The first thing that comes to my mind when setting up a blog is getting a good domain name. In this article, I have described why I think it is important to choose a good domain name upfront. I have also explained how you can pick a good domain name for your blog or website followed by some domain name picking tips and general outlines (“dos” and “don’t s”).
Why pick a good domain name for your blog
Apart from many other reasons, you want to pick a good domain name for your blog/site from the start, because most likely you will be stuck with that domain name for the rest of the blog’s life. You may change the domain hosting provider from time to time depending on how reliable your current domain hosting provider is but the domain name will remain the same.
The reason I say that you will be stuck with that name is mainly because changing the domain name is kind of like starting all over again from the start and you don’t want to do that once your site is established and getting regular traffic and you have built up a brand. You will start with ‘0’ Google Page rank and will have to work your way up again if you do change the domain name in the middle. The Alexa rank and other ranking metrics will drop too because all these rankings are associated with the domain name. So the bottom line is that you want to pick a good domain name that you can live with from the start. Now, the question is how?
How to pick a good domain name for your blog
I don’t think that there are any hard rules as to how a domain name should be picked, so use the following points as a guideline for choosing your domain name:
- Use Keywords: Use keywords in the domain name that describe your site (if it makes sense). The domain name should suggest the nature of your product or service. A good domain name describes exactly what the site is about. It is important for a visitor to get an idea of what the website is about just by looking at the domain name. For example, if your site is about antiques and collectibles then try to get a domain name like “www.antiques.com” or “www.collectibles”.com not “www.foobar.com”.
- Easy to remember: A domain name should be easy to remember becuase your visitors will want to type in the domain name in the web browser for revisits and if they can’t remember the domain name then you run the risk of losing potential traffic. It is also easier to spread the word of mouth when the domain name is easy to remember.
- Keep the domain name short: A domain name should be short with less than 10 characters. It also helps the “Easy to remember” point when the name is short. Although, these days it’s incredibly hard to get domain names that are short. Basically you don’t want to end up with a super long domain name like “www.thisisareallybadexampleofdomainname.com”. When the name gets too long it gets confusing and the name can be easily mistyped in the browser.
- Use hyphens if needed: Use hyphen (-) in between the words if needed for your domain name. If “www.domainname.com” is taken then you can try “www.domain-name.com”. Using hyphen(s) in between the words sometimes help to improve readability. It can also help in the Search engine rankings.
- Make it easy to type: Try to get a domain name that is easy to type (if you can). Easy to type domain names are good for branding.
- Think Local: If your business is local then think about adding your region, city or state in the domain name (example: VegasAccounting.com). Only do it if it makes sense though.
- Domain name extension: Try to get the “.com” Top Level Domain (TLD) extension as it is the most popular. It is also the most widely accepted domain name extension. When people think about an website, their mind automatically pictures “domain-name.com” as the address. You can also use the “.net” and “.org” extensions if you cannot find a “.com” extension.
Should You Use YourName.com or YourBusinessName.com?
If the main commodity of your business is YOU then use yourname.com as your domain name. This works out good if you are an author, speaker, coach etc.
If your business is based around a product or a service then use yourbusinessname.com or your productname.com.
Some General things to be aware of
- Legal conflicts: Spend a bit of time searching around to make sure you are not choosing a domain name that is similar to an already established rival. You don’t want to spend time building your blog only to find out that someone else has a similar website and wants to sue you.
- Avoid Copyright Issues: Make sure the name you are going to use is not copyrighted.
- Be aware of the scammers: There are a lot of scammers around, so try to make sure you buy your domain name from a registrar who is in the ICANN’s (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) accredited registrar’s list.
Go Daddy offers cheap domain name registration. Try not to buy hosting from them though… read the following article before you signup for a hosting account. Name.com also offers cheap domain name registration.
Getting a cheap and reliable web hosting solution
As I have mentioned earlier that these rules are not set in stone. Don’t be afraid to add your own flavor. Use common knowledge and be sensible. Try your best and get creative. What is your best tip in choosing a good domain name? Feel free to leave your suggestions or comments below.
Comments (55 responses)
Everything thing on point but one thing I personally think is, it is not a must to use keywords on the domain except you are specific on the use. Domains like Google and yahoo has nothing to do with search engine purpose…Your article is very much informative.
@James, Good qeustion. Think of the domain name as a name in-front of your store in this context. A user may look at the name and get the impression that you are officially associated with that brand, franchise or company. That can create some confusion. When a newspaper is reporting a story, it is not exactly the same. If you wrote a blog post using that name (like you are reporting a story) then that is totally fine.
If I wish to start a sports blog on NFL football for example, am I allowed to even have nfl in my blogs domain name?
If not, how do all the newspapers, tv stations etc get to use it when reporting scores etc. Thousands of blogs and magazines use the term nfl within while making money from their advertisers. Surely a term with copyright such as nfl, cannot forbid its mention without permission. What are the reasonable legal parameters for this? Surely some exist.
I agree that adding hyphens to domain names might increase legibility but might also decrease how easy it is to type and isn’t a standard practice among SEOs as far as I know. Also it would have been good to mention that the ability for someone to “hear” a domain name stated out loud and then remembered easily and then typed again is important. If there’s a hyphen it’s quite hard to easily say it and have someone hear it and then type it in based on memory alone. Although, hyphens aren’t illegal and certainly many websites still use them. Also, besides go-daddy it’d be good to mention the other major hosting companies like 1and1, hostgator, bluehost, etc.
@Lucia, WordPress.com offers a premium option where you can get your own domain name (so it doesn’t have to have the wp.com in there). I would recommend you go down that path then you don’t have to worry about changing the name later and lose ranking.