How To Choose a Domain Name
25th October 2019
10 min read
There is no getting away from it, but deciding how to choose a domain name is not easy.
Getting it right can have a significant impact on your online success, be it with a blog or e-commerce site.
Currently, there are over 360 million registered domain names, so you can bet it gets harder to end up with the domain name you want.
You can see it as a chore or as an exciting start to your online adventure.
However, it is tempting to rush this part because you want to get on with it – but hold up, don’t rush and you will end up with a brill domain that will kick start your website.
Getting Ideas for the Best Domain Name
One of the best ways to start generating ideas for your domain is to brainstorm ideas.
On a blank piece of paper, start by writing some words that are connected to your business idea.
Try to come up with a list of at least 20 words that maybe even loosely related to your business.
Once you have your list, go to any online thesaurus and start to find synonyms that come off your original file.
Narrow It Down
You might now have over 50 words or so – it is time to narrow your list down.
You might want to chop out words that are too specific and words that might cause confusion.
So once you have done this, try to get to a position of having 2 -4 words that you like and fit really well.
The next stage is to go to a domain name provider such as GoDaddy or Namecheap and discover if that particular domain name is available.
In my experience, I always try and find a .com extension for your domain.
I know there are a plethora of different extensions out there from country-specific to business-specific, but .com is still king.
It can be tempting to use an intelligent extension like Pauls’s .pizza for a pizza business, but .com is still the most recognized and trusted domain extension out there.
The other reason is that .com names are the most memorable for people.
Many non-internet or tech-savvy people will naturally always add a .com to a search phrase.
The other reasons are that many smartphones and computers these days have a .com key on their keyboards.
If you find that the .com’s are taken, try adding additional words to the front or back of your domain like ‘best’ ‘my’ ‘the’.
Acquiring a .com
Even though your really preferred domain is taken, it might not all be lost.
You can find out who the owner of the domain is and also whether it is being used or just parked for future use.
You could contact the owner and explore whether they are willing to sell the domain to you.
The Use Of Keywords
If you can use your top keywords as part of your domain, then you must.
If you can include your keywords in your domain, you can tell the search engines what your website is about.
It is hard, though, to find domains with keywords in so you might have to be creative and look for the right combinations.
How to Choose a Domain Name – With SEO in Mind!
As mentioned above, many people consider an exact match when deciding how to choose a domain name. However, this should come with a word of caution: it’s very easy to over optimise a with a keyword-rich domain.
Back in the old days (90’s), you used to be able to secure a domain name with the keywords you were trying to rank for and “hey presto” in a couple of weeks you were number one. In today’s world of SEO, it is very easy to over optimise. Here’s why.
Backlinks with an exact match are not always a good thing. And exact match keywords contained within the anchor are not easy to control if your domain name is an exact match. So if your domain name contains an exact match, chances are that backlinks you obtain organically will include exactly the keywords you’re trying to rank for.
Our suggestion would not to go for an exact match – try a slight variation of the of the targeted phrase – incorporate your brand name.
If you can, keep your domain short.
It is much better when thinking about how to choose a domain name to have a domain name that is short and memorable.
Try to keep any domain name under 15 characters long. That way you can avoid mis-spellings which would be missed traffic.
More extended domains lead to more mis-spellings.
Also, don’t try to be too fancy and ensure it is easy to spell and pronounce.
Try not to use hyphens in the domain.
Once again, a hyphenated domain name is prone to mis-spellings.
Social Media & Trademarks
A couple of other things you might like to research before your final decision is to think about social media titles and handles.
Also, to do a quick trademark search.
For social media, you want to try and get a matching social media name.
They don’t have to be an exact match, but it will help your branding efforts if they are the same or very similar.
The other search to make is for trademarks.
Just make sure your chosen domain names do not impinge on anyone’s trademark as you may have to change it down the line.
So you have your name and now to register it.
One decision you have to make is, do you purchase the domain with hosting or just as a stand-alone name?
If you just want the domain, then use a domain name registration, and there are plenty of those.
Go Daddy is probably the biggest with over 60 million domain names registered with them.
If you want your domain name with hosting, then once again, there is a wide choice of providers.
One of the things you might want to consider is to use an expired domain name.
If you can find an expired domain that suits your purposes as far as the name goes, they may be worth considering.
You might be under the impression that when a domain name reaches the expiry date that if the existing owner does not renew it, then anyone can buy it.
It is, in fact, not as simple as that.
In fact, current domain owners have between 1-75 days to renew their domain once it has expired.
Did you know they’re about 120,000 domains that expire every day, and only about 50,000 of those come around for others to register?
So what are the advantages?
Buying an expired domain may give you a leg up in the SEO success of your website.
If you can find a domain with high authority and existing links as long as the link profile is robust and not spammy.
If you are thinking about an expired domain, make sure you do your homework thoroughly.
At the end of the day, if it doesn’t fit your planned business, then go back to making your own.