The Slurl

When Domain Names Go Wrong – The SLURL, and how to avoid it.

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The Slurl

Coming up with a name for your business can be tricky.

When you think you've cracked it, you then have search for a website domain name to match it or reflect your business's area of expertise.

With so many businesses and websites out there, getting the right domain name can be tricky, and there's a few things to consider when choosing one that suits.

And to top it all, there is a chance you can end up with a web domain that can actually damage your brand.

How can you avoid the potential brand embarrassment that can arise from such a simple thing as choosing a website domain name?

Let's find out 😁

Is reading too passé for you? Then you are in luck, here is a video version of this blog just for you!

What is a URL, and how it becomes a SLURL?

What is a URL?

URL is shorthand for Uniform Resource Locator or, as we more commonly know it, a website address or web domain name.

While searching for website domain names, you may be amazed to find that your business name is available. Hurrah!

But wait a minute.

A reason your perfect domain name is still available could be that it is what's known as a slurl, and you haven't noticed.

What is a SLURL?

Created by Andy Geldman, a software developer in the UK, a SLURL is a combination of URL and the word slur.

The word slur means an insulting or a disparaging remark or innuendo.

By combining URL and slur, we get a term containing adult phrases, slang terms, or innuendo. Something that many people could find insulting and put them off visiting your website.

Andy has even written a whole book about them!

Slurls: They Called Their Website What?!

Examples of SLURL domain names

Let's take a look at some slurl web domain examples. 

Some of these still exist, but many brands have since realised that they had a slurl domain and removed it.

Pen Island

A great example is from the company Pen Island Pens, which has the unfortunate URL of

Because domain names don't use capitalisation to help accentuate individual words, our brains chop them up into different words and phrases, creating a slurl. 

It isn't clear whether this is a genuine company that sells branded pens or if they're making fun of the slurl, penisland, as a web domain. 

Okay, maybe it is clear when you look at their logo and read the website copy.

Pen Island

Who Represents

Who Represents is a database of talent agency representatives and not a present store for, well, I'll let you figure that one out.

Anything with the word Artisanal

Don't even get me started on Artisanal. Any company that uses the word artisanal in their domain will always end up being the butt of the joke.

Case in point - Artisanal Cheese

Artisanal Cheese

You must check your company or domain name written down in these different formats. Otherwise, you might end up changing the whole meaning and become associated with something unsavoury.

A slurl can influence the perception of your company / brand

Here are some domains of sites that no longer exist. Can you see why?

Many of these brands are positive ventures, but due to the combination of words in the domain, and how they can be read, they give off negative vibes.


A bonus personal slurl

One bonus example is that of a very short-lived podcast that I started with a friend of mine.

We called the podcast "Let's Hit Record", which looks like this as a domain name

As you can see, we had created an unfortunate slurl within our domain name. Well, we didn't see it as unfortunate; it was pretty much on-brand for our discussion style.

We'd often say that we'd be 'Shootin' the shit' when we recorded our podcast conversations.

Let's Hit Record

Consider the words  in your domain name.

We can often be so focused on getting a specific name or series of words that we don't see slurl variations in our web domains.

My advice is always to get a second pair of eyes to take a look at the domain name you've decided to go with before you launch it into the public. Someone else might see a slurl that you completely missed.

On the other hand, as in my "Let's Hit Record" podcast example, a slurl may be the perfect way to get people talking.

Some brands like to court controversy. Just be sure that your audience will appreciate it before you go ahead. You don't want to build a brand around a name, where only you see the funny side, and others consider it inappropriate!

In addition to domain names, you will also need to decide on your social media handles. Again, take some consideration to avoid slurls and ensure you're easy to find.

Aside from including potentially inappropriate phrases, it would be best if you considered your industry and what terms are searched for online. 

For example, you might use your initials as your company name, but will that help with online searches if people are looking for your kind of business?

Take B&Q, a huge company that uses its trading name for social media. Still, its domain name is, ensuring it ranks highly for any DIY related searches. The business sector where they specialise.

You don't always have to have your business name as your domain name. You can choose something that may be related to a brand outcome or benefit.

Fr example, Peanut Butter & Co use the domain name


It's all in a name

If you're struggling to find a suitable brand name, domain name or handles for social media, I can help.

I've worked with many businesses over the years when it comes to choosing the best fitting name. There are many things to consider, and having an expert like myself on hand is an excellent investment.

We can get the ball rolling with a Power Hour call. Book yours today by clicking on the button below.

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