are some others that already fill the space.

I definitely wish you to succeed where I failed :). I just wouldn't leave my day job which is why I am saying it isn't a startup.

One modest suggestion—I would remove GoDaddy from the default list of registrars that appear when a user selects a name they are interested in.

I knew this would come up :)

I am relying on affiliate revenue for income and like it or not, GoDaddy is the largest registrar in the world. That doesn't mean its inclusion is automatic, but IMO GoDaddy is not evil enough to warrant removing it. Thoughts?

Perhaps adding a couple other options so that GoDaddy isn't so prominent.

With only GoDaddy and NameCheap (who I love, btw), it's likely to give a lot of business to GoDaddy from people who don't really have a preference or know much about them.

I understand your point about affiliate revenue, whatever my personal opinion about GoDaddy might be. Personally, I do think they're evil enough to warrant removal, but I'm just one person, and it's your site.

Adding more registrars might be a reasonable compromise.

IMO GoDaddy is not evil enough to warrant removing it.

IMO, they are evil enough to warrant removal.

True, but he's controls whether its removed or not so it's best to give a more persuasive reason.

I've been happy with transfers I made from GD to name.com (namecheap wasn't bad, but name.com is more flexible with the way I like to set up multiple accounts).

I wonder whether they'd be willing to work on an affiliate deal with you. And others here could probably suggest more registrars that would be worth including.

Seeing GD in your list (at least it's not at the top) was disheartening. They seem very evil indeed, and not just in recent action.

I'm curious. How much affiliate revenue (dollar wise) do you get when someone registers a domain through godaddy?

I really like it, but it's giving me plenty of results for domains that are already taken: http://www.leandomainsearch.com/search?q=commerce

Some searches only result in a few available domain names. There's not much I can do about that other than generate and check more domain names (which I will in the future). It's the nature of whatever you're searching for; commerce (and most other money-related searches) will be saturated.

I don't think that's what the parent is saying. It would seem that domains that you say are available for the .com gTLD actually are not.

Maybe you count as "available", domains for which the .com is taken but other gTLDs are not?

Personally when I search for a domain I'm only interested in .com, but maybe you could let users choose what TLDs they care about?

Gotcha -- I misunderstood.

For complicated reasons, sometimes a registered domain will show up as available. This should only happen in less than 1% of cases and I'm working on reducing it to zero.

Seems to be happening much more than 1% to me, every link I have clicked so far (6 or 7) has resulted in an already registered domain.

Same here, when I searched for "rpg".

As others have stated, it seems to be much more than 1%... and it absolutely must be zero if the service is to have any credibility.

Anyone can make a list of words: that's the trivial part. What you are "selling" (even if for free) is the capability to verify availability fast; you need to deliver on that promise for the whole thing to have any value.

I'd say the value is even negative when registered domains are shown as available, because then it's wasting users' time.

(Sorry to be blunt but I don't know how else to put it).

I always feel more efficient just doing the search myself with http://instantdomainsearch.com

If you're going to spam, at least be more subtle about it?

I'm not affiliated with IDS at all, I just like their interface much more than any other domain name search tool I've ever tried including the OP. Yes IDS is a GoDaddy affiliate marketer but that doesn't mean I can't use their search function and then go register with whoever I want.

I don't think it's spam. Instant Domain Search is a great site, but you still need to be creative in order to know what to search for. Lean Domain Search does it for you.

It's spam. The search goes straight to godaddy to check using an affiliate link.

It's not spam:

a) IDS does searches as you type and displays the availability immediately. Yes, it displays affilate links, but you can find an available domain and register somewhere else if you like.

b) pilom isn't affiliated with the site

It's certainly useful, though it looks like it's just attaching choice-words to the beginning and end of the word I entered.

It's not clear from looking at the results what TLDs\ each result is, though it appears to only return .com. What about all the other cool TLDs like net/om/us/etc.

Also have you seen this: http://domai.nr/

Was fast, which is appreciated!

Very cool. How are you getting the results? I've seen this happen with domainr too but there seems to be some errors.

For example, "fotoflow" is listed as an available domain name but it is actually taken.

In any case, this is a very useful tool - thanks for posting.

Looks like a useful tool. I get an "Oops, something went wrong ..." when I enter "shop". Besides that I really like the concept of http://stylate.com/ to find domains for startups.

Nice tool, I was looking for something like this a few weeks ago and most didn't "just work".

A few things I noticed while using other services -- none had all of these in one place:

- It would be handy to be able to sort by number of characters, etc.

- some places allow adding of common prefixes/suffixes

- Can you do a search of more than 1000 keywords via button to do the next 1000?

- In the case of searching a common word, I only got ~30 available domains out of 1000, it would be great if you automatically threw another 1000 behind it.

- Another registrar a lot of people use is moniker. Whatever I register through your site I'll use the referral link because you're saving me time

Nice app, I've bookmarked it!

Great ideas. In the last few hours I:

- Added sorting options (alphabetical, length) - Added filtering options (starts with, ends with) - Added a Moniker registration link

Will eventually add more search results; want to make sure this holds up first.

Wow, those were quick changes, I'm already using it again.

Another thing that crossed my mind you might want to think about. When I go to alot of sites, I wonder if they're one of the offenders that steal people's searches (by tracking which generated domain they click on how many times), and then go register the domain behind the persons back after a few hours if they don't do it right away... only to make it available for sale at a profit.

Maybe a clear definition of "How we make money" is a good idea. Maybe it's just me, but I think that might not be the case.

I just did a search for $string and it returned 1000 available domain names that were all $something+$string or $string+$something. However, ($string).com was not returned as an option even though it is available!

Update from the author here:

There was a bug that caused the "Double-check availability" results to show that every domain name was registered. I just pushed an update that corrected this so it now returns the correct results.

At first glance, looks pretty cool. However, I find the green of the available results to be quite painful to look at. Something like #B8FC9F looks a lot better, to me.

Interesting color. Anyone else have any recommendations on what to change the green domains to?

I'm not sure what color scheme you'd like to go with, but as a colorblind user, the green and yellow colors that you're currently using are very similar to me.

Perhaps you could do a colorblind mode that uses red, blue, and yellow (out of simplicity's sake) to indicate availability? It'd make your service way more useful for me :)

It's too sharp on a black background with black text. On a high-end display it's just too.. rich a colour. I'd use pastels personally.

Look for a palette you like here:


Hey there....

I think I may have found a bug - either that, or I don't understand what this site is meant to do. I searched 'media' and one of the available domains it found was 'medialounge.com'. Thinking, 'holy crap, that sounds like the kind of domain that I would like', I took a trip over to my registrar. Turns out that that domain is not actually available. Let me know if you need some system info and I can email it to you....

I'm seeing something odd with the way you're building the results HTML - on Safari 5.1.2 text search doesn't pick up the majority of instances of a string.

For example, the term you're searching against is only showing up 4 times, when it appears over 1000. It works fine in Chrome 16.

It's useful for times when you see a name you like but want to find the reverse combination.

Nice tool, although the results seem to be a bit incorrect in some situations. I've searched for "hotel" and got a nice list of "available" domains, but some of them were already registered (eg. hotelbit.com, hotelartist.com, buzzhotel.com)

Good thing is I also got some very interesting domain names which were indeed available, so kudos for the nice work.

Hey hey, wait a minute.

I searched out Code (http://www.leandomainsearch.com/search?q=Code) and tried to register codejet.com ,which was shown available by you , but, it was already registered. Similarly, I tried to get Codehit and again, it failed. Could you please explain?

This is a case of his fast, DNS-based checking method not providing accurate results. You can see the difference by running nslookup and whois on the domain. Nslookup just uses DNS, whereas whois goes to the registrar/internic.

$ nslookup codejet.com

Server: Address:

server can't find codejet.com: NXDOMAIN

$ whois codejet.com

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net for detailed information.

   Domain Name: CODEJET.COM
   Registrar: GODADDY.COM, LLC
   Whois Server: whois.godaddy.com
   Referral URL: http://registrar.godaddy.com
   Name Server: No nameserver
   Status: clientDeleteProhibited
   Status: clientRenewProhibited
   Status: clientTransferProhibited
   Status: clientUpdateProhibited
   Updated Date: 20-may-2011
   Creation Date: 01-jun-2000
   Expiration Date: 01-jun-2012
>>> Last update of whois database: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 19:34:42 UTC <<<

The results are not perfect.

I added a "doublecheck" link on the registration dialog box that allows you to confirm before following through to the registrar.

I like this. It's really cool. One idea that could be really beneficial is if you crawl auction sites/domain selling sites, and create a subcategory for domains that are for trying to be sold. You've got the registared domains already, but it would be so helpful to see which of those are "available to be had" so to speak.

Overall, nice execution. I tested a couple nouns and I could definitely see myself using this in the feature.

I do think the mass of green at the top of the results is a little... too stunning. Do you think the same thing could be achieved with colored text and/or colored borders for each div and/or something else along those lines?

I agree the black on bright green text is intense and not very readable. I like the idea but I think you need to tweak the design a little. The layout is pretty good just need to play around with the colors a little bit.

Thanks -- I've heard this from a few other folks too.

Any recommendations on the shade of green/red to make it?

Does this work? My search for my new recipe site noshpoop.com turned up 1000 variations but noshpoop.com was not one of them. It is clearly available though - though I am sure hacker grabbed it by now ;) Seriously though, the results didn't show my request as the 1st option.

I searched for "player" (http://www.leandomainsearch.com/search?q=player) and every free (green) domain I click and do double check it says "Doh! Looks like makeplayer.com is actually NOT available"

Hey, there was a bug that caused every result to come back as "registered" when you clicked "Double check results". I fixed this so it shouldn't be quite so dismal now. Thanks for reporting this.

Hey guys,

I'm not sure what your backend looks like but I wrote this python script that uses a thesaurus lookup to find similar words for further name inspiration. It also has support for dropping vowels if the user wants.

Pass me your email address if you'd like a copy, I'm not doing anything with it.

I'd like to check it out. matt@leandomainsearch.com

FWIW, I plan on adding an option to automatically search for synonyms down the road.

I just pushed it to my github in case anyone else wants a copy. It uses commandline whois so it's not really useful for a website implementation.


This is awesome, Giving an option to add custom strings to all searches would be cool.

Eg: current searches doesn't append the word "get" before domain string. But, I sometimes do that, while I search for a domain.

So it would be nice to have an option where users can add optional strings they want.

With regard to being a viable business not sure, but on a personal note, I really like it. Very impressed by the speed. I don't mind that it's not 100% correct. It's a great tool to get your creative juices flowing when looking for an available domain.

Thanks, appreciate it. And I'm working on the accuracy issue.

I like the site :) but I wouldn't buy the domain from you via the affiliate link, I'd use my usual domain registrar once I'd used your service to check it was free.

I agree with the others saying this is a feature rather than a company. It's an awesome feature though :)

I get an error when I try 'shop': http://www.leandomainsearch.com/search?q=shop

Otherwise, very nicely done. I tried several searches and had a few reasonable-ish domains come back.

Here are two very useful things that you could add:

1. For registered domains check to see if there's actually a live site. This would narrow the list of domains that could be purchased.

2. Also for registered domains check to see if the domain is for sale or auction.

Thanks --

Even if there's not a live site, that doesn't mean you can simply purchase the domain name.

Also, my gut says that most people don't want to pay a lot for their domain names and would not use the sale/auction availability indicator.

That being said, if more people are interested in it I can look into it. Would you mind adding it to the suggestions page?


http;//domai.nr/ does this fairly accurately it seems.

Wow, this is the most useful startup I've seen in a while. Bookmarking it. The only issue I encountered was that your domain search is not real-time, so some of domains under the 'social' search have already been taken!

Great tool. I could see this being really useful when it comes time to register a domain name. Great design too.

I am impressed with how quickly it checks 1000 domains. Care to share any of the technologies used to build it?

90% perspiration. :)

Very useful service, I'm adding it to bookmarks. This and http://instantdomainsearch.com/ really make choosing domain names a lot easier.

The search input box is long and it's not clear if you can but when the input box is long I suspect that I can type multiple words. I'd love to be able to write "fox or news" or "fox news or paper"

Great idea -- will do.

This is really useful, but is there a reason why you are limiting the maximum length of the input to 20 characters? I already came across a few cases where I wanted to use a longer phrase.

As a website operator, you should not use domain names that are that long. And the search results don't render well :)

:) I agree. However, you might be losing "sales" to people who don't agree. Maybe that is a small group, idk.

But I see how you would need a two column layout (or something) for the results of longer search terms.

OP here again, for anyone still following along:

Lean Domain Search now tracks the false positives (registered domains that show up as available) and will no longer show them on subsequent searches.

Not a bad tool. I'd get excited if it let me also see results for .org and .net domains. Seeing information about search volume for exact match searches would also be interesting.

This is exactly what I need. I have been having difficulty looking for viable domain names that contain good keywords and that I can use as a business name as well. Great help!

I typed in a word and I got a bunch of domains that were already registered and not enough domains available.

So obviously, get more domains available.

It's a great service though, if you can make it more useful.

Hey, thanks for the feedback.

I added an option to doublecheck the availability when you click an available domain name. Hopefully this will save you a bit of energy.

Nice tool.

The lookups may need to be fixed -- the first two "green" domains I clicked when searching for "mobile" were actually taken. However, "green" means available, right?

Thanks -- some registered show up as available and vice versa, an unfortunate side effect of the way I'm doing the searches. Am looking into reducing the error rate.

Very useful, but I'd like it to show more suggestions. Searching for common words results in only a few available domains, and hundreds of taken ones.

10 out of the 10 "available domains" for the term I entered ("cloud") showed up as not available when I clicked Double Check Availability.

Fixed -- the site will now track double-checked domains that come up as registered and not show them again as registered.

The site works pretty well. I like the number of options available. It may not be a cause for a company but it is a useful website. nice work.

It looks great, it's fast, and the keyword combinations for my query were excellent. Great job and I hope this takes off for you!

the quality of the names it comes up with seems pretty meh. there is a lot of room for improvement.

for example, use tricks from poetry: assonance, consonance, alternate spellings, break the provided words into syllables and return names with multiple words that overlap on the last syllable one word and the first syllable of the next, do connotation analysis

WARNING: this site is dangerous for anyone with the propensity to buy domains they don't need, but are too good to pass over.

Worth considering adding social handle search to this (for example twitter handles and facebook pages to see whats available)

Is this using twitter bootstrap? It looks like it is, but not sure...either way, love the design!

Also, why did you shut the pigeon one down?

Not using Twitter bootstrap.

I shut it down for a few reasons, primarily because Preceden (http://www.preceden.com), the tool I built after it, was doing quite well and I wasn't disciplined enough at the time to run two sites at once. Live and learn.

I'm sorry but this is freaking awesome. I don't care if it's a feature it's a great idea and dam you need some credit!

I would enjoy being able to sort by color (availability etc) so I can quickly see a grouping of which ones are taken.

It would be great if the whole result table was searchable. Love the concept. Maybe add option for .net?

The moment this site suggested I register a domain with GoDaddy I closed it as fast as I could.

nice, I works fast and very user-friendly for me :)

Though it wasn't clear to me, that it only searched for .com domains (until the 3rd time I tried, where I saw the note to the right of the results).

A nice feature would also to filter on the max. length of the suggested domain names.

Cool, but, ouch. My eyes really hurt after looking at black-text-on-green-background.

These services miss the point - spend a little more and buy a name off someone.

How about showing up instant results (if possible) to make it more interesting?

Nice, but I can't enter numbers? Example 'HTML5'

Listed a domain that was taken :p

Domai.nr is a similar example

just realized a "great" add-on business idea for you. let people search, register the domains yourself in the background. sell them. you'd go to hell, so that's something to consider though.

i wonder if amazon predicts their supply chain based on search results.

what if I want the word "tv" in my domain...?

Black text on green background? Zee goggles, they do nothing!

I always use http://instantdomainsearch.com

I have no time waiting around for POST results.

Consider AJAX as the next item on the TODO list.

If you know what you are searching. Lean domain search gives thousand suggestions at a time so it's faster than typing them one by one in IDS.

A the same time I'm totally turned off by getting like a 1000 results.

It would make more sense from a usability if I could then continue filtering the list down more and more.

Awesome. Bookmarked.

I'm afraid this doesn't stack up well to the existing tools our there. Here's a comparison of your results with the tool I use most often when searching for a domain:

http://www.leandomainsearch.com/search?q=big+daddy http://www.domaintools.com/buy/domain-suggestions/?q=big+dad...

Domaintools' name spinner just gives better results, and immediately tells me about availability for all the .tlds as well.

So I guess step one would be to get your tool at least as good as that.

Good luck!

Thanks for the feedback.

Excluding the other TLDs, how are Domain Tools's results better? Looking through the 20 that you linked to, they seem much poorer than Lean Domain Search's, though I admit I am a bit bias.

Also, IMO other TLDs do not make good website names. They confuse normal people, which is why I did not include them in the Lean Domain Search results.

The results are much poorer on Domain Tools, and other TLDs are generally worth less than .com's. Since your tool is called LEAN domain search. I would assume its for .com's which is mostly what 90% of the community looks for when looking for a domain. Otherwise they wouldn't turn to a tool like yours for help in finding a domain. Thus the whole comment that he made is mostly irrelevant. I think your tool does an extremely good job of displaying a lot of good names at a very fast pace. I wouldn't clutter down and slow the results with other TLDs.

Great work.

Thanks, agreed on all points. Appreciate it.

I disagree with your assessment.

"Doesn't stack up well" and "get your tool as good as that" aren't very constructive phrases, as feedback goes.

What goals do you have for a tool that others meet, and this one does not? Where do you see Lean Domain Search falling short? How are the others better, specifically?

I just tried the name spinner you linked to, and while it has some features that LDS lacks, it seemed to focus more on synonyms and similarities than actually including my keyword or string in the domain. I especially disliked the "show more results" link, which left me unclear on how many results were really available. I don't want to spend my time clicking blindly in hopes of finding something, I'd rather just see the full list.

The multiple TLD availability is an extra feature LDS doesn't have, but not one I'd find useful. Personally, if it's not a .com, I'm not interested. That could just be me, though.

I much prefer the simple and elegant approach LDS has taken.

Better is subjective. As such, I'd say its valuable feedback to know that even after seeing this tool, if I were looking for a new domain today, I'd still use the domaintools tool over this one. Remember, just because this is a startup community, we shouldn't hold back from giving negative feedback or pointing out existing products that are better. It's a first cut, so it's not expected to be perfect. Reading the author's comment on mine, you can see that he understands that.

For me, I'd rather see synonyms for the words I include than random words tacked on to either side of it. I also want to see all the tld variants of the name itself.

When I'm searching for a name for a new product, I'm in a flexible frame of mind, and the words I toss out for suggestions are not carved in stone. I expect them to be sent through a thesaurus and given back to me in every conceivable combination. Usually one of those unexpected combos ends up being the one I go with.

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