Coming up with a good domain name…
Seems easy at first, right?
Only then you realize the amount of considerations you need to think about…
After all… finding a domain name is one of your most crucial decisions!
Worry no more!
In this post, I’ll help you choose the right domain name for your niche website or online business.
That’s not all!
You’ll understand why it’s so important; get tons of awesome tips on how to pick a domain name; learn the mistakes you need to avoid and I’ll even reveal the tools I use to find the best domain names!!
Here’s something to quickly get you right where you want to go:
Table of Contents
- Why Is Choosing the Right Domain Name So Important?
- Choosing a Good Domain Name for SEO
- Tips on How to Choose a Good Domain Name
- Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Domain Name
- Other Considerations You Should Think of
- Best Domain Name Registrars
- Brand & Domain Name Generator Tools
- How I Came Up With My Niche Website’s Domain Name
Why Is Choosing the Right Domain Name So Important?
Your domain name is probably one of the very first things most of your potential visitors / customers will (ever) see.
It has to:
- Be perfect to instill confidence;
- Pass a clear message of what your site and brand is about;
- Make people click your link on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
Otherwise, you may end up losing visitors and you won’t be able to build your brand the way you want.
At the same time — and this is somewhat controversial –, including keywords in it it could help your SEO efforts and getting the best domain extensions (Top Level Domains [TLDs])) probably affects your rankings too.
You have only ONE shot!
If you don’t get it right at first, it will be a tough job moving on to a different domain and rebranding yourself. Not to mention the obvious SEO losses…
Choosing a Good Domain Name for SEO
From the dozens of questions that arise when people want to know how to choose a domain name for SEO these are probably the most common ones.
«Should I pick a keyword-based domain name?»
Some people will advise you to get a keyword-based domain.
Others will tell you it doesn’t matter anymore.
Both perspectives are… RIGHT!!
Let me tell you why.
It’s true that this tactic (getting keyword-based domains) did lose most of its potential, after the Google EMD update in 2012.
Google no longer gives so much importance (SEO value) to domains that include keywords in them (Exact Match Domains [EMDs] or Partial Match Domains [PMDs]).
It will simply ignore them on websites with poor content and that, consequently, do not deserve to be ranked high.
«Will Google penalize me for my keyword-rich domain?»
Owning a keyword-based domain does not mean you will get slapped with a Google penalty, though. The thing is they do not carry the same SEO power like before.
«Show I avoid keywords in my domain?»
Despite of what I’ve just referred, don’t go avoiding keywords in your domain as a whole.
It is still a good idea — dependent on you providing good quality content to your users!
This way you’ll give your potential visitors an idea of what your site is about and it will help you define your target market, at the same time.
My view on this is simple:
I usually look to include a market / niche related keyword in my domain names.
I.e.: a broader term like “Audio”; not something overly specific like “Best Wireless Earbuds Reviews”. Simultaneously, I try to make them to look more brandable. E.g.: “Audio Universe”.
By following this approach I’m able to come up with a brandable, clear and to-the-point, not-too-salesy domain name with a relevant keyword in it.
Tips on How to Choose a Good Domain Name
1. Simple, Short & Memorable
Don’t go for too long, hard-to-spell and complex words that are tough to remember.
Simple and shorter names are:
- Faster to type and less prone to typos;
- Easier to access on mobile devices;
- Harder for impostors or competitors to come up with very close variations of your domain / website / brand name;
- Easier to stick to visitor’s / customer’s minds.
Using one or two words, preferably with only one possible spelling, is advisable. (Top websites, on average, use only nine characters in their domains.)
Plenty of online businesses have managed to build a brand with short and brandable names like Moz, WordPress, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc.
Picking a short and memorable name really helps build your brand. Google loves brands just above anything else and likes to reward them by favoring blogs and sites that have built a good name and reputation.
Having a name that stands out as a brand can do a lot for you in the long run. It will help build your business, authority and recognition.
(This might go a bit against my view on the keyword-based domain debate, but…)
The eternal fight between brandable and exact / partial domain names has a clear winner: branding.
3. Clear & Understandable
Your domain name needs to be clear and make people understand what your website / online business is all about, right off the bat.
- To maximize click-through rates in the SERPs;
- To avoid explaining what it means (and possibily spend more money doing it);
- To be relevant to your content / business and make sense to your visitor / customer.
4. Creative & Unique. Looks & Sounds Well
Google likes unique content so it surely loves unique domain names that are linked to brands, blogs or products.
Even your own name can be a good choice if you’re striving for uniqueness.
Most importantly, don’t copy someone else.
Be creative! That’s how you stand out from the crowd!
Make sure that: It is visually appealing; you’re comfortable saying it out loud to your friends or customers and they can easily memorize it and repeat it without mistakes.
5. Broader Than Your Niche & Not Too Salesy
Chances are you’ll work on your new website for quite a while.
Think long term, then:
Acknowledge the possibility of expanding into closely related niches or turning your niche site into a larger authority website at a later time.
Thus, instead of getting something like “Wireless Earbuds Reviews”, it’d be better to get “Audio Gear World”.
Or… instead of that, it’d even be better to own something like “Electronic Paradise”.
Be careful with opting for too salesy domain names; those that include buyer keywords and expose you as an affiliate website.
- It will make your blogger outreach efforts an easier job. I.e.: when trying to guest post on another blog or site in the same niche or in a related broader market;
- It will be easier to get natural links;
- It will be simpler to promote and gather a following.
This way you’ll be seen as a “regular” blogger rather than someone trying to promote affiliate products.
6. Tied to Your Brand Name
Whether you’re building a niche website or launching an online business per se, your domain name must match your site / brand name.
You need to decide whatever it is about and pick a name that fits your business and is iconic at the same time.
Most of the times, you’ll end up choosing your site / brand name based on the still available domain names.
7. With a .COM Extension
«What extension should I pick for my domain name?»
Opt for the .COM TLD (Top Level Domain).
People and search engines alike seem to trust sites having a .COM extension domain name more compared to others.
If you can’t, either buy the .NET or .ORG version of that domain or try looking for another .COM option.
8. Longer Registration Periods & WHOIS Privacy Off
For SEO reasons it is best to purchase a domain for longer periods (more than the minimum of one year) and have your WHOIS privacy turned off.
Google sees it as your site being a legit, long-lasting, nothing-to-hide business. And it will reward you with higher rankings.
Note: Some people don’t like to have their personal details (like address, email, phone number) publicly available and switch on the “private WHOIS information” option every time they get a new domain. It’s up to you to decide, if you have privacy concerns.
9. With the HTTPS Secure Protocol
For Google security is a top priority. This big online giant makes sure their services (like Search, Gmail or Google Drive) are secure by using HTTPS encryption by default.
But it doesn’t stop there. Google is also concerned in making the Internet a safer place and that starts with the websites it features on its SERPs.
To that avail, Google is encouraging webmasters to adopt HTTPS on their websites and rewarding them with a slight boost on their rankings.
That said… HTTPS is a ranking factor for Google. So you’d better add the HTTPS secure protocol to your domain name shopping cart.
Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Domain Name
Before proceeding with your domain name purchase, you really need to confirm you’re not forgetting anything important or doing something wrong.
Be sure to follow this checklist to avoid the most common mistakes:
1. Do Your Domain Name Due Diligence
After finding your perfect choice, you need to run a few tests on your domain name to be certain that it is okay to go. Not rarely, available domains are not exactly brand new and that can mean something is wrong with them.
- Use the Wayback Machine to check your domain’s history — if it has one — and learn what sort of site it was in the past;
- Google for “site:www.yourdomainname.extension” (without quotes; replace yourdomain.extension with your domain name and its extension) to check if there are still any indexed pages;
- Use an Adsense ban checker tool to confirm that your preferred domain name has not been banned from the Google AdSense service. (An obviously important check if you plan to monetize your website with AdSense ads.) This site also checks to see if your domain name was not banned from the Google search engine index. (Important note: Confirm that the AdSense ban checker tool is working properly by entering the domain name of another website you know is on Google’s index and is showing AdSense ads.);
- Enter your domain name into Moz’s Open Site Explorer and confirm that it hasn’t got a negative SPAM score.
If your domain has a history, it might be good for you due to the “Domain Age” factor for ranking in Google. But, at times, coming up with a totally different website (i.e.: different topic) from the past may not help you, especially if it still has indexed pages.
Simultaneously, having indexed pages means your domain name hasn’t been banned from the Google index; which is a good sign. If there aren’t any indexed pages for an old domain, it doesn’t necessarily mean it was banned from Google, mind you.
If the last two checks are unsuccessful, you’d be better off ditching that domain name idea.
2. Be Aware of Copyright Infringements
When you’re picking out a domain name, make sure you don’t get something copyrighted like a product name, a trademark or anything that resembles it.
The last thing you’d want is to be forced to drop your domain name after your site / brand gets established online to prevent a legal mess.
3. Drop the Cutesy Names
Don’t make the same mistake some folks do when they decide to include trending words in their domain names. It might look cool right now, but it surely won’t later in the (near) future.
Be careful with double letters and check your words in all lower case letters to prevent you from embarrassment.
Avoid using different spelling variations or slang in your domain name (e.g.: “express” — “xpress”; “you” — “u”) just because it looks cute and clever.
If people need to figure out how to spell your domain name, chances are you’ll lose another visitor. Always prefer easy-to-type, clear and simple names; preferably a name with only one possible spelling.
4. Don’t Use Numbers or Hyphens
Although there are not bad on their own, as a general rule, I advise you to stay away from numbers and hyphens (dashes) in your domain name.
Let me explain:
- They are harder to remember and / or easily misundertstood by people who are referred to your website in a conversation;
- Dashes and numbers are usually used incorrectly. People won’t be sure whether to type the numeric or the spelled-out form of a number. They’ll probably forget or misplace the dashes too;
- They make your domain name less memorable and reputable; are used in ways that lower your domain name quality which goes against helping build your brand and authority;
- They are prone to people making mistakes and get redirected to other sites;
- They are ugly, look scammy and certainly don’t follow along with the unique factor.
5. Watch Out for Plurals and Short Prefixes
I don’t like using the plural form of words in my domain names because it generally leads to visitors mistyping it and getting somewhere else. So I recommend you to stay away from plurals too.
As far as short prefixes like “my” or “the” in your domain name, you also need to think carefully before you finally decide to get something like that.
Unless you advertise — at all times — your website as “MyNicheSite.com” or “TheNicheSite.com”, people will probably also forget to type those prefixes when trying to visit your website.
6. Get It While You Still Can
If you’ve just found your “perfect” domain name available, don’t wait any longer. Buy it now before it’s too late.
Trust me, I’ve been there too.
Domain names sell impressively quickly, so you’d better hurry up.
Other Considerations You Should Think of
1. Protecting Your Brand
In order to add some extra insurance to their brand, some people opt to purchase various domain extensions — i.e.: the more known TLDs like .NET, .ORG — along with their preferred primary extension — usually the .COM. They also get misspelled versions of their domain name.
All they need to do then is to redirect all the extra domain names (those with the different extensions or misspelled versions) to their primary one.
This strategy prevents competitors and / or impostors from registering other versions of your domain name and ensures that visitors are redirected to your website even if they type the wrong TLD or mistype the URL.
2. Switching on “Auto Renewal”
Enabling the “auto renewal” service on your domain dashboard could save you from the trouble of losing your domain name in case you forget to renew it.
This is a good measure, especially if you own lots of domain names as it gets harder to keep track of all of them.
3. Adding “Domain Privacy”
I’ve already referred the “domain privacy” option above, but I think I should further explain it.
When you buy a domain name, your private information (such as your name, phone number, address and email address) will be publicly available online to anyone. You can choose to have this information hidden, if you add the “domain privacy” option to your purchase.
In terms of SEO, it is good to have it publicly displayed. Google will see your website as a legit organization with nothing to hide. If this sort of information is already available on your website, it’s a no-brainer: don’t enable the domain privacy feature.
If you prefer to keep things private (and also avoid getting SPAM in the email address you provide whhen you register your domain name), you should probably switch on your “domain privacy” setting. Some domain registrars — such as Namecheap — offer one year of domain privacy for free, which makes it easier for you to decide on what to do.
4. Pay Close Attention to Your Domain Price
Domain names are generally not expensive, costing around $10-12 per year; with some less common TLDs being more expensive in some cases and cheaper in other cases.
There are also Premium domains — which include highly sought-after keywords in them. These are sold at very high prices, due to the enormous demand there is for them.
Although their renewal price is at the normal rate (it’s best to confirm it always, just to be sure), you should think twice before paying that amount for their initial price.
Whatever the case may be, do your math and take the eventual additional costs into consideration.
5. Available “For Sale” on a Secondary Market
There are times when you’ll find your chosen domain available but featuring a “For Sale” tag. This means someone — probably a domaineer — has bought it to sell it at a much higher price for profit.
You’ll need to make an offer just to get things rolling and they will usually end up asking a lot of money to sell it. Most of the times, it’s not worth it unless you have lots of funds and really want that domain name.
For a not-so rich person / company, I think a reasonable price for a really great domain would be something in the $150-$200 range but… there might be some occasional exceptions where people go way beyond that.
6. You Own a Local Business
If you own a local business, things can be a little bit different.
You should to go with keywords that people use to find your services or products and that help describe your business. At the same time, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to also consider targeting your location (state or city) in your domain name — unless you plan to move in the future. (E.g.: DetroitTireDealer.com)
This way when potential customers do an internet search for whichever service you provide in their local area, your website or brand name will face much better chances of coming up on their screens. And it will be easier for them to remember later.
As far as country-specific TLDs (like .CO.UK, .FR or .PT) are concerned, those will only make sense if you’re not a global company or your company wants to target customers in a specific country. (E.g.: Apple.com might have an international target-audience while Apple.fr is only targeting people in France.)
Best Domain Name Registrars
«What Is a Domain Name Registrar?»
A domain name registrar is an ICANN-accredited company that sells domain names.
There are tons of registrars out there, but these are, in my eyes, the best domain name sites:
Best site to purchase a domain name, for me.
- Almost always cheaper;
- Simple, quick and easy shopping experience;
- .COM extensions are around $10 with no discounts;
- You can get discount coupons on purchases, transfers and renewals available every month. (Get your Namecheap discount coupons here);
- It comes with free WHOIS protection for one year which saves you about $10 compared to GoDaddy;
- WHOIS protection renewals are less than $5 per year and you can also get discounts for those.
If you ask me… I personally recommend Namecheap.
One of the best places to get a domain name.
- They often run discount offers that allow you to save a ton of money;
- They also host domain auctions where you can find some great opportunities;
- Their domain search tool suggests closely related domain names if your choice is not available.
- They are more expensive than other registrars on some TLDs;
- They charge more for renewals in some cases;
- WHOIS privacy is not free;
- They have tons of upsells;
- Average cost for a 2-year purchase is around $50 (domain purchase + WHOIS privacy).
- Public Niche Site Project [Case Study]
- NSP Update #1: My Niche Site Strategy Revealed!
- NSP Update #2: How to Find a Profitable Niche
- NSP Update #3: Long Tail Keyword Research: How to Find Profitable, Low-competition Keywords
- NSP Update #4: How to Come Up With & Choose a Domain / Website Name for SEO
- NSP Update #5: Setting Up a Niche Website: How to Make It Stand Out
- NSP Update #6: My Effective Niche Website Content Strategy Template (w/ Example)
- NSP Update #7: Blog Monetization Models & Ideas: My Niche Website Monetization Strategies
Your Hosting Service
Some people prefer to keep domains and hosting separated, but there might be some conveniences in keeping them together (less hassle and places to go to concerning your site’s management).
Check with your hosting service. Sometimes they offer you a free domain registration when you first sign up. Besides, they’ll take care of pointing your domain name to their hosting servers for you.
Brand & Domain Name Generator Tools
It takes me more than a couple of days (and a big headache) to find a great domain name for my next website. I try out hundreds of possibilities until I’m happy with what I got, my favorite option is still available for purchase and it passes all of my checks (refer back to the “Mistakes to Avoid” section).
It might be super challenging at times, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult all the time.
You can make use of some good domain name generator tools that make this process much simpler to you. What these tools do is they prepend or append words to your chosen keyword and suggest available domain names.
Here are a few good options:
You can also go the manual way (like me) and try thinking of a great name by yourself. Marc Andre from ProfitBlitz created this list of 230+ domain name ideas that you can use to unveil the perfect choice.
If you’re interested in finding a great brand name that matches your domain name, or want to check if your chosen domain name is also available as a username on the most popular social networks make use of these sites here:
How I Came Up With My Niche Website’s Domain Name
All right! It’s finally time to get back to what matters the most for those of you following along my Niche Site Project!
I got a .COM domain. Let me tell you the steps I followed.
I went with the “include niche / market keyword” hack referred above.
After that, I added a secondary term to make its meaning clearer for newcomers.
Finally, I appended a short suffix (because the domain with only the niche keyword + the secondary was already taken).
For the sake of an example — one of the rules for this NSP is to not reveal my domain name — let’s say my niche was “shower caps”. Firstly, I would include “bathing” as my niche / market keyword. Secondly, I would add a secondary term like “accessories” and then I’d append a short suffix like “hut” (if I couldn’t get one without it for any reason).
Note: This is just an example, of course. In this case bathingaccessorieshut.com would be a fairly long domain name which might not be the best choice.
These are frantic times. People are always in fast-forward mode; everyone’s lacking enough time to stop and analyze things over more than just once.
Although the biggest part of your online success as a blogger, digital marketer or business owner doesn’t necessarily rely solely on your URL, it might also constitute one of the most considerable factors to succeed.
Before anything else, you should give it a really good thought to what you’ll call your business and site because that is what is going to set you apart, make you unique and stand out to Google and to your audience.
Pick something simple, clear and brandable. Make it memorable and don’t forget to do your domain name due diligence and add all the other important options if you’re concerned about SEO, privacy and security.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for choosing a domain name and that this post has helped you out in any way.
If you have any questions or want to add your own insight, please do so in the comments section below. I’d enjoy reading what you have to say.
See you on my next post and thanks for your support,