Choosing a good domain name for your website can be tough. You either have an entire list of good domain names, or you’re stuck with nothing at all.
I struggled a lot with naming sites and at one point I geeked out on the domain name game.
I had my best domain names list and from it, I've owned hundreds if not up to a thousand domain names. Over the years I've gotten a lot better at it, in fact, I even sold a domain name for just under $10,000!
There's some homework that you're going to need to do on any domain name you're thinking about choosing. You want to be able to stand behind and be excited about what you pick.
In this post you will learn the 5 Fundamentals you need to choose your domain name, 3 things you must avoid when determining your list of domains, tips on how to buy good expired domain names, and where to buy premium domain names listed for sale.
Up-Front - You Don’t Have To Act Immediately When You Determine Your Domain Name Idea
A personal thing I've found is - I have never missed out on securing a domain by sleeping on my idea for a day or two.
I usually need a cooling off period, I'll be thinking in my mind, oh man, this is the best domain name idea ever, I’m going to miss out on it if I don’t buy it now!
I’ll buy it and two years will pass and I'll still own it and have done absolutely nothing with it.
It is really worth putting in the extra consideration time over your domain name idea.
The last thing you want to do is invest resources into a domain name just for it to turn out to be a mistake.
Your domain name is either going to be built around your business or your personal brand. So it's something you’ll want to be able to stick with for a long time.
So your domain name is just that, an idea, and I have never had a domain name that is available stolen from me by someone else with the same idea when I was cooling off from my excitement.
The good thing is if you make this same, superly excited mistake, your not out a ton of invested money, you can get your domain name for 10-15 dollars a year and some places with free private registration.
So don’t be in a rush or feel like your going to miss out when you find your first good one, think short and long-term with your personal and business goals and let’s choose a great domain name for you.
What’s Your Goal in Choosing a Domain Name for Your Website?
So the first thing you need to do is think about what's the ultimate goal in choosing your domain name. There are some important questions to ask yourself.
Is your website going to represent your personal brand? How do you plan on getting your traffic? Will it be organic or paid? Are you planning on doing offline marketing, radio, print or TV marketing? Are you using the domain name for an e-commerce website? Is your domain going to be a blog-based website for content marketing?
These questions can be summed up in
Is Search Engine Ranking a Primary Focus of my Website?
Do people need to remember my domain name to type in later?
I will help you win in either or both goals and then show you the steps to narrow down the best domain name for your website.
Let’s start with choosing a domain name for SEO.
How to Choose a Domain Name for SEO Keywords
If you'd prefer to listen to this content from the video above, play it or download it from the podcast episode below.
You can build your domain with SEO in mind if you will be focusing on search engine optimization. For these types of sites, it's important to pick keywords for your domain name that'll come alongside your site’s organic search rankings results.
Relevancy to the searcher of information is more important than keywords in your domain name though.
You can use a keyword tool to find out how many people are searching for a specific keyword that you have in mind.
What if you can’t find a two- or three-word keyword match with an available domain name? This isn’t surprising since a lot of the domain names with SEO keywords are already taken.
Get SEO Keywords With a Domain Name Generator Tool
I use a couple different tools when I'm picking my domain name. Namemesh.com and Domainit.com are both easy to work with.
Next, run those keyword phrases through Namemesh and Domainit.
Then, check out suggestions of the domain name addresses. These tools will generate domain names for you so you can browse through them.
You’ll either find the exact name you want with those keywords, or it'll generate a domain name that's a close match. Since these tools generate domain names for you, you'll find domain names you probably haven’t thought of.
I’ve only found an exact match once. So these tools are useful in giving you more ideas for your domain name. It’s better for you to have a larger domain name list than a smaller one.
What you can do is to add words. Play around with the domain name generator tool, and get a ton of name ideas for your list.
If your website is about 'how to choose the best domain name for your website', you'd want to keep it relevant. You wouldn't choose sourdoughbread.com as your domain name.
Something like domainnameguide.com would be more fitting. Your target audience has more reason to click on that URL because they’re searching for this topic and you happen to have a domain name with SEO keywords in it.
Choose a Short Domain Name if People Need to Remember It
If you’re doing a radio ad, you definitely need to keep your domain name short and sweet.
You want it to be something people can remember. You also have to make good use of phonetics. Spell it exactly how it sounds and don’t use words like gray which people spell in two different ways.
If you hear Gray Hat .Com on a radio ad. Some people will type it as grayhat.com and some will spell it greyhat.com and not find your site.
If you want to choose the best domain name for your website, you have to consider all the little things that are actually big things. Think about the purpose of your project and the objective for your website. Then you can focus down on your domain name.
Will You Choose A Personal Blog Address?
Unless your name is super common like John Doe, you can likely get your personal name in your domain name. There's no guarantee your name will be available though but if you can buy a domain name with your name in it, I recommend you to buy it.
If you have a high level of expertise, or you want to position yourself as an authority in your field, use your domain name to represent you.
By using your name in your domain name you're pouring energy, time, and money into building your brand. Again, even if you don't know what you'll do with it yet if your name is available, lock it down and consider using it for your project.
If this is where you are at, go buy your domain name right now and become a content creator instead of determining your best domain name.
Best Domain Name Registrar - The Only One I Use
I only use DreamHost and highly recommend them.
I do not use them as my web hosting company or anything else, but they are a great domain registrar.
DreamHost gives you free privacy so you do not need to pay extra to not have your personal information published on the internet.
Their .COM’s are $11.95 a year and the DNS mapping and name server pointing is all super simple.
Open dreamhost.com/domains in a new tab and let's go through the 5 fundamentals you need to pick yourself a rocking domain.
How to Choose the Best Domain Name - 5 Fundamentals
Now that you've thought about the purpose and objective of your domain name and website you can move on to the next step. This part is exciting, but it's still tricky to find the best domain name for you.
I’m going to walk you through the same process I went through to choose my domain name for my websites.
Choose Url Names With .Com
Forget the .net and the .info. When you go to buy a domain name, go with a .com URL.
You can get away with .org for your domain, but looking at user behavior, you can never go wrong with a .com. It's the most popular URL for domain names and conveys authority and legitimacy.
Your domain name is going to give your visitors their first impression of your site.
You’ve probably seen some tech websites with the .IO at the end of their URL. It stands for Indian ocean. Startup and tech companies are using it because to them, it represents "input output." It's kind of this new hipster thing but, I don't think it's something that's going to last. However, a .com is definitely going to last in the domain name world.
Depending on where your audience is from, you can use an URL that's relevant to your location. If your audience is from Australia, then you can go for .com.au. New Zealand websites have the .com.nz. United Kingdom blogs use a .com.uk. These domain names reflect the location.
But .com is global, so wherever in the world you may be, you can’t go wrong with a .com.
Play Things Up With Alliteration in Your Domain Name
Get your creative juices flowing and experiment with alliteration. Examples of this are PalmPilot, BlackBerry, or ApricotAnnie.
If you come up with a one-word domain name and want to give it an extra punch, you can add a second word to give it a rhythmic feel.
You can sort synonyms of words alphabetically with tools like https://www.powerthesaurus.org/ to find words that start with the letter of your brand or keyword and convey this extra punch to your domain name.
That’s exactly what you want when you’re going in the brand direction.
You’re scaring people away with those 4+ word URLs! Shoot for 3 words max. I wouldn’t go beyond that. The only exceptions in using 4 words for your domain name is if the words are short. Like with youfindlovenow.com Or, if it’s hyphenated like the-best-Italian-cusine.com
It’s more about the number of characters your domain name has. When you begin adding posts and pages to your .com you want these final URLs to be clean and as short as possible.
Keep it short, succinct, and simple, so it sticks in people’s minds and isn’t a pain to type on the search bar.
Do A Trademark Search On Your Best Domain Names Short List
Another important step you need to take is to run a quick trademark search on your domain name. Go through your list once you have a few good domain names and run each one.
I use the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO.org). The searches are fast and free. Make sure you plug in every single word in your domain name. Then, search through the trademark database and find out if there’s a match.
There are Two main reasons You Need to do a Trademark Search on Your Domain Name Idea
Number one, you don’t want to run the risk of getting a cease and decease letter. This is the last thing you want to happen especially after your business gets big. So if someone has a trademark on your domain name that’s bad news down the road.
Number two, it's going to give you peace of mind. That way you can go full speed ahead with a name that's entirely yours.
Your Best Domain Names List
Organize your ideas with a visible list. You can go old school and use a piece of paper, or you can open a notepad file and list down your domain name ideas.
Keep track of all the URL names that are currently available. From there, go to dreamhost.com to check the availability for your domains.
Build your short list that includes 5 to 10 different domain name ideas and checks them against these three things you want to avoid.
3-Things To Avoid When Choosing Your Domain Name
So far we’ve covered the essentials on choosing a domain name for your website. There are three critical don'ts that will ensure you choose a domain name you can be proud of for a long time.
Avoid URL Names with Tricky or Slang Spellings
Don't use words that have multiple spellings in your domain name. Words like gray or grey. Color or colour. Realize or realise. Savory or savoury. These words can easily be misinterpreted.
When you give your URL to people, you don't want them to not be able to find your site because of an odd spelling.
Another thing to avoid is slang spelling. Domains with unfitting letters such as the letter z in place of the letter s. Like framez instead of frames, newz, workz, ect.
Not only do those names look goofy and awkward, but no one will know that you substituted a different letter in your domain name.
No Triple Or Quadruple Letters Next To Each Other
Take your short list, and check it for triple or quadruple letters. Write down your URL names on a piece of blank paper or type it out. Go down your list one by one. Close your eyes for a second, then open them to look at your domain name.
Do you see multiple letters right next to each other? That’s a lot of S’s and E’s in these domain names. It just doesn’t look good. If you find that this is true about your domain name, scrap em. Even if it sounds good, they’re nothing but an eyesore.
Stay Away from URL Names with Weird Words Popping Out
You really have to pay attention to how your domain name looks when the words are pressed together in your URL.
Here are some examples of well-intentioned domain names that actually look like completely different words.
These are actual URL names, and they just look and read weird.
I almost bought a domain name with one of these words in it. Luckily my wife pointed it out to me before I pulled the trigger, we got a giggle out of it, and I went back to the domain name list.
You definitely don’t want to buy any domain that spells words that you do not want for your brand when they are put together.
Double, triple check the letters and words in your domain name. Make sure there’s nothing weird or awkward popping out of it before you invest into a domain name.
Tips and Tricks to Buying Expired and Domain Names That Are Up For Auction
So what do you do if you’ve come up with a list of good domain names and they’re all taken?
If you’re tired of going back to the drawing board over and over, what you can do is to take a look at expired domain names and the premium domain names market.
Take Advantage of Sought After Premium Domain Names
There are domain investment companies that collect domain names to grow their domain name portfolios. HugeDomains.com is one of these companies.
They purchase great domain names and list them for sale as their business model.
Type in the URL of the domain name you want. Even though it may come up somewhere else as taken, you might find it’s actually for sale. If it’s available, you’ll reach a landing page that says that domain name is for sale.
If this interests you, I recommend offering 50 to 60 cents per dollar as your offer. Don’t start with anything less than 50 cents on the dollar and be sure to negotiate. Some of these investment companies with huge domains will let you pay for it in installments. The usual term is around 12 months or so.
I once sold a domain name that I owned for close to $10,000. The first offer was around $1,500.
I had the leverage to make a deal for what it was actually worth. It was a great deal for both sides, and you might consider exploring a domain name for SEO or a short and simple domain name from these premium domain sellers.
Know These Things Before Buying Expired Domains
Some people have hundreds of domain names but there comes a point where they say screw it and don’t want to pay the yearly cost on it anymore.
Sometimes people buy a domain, build big dreams around it, but “life happened” and nothing ever happened to that URL so they let it go.
Once they let these go, the owners have an option to pick them back up within 30 days but many people don’t do this and just let them go.
Once you get on these sites, you type in your keyword phrases and check out domain names that are about to expire or those that have already expired. Maybe you’ll find one that’s super close to your preferred domain name, or even identically similar to what you want.
But hold up. You have to do some background checks before you get serious with that URL and consider buying it.
Be Sure The Expired Domain Name You Want To Buy Has No Spam Issues
This one’s nasty. Can you imagine taking on a cool domain name, only to find out people have spammed the hell out of it in the past? Don’t buy a domain name with spam associated with it. All that black hat SEO and spam can hurt your business a lot.
A quick spam analysis will save you a headache, so be sure to go to mozcheck.com and trustflowchecker.com to find out more about the history of the expired domain name you want to get.
Get the spam score, and make sure there are no spam links whatsoever. It needs to have a clean reputation. If you see those tiny little spam score filters popping up, don’t even touch it.
Choose Your Domain Name and Build a Business
Choosing a domain name for your personal website can be a long and tedious road.
Start your domain name list today, sleep on it or take a walk. Come back to it after you've had time to think about it. Choosing a domain name takes some consideration.
You want to be 100% sure your domain will fit the needs of your website. Once you start building a lifestyle business around your domain name you don't want to have to switch it.
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Miles is a full time internet marketer who sells information products and a niche membership program with his wife, Melanie. Together they have created a lifestyle business that allows them true location independence and this blog where you get to see behind the scenes and see how they have built their online business from scratch.