We’ve all heard the adage “a rose by any other name is still a rose,” but unfortunately, when you consider how to choose a domain name for your new website or blog, this rule just doesn’t apply.
The domain name you pick must be one that is memorable, meaningful, and easily discovered by both search engines and customers.
But don’t worry. We’ve got your back.
This article will provide helpful tips on how to choose the perfect domain name for your site. From understanding what makes up a good domain name to learning why search engine optimization (SEO) matters when selecting one, we’ve got you covered.
What’s in a Name?
First things first: let’s break down exactly what a domain name is. In essence, a domain name is the address of your website. Just as your home or office has a physical address, so does your site. It’s what users type into their web browsers to get connected with you.
Sometimes you’ll also hear the domain name referred to as the URL, which is short for “uniform resource locator.” But, don’t worry, there’s no quiz on that.
Choosing a good domain name is a crucial part of setting up and running any online business or blog. Not only will it help potential customers find you online, but it can also affect how challenging it is for people to remember who you are and where they found you in the first place.
So where might you get this magical name, you might ask? Well, this is where you need to find a domain registrar.
Here are the most popular sites you can choose from.
- Google Domains: A popular option that’s part of the Google ecosystem
- GoDaddy: The world’s largest domain registrar.
- Namecheap: A cost-effective alternative to GoDaddy.
You’ll find that domain prices vary depending on the registrar you use. Generally, they are under $20 per year.
Some companies offer special deals or discounts if you purchase multiple years at once. However, be aware that in most cases you will own the domain name for only one year at a time, unless you select a multi-year plan when you sign up or renew.
Once you’ve got your address, you need a place to store all of your online content. This is where web hosting comes in, and it is slightly different from domain hosting. Whereas domain hosting covers your domain name (i.e. the URL), your web host will store your site (i.e. the HTML, CSS, and other web files) on servers connected to the internet, which allows it to be accessed from anywhere in the world.
Many domain registrars double as web hosts, but remember to do your research so you can get a service that best suits your needs today, while still allowing you to scale when you grow!
Now that you know the basics, let’s get down to the brass tacks of how to choose a domain name. Your head is likely spinning with possibilities, so we’re here to streamline the process and steer you in the right direction. Here are our tips for choosing a compelling, unforgettable domain name.
1. Identify Your Brand or Niche
Chances are you’ve already given some thought to your branding, but it’s important to take some extra time before choosing your domain name to make sure it reflects and reinforces the message you want to convey.
Whether you’re a business, organization, or an individual, think about what sets you apart from others in your field and how that should be reflected in your name.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What do I provide?
- Who is my target audience?
- What would they expect to see when they search for me online?
Taking the time to identify your brand or niche now will help you make the best domain name choice.
While it might be tempting to use numbers or special characters to “fancify” your domain name, don’t do it! An easy-to-remember and straightforward name is always the best option.
Use the “Keep It Simple Stupid” approach and try to keep it under 16 characters if possible. That way, your visitors will have an easier time accessing your website.
3. Check Availability
It’s essential to see if your perfect domain name is taken before investing your time and energy into designing a website around it. After all, there’s nothing worse than realizing your dream domain name has already been snatched up!
Take a few minutes to search online and make sure that your desired domain is still available. You can do this by using a domain name search tool, which will let you know with the click of a button if it’s already taken.
4. Find a Hook
While you need to keep your domain name short and simple, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little creative as long as it’s simple and snappy. You’re trying to generate attention, so you want something that will hook people in and capture their interest.
And remember: your domain name is one of the first impressions people will get about you or your business, so make sure it’s an unforgettable standout.
5. Which Extension is Best?
Next up on your list of decisions about how to choose a domain name is which extension, or ending, to use. The .com extension is the most popular, and also the easiest for people to remember.
It’s worth considering other extensions like .org or .net depending on your purpose, but usually it’s best to go with a simple .com address if it’s available. If people don’t know, they will always guess .com first.
6. Say YES to SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps increase the visibility of your website in search engine results, making it easier for potential buyers to discover you online.
To ensure that your domain name contributes positively to SEO efforts, pick one with relevant keywords and phrases that are descriptive of the content on your site.
If you don’t know where to find those keywords, use a keyword research tool to help you out!
7. Make it Scalable
Scalability means that you can use the same domain name as your business grows and changes over time. Think of potential growth opportunities like expanding into other countries or offering new services.
A versatile domain name will help ensure that you don’t have to change it down the road if those things happen. C’mon, aim big!
8. Brutal Honesty is Your Friend
It’s impossible to be objective about your own hard work, so it’s important to get feedback from other people when you’re deciding on a domain name. Ask friends, family, and colleagues for their opinion, and don’t be surprised if they have some great ideas that you hadn’t thought of, or maybe even some criticisms that might be hard to hear.
Getting the input of people who know your business or website, or just know YOU really well (Hi, Mom!) can help you find the best possible name. It might also help you identify any harmful or inappropriate language you weren’t aware of, saving you embarrassment down the line.
9. Jump On It
When it comes to choosing a domain name, time really is of the essence. The more popular and relevant a word or phrase is, the higher chance there is that someone else has already snapped up its corresponding domain name.
Don’t hesitate for too long and miss out on the perfect domain. As soon as you have a good idea of what you want to call your website, jump on it!
What Not to Do
Now that you have your game plan in place, let’s quickly review a few additional pitfalls you may encounter. When considering how to choose a domain name:
- Try to avoid generic terms that don’t say anything about what you do, like “best” or “services”.
- Make sure the spelling of the name is correct—double-check before clicking!
- Steer clear of trademarks and copyright infringement (you don’t want any legal trouble).
- Don’t choose a domain name that is too similar to another company’s. This could confuse visitors.
- Avoid using slang terms and abbreviations, which can make it harder for people to find you online.
As long as you watch out for these common mistakes and follow our tips, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect domain name for your business.
Choosing the right domain name is an important part of getting your business online. Remember that it needs to be memorable, relevant, and easy to type. If you’re stuck trying to figure out how to set up a domain name for your website, why not ask the experts at Buddy?
With Buddy Web Design and Development you get beautiful web design and development that will elevate and differentiate your brand, making sure you stand out from the crowd.
At Buddy, our aim is simple: Do great work. Be great to work withTM. Let’s partner together to create something amazing!