21 tips for choosing a good domain name

What is a domain name?

First of all, let’s clarify what domain name is at all?

A domain name is the unique address of your website on the Internet. It is how your website will be known online. And this is how other people will be able to find your website or blog through search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo! Search, Ask, Aol Search, Wow or WebCrawler. Domain name is the user readable form of address or URL that user types in the address bar of the browser to visit the website. Your domain name is part of a web address that links to the internet protocol address (IP address) of your website. For example, in the web address “www.mysuperwebsite.com,” the domain name is “ mysuperwebsite.com.”

Technically speaking domain is an URL (Uniform Resource Locator), or a global address used to locate resources on the Internet including a protocol identifier and IP address of the resource. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Top-level domains (TLDs) are domains with extensions .com, .info, .net, .edu, and .org, and also the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). Below are the second-level and third-level domain names that are typically open end-users who wish to connect local area networks, create other publicly accessible Internet resources or run web sites. Now there are new domains available called gTLDs or generic Top-Level Domains. For example, .photography, .build, .attorney, .shop, .online, .club, .xyz.tech, .live, .cloud and more!

With domain name you change hard to remember series of numbers of your website (something like IP address 188.129.112.37) with much easier to remember name like: mysuperwebsite.com.

The domain itself (or URL) contains of different parts like top level domain, root domain, sub-domain and sub-folder. And it looks like this:

Prefix://SubDomain.SecondLevelDomain.TopLevelDomain

Let’s discuss a little bit about this.

  1. Prefix – an internet application protocol of your domain (http: is standard, and https: stands for secured).
  2. Subdomain – the third level domain of your website name (some sites use “www” but some not).
  3. Name (or SecondLevelDomain) – the second level domain of the website, picked by the person registering the domain (something like „mysuperwebsite“).
  4. Extension (or TopLevelDomain) – the top level domain can be picked for the variety of available choices (.com, .net, .org, etc.).

In short, a domain name is your online identity. It is online identity of your blog, your business and you. That’s why your domain name is so important. A domain name is more than just an address. Remember, owning your domain name is very important part of your success online.

How to choose the best domain name for your website? It is something like choosing a company name – you have to think well about. You need to ensure that you pick a name that fits your business, as well as simple to find and promote.

People have to see your brand positive. If people see your brand in a negative light, it will be almost impossible to change this later and to earn their trust. You can change your website or improve your site content. But you have to choose good domain name right now. Because, it is very complicated (and almost impossible) to change it later.

Domain names can be registered to only one person or business. So if someone else has already registered domain name you like, you will have to come up with a new one.

How to choose your first domain name

First get a pen and paper. Write down any name that you like or that you thought about. To start, just write down the first few names that seem to make sense for your web site. Make a wish list with your first choice, second choice, and so on. Why? Because they may be the names that come first to your mind are already taken. It is realistic to expect that many people in your business already considered in a similar way. That’s why you made a list. You can ask some friends and family what they like.

Naming your website or business can be a stressful process. Ultimately, your website/blog will exist whatever name you pick. But bad name can ruin your business.

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And now, here is some stuff worth considering before you choose the best domain name for your website.

1. Pick a unique name

But you have to standing out from the crowd, so people could see you. You want to choose a name that will last and, if possible, will embody both your values and your business distinguishing characteristics.

Choose a name that’s unique but not too weird!

It’s not a bad idea to register your name as a domain (johndoe.com – it is pretty unique, right?) Secondly try to register your business name (yourbusiness.com) if it is available.

Search for that name on Google. If there are similar names, try another name.

2. Let your domain describe your site well

First impressions are always important. The name of the site gives your visitors a clue what is your site about.

There are some very popular pages with names that do not indicate what they actually offer (like Google, Yahoo, Youtube, Amazon, etc.), but do not get carried away that your first project become so a huge hit online.

Your domain should describe the service or business that your site offers. Your name can’t build expectations for certain something and then deliver something else totally different when people really go to your site.

3. Make it brandable

Your domain name will be your brand. When you hear the name, you know what the website is about. Take a look at Fortune 500 companies and you’ll see that many of them have names that speak for themselves. When you look at their names you know what these companies are all about (Exxon Mobil, CVS Health, Ford Motor, General Electric, Bank of America Corp., State Farm Insurance Cos., Marathon Petroleum, etc.)

So it is with most popular websites. They have brandable names.

4. Keep it short and simple (KISS)

In naming industry shorter is always better. But, there is a catch. Most short names which make sense are nowadays taken. Consider adding one or maximum two more words in the name, and try their combinations. Two words domain names work great for the memorable names like YouTube.com, ClickHole.com, CrimeReports.com, Humble Bundle.com or HaikuDeck.com.

Most top websites have only a few vowels in their names and are made up of 3 words or less. There are several reasons for this.

Short names are quicker to type-in (especially on mobile). If your domain name is too long and complex, you risk that customers will mistyping or misspelling it. Long names want be easy to remember and have negative effects on your blog post slugs. They are easier to spell. They are more efficient on social channels. It is much simpler to come up with a logo for short name. And it is less likely to be acronymized or otherwise shortened by others.

5. Make it memorable and catchy

According to the last year Domain Name Industry Brief, the total number of registered domain names was over 294 million worldwide across all top-level domains (TLDs). Therefore to have catchy and memorable domain name is essential, if you want people to keep coming back.

If there was nothing memorable or unique about your domain name, people won’t coming back. It is so simple.

Maybe you can use two words that rhyme or have a funny implication. Maybe it sounds interesting. Either way, try to find domain name which will create an emotional connection, so it will be remembered the first time people see it.

But be carefully. Sometimes this can lead to funny misunderstanding. There is well known example, when someone pick name Pen Island, but in browsers name (www.penisland.com) can be easily read as Penis Land.

6. Make it easy to type and spell

Your domain needs to be easy to type what is critical to online success. You don’t want people to need a dictionary just to figure out how to spell your URL. Keep your domain name simple to remember and easy to enter in Google address bar or search field.

If you have a long, foreign name, not easy to spell, don’t use that as your domain. Try something else. Don’t think that if it easy to you to spell your brand name, that it is easy for anyone else.

You probably have heard that company with site Flickr.com, which was introduced in 2005; have to buy another domain (Flicker.com) in 2009, in order to redirect the many visitors who misspelled their name. (It was very expensive).

7. Try to avoid slang

Utilizing slang words for your domain name is not a smart thought for much the same reasons as using a trendy play on words. It makes you appear unprofessional. It is just too simple for individuals to overlook or incorrectly spell your domain name and end up elsewhere else. On the off chance that you utilize slang (u rather than you, 2u instead „to you“, 4u as „for you“, etc.) or words with different spellings (express versus xpress), it may be harder for visitors to discover your site.

Speaking of slang, its use says your customers SAFM. Don’t know what this mean? (SAFM means “Stay Away From Me”.) So do not scare away visitors to your site using colloquial language and slang.

21 Tips for Choosing Good Domain Name

8. Make .com domains your first choice

Today most web sites used .com extension (up to 75%) in domain name. This is still preferred extension and it’s a first choice for good domain name. If you type just the domain name in search bar of Google or others search machines (and who knows how many of your potential visitors will just does that?) they will return, by default, to the “.com” site.

Look at all the top websites. Chances are they are all .com domains. If you are starting a professional website or blog, you want to get a .com domain. Other extensions (like .net, .org, .us, info, etc. will be harder for people to remember and they don’t look professional. It would appear that you are an amateur or simply don’t have the cash to bear the cost of a good domain name. This kind of first impression is never too good. Moreover, as you have probably noticed, most websites ranking at the top of search results have .com domains.

As you can see the .com domain extension is far away the most popular. But unfortunately it can be tough nowadays to get a short and memorable .com domain name that is not occupied. In this case you will have to reach out for other new generic top-level domains like .club, .website, .today, etc.

In my opinion .org domain is very good choice for non-profit organization. .org domains are one of the original top level domains, and they build instant trust and credibility with your site visitors.

Tip: If you want to sell your business some days, it will go a lot easier with a .com domain name.

9. Don’t use hyphens or numbers

Avoid use of numbers and hyphens in your domain name because they can cause confusion. They are often misunderstood or misspelled.  No serious brands use these in their domains. Don’t use anything but letters in your domain name, because you will not act so serious, and search engines might not rank you as well, too.

Also, don’t use acronyms. It is hard for people to remember the letters unless it’s a highly catchy name, or you are bigwig (everybody knows what means IBM, 3M, AOL or AT&T, etc.)

And just another thing. Don’t choose names that are plural or misspelled versions of existing sites.

10. Choose a name that doesn’t need more explanation

It is self-evident. If you take the domain name like “3ff-x.com” you will have to explain to people what it means. And if your name is “candy.com” everyone will be clear about what this name means. Your domain name should not be something which needs explanation or which needs to be spelled thoroughly.

11. Consider using keywords

It is not a bad idea to use keywords in your domain name as a part to your SEO strategies. Unfortunatly there are about 200 factors that Google uses to rank sites and they’ve only publicly said about 50% of them. So you can always making guess.

Try using keywords that describe your business and the services you offer. This will help your site for rankings of course, but it can better explain to visitors the purpose of your site.

If you put the name of Boston in your domain name, you will show visitors the area of your small business operation. In addition to that, this name may be available. E.g. Pizza.com can be occupied, but Bostonpizza.com can be free.

Your domain name doesn’t have to have keywords in it to be successful, but it sure does help.

12. Following trends is bad idea

When something is “trendy”, chances are that there are a thousand other peoples following that trend. This makes it harder for you to stand out and harder for people to remember you.

What’s trending today tomorrow will be gone. Trends can die quickly. So do not choose trendy names, especially if you want to keep longer in business. Certainly you would not like to have unfashionable and outdated name in a couple of years. Choose a domain name that will stand the test of time.

Advice: stick with a classic name.

13. Make it sound professional

Your visitors still need to know that you mean business. If you have a funny name that will bring people a good laugh, it will be hard to convince them that you are serious.

Make it sound professional!

To find good ideas look up the top ranking pages again. Study them and learn from them.

14. Keep it singular

Select your domain name in the singular. It is easier to remember, faster to key in and there is no misunderstanding.

15. Avoid legal issues

Keep in mind that registration of a domain name with a domain name registrar does not give you any trademark rights. Research your future domain name well to avoid trademark problems. If your selected name is trademarked, copyrighted or being used by another company, it could result in a huge legal problems that could cost you a fortune. Make sure you are not violating anyone’s trademarks. For the U.S. check your domain name with Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) on United States Patent and Trademark Office site. You should avoid choosing a domain name that includes another company’s trade name or trademark. Otherwise you can expect legal action from the trade name or trademark owner.

Common sense advice is: If you have any doubt about a domain name choice considers consulting with your attorney. And don’t have the same general brand name as someone else.

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16. Protect your brand

In the event that you want to ensure your brand, you could buy different domain expansions, and also incorrectly spelled (misspelled) versions of your domain name. This keeps competitors from enlisting other versions of your domain name and guarantees your customers are directed to your site, regardless of the possibility that they mistype it.

17. Check if you can afford it

Domains with .com extensions are typically little more expensive than .info or .net versions with the same URL name. But some short .com names or domain names with competitive keywords are called ‘premium domains’ and are therefore more expensive. They often cost some hundreds, thousands, or even a few hundred thousand dollars!) So, when you find that your domain name is free and amiable, check how much does it cost, to make sure you can afford it!

18. Are you in love with your domain?

It may sounds strange, but you have to be absolutely sure you love your domain name. When it’s set, you have it for quite a long time to come. Year after year.

If you choose later to rename it, then you will lose time, money, branding, and your rankings. I do not suggest changing your domain once your website or blog has been live for any considerable amount of time. Practically it is impossible to do. So think twice before you buy your domain. You have to love it!

19. Check availability on social media

Before you register your desired domain name, it’s always a smart thought to check your domain name for availability on social media. To keep your site name constant and to build your brand, you want a name that is readily available. Check facebook.com/yourdomain, twitter.com/yourdomain etc. and secures them as well.

You can use some tools for this. I think the best is KnowEm to check if certain names are already branded on social platforms.

20. Is your domain still available?

Millions of people look for domain names every day. You found your perfect domain name and then started to do research, or started to do something else. After a couple of days you realize that this domain is ideal for you. Then you go on the Internet to register it, but it is taken! While you are waiting, someone bought it! If this happened you’re probably out of luck.

In this case, there is only one thing to do. Look for another domain name.

Nevertheless, you have to search your domain before you buy it.

21. Act fast

As we just said, domain names sell quickly. Gratefully, they’re also inexpensive, so enroll your most loved domain names as soon as possible. If you’re having trouble finding an available name, some domain registrars companies will suggest substitute names during your domain search to help you locate the ideal domain name.

Register your domain name immediately to secure it before it’s gone.

About my domain name

You may wonder, if I’m so smart, why I chose the domain name makemoneyonline3.com for my website. Well let’s see. First, most short names with .com extension are taken. This is especially true of names with the word “money”.  So I just look for a longer name, to a maximum of 3 words, which still contains the word „money“ and shows what is my site all about. I opted for the phrase ”make money online“. Yes, you guessed it, and that name was taken. As I did not want to increase the number of words in the domain name, or use a hyphen, I had to add a number. I chose to put the number at the end of the name, and the small one, because is easier to remember. So I came up with the name ”makemoneyonline3.com“. The name is relatively long, but says it all about my site. It contains the word „money“ as I want and that that has a lot of search on search machines. The same goes for phrases „make money“ and „make money online“. I hope that this will help me with my SEO.

At the end

What should I say at the end? Here are our 17 rules.  Do not keep them blindly. The rules are therefore to be broken. Once again, domain name must be you. This is one decision that you’ll have to live with for quite a long time. Make it recognizable, easy to remember, and a proud representation of you and your brand.

I try to bring out more important points that should be considered during domain name selection. I hope that these tips will help you to easily select your perfect domain. Once you have that perfect domain name for your website, you’re on your way to getting great first impressions and repeat visitors to your brand.

 

About Nino Plevnik

I am in the Internet marketing area for some time now. I mostly deal with Affiliate Marketing and Domain Flipping. It took me a while until I figured it out. Now I want to transfer my knowledge to beginners, so they can start earn money online as quickly (and painlessly) as possible.

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