One of the first and most important decisions you have to make when it comes to your blog is choosing a good domain name. It is impossible to overemphasize just how impactful a blog’s domain name is to its success, particularly with regards to search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM). In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of choosing a good domain name, by discussing the characteristics of a good domain name, tips on how to go about generating a good name, and how to make sure your chosen name is available.
Before we get started, note that this article is about naming a blog, not a shopping site or company site, or any other site with an established brand. This article also assumes that you will eventually want to attract what is known as “type-in” traffic–traffic from users that type your domain name directly into their address bar–even if you expect to get most of your traffic from links or searches. If you do not want or expect any type-in traffic, the domain name is far less important and much of what follows will not apply.
7 Characteristics of a Good Domain Name
A good domain name is short, easy to remember, relevant, easy to spell, contains no hyphens, ends with .com, sounds authoritative, and focuses on keywords. Let’s go through each of this one by one.
Here’s an interesting piece of information. The top 100,000 websites, on average, have nine characters in their domain names, not including the extension. Think of the websites you go to every day. Do any have more than, say, fifteen characters? Of the top four websites according to Alexa–Google, YouTube, Facebook, Baidu —the longest has eight. You don’t want users to take forever to type your domain name into their browser’s address bar. Make it easy for users to get to you directly by keeping the domain name short.
2. Easy to remember
Domain names need to be memorable. Weird spellings (more on that later) and obscure phrases or jargon may mean something to you, but chances are they won’t be memorable to a wide audience. If you’re not sure, run the potential name by a small focus group or even just a group of your friends. Mention it a few times over a couple of days and then ask them a week or two later and see if they remember it.
The domain name should be obvious and contain keywords that are relevant to your content. It is also important to ensure the name reflects your intended message. Be aware that words have implicit meanings and connotations. Try sharing your potential domain name with some people who are not overly familiar with your niche and then ask them to guess the purpose of your site. This should help you determine if your name communicates what you intend to communicate.
4. Easy to spell
If your domain name contains a word commonly misspelled, it’s best to avoid using it. If you are intent on using it anyway, make sure you buy the misspelling too and redirect it to the correct domain. For example, if you want to use the word “occasion” in your domain name (specialoccasions.com, for example) be aware that this is one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language. Thus, make sure you also buy specialocassions.com and specialoccassions.com as well. If you are not sure if you have a spellable word, try asking some people you know to write it down and see how they spell it.
5. No hyphens
Yes, it is tempting to use hyphens when the domain name you want is already taken. However, this is often a mistake because users rarely remember them. If there is a domain out there called buythebook.com and yours is buy-the-book.com, you will lose a lot of your traffic to the domain that does not have the hyphens.
6. .com extension
Seventy-five percent of all domain names end with .com. Because it is the standard, most users will assume your blog will also end with .com.
7. Sounds authoritative
Your domain name should sound like a trustworthy authority. Users have become savvy to domain names that sound like they are only trying to sell something. Avoid names like toptensupplements.com, for example, unless your site is an online store named Top Ten Supplements. Why? Users go to blogs to get unbiased, authoritative information about products before they make a decision to buy them. A site named toptensupplements.com has obviously been created to sell supplements, whereas one named supplementfacts.com seems created to provide useful information.
Tips for Generating a Good Domain Name
At this point you may well be thinking, sure all that sounds great but how do I come up with an actual name?
Start with writing down the main keywords your site will focus on. If any of those is available as-is, with the .com extension, buy it. Done!
Okay, it is rarely if ever that simple. You are probably not the very first person to blog on this topic. Most of those domain names are either taken or very, very expensive. Which is why it is necessary to look for other options. Here are three techniques that are pretty successful.
- Blending or meshing two or more words (like blogtocoins.com, for example)
- Using similar words
- Meshing with common suffixes (such as -ly, -ish, -ify, and so forth)
So let’s talk about how each of these work by using a common example. Let’s say I want to start a blog that is all about my favorite spice—nutmeg. Let’s further assume that nutmeg.com is already taken [it is]. This means I’m going to have to get creative. Let’s go through each of the techniques to try to find a good domain name other than nutmeg.com.
1. Blending or meshing
This first thing I can do is try to find a unique domain name by blending the keyword nutmeg with other words. For example:
2. Using Similar words
I can also look for words that are similar to my keyword. This one turns out to not be so fruitful because nutmeg is unique, but let’s try anyway. Here are some possibilities:
3. Merging with popular suffixes
This one can be fun. Examples:
Making Sure Your Domain Name is Available
This is something that you will be doing all throughout the process of choosing the name. One of the most popular places to go to check on domain name availability is Godaddy.com. Another site worth taking a look at is namemesh.com. This site will check domain name availability and also makes intelligent suggestions based on your keywords and using the techniques mentioned above.
So there you have, folks. In the next article, we’ll talk about how to install WordPress. Happy blogging!