The Radio Test – What It Means For Your Domain Name and Online Success

Fifun Delight Johnson
Fifun Delight Johnson

Writing reviews and buying advice on tech products, software, cloud & internet services | Simplifying technology with user documentation, FAQs & Knowledgebase content

The radio test for your domain name is simply a way to check how easily people can spell and find your website by just hearing it, without any prior knowledge of your brand. If your domain name doesn’t pass the radio test, you risk losing valuable traffic and undermining your marketing efforts.

In this digital age, the radio test goes far beyond traditional radio and applies to every marketing channel that integrates audio – YouTube, TV adverts, podcasts, etc. And when people refer your brand via word-of-mouth, your domain must be very easy to spell.

Many webmasters and online business owners like you, have never heard of the radio test. So in the rest of this article, we’ll discuss exactly what the radio test is, common domain flaws that can make your domain fail the radio test, and how to carry out the radio test so you can choose the best domain that’s easy to find, and most importantly, practical.

What exactly is the radio test in evaluating domain names?

Whether you are trying to choose a new domain name for your brand or just want to evaluate your current domain, the radio test is one of the most important evaluations you need to carry out.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you were looking to buy a reseller hosting package and you are listening to a podcast when an ad from a reseller hosting company you2canhost.com  comes up. You2canhost is pronounced ‘You too can host’ and unless the ad specifically says the ‘too’ is spelled as ‘2’ (which you’ll likely forget), chances are you’ll type youtoocanhost.com  in your browser if you wanted to check them out later.

Shortening words this way and using numbers to represent words is a common bad practice when choosing domain names and will make your domain fail the radio test.

So, the radio test is a way to ensure that your domain name is easy to understand and guides you to choose domains that can be found by anyone, or at least your target audience.

Browse GoDaddy Auctions that passed our radio test
Name RAD Link Price BID WBY BRR END
newscafe.com
1.00 GoDaddy 2 000 58 1996 0 2024-05-21
somethingnavy.com
1.00 GoDaddy 9 600 69 2010 0 2024-05-21
bedbug.com
1.00 GoDaddy 9 999 128 1998 0 2024-05-21
buddyloans.com
1.00 GoDaddy 6 605 43 2005 0 2024-05-21
bridgersteel.com
1.00 GoDaddy 3 931 146 2003 0 2024-05-21
naturalcure.com
1.00 GoDaddy 3 350 68 2001 0 2024-05-21
fashionpassion.com
1.00 GoDaddy 115 15 1997 0 2024-05-21
publaw.com
1.00 GoDaddy 455 53 1996 0 2024-05-21
openio.com
1.00 GoDaddy 905 52 2001 1 2024-05-21
buildvalue.com
1.00 GoDaddy 45 6 2001 0 2024-05-21
  • newscafe.com
    1.00
    GoDaddy
    2 000
    58
    1996
    0
    2024-05-21
  • somethingnavy.com
    1.00
    GoDaddy
    9 600
    69
    2010
    0
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot
  • bedbug.com
    1.00
    GoDaddy
    9 999
    128
    1998
    0
    2024-05-21
  • buddyloans.com
    1.00
    GoDaddy
    6 605
    43
    2005
    0
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot
  • bridgersteel.com
    1.00
    GoDaddy
    3 931
    146
    2003
    0
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot
  • naturalcure.com
    1.00
    GoDaddy
    3 350
    68
    2001
    0
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot
  • fashionpassion.com
    1.00
    GoDaddy
    115
    15
    1997
    0
    2024-05-21
  • publaw.com
    1.00
    GoDaddy
    455
    53
    1996
    0
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot
  • openio.com
    1.00
    GoDaddy
    905
    52
    2001
    1
    2024-05-21
  • buildvalue.com
    1.00
    GoDaddy
    45
    6
    2001
    0
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot

Passing the radio test - Domain name elements to avoid

We’ve established that the radio test checks for clarity. So, what are some of the conventions or elements you should avoid when you’re choosing a domain name for your brand to pass the radio test? Let’s take a look at some of them:

Homophones – words that sound similar

Homophones are words that are pronounced similarly but have different meanings. Some examples of homophones are (‘to’, ‘two’ and ‘too’), (‘by’, ‘buy’ and ‘bye’), (‘one’ and ‘won’), (‘break’ and ‘brake’), (‘redeem’ and ‘rhythm’), (‘arc’ and ‘arch’), etc.

Credit: YourDictionary

When choosing a domain, try to avoid using homophones as much as possible. Homophones can make you lose traffic to other similar-sounding domains from people looking to check out your website. Also, attacks from bad actors using homophones in domain squatting (profiting off another brand’s trademarks by registering similar domains) have been on the rise.

Some examples of how homophones can misdirect users:

The website ‘twotour.com’ will be pronounced and spelled as ‘tutor.com’ just by ear. In the same way, ‘bestcourts.com’ can easily get confused with ‘bestcuts.com’ or ‘diguise.com’ with ‘thisguys.com’.

Domains with multiple consonants in a row

Words with more vowels are easier to understand and spell, and this extends to your domain names as well. Try to avoid choosing a domain name with too many consonants joined consecutively.

Words with multiple consonants are more difficult to spell and write because many times, one of the letters is silent when the whole word is pronounced. Some examples include ‘rhythm’, ‘arch’, ‘asthma’, ‘receipt’, and ‘muscle’.

For many people, these seemingly easy words are difficult to spell. So, try to avoid infusing your domain name with multiple consonants in a row. Instead, choose words with vowel-consonant sequences throughout or with at most one consonant-consonant pair.

Domains that can misspelled as different phrases

Some of the worst domains  or most easily confused domains in history were domains with compound words that could also be misspelled as other words or phrases. This is a mistake you should avoid at all costs.

When considering a domain, type it out and see if it can be read as a different phrase or word. If it is, then you should let it go and look for another domain.

Therapistfinder.com – This was meant to be a website for people to find therapists close to them, but can also be misinterpreted as ‘the ****** finder’.

Other examples that don’t need explaining include powergenitalia.com (meant as powergen-italia), choosespain.com(choose-spain), etc.

Having a domain with these kinds of words can undermine your efforts and brand reputation and leave your visitors either offended or not taking your brand seriously.

Hyphens (-), underscores(_), and dots(.)

Including hyphens, underscores, and dots between words (aside from the extension or TLD e.g. .com, .net) can feel like a great way to name your domain, especially if the non-hyphenated version is not available or too expensive, but you should avoid these too.

Credit: SEOptimizer

Whenever you are advertising your domain, you will always have to specify the hyphens or underscore and your audience can easily forget their placement. If you heard ‘best-buy.com’, you’re likely to type in ‘bestbuy.com’ if you wanted to check their website.

If the domain you want isn’t available then it’s much better to search for another one.

Using numbers to represent words

In the first example we gave, ‘you2canhost.com’ will always be pronounced and spelled as ‘youtoocanhost.com’ by anyone who doesn’t know that the ‘2’ is used to represent ‘too’. This domain name will fail the radio test.

Always avoid using numbers to represent when you’re choosing a domain name. Some classic examples include using 4 to represent ‘four’, 2 to represent ‘two’, and so on.

When choosing a domain name, always spell out numeric words in full and not shortened as numbers. For example, you should always choose ‘carsforyou.com’ instead of ‘cars4u.com’.

Using acronyms or abbreviations

As an extension of using numbers to represent numeric words, you should also avoid using acronyms or abbreviations to represent lengthier words. If the word you want to include is that lengthy, then it may be best to go for something else.

An abbreviation is the shorter version of a lengthier word or phrase. E.g: ‘I’m’ is an abbreviation of ‘I am’, ‘stats’, that of ‘statistics’, ‘mgmt’ for ‘management’, and ‘ad’ is an abbreviation of ‘advertisement’.

Many abbreviations are not official words or can be quite difficult to spell. For example ‘mgmt’ is impossible to pronounce and will fail the radio test, unless each letter is called out, making any domain name that includes it too lengthy and more difficult to remember.

Domains containing words with extra or fewer letters

Domain names that contain words with extra letters (especially consonants) or fewer vowels should be avoided. A good example of this can be seen in fiverr.com – one of the most popular freelance marketplaces in the world.

For someone hearing the website for the first time, ‘fiverr’ is pronounced as ‘fiver’ and anyone trying to spell it will go for the latter if they are not told that there’s an extra ‘r’ at the end.

Credit: myHQ Digest

Another example with fewer letters is ‘emailfindr.com’ with the ‘e’ missing in ‘finder’. emailfindr.com will always be pronounced as ‘emailfinder.com’ and the brand will always have to specify the missing ‘e’.

The second example also jampacks too many consonants in a row – ‘ndr’ – making it harder to spell.

Naturally difficult words

As a general rule of thumb, just avoid naturally difficult words to spell. These include lengthy words with multiple syllables, words that are not commonly used in everyday human conversation, and words that are pronounced differently from how they are spelled.

Some of these difficult words include ‘connoisseur’, ‘queue’, ‘quay’, ‘occasion’, ‘paraphernalia’, etc.

It’s best to avoid words that are difficult to spell even if they’re more available – there’s a reason why other webmasters are avoiding them right? Also, stick with domains that are at most three or four syllables if possible. The fewer the better!

Don’t get fancy or too creative

Another common error webmasters make is that they try to get too creative or fancy to create domain names that sound nice or embody their brand purpose. While this can be great sometimes, it is always a safe bet to go for a simple domain name.

If someone who knows nothing about your industry or brand cannot spell your domain from its pronunciation, then it’s better to change it.

Domains often combine many of these elements

It is important to note that many poor-performing domains combine two or more of some of these common errors we just looked at. For example, in ‘cookies4U’, ‘4’ is used to represent ‘for’, and ‘U’ is an abbreviation of ‘you’.

So, while you’re tweaking your domain name, be careful so you don’t unknowingly make another error.

Carrying out the radio test for your domain name

Now, we’ve seen some of the common elements to avoid when you hit ‘search’ on your domain registration portal and you’ve found the perfect domain for your brand. But how can you tell if it passes the radio test? How easily will your target audience be able to find your website when you start running advertisements?

You can perform the radio test yourself! There’s no magic radio tester and how you decide to go about it is up to you. However, you should follow these steps to determine your domain’s ‘radio worthiness’:

Use a recording device and test it yourself

The first step to radio test your domain is to listen to your domain yourself. Using a recording device or your phone, make a simple voice note where you pronounce your website a couple of times.

Now, hit ‘play’, turn away from your device or close your eyes, and listen to the pronunciation. Step into the shoes of someone hearing your website for the first time.

Was the correct spelling the first thing that came to mind? Or did you possibly think of a different word? If it was the latter then you may need to go back to the drawing board.

However, if everything’s good, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Asking friends to spell your domain name over the phone

Next, send a recording of your domain name being pronounced to your friends or colleagues and ask them to spell it. Ideally, send the voice notes to people who are not in the same industry as you and don’t have an idea of what the website is about.

This way, you can be sure to get unbiased feedback on whether your domain name is easy to spell. You can also repeat the same test over the phone where you ask them to repeat your domain name and spell it.

This must be done over a device to mimic how your domain will sound over digital devices when you are eventually running advertisements.

Asking people in person

And finally, to determine if your domain name will be easily marketed through word-of-mouth, conduct a test with several people (better if they are total strangers) in person.

Can they pronounce and spell back your domain even when they don’t see it written out? Were they confusing some words for other words? Doing these tests gives you real-life data to help you decide whether your domain is clear enough or needs to be tweaked.

Final Thoughts; Choosing the best domain name

The radio test evaluates how easily a listener can spell your domain name just from its pronunciation and consequently, how easily they will find your website or store when you’ve piqued their interest. It is an excellent way to determine your domain name clarity and ensure that you are not leaking traffic.

We’ve looked at some of the elements to avoid when you’re deciding on a domain name – homophones, multiple consonants, abbreviations, using numbers to represent words, and naturally difficult words. Keep it clear, short, and simple with commonly used words.

To perform the radio test for your domain, test it yourself, test it with people over a digital device, and then in person.

Once you have screened your domain name, you can rest assured that you have a domain that will maximize your marketing efforts and will make it easy for potential customers or readers to commit to performing the action you want them to and convert!

Browse expiring domains that passed our radio test
Name RAD Link EAP WBY END
voltra.com
1.00 Backorder 6 802 1997 2024-05-22
assurances.com
1.00 Backorder 3 498 2000 2024-05-22
expono.com
1.00 Backorder 2 453 2004 2024-05-21
afei.com
1.00 Backorder 2 211 1998 2024-05-22
insightswest.com
1.00 Backorder 1 544 2012 2024-05-21
structuralsolutions.com
1.00 Backorder 1 079 1999 2024-05-21
themolecule.com
1.00 Backorder 995 2001 2024-05-22
photosex.com
1.00 Backorder 588 2000 2024-05-22
granitebaysoftware.com
1.00 Backorder 431 2005 2024-05-21
theweddingcommunity.com
1.00 Backorder 411 2009 2024-05-21
  • voltra.com
    1.00
    Backorder
    6 802
    1997
    2024-05-22
  • assurances.com
    1.00
    Backorder
    3 498
    2000
    2024-05-22
  • expono.com
    1.00
    Backorder
    2 453
    2004
    2024-05-21
  • afei.com
    1.00
    Backorder
    2 211
    1998
    2024-05-22
  • insightswest.com
    1.00
    Backorder
    1 544
    2012
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot
  • structuralsolutions.com
    1.00
    Backorder
    1 079
    1999
    2024-05-21
  • themolecule.com
    1.00
    Backorder
    995
    2001
    2024-05-22
    Screenshot
  • photosex.com
    1.00
    Backorder
    588
    2000
    2024-05-22
    Screenshot
  • granitebaysoftware.com
    1.00
    Backorder
    431
    2005
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot
  • theweddingcommunity.com
    1.00
    Backorder
    411
    2009
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot