How to choose a domain name for your website
Make a List of Potential Names
First thing’s first. Don’t waste your time trying finding the perfect domain name – because in 99% of scenarios it does not exist. Even if you come up with one, someone else most likely owns it already. A better approach is to generate 15-20 domain name ideas first, then, subsequently, you can check the availability of all these names by using tools like the Bluehost Domain Search Tool.
The Bluehost domain name tool will offer alternative but similar-sounding domains if your preferred domain is not free. You can test it out on their website or use our embedded domain name search below:
Always Go for the “.com” Extension
You should always go for a domain name with a “.com” extension. There is no other opinion about it. First and foremost, it is the most established, familiar, and recognisable domain extension in the world. On top of that, it is easy to remember. More importantly, some people instinctively add .com after every domain they search on Google. According to a Domain Name Stat 41% of all domains have a .com extension.
You may also find some of the big websites using .net or .org domains. Plus many fancy Top Level Domains (TLDs) have emerged in recent years which may be tempting for you. But remember one thing, and that is .com still rules the world of domain names – do your very best to acquire .com at all times possible.
Keep it Short and Simple
Experts recommend choosing a domain name with less than 15 characters. Some of the best custom website designs in the world such as wikipedia.org, amazon.com and youtube.com have less than 10 characters in their domain names. All of these websites are among the 25 most visited websites in the world in 2020, according to SEMrush. Another reason why these websites are getting so much traffic is the fact that their domain addresses are mobile-friendly. With more than 50% of total web traffic coming from mobile, you need to keep this factor in mind as well.
A short domain name also plays a crucial role in determining how much residual traffic comes to your site. It is easy to type, eliminating any chance of the visitors misspelling or mistyping your website’s name in the browser which can direct them to a different website altogether. Your online success also depends upon how simple your domain name is. Your prospective customers will struggle to find your website if the domain is difficult to type. In this regard, domain names with slang (r instead of are) or spelling variants (Xmas instead of Christmas) are particularly hard to find.
Make Sure it is Easy to Pronounce
The domain name you choose should not only be easy to type, but it should also be easy to pronounce. People will conveniently promote the domain address through word of mouth if it rolls off their tongues. Therefore, spelling and speaking your domain has to be a breeze. Similarly, your potential customers may demand you to personally share your website address. It would leave a very bad impression if you stutter while pronouncing your domain name.
Everyone should be able to understand and spell your domain name with utmost ease, especially if you intend to use it for creating a professional email address such as email@example.com.
Using keywords related to your business or services is a great way to create an attractive and engaging domain name. For example, you may want to register cozytravel.com if you run a travel agency. It’s descriptive, and gives users a warm feeling about the business, it also tells them that travelling with you is going to be a comfortable and cozy experience.
But, adding keywords to your domain serves two purposes. Firstly, people get to know that you work and specialise providing a good service in a particular industry, traveling in our example. Secondly, keywords in your domain name can considerably boosts your search rankings which in turn brings in more traffic and customers to your site.
Do thorough research and find the keywords your customers use when they search for your products and services. You can use the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool to start generating keyword ideas for your domain name.
Choose a Unique and Brandable Name
What is a brandable domain name? A brandable domain name is one that sounds and feels like a brand such as amazon.com and apple.com. These names are much more elegant and memorable than more generic buysmartphonesonline.com or buystuffonline.com. It is definitely difficult to match the elegance of domain names such as amazon.com or Apple. However, you can always create a classy brand name of your own.
One way of attaining this goal is to have a unique domain that separates you from the rest of the crowd. Researching other websites and blogs within your industry is the way to go. Try to find out what type of domain names your competitors are using and try and make a unique spin of one of those. However, you should also beware of copyright infringement issues. Neve use a trademarked name either intentionally or accidentally if you don’t want to get in any legal trouble. More on Trademarks later…
Does It Do What It Says on The Tin?
It can be helpful for people to understand what your website is about right away just from reading your domain address. If a website user can say, “Oh, they run an XYZ” business as soon as they look at your domain name, you have already won half the battle. Cozytravel.com, for example, instantly gives the impression that the website is about travel and tourism.
However, this does not apply for every single domain name. If for example, you’re looking for a brand name domain, such as apple.com or amazon.com that we previously mentioned, this statement is of course not true. apple.com certainly don’t sell apple’s and amazon don’t supply rainforest accessories…
Consider Exact Match Domains
An exact match domain commonly referred to as EMD is matches an exact keyword or group of keywords that people type in Google to search for things. These keywords or search queries are the terms that actually drive traffic to your website.
For example, “buy cheap airline tickets” is a very competitive and lucrative keyphrase. Naming your website buycheapairlinetickets.com can be a shortcut to getting to the top of Google – although in recent times Google are clamping down on this, especially if the website has thin or lots of affiliate content.
There are many other benefits of owning an exact match domain. You will probably have the domain name for the rest of your life. Or, you will not easily let it go. Although they are cheap yet domain names can become quite a good investment. You can, in fact, sell an EMD for a hefty profit years later if you no longer need it.
Exact match domains are very easy for people to remember and pronounce. Such domains also have the capability to become a popular brand name for your business.
Use Domain Name Generators
Searching a domain address manually can be quite boring, tiresome, and even intimidating. You can solve this problem by using various domain name generators such as Bust a Name or the Namecheap Beast Mode Generator pictured below. These domain name generators help you try a combination of terms until you generate the domain name you like. In most cases, all you have to do is to write a word and select your extension and boom. You will get hundreds of results within a fraction of a second.
Source: Namecheap’s Beast Mode Generator
Another great tool which deserves a mention here is Justdropped.com by GoDaddy. This particular tool lists some great domain names as soon as they become available. Once again, you just have to type your keyword and you will get plenty of domain names to choose from.
Experiment with Non-Traditional TLDs
Nowadays, you can buy a myriad of non-traditional TLDs in the likes of .shop, .club, .design, and .blog, etc. Then there are location-specific TLDs such as .cc, .ly, .it, .fm, and .io. However, you can use them for other purposes because of their unique appearance. In certain cases, you can ditch the .com extension and experiment with these TLDs.
If you use these TLDs creatively, you can make a complete expression using both your intended brand name and the TLD. Let us take the example of translate.it which is the domain address of Microsoft Translator. The whole domain name sounds like a single expression so it makes sense to use this, and by entering https://translate.it in your browser, you will be redirected the official Microsoft Translator website. Cool huh? And memorable…
Buy Common Misspellings of Your Domain Name
It is not enough to buy only your preferred domain name, especially if you have a brand name that can be easily misspelled. Typosquatters make a full time living from by stealing websites traffics from spelling mistakes in a website address, therefore, you are better off purchasing a domain name with all common misspellings your domain might have. Subsequently, redirect all these domains to your main URL.
The bottom line is that your user may assume different names as your website address (think thesaurus.com, type it quickly without thinking and see where you end up). An accidental slip of a finger can lead them to your competitors’ websites. The perfect solution to this problem is to buy as many such domains as possible. However, it is totally your call because purchasing more TLDs will also increase your annual domain bill.
Plan For Expansion
Your business will most certainly expand if you start it on the right foot. Therefore, go for a domain name that you can use throughout the life cycle of your business. For instance, computeraccessories.com is a good name for an Amazon associate website. But, what if you want to sell other electronic equipment in the future as well. This particular domain name will simply box you in. On the other hand, a domain name like electricwarehouse.com will allow you to sell whatever you want without any hassle.
Similarly, never fall in the trap of trendy names. All the trends fade away with the passage of time. Sticking with a classic name that you can use for decades is the right option. It is also not difficult to differentiate between a trend and something that will last for generations.
Take Ideas from Your Competitors
Your business name and domain should be the same. However, this is not always attainable in the highly competitive digital world where everyone is competing for the same domain name, as long as it is applicable to their website. While choosing a domain name, you must take a cue from your competitors as well. You can decide whether you need to align with the industry standards or take a different route by comparing domain names your competitors are using.
Avoid Hyphens, Numbers and Acronyms
You should avoid hyphens, numbers and acronyms when choosing a domain name for the same reasons you should keep your domain name short and simple. Hyphens make it difficult for the visitors to remember the domain and type it correctly in the browser. But, this is not the main problem. Your customers may end up on the competitors’ websites if they happen to miss the hyphens or misspell the acronyms. Furthermore, it is a painful process for a visitor to type a hyphen to search for a website. They would rather opt for a website with a simpler domain name.
Using acronyms such as omg, lol, or btw in a domain name can backfire. There may be many companies using similar acronyms, making it pretty tough for you to be recognised as a brand. The same goes for the numbers which only increase the complexity of your domain name. Therefore, you are better off with an original name instead of relying on hyphens and numbers of if your preferred domain is already taken.
Try Using Geographic Terms
Consider using geographic terms in your domain name if your business serves a particular area. Some of these terms include the name of your country, county, or city. It can be particularly useful if your business does not have a brick and mortar store. Many law firms use this technique to dominate Google’s local search rankings as well as a lot of other trades. Put a geographical description in the URL of your website and you will see a surge in your web traffic for that local area.
Use Your Name
Many people have registered their own names as domain names as well and if your business model makes sense to do so you could follow suit. You may deem it as a useless exercise right now but it can greatly help you in the long run. This is because you may become famous or a household name in the future. Then, you can use this particular domain for your personal website. Similarly, your name may become a perfect domain name if you wish to become a public speaker one day or sell your services through a blog.
Consider Acquiring Existing or Expired Domains
Acquiring existing or expired domains is a wonderful method to jump ahead of your competitors. There is a strong possibility that these domain names already have authority backlinks, high page rank, high page authority, and more importantly, an established brand name and traffic. Just think about it. Your website will have more authority and most likely rank faster, helping your business jump start in the right direction. One of the most important tools you can use to find such domains is the Expired Domains website. This handy tool shows you list upon list of recently expired or soon to expire domain names. You can also filter by backlinks and domain authority too!
Check the Domain’s Backlink History
Purchasing an expired, deleted or even active domain could help your business get going on the quicker foot. Google and other search engines can give preferential treatment to a domain name with age and authority and it can be a good way to launch your website with more bang for your buck. However, you should always check the domain’s history before making any decision.
Start with checking the domain names backlink profile, you want to ensure the new domain it has zero or very little spammy backlinks using the SEMRush Backlink Analytics tool. A lot of spammy links means the previous webmaster employed negative SEO techniques at some point or bought paid links, both of which can have adverse effects on the web traffic. These negative links will carry over to your new website and could penalise your new site. Purchasing a domain name with lots of good links on the other hand, can have a highly positive effect – but that’s for another tutorial…
Check Social Media Handles
Nowadays, you also have to have a strong social media presence for your business to succeed. People having access to the internet spend an hour on Facebook every single day on average which in turn results in 2 billion visitors a month!
A lot of social media users are more interested in finding out what is happening on your business’s social media profiles rather than visiting your website, so it is imperative for you to create a professional profile on every major social media platform. Similarly, try to match the social media handles with your domain name and vice versa. Try other prefixes or suffixes, as well as domain extensions if your preferred domain or handles are already taken. For example, you could have domain handle HouseDesignHQ for the domain name housedesign.com.
Make Sure It’s All Legal And Above Board
Ensuring your potential domain name isn’t trademarked is also an absolute must if you want to avoid getting caught in any unwanted litigation. Look at wordpress.org for example. Did you know that if you register a domain name with the word “WordPress” included, you could land yourself in deep water with their legal team?
Always check with the correct trademark authority in your country to ensure there isn’t a registered trademark for any word or phrase that you’re using in your domain name. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/search-for-trademark or for US readers see: https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/search-trademark-database.
Don’t Get Frustrated if Your Domain is Taken
You should not get frustrated if someone has already taken your desired domain name. It is still possible to obtain it provided you show some patience. To begin with, the owner most probably wants to sell the domain if it is parked or there is no website on it. All the parked websites have some kind of contact information for prospective buyers. On the other hand, you can use who.is tool to find the owner’s email if you can’t find any info.
The second option is to contact the owner even if there is a running website on the domain. There is nothing wrong with trying your luck after all. Politely ask him if he is willing to sell the domain. There is a little to no chance of success but sometimes, you may win a jackpot.
You need to keep in mind that purchasing domains from others will cost you a lot of money ranging from a minimum of £50 to thousands of pounds.
Register Domain with a Reputable Registrar
It is important for you to pick a trustworthy registrar to register your domain. There are thousands of domain registrars in the world, but not all of them are up to scratch. You want to make sure that your in safe hands, your domain name renews on time, the costs are affordable and most importantly nobody can steal your domain name. This would particularly be problematic for you if you have already established a brand name. Losing a domain name at this stage means a total loss of traffic, customers and thus, profit.
Explore Domain Prices with Different Registrars
The price of the same domain name may be different with different registrars. Therefore, you will get a good deal if you compare the price of your desired domain by exploring different registrars. The same .com domain will cost you the following amount of money at various domain registrars.
Buy Your Domain Instantly
Once you have selected your domain name, you should act speedily. Competition for a good domain name is quite fierce. In fact, thousands of people may be looking for similar or even the same domain address. As domain names are also quite cheap, people tend to buy their favourite domains as soon as they find them. Therefore, you should not wait even for a second if you have come up with a good domain name and buy it instantly, otherwise, someone else will take it, leaving you crying over spilled milk.
Protect Your Domain Name
Last but not least, you must protect your chosen domain name. Domain hijacking is a real thing and you should be on your toes to avoid being becoming a victim of it. You can actually resort to domain locking which rejects unauthorised attempts to transfer your domain. It is a simple feature that every big domain registrar offers – but some don’t have activated by default. All domains purchased on GoDaddy, Namecheap and Bluehost Domains have this feature activated from the minute you buy your domain, so if you decide to go with another registrar, make sure to check your domain settings to see if this setting is activated.
You must also consider enabling the domain ID protection. By default, the information you provide during the domain registration is publicly viewable. It means everyone has access to part of your personal information. Secondly, any mischievous person can use this data for his own vested interests. The only solution to this problem is to enable the domain ID protection. It is a paid feature, however, but the price is negligible that is £1 per month at most.
Picking up the right domain name requires careful planning and thought. Your domain name must be short, simple, memorable, and intuitive. It also has to be relatable to your business and relevant to your target audience and location. Only then your domain is going to yield the desired results when it comes to search rankings, enhanced traffic, and increased sales and finally, growing profit.
So there you have it, these are my 25 Tips on How to Choose a Domain Name for your Website. It may take days, even weeks trying to find the perfect domain name for your brand, just be patient and most importantly take your time! Whatever domain name you end up choosing, just bear in mind that it will have a significant impact on the potential and success of your website.
I hope you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on your social networks or with your friends. If you feel like I’ve missed anything, or if you have any questions, just post a comment below and I’ll do my best to get back to you quickly and help!!