Choosing a good domain name is an integral part of your website development process. Your domain name should reflect what your business does and should make it easy for people to find and promote your website.
Don’t assume people will visit your website just because it has quality content. Would you visit or trust a website with a domain like “howtomakemoneyonline.info”?
The domain name can make or break your website so you should put a lot of thought and consideration in choosing one that people can trust and memorize.
It’s one of the first things users will see when your website appear in search engine result pages or in social networks (when shared), typically right below the page title.
A bad domain name will result in users hesitating to click through to your page, or hesitating to purchase anything from your site. They may not even click on the ads on your site, thinking that they may contain viruses. It’s all about human psychology.
The keywords included in your domain name may help you rank in search engines even though Exact Match Domains or EMDs are no longer a thing.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a name for your website.
Your domain name should be easy to type. If it contains slang such as “u” instead of “you”, or words with same sound but different spelling, it will be hard for people to find your website.
If your domain name is complex and hard to pronounce, visitors will have a hard time spreading word about your website to their friends and colleagues orally.
Even if they manage to pronounce it correctly after several attempts, the other party won’t be able to memorize it because of the name’s complexity.
A great way to test how easy it is to pronounce a domain name is to gather 10 people and ask them to pronounce it. If they seem to have trouble pronouncing it, you should pick a more simple name.
It doesn’t matter how great your website is if no one can remember its name.
If the domain name is too long, people may mistype or misspell it. Short names are easier to type and memorize. In addition, it will allow more of the URL to appear in search engine result pages and social networks, and will fit nicely in business cards and all other marketing campaigns.
It’s never a good idea to use hyphens and numbers in your domain name. First of all it makes typing and pronouncing more difficult and complicated.
Just imagine explaining what YouTube is if it had a hyphen in the middle. You would have to say “Have you ever gone to You-Tube? It’s a great place to watch all sorts of videos for free. Oh, by the way, there is a hyphen between the ‘You’ and ‘Tube’”.
If you don’t explicitly say that there is a hyphen in the middle, the other person won’t know that and may result in them going to another website instead. If this was the case, YouTube may not have spread this quickly.
Let’s look at another example. Let’s say you own a website called “top10.com”. When you try to market it orally, people may think you are talking about the textual representation of “10” and not the digit “10”.
Due to these misunderstandings and misleadings, you should avoid using hyphens and numbers in your domain. But if you really want to include them, make sure you register all the different variations of the name as well and redirect them to the main domain.
Include keywords that best describe your business and its products/services. This will improve on-site SEO.
Place the most important keywords at the beginning of the domain name and the least important ones at the back. The closer those words are to the beginning of the domain name, the more you will rank in search engines for those words.
However, don’t try to over-populate your domain with keywords. Pick 1–2 keywords and play around with them until you find a good match.
Stuffing keywords just to get higher rankings on search engines will get your website penalized.
A great way to figure out which keywords to use is by answering the question “If I was a customer, what words or phrases would I type in Google to find my website?”.
If you only conduct business locally, it may be a good idea to include your city or state in the domain name as it will make it easier for locals to find and remember you.
But if you are planning to expand your business in other geographical areas, this is not a wise thing to do.
Make sure you think about the long-term goals of your business before choosing a domain name.
If you are running a digital marketing agency, you could choose a name like “digitalmarketer.com”, however, such a name would restrict you from expanding to other areas such as Business Development and SEO.
Changing the domain name in the future will cost you a lot of money, branding and SEO rankings so if you are not sure whether your business would expand out of its original niche in the future, avoid using niche-specific names.
Trends don’t last very long, especially in the web so avoid following them at all cost.
For example, back in the day the trend was to separate each word in a domain name with a hyphen. But due to the emergence of spammy sites that used hyphened domain names, people started to build up a general opinion that allhyphened domains are spammy.
Therefore the trend died and the people who followed it became victims and lost many customers as a result.
As you can see, just because something is trending right now, doesn’t mean it will trend in the future as well. Trends come and go. Copying what others are doing will just take us down the wrong path with them.
So why take such a risk? Just make sure your domain name is unique, simple and memorable. That’s it.
Before purchasing a domain name, check whether the name is available in social networks and whether anyone has already trademarked it.
If there are social accounts under your domain name already, it’s probably a good idea to choose a different name.
Let’s say you have a gaming blog and you decide to name it “pcgamer.com”. If the username “pcgamer” is already taken in Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, it’s best to just choose another name than adding prefixes or suffixes such as “originalpcgamer” or “pcgamerblog”.
That will just make it harder for users to find you and won’t make your business look legit. Also, avoid using names that have already been trademarked if you don’t want to run into legal issues.
So do you have to manually check the social media and trademark availability of your domain name? No. Tools like knowem allow you type in a name and check its availability in over 25 popular social networks and tell you whether or not some one has already trademarked it.
There are over 1500 Top Level Domains out there but .com is still the king. Why? Because we are more familiar with it and we have developed a habit of automatically appending “.com” to any new website we hear from others.
For example, if your friend tells you that there is a website called “selfgrasp” which provides really good business and marketing tips, you would automatically guess that your friend is referring to “selfgrasp.com” and not anything else.
According to RegistrarStats, more than 75% of domains use the .com extension. Yes, there are popular .net and .org websites but your website will be much safer with a .com extension mostly because that’s what visitors expect your domain to have.
If you really like a name but its .com version has already been taken, it’s ok to go with .net or .org but never go with other extensions like .pizza, .club and .xyz.
Some domains may have already been used by someone else in the past. Never buy these expired domains because you may face the risk of getting a domain with spammy backlinks or a domain which has been banned or blacklisted by google.
The simplest way to check whether your domain is fresh or expired is to visit Google and search for “:domain”. Replace the domain with your own domain.
This will list out all the links mentioning a domain. If this search returns zero results, that means the domain is fresh, otherwise the domain is most likely expired.
If you are planning to start a blog, podcast or portfolio site, it’s best to operate it under your own name. Your domain would then be something like “yourname.com”.
This is a win-win situation because the more famous your website gets, the more famous you get as well.
Even if you don’t want the domain name to be the same as your personal name, it’s still a good idea to buy your name’s domain anyway.
If you hit big in your career, people will probably try to purchase the domains with your name and sell them to you at a very high price. So why not purchase it now just in case?
A good example of a website operating under the name of its owner is neilpatel.com. Neil Patel is a famous blogger specialized in SEO and digital marketing. When he bought neilpatel.com 20 years ago he had no idea that he was going to be famous in the future.
Now he uses that domain to earn millions of dollars while promoting his own personal name as well. As you can see, this is a very effective marketing strategy.
If you name is too long, don’t worry. Just put your nickname or a combination of your first and last names instead.
Choosing a good domain name can be a fairly difficult and time consuming task, especially since almost all the names we can think of are already taken. The 12 tips listed above will save you from a lot of issues that you may have to face in the future.