Whether you’re starting your first-ever blog or have been publishing for a while, chances are you know how delicate choosing a domain name can be.
Picking the best domain name is not always a straight-forward process due to various technical and personal reasons, such as:
- The name needs to feel “just right” for your niche
- You want it to capture your vision or ultimate goal
- The potential legalities involved (more on that later)
This guide aims to help you pick a domain name efficiently while avoiding potential issues later down the road.
But first, let’s look at some slightly important aspects followed by various things to implement during the selection process.
A Word on Exact-match Domains
An exact-match domain is one that is written exactly as a popular search term. If many people regularly search for “How to lose weight,” then its exact-match equivalent would be Howtoloseweight.com.
Are There Any Benefits to This?
Exact-match domains used to be much more important throughout the 1990s and mid 2000s. This means that engines like Google often favored such domains over others that were less descriptive.
However, savvy bloggers began to register popular phrases for the sole purpose of gaining traffic easily – regardless of content quality. This led to drastic changes in the way search engines rank a website, thus causing exact-match domains to lose some of that credibility.
Do they still carry some authority? Yes, of course; but search engines now look at your entire website as opposed to the domain name alone.
So, if you ever wanted to choose a domain name in a strictly descriptive fashion – such as Weightloss.com – don’t worry about it, as picking something else will not have a negative effect on your success whatsoever.
Choosing a Brandable Domain Name
A brandable website name is one which people can remember easily. There’s a certain charisma that makes it sound fun, yet authoritative.
For example, PCZone.com may refer to everything computer-related, while simultaneously giving it a cool-sounding tone thanks to the word “Zone.”
The great thing is that brandable domains allow you to get quirky and creative (such as BoredPanda or CrazyHouse).
The brandable route also make it okay to use words that have nothing to do with your blog or even use one word domains that are not in the dictionary. While this may sound like a bad idea, your site’s content and features can speak for themselves and thus, would still help you become successful.
Choosing a Descriptive Name
What if you don’t want a super creative and brandable name? What if you prefer something more down to Earth? Registering a name that accurately describes your blog can have its share of benefits as well.
For starters, they are often easier to remember because the wording resonates with whatever a visitor is looking for. An example would be the name BloggingPro, which aims to help you become (you guessed it) a blogging pro.
You may also gain additional authority points among some people (however, this is largely subjective). For instance, if a food lover stumbles upon a recipe article on Google, he may choose to click on AllRecipes.com instead of something more vague, such as Kaboom360.com.
Whether you go for a seemingly nonsensical name or something more descriptive will ultimately depend on your goal and tastes. Do you want to incorporate a vague, but cool image among visitors? Or do you want them to know exactly what the blog is all about right from the get-go?
There is no right or wrong option at the end of the day. We have personally taken both routes and always remained fully satisfied.
Needless to say, if you wonder how to choose a domain name that is both brandable and descriptive, use a combination of relevant and irrelevant words – such as PCZone, as mentioned earlier.
Selecting a Domain Extension
A domain extension refers to the last few characters you see in the URL, such as .com or .net. As you have probably noticed, the .com extension is by far the most popular of the bunch (due to perfect timing in the early days of the Web, and subsequent recognition).
Much like the selection of a domain name, choosing something other than .com is not known to have any negative consequences on search engine visibility. However, more analysis into this may be required.
My recommendation: If you can, always choose a .com extension over any other. Why? Because (again) it’s the most popular option and that could make your website more memorable as a result.
The next best options would be a .net, .co, and .io (in my humble opinion). These alternatives have simply gained popularity for one reason or another, so why not go with the flow?
That being said, let’s cover some things that are less subjective and more actionable…
Keep it Short
A good domain name should be easily spelled, pronounced, and remembered. The best way to accomplish this is to keep the length fairly short.
There’s a reason BloggingPro isn’t named BloggingProfessional, after all. Can you see and feel the difference?
Going for a short and descriptive name may be tough these days (if you’re aiming for a .com extension) due to the vast amount of websites available out there. But thankfully you have more options, as previously discussed; either register a brandable word not available in the dictionary, or select another extension altogether.
Another option is to merge two words together to form a new one, which can result in a catchy and fairly short name.
Keep it Evergreen
We have seen plenty of websites using domain names which are bound to sound outdated within a few months or years, such as “BloggingTipsfor2015.com.”
A similar problem is naming a domain after a product or service with a finite shelf life. But this is an entirely separate (and legal) matter, which i’ll cover in more detail later in this guide.
Needless to say, avoid using something with an implied timestamp, as readers might not take you so seriously in the future.
Avoid Weird Formats
For even better results, choose a domain name that is free of numbers and hyphens.
Think about this: Let’s say that someone verbally asks about your website, called 5gags.com. Will they immediately know whether that number is spelled out versus being numerical? Probably not, which will force you to clarify it.
The same applies to domains with hyphens, as you’d have to instruct people how to spell it every single time they ask.
Even if no one ever asks you these questions verbally, straight-forward domains are simply more memorable and acceptable in general. There isn’t anything drastically wrong with numbers and hyphens; they can simply make a domain feel bloated and sound confusing.
Avoid Using Slang
In the spirit of being easily understood and remembered, you should refrain from picking something ambiguous or too puzzling.
For example, go with “Tipsforyou” instead of “Tips4you” or “Tipsforu.” Once again, you want people to visit your blog without struggling and without any potential confusion.
The odd slang or informal word may be okay, but this depends entirely on your niche and how easy/difficult the word may be. In most cases, however, just play it safe and avoid it all.
Don’t Use Copyrighted or Trademarked Names
Allow us to jump straight to the point: Always avoid brand names – no exceptions. Anything copyrighted, trademarked, or patented should be left alone. Period.
The reason should be pretty obvious, as you don’t want any company coming after you later down the road.
Many years ago, someone named Mike Rowe decided to register a website called MikeRoweSoft.com (which sounds a lot like Microsoft). Eventually, the computer giant came after him and he ultimately gave up the domain.
Even though this person wasn’t technically infringing, you can see how serious companies can be about these things. If you want to be 100% free of future headaches, always go for a generic domain instead.
Pro tip: There are many fan sites out there that use copyrighted names, such as “BestNikeSneakers” or “AppleComputerNews.” Simply because someone hasn’t gotten in trouble does not automatically make everything okay. In the end, this legal matter is very subjective depending on the company in question.
Domain Not Available? Get Creative
How do you choose a domain name when seemingly everything is already taken? Perhaps you wanted a common dictionary word (or phrase) associated with your blog, only to find out it’s unavailable.
Thankfully there’s a simple workaround for this: Add a short prefix or suffix.
Let’s say you wanted to register TravelTips.com but it’s already taken. The next best thing would probably be MyTravelTips, or TravelTips365.
Another option is to look for synonyms to replace a word but still carry the same meaning. Refer to sources like Thesaurus.com and get creative! Just try not to dwell on it for very long..
Speaking of Availability…
If you managed to register a particularly good domain or you feel that your blog will gain a lot of traction, consider registering more than one extension just to prevent others from grabbing it. Again, other popular extensions include .net, .co. and .io.
However, be careful about this decision; it’s easy to assume that a blog will get off the ground and become extremely popular overnight. We personally suggest you wait before going through with various registrations (as opposed to doing this at the very beginning).
Pro tip: Registering different extensions is typically done by startups and emerging brands, usually not by traditional or personal blogs.
When All Else Fails…
Depending on your tastes, coming up with a creative domain name can take anywhere from several hours to even days. After all, you probably want to impress your audience from every angle (not just from your awesome content).
But what happens when no creative name comes to your head? In that case, you can rely on a domain name generator.
What Are Domain Name Generators?
Also known as a blog name generator, these are websites that help you come up with a name based on a certain criteria. For example, they might ask you to enter a few words relevant to your niche, such as “Car” and “Engine” for an automotive website.
Finally, they mix/merge these words (along with other close variations) and show you a list of potential results.
Some services are quite advanced, allowing you to choose a domain name length and even showing whether it’s already registered.
Here are some popular domain name generators to consider:
Business Name Generator
Get inspiration from registered domains: Do you really like the sound of an existing blog? If SmartMoney.com is taken, consider other great words to replace “Smart.”
Look around the house: Some of the most creative names are based on random words and objects.
How to Choose a Domain Name that Matters: Final Word
As you can see, a lot of thought can go into picking the right domain name for your blog. But with these tips and tools (and by not overthinking the matter) you can have your blog fully set up with a beautiful name in no time.
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