10 Tips on How to Choose a Great Domain Name
One of the most important things you’ll do when you start a blog is choose a domain name. This is an essential, yet sometimes overlooked, step in the blogging process. Choosing the right domain name also has a major impact on your branding efforts and SEO.
Your domain name tells people, and search engines, how to get to your blog. That’s why it’s important to choose a domain name that’s SEO friendly and easy to promote.
Domain Name Tips
There are a lot of things that I wish someone would have told me before I spent my hard earned money on a domain name, so here are my top 10 tips on how to choose a great domain name.
1. Check the History
It’s important to know what the history of a domain is before you make a purchase. You don’t want to buy a domain that’s been used and abused by spammers. If that’s the case, then there’s a pretty good chance that Google has blacklisted that domain and permanently blocked it from their search results. Do your research and make sure that the domain has a clean history. Google recommends using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to check the history of a domain name. It’s a free service and safe to use.
2. Choose a Top-Level Domain
When it comes to domain extensions, a TLD (top-level domain) should be first on your list. Without getting too technical, a TLD is the highest extension in the hierarchy of domain names on the Internet. For example, .com, .org, .net, .int, .edu, .mil, and .gov are all top-level domains. These domain extensions are widely accepted and easily remembered.
I should also mention that there are country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) as well. These two-letter domains are used to represent specific geographic locations. For example, .us is the ccTLD for the United States and .au is the ccTLD for Australia. Some ccTLDs have residency restrictions, so be sure to do your homework before deciding on a ccTLD.
3. Keep it Short
Long domain names give people more opportunities to misspell or mistype your domain. This could lead to you missing out on a lot of traffic. I always recommend that a domain name be 1-3 words in length and no more than 20 characters. This makes your domain name easy to say, remember, and share.
4. Make it Memorable
When your domain name stands out, people will remember it. This increases your chances of having visitors return to your blog. A memorable domain name will not only help with your branding efforts, but it can also be a way for you to stand out from the crowd. Just look at Google, Facebook, Twitter, and PayPal. I realize that these are all well known companies, but they weren’t always insanely popular. Their domain names were initially created to be memorable with the anticipation of future branding possibilities.
5. Avoid Hyphens and Numbers
This is pretty self-explanatory, but your domain name shouldn’t include hyphens or numbers. The reason behind this is because they tend to make domains harder to type. Plus, hyphens and numbers can confuse people. For example, when someone asks you your domain name and you tell them that it’s (my-blogs-nam3.com) my hyphen blogs hyphen name dot com, but the last letter of the domain is the number 3, not E. Chances are they’ll probably give you a weird look and totally forget the domain name all together. Rule of thumb, stay away from hyphens and numbers.
6. Make it Easy to Spell
This is one rule that I think you can bend a little, but I personally think a domain name should be easy to spell and understand. The only reason I say this rule can be bent is because there are a lot of websites and blogs that have been able to produce high levels of traffic with oddly spelled names. But, I still think that keeping it simple will save you a lot of time and money in the future.
7. Check Copyright and Trademark
This goes hand-in-hand with checking the history of the domain, but you’ll also want to make sure that you aren’t purchasing a domain name that’s already being used as a business or product. The last thing you want is lawyers coming after you for just starting a blog! Check for copyright info at http://www.copyright.gov/records/.
8. Avoid Slang
Stay away from using slang within your domain name. For example, using UR instead of YOUR (ursite.com – yoursite.com), or replacing the letter S with the letter Z (bloggers.com – bloggerz.com) is a big no-no. No need to look unprofessional. Just keep it classy!
9. Use Your Actual Name
A lot of bloggers use their actual names as their brand. For example, just look at my blog, I’ve incorporated my actual name within my blog and brand. In some instances, your name might even be so unique that it can give you an advantage in your overall marketing strategy. Plus, it personalizes your site and helps build rapport with your readers.
10. Include Keywords
When you use keywords within your domain, you’re making it easier for your visitors to find you. Plus, this can improve your search engine ranking. For example, if you blog about doughnut shops, topdoughnutshop.com would be a keyword rich domain.
Domain Name Checker
Give my “domain name checker” a spin to see if your desired domain is available. Be sure to type in the full domain. For example, type yourblogsname.com to get an accurate result. Now it’s time to choose a great domain name!
Disclosure: My domain name checker will take you to Bluehost through my affiliate link. All this means is that if you decide to purchase web hosting (at my discounted rate) through my link, I’ll earn a small commission. Please understand that I have a lot of experience with Bluehost, and I recommend them because they are extremely helpful when starting a blog. Plus, by using my affiliate links, you are helping me keep this blog up and running…and for that, I thank you.
Written by Ben Cummings
Founder of blogwithben.com
Ben is a Digital Marketing and CMS Specialist for Bridgepoint Education who holds an MBA with a specialization in Entrepreneurship. He enjoys teaching, blogging, startups, a hoppy IPA, and college basketball. Whenever he’s not blogging, you can find him cruising around sunny San Diego with his amazing family.