Once you’ve decided on the perfect niche for your blog, then you need to pick the perfect domain.
This is another crucial step on your blogging journey.
Think about it for a moment…
Picking your domain is like choosing your marriage partner.
It needs to be perfect and available.
It’s a big decision that’s not easy to change, so take the time now to choose wisely.
Below, I’ve got 9 tips to help you pick the perfect domain for your blog, but first, let’s discover what actually makes a domain.
What is a domain?
A domain consists of two parts; the name followed by the extension.
For example, with apple.com – apple is the name and .com is the extension.
You can’t have a website without a domain name. Like a street address that tells people where you live, a domain helps customers drive directly to your website. GoDaddy
Where can you buy a domain?
Always buy your domain from a reputable domain registrar company and one that is registered with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
A safe option would be Namecheap.
Your web hosting company may offer domains as well as hosting. There are pros and cons to whether you should buy through them or buy independently.
When I started blogging, I purchased my domains through Bluehost. A year later I moved them to Namecheap when I moved my hosting to Pressidium.
I think it makes sense in the long run to let a hosting company do the hosting and the domain registrar deal with domains.
Note: Always keep your domain renewed. After registering your domain, probably for 12 months initially, you need to keep it renewed each year. If it lapses, then somebody else could buy that domain, and you’d have to start over again!
Choosing the domain name
The domain name segment is as equally important as the domain extension.
The domain name should say something about you, your company, your product or your service.
It’s going to be your brand.
If your blog is about you and the services you offer, then it can be a good idea to choose your name. Plenty of freelancers that I know use their name; e.g. KeriLynn.
If your blog is about the company, then it makes sense to stick with the company name in the domain name if it’s available.
Although sometimes a company might have several products and services, and, therefore, wants to separate them out. For example, Unsplash is the domain name for a side product that the company Crew created.
Having chosen the perfect niche, why not have a domain name along the same lines? Makes sense, right? Just remember to give yourself some space to manoeuvre if needed.
For example, if you chose Bananas.com and then wanted to write about Pears it could be awkward. Better to go for Fruits.com
Also, don’t be tempted to stuff the name with keywords. Think of something natural.
When I was contemplating my domain name, I was inspired by Pinch Of Yum.
Although I’m not a food blogger, I think the name has a good rhythm and gives a strong hint that this blog is going to be about food. Subtle, but effective.
Exercise A: Brainstorm keywords
Use the words and phrases you came up with from exercise A in my post on choosing the perfect niche.
Start to pair them or add prefixes and suffixes to create good domain ideas. For example, if you’re thinking of a WordPress related domain then five keywords might be WordPress, Themes, Plugins, Widgets, Hosting.
Play around with them.
Try entering a few ideas in Namecheap or GoDaddy to see if they’re available.
3 tools to help you choose a domain name
Still stuck on picking your domain? Try some of these tools for ideas:
Picking the domain extension
When you pick your domain, one of the choices you will have is for the extension. This is also referred to as the Top Level Domain (TLD).
There are lots of TLDs but, without a doubt, .com is the most popular. If you can choose your domain with a .com extension, you will be in a stronger position.
If people only happen to catch the name of your domain, then their first instinct to find you would be to add the .com extension onto the address.
What if .com is taken?
While .com is the best option, it’s not the only extension available.
WordPress uses both .com and .org, and separates the different parts of their business into each domain.
Some of the other original TLDs include:
.net, .int, .gov, .edu, and .mil
If you’re focusing your niche on a particular location then the country code specific extensions (referred to as ccTLDs) might be more appropriate, for example:
.au (Australia), and .uk (United Kingdom)
And then we have the newer more generic extensions (gTLDs) including:
.accountants, .agency, .business, .city, .digital, .photography, and .social
Plenty to choose from!
Note: Sometimes you just need to rethink your domain name if the extension is already taken. For instance, both davidhartshorne.com and davidhartshorne.org have already been registered by the same voice-over artist with the same name as me. Whilst I could choose another extension from the many available, it seems pointless.
9 tips for picking your domain
1. Choose a Dot.Com TLD (if you can)
Alway go for the .com extension if it’s available. If not, consider others, but be mindful that people searching for you could end up at a competitor’s website. Avoid the new cheaper extensions as they don’t look professional.
If the .com is taken, you may be able to purchase it from the current owner. That said, sometimes a domain will not be for sale, the owner will be unreachable or the asking price will be too high.
When WP Superstars was first launched, it didn’t make financial sense to acquire the .com from the previous owner so we stuck with the .net. It wasn’t ideal but it’s extremely difficult to find a decent .com with the letters WP.
2. Avoid Hyphens
Avoid hyphens in the name if possible; they don’t look that good; e.g. www.123-reg.co.uk
3. Avoid Numbers
Avoid numbers and silly abbreviations; e.g. phones4u.com
4. Choose a short name
Don’t choose a very long name as it just becomes impossible to remember and it’s more likely that users will either mistype or misspell the name. Also, consider the benefits of a short name for the URL in SERPs, plus Social Media links, and even printed stationery.
http://www.thelongestdomainnameintheworldandthensomeandthensomemoreandmore.com//the-best-way-to choose-a domain
5. Make sure it looks right
Always write down what name you have in mind to make sure it looks good and doesn’t spell other words inadvertently. Check out these funny examples.
6. Easy to say
Choose something that is easy to say. Imagine saying your domain on the telephone and the person hearing it being able to type it instantly it in a web browser. Sometimes if you try to be too clever with your domain, you can lose potential visitors.
Flickr eventually had to buy the domain Flicker and set up a redirect to the original website because so many people were just typing it incorrectly.
7. Social Media
Always check social media sites to see if your domain name is available there too so that you can maintain your brand across all channels.
8. Avoid Copyright Issues
Don’t be tempted to try and use a well-established brand name on a lesser known TLD because the company will most likely come after you and you’ll end up losing it. And always check for registered trademarks too: uspto.gov/trademarks and http://www.copyright.gov/
9. Expired Domains
There is the option to buy expired domains; i.e. domains that were previously registered but that are now available. This option should be handled carefully as there is the possibility that you could inherit any previous Google penalties attached to the domain.
Not all expired domains are affected, but you’ll need to check before you buy. Here’s a useful discussion with Matt Cutts in the Google Webmasters Forum.
You can also take a look at what content was on the website previously using the Wayback Machine. This will highlight if the website has been used for dodgy purposes in the past.
Your domain is the first thing people see when they visit your blog. You need to make a good first impression!
Use the tips above to get a good balance of domain name and extension.
Choose something catchy, something memorable, and something relevant that says exactly what you want to say about your niche.
Make yours unique. Pick the perfect one for your blog.
You’re going to be seeing a lot of each other.
Next, it’s time to choose a web host for your blog, and grab yourself a great theme if you’re going to use WordPress.
Still not sure what name to choose for your blog? Check out my guide on Blogging Wizard. It includes some creative ideas to help you choose a blog name you won’t regret.