If there's one area where people get stuck when starting a blog, it's choosing a domain name and that's partly because it sometimes seems like every single good name you come up with has been taken.
So for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the terminology, A domain name is what people are going to type into a browser to find your website and it typically starts with www. and ends with .com or some other extension like .org or .co.za
If you've already chosen your topic, great. Let's dive right in and find the best possible domain name for you.
By the time you complete this in-depth blog post, you will know exactly how to come up with the perfect domain name for your blog - a name that is memorable, makes you instantly stand out from the other blogs in your niche and one that readers will love and resonate with.
NOTE: This post is extracted from my Blogging Blueprint Program which shows you how to generate a full-time income by blogging in your spare time.
Now there's a lot of advice out there on choosing a domain name. Why would I write yet another blog post on the topic? That's because much of the advice out there is old and outdated and could even end up "hurting" you when it comes to SEO and rankings and so forth. This post will give you the most up-to-date advice regarding the sometimes thorny topic of coming up with a great domain name.
In order to choose the best possible domain name you first need to understand the purpose of one.
Your domain name has only purpose and that is to answer the the question on the reader's mind when they first see your link and come to your site.
And that question is "Is this site for me?" or to phrase it another way "Am I in the right place?"
Studies have shown that when someone lands on your site, you have eight seconds to get their attention.
Your domain name is one more tool to convince your ideal reader that they are in the right place and that you can help. Because the quicker you can help people to figure out if they are in the right place, the quicker you blog will take off and become popular.
What you need is a domain name that clearly and instantly communicates what your site is about, within seconds of someone landing there.
Most people make the mistake of thinking that their domain name needs to be cool, witty, clever or poetic. Wrong, wrong and wrong again.
To sum it up, you're striving for clarity in your choice of domain name.
So how do you achieve such clarity?
Well, the first thing to do is to stop playing by outdated rules.
Do a google search for how to come up with a domain name and one of the pieces of wisdom and advice likely to choose a domain name that's short and easy to remember.
But with the web growing at the rate it is, that's becoming increasingly difficult. Even two word domain names are becoming increasingly hard to find.
The good news is that it's no longer important as it once was to have a short, memorable domain name.
Think about it for a minute. How do you actually visit a site you've never been to before?
Most of the time you clicked on the link somewhere and arrived there. It could be a link someone shared on social media or from a link on another blog or website or inside an email. Or you may have landed on a site through a Google search.
But it's fairly unlikely that you heard about the site somewhere and then typed it in.
So bear in mind that only a minuscule number of people will visit your site by directly typing in the url. This means that short, memorable domain names aren't as important as they once were.
The second piece of outdated advice is to have keywords in your domain name for SEO purposes. Google no longer places as much value on having keywords in the domain. It's good to have them, but it's really not the end of the world if you don't.
Before we dive into the actual how-to's of choosing a good domain name, let's take a look at the 7 most common mistakes when choosing a domain name.
These 7 common mistakes can definitely hurt your chances of success.
Mistake 1: Using the Sub-Domain Of A Blogging Platform
There's nothing that screams amateur faster than a domain name like www.mywebsite.wordpress.com How can you expect readers to even take you seriously when you can't even be bothered to cough up 10 bucks for your own domain name.
Another huge disadvantage of putting all your valuable content on someone else's web property is that you don't have control over it. They may change their terms of service or decide to shut down and then you've lost all your hard work.
So buy your domain name and pay for your own hosting and have the peace of mind that comes with owning your own little piece of the web.
Mistake 2: Choosing The Wrong Domain Name Extension
A domain name extension is that the domain name ends in like .com, .net, .org, .biz and so on, and it's more important than you think.
.com is the most popular one and the one you should try to stick to. Other acceptable choices are .net and .org
But beware of newer extensions like .biz, .tv, .school, .name unless under special circumstances.
I would much rather go for another domain name if the .com is not available rather than buy a .net or a .org extension.
Mistake 3: Using a made-up word
Whilst it's true that there are many companies who used made-up words and they are worth billions, like Google and Yahoo, to name a few.
Unless you have deep pockets to spend on branding, stay away from made-up words because again, this is the enemy of clarity.
Mistake 4: Being Cute Or Clever
Trying to be cute or clever is the number one mistake when it comes to choosing a domain name.
Using a pun or some other clever play on words may gain the admiration of friends that have the time to explain your cleverness to.
But it will cost you dearly in terms of traffic and readers. Why?
Because "cuteness" and "cleverness" are the opposite of clarity, which is what we're striving for, remember?
So how do you know if you're more clever than clever?
Ask strangers who don't know about you, and who may not even know much about your topic ,what they think your website is about just from domain name. If they take longer than 2 seconds to give you an answer, you are dead. Why?
Because being clever or cute means that it takes people longer to figure out what your site is about. And with so many potential sites out there, people just can't be bothered.
With one click of a mouse, they're out of there, never to be seen again.
Trying to be cute or clever with your domain name can make people leave your site simply because they don't understand what your site is about or how you can help them.
And remember, you have only 8 seconds to accomplish this.
So ditch the cute and clever in favor of clarity.
Mistake 5: Using Hypens
Using hyphens in your domain name is a bad idea for several reasons:
1. When people search for your domain, the domain name without the hypens (the one belonging to your competitor) will show up first. And you just lost another reader and/or another sale.
2. It just screams amateur and copycat.
3. People won't remember the hyphen and will end up on your competitor's site.
Mistake 6: Using Acronyms
Using acronyms in your domain name is another no-no.
What is an acronym? An acronym is using the first letters of a phrase in order to create a new word. For example, NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming or EFT for Emotional Freedom Technique.
Why is this a problem? Because often newbies won't have any idea what the acronym means. So using an acronym means that you'll isolate a huge pool of prospective readers.
Another mistake closely related to this is to use Industry Jargon - words that are specific to a particular profession or Industry that most lay people don't know.
Mistake 7: Not Being Prepared To Spend A Bit Of Money On An Ideal Domain Name
You may come up with an ideal name and find that it's already been taken. But many times, all it takes is a little bit of legwork and a few hundred dollars to get the domain name you really want.
So if the perfect domain name that really nails it for your prospective reader isn't available, then consider spending a little more in order to acquire it.
I'll show you how a little later on.
If your blog is still small (under 1,000 subscribers) then you should seriously consider just changing your domain name. It's really not as difficult as you think.
There are 5 proven strategies to help you to choose a kick-ass domain name.
Domain Naming Strategy 1: Name The Benefit
This is my favorite strategy for choosing a domain name because it scores high for clarity and it tells readers exactly what they will gain if they read your blog.
Just by glancing at your domain name, people will are able to tell the number one benefit they will gain if they read your blog.
Some great examples are:
IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com by Ramit Sethi
There's no doubt in your mind what each of these sites is about, is there? Score 10 out of 10 for clarity?
Domain Naming Strategy 2: Name Your Audience
Another great strategy for choosing a domain name for your blog is to choose one that calls out to the target audience you want to reach.
Some fabulous examples of this sort of strategy are:
Again, these naming strategies leave the reader in no doubt as to whether this blog is for them or not.
Domain Naming Strategy 3: Name The Topic
This is another good strategy for choosing a domain name. In essence, the domain tells the reader what the blog is about.
Some examples are:
Domain Naming Strategy 4: Name Yourself
Whilst it's certainly a viable option, this strategy is not one I recommend unless you want to brand yourself as a worldwide celebrity whose name is instantly recognizable.
Some examples are:
A website branded with your name has several disadvantages:
Domain Name Strategy 5: Name Your Pursuit or Mission
With this naming strategy, you're going to name what you're doing as a blogger.
An example would be SocialMediaExaminer.com which is a site that examines social media.
A twist on this strategy is to name the mission of your blog. So let's say that you have a blog that teaches parents how to discipline their kids without physical punishment. A good name for a blog like this is NoMoreSpanking.com
Still having trouble coming up with a great name? In my Blogging Blueprint Program I share 10 proven formula's that will make coming up with a domain name a breeze.
Now that you know what pitfalls to avoid and the 5 types of domains, you need a process that can be used on any topic in the niche.
There are 3 tools you will need:
1. A domain name registrar to check the availability of a domain name. The best domain name registrar is www.NameCheap.com
GoDaddy is also very popular but I personally don't like it because of all the upsells after you register a domain name.
2. Thesaurus.com - This is a useful tool if the first choice of domain name is not available.
3. www.NameStation.com - A name combining tool to brainstorm name combinations. It's a very nifty tool and you'll be surprised at how often it returns some amazing name combinations that you would have never thought of on your own. Best of all, many of these domain names are available.
Now that you have your tools, let's dive into the actual procedure to find a domain name.
Step 1: Do Some Necessary Pre-work
Before you start working on your domain name, you need to do some pre-work by answering these questions:
1. What is your topic?
Example: Internet Marketing
2. Who is the target audience you want to reach?
Professional women with kids who are tired of a 9-5 job and want to learn how to make money from home. So words that describe this target market are: Mom, mommy, mompreneur, woman etc.
3. What is the main goal you are helping your target audience to achieve or what is the main problem that you are helping them to solve?
Goal: Helping them to learn the skills and provide the support required to earn an income online
4. What term of name would you call someone who succeeded at or was proficient in this topic?
Mompreneur, maven, master
Step 2: Brainstorm Alternative Words and Terms
Go to thesaurus.com and type in each of the descriptive keywords and see what other synonyms come up that you might want to use.
So using the example above, let's say we take the keyword maven and type it in and you come up with two excellent synonyms - connoisseur and expert. If you wanted to, you could click on each of those terms and come up with even more alternatives.
Now, using your expanded list and the formula's taught in the previous lesson, brainstorm some possible names.
Come up with at least 20-25 possible domain names.
Step 3: See which domain names are available
Now take your list of possible domain names and head on over to NameCheap.com and using the Bulk Search Tool, search for the domain names you came up with together with the extensions you want to use.
This should give you a list of some great potential domain names.
Step 4: Narrow Down Your List Of Possible Alternatives
1. Eliminate any that are not clear as to what the topic is about.
2. Eliminate any that are not related to your topic.
3. Look for a name that is both memorable and has a good message to market match. This means that your domain name needs to matched to your target market.
4. Then make your final choice. But don't register your domain name just yet. I'll show you to get a free domain name registration in the next lesson.
But what about if you can't find a domain name you love? Or the name you want has already been taken?
What if the domain name you want is already taken? What do you do then? There are two options that you can take.
Then head on over to a domain name marketplace to see if you can find the domain name you want here.
Domain name marketplaces sell domain names that are already registered and are for sale.
There are three main marketplaces for sale:
From there you can inquire about the domain name that you want and if you're really prepared to spend money on a domain name, then you can hire a domain name broker to get the domain name for you or make the offer yourself.
This is a more time consuming way to do it, but it still works. Just type the domain name into your browser and see what comes up.
If it looks like a professional site with content etc, then it's likely that the owner put time into it and doesn't want to sell it.
But if it's a site that looks like a parked domain, then you can find out if it's for sale and make an offer by clicking on the link at the top or bottom of the page.
Or if it looks like an abandoned or neglected blog or website, then you can look for the contact information on the website and contact the owner and ask them if they would like to sell it.
If there is no contact information on the website, you can try finding out who the owner is through WHOis - An Internet record listing that provides the contact details of a the owner of a particular website.
This information isn't always available, as some website owners have chosen to keep their information private, but it's worth a try.
What To Do If The Domain Name You Want Is Registered But Expired.
An expired domain name is one where the owner didn't renew the registration by the cut-off date and the domain name remains registered but is now available for purchase.
Here's a detailed tutorial that shows you how to purchase an expired domain name
The shorter the domain name the more valuable it is, with one word domain names having the most value. But it's also important to keep in mind the message-to-market match.
A domain name with a very strong message-to-market-match may be worth more than a shorter domain name with a weak message-to-market-match.
It's also important to realize that a lot of times people are asking for ridiculous prices for their domain names. But they're actually willing to accept up to 90% less than what they're asking.
So don't be afraid to to negotiate or to walk away is asking price is too high.
You can't just wire or Paypal the money to a stranger and hope for the best, because you risk of someone taking your money and running.
Always use an escrow company like escrow.com to safeguard both yourself and the seller.
Here's how it works:
1. The seller puts the domain name in escrow and you put the money into escrow as well.
2. They transfer the ownership of the domain to you.
3. Once the escrow company has confirmed the transfer, they then release the funds to the seller.
Here's a valuable tip for negotiating a better deal with the seller:
Register a similar domain name (or perhaps even several similar domain names). This allows you to approach the owner and tell them that you have a similar domain name and that although you don't need their domain name, you're interested in purchasing it just because it's similar to yours.
Now that you've chosen your blogging topic and found the best possible domain name, the next step is to actually get your blog up and running.
Once your blog is up and running, what's the next step? Find out in my free Profitable Blogging in SA Masterclass.