Choose a domain name

Step by Step Guide on How to Choose a Search Engine Friendly Domain Name

I assume you have already selected your niche and are ready to choose your domain name. If you have yet to select your niche, please go and read the step by step guide here first.

Choosing a domain is one of the fun parts of this business. You get to be creative and you get to choose a brand name that reflects your business. Many marketers including myself spend some time coming up with the ‘right’ name because a domain name is important. It is the identity of your business.

Carefully thinking of a suitable domain name is an important step. However, when I first started, I used to spend too much time over it. I wanted to get the perfect name and you know what – most often than not, you are not going to get the name that you want. So don’t make the same mistake I did by getting stuck in this process.

There are 5 best practices in selecting a good domain name which I would like to share with you. By following these steps, you will be able to not only select a name that you are comfortable with but also potentially have a high monetary value in the future in case you want to sell it off.

(1) Your domain name needs to be same as your website

Now, this is not a 100% rule to follow. Sometimes the website name and the domain does not match. However, as much as possible, please make sure it matches. Let me give you an example:

The domain name for my site is clickbasics.com. My site name is the same. Usually, when we try to find a site, we will not type the full URL instead we will type the site name in the search bar. Suppose a visitor types my site name in the search bar, this is what will come up.

As you can see, the first two results are mine but there is someone else by the name of Paul Carter who also runs a Facebook group called ClickBasics. Now, if anyone in his group thinks his website name is the same as his Facebook group and types the word clickbasics in the search bar, they will most likely end up in my site instead. That means lost traffic for him. You might face this type of situation if your domain and site name does not match.

(2) Long or Short?

A domain name needs to be easy to remember, easy to spell and easy to type. Therefore, it would be ideal if you could keep your domain name to be not more than 3 words. 1-word domain is extremely difficult to get nowadays. Having a 2-word domain would be great. Never go more than 3 words. Let me show why:

Below is the value of my domain assessed by GoDaddy. One of the criteria used is Memorable – easy to remember, which generally means the shorter the domain the more valuable it is.

domain2

Suppose I add the word ‘consulting’ to my domain. It is now a 3-word domain. Let’s see what is the value now.

domain3

The value of this domain is now much lesser and the reason ‘Memorable’ does not appear in the assessment.
Keep your domain name short and memorable.

(3) Personal Name or Brand Name?

This is something that many people struggle with. The thought process behind this is that you want to promote your own-self as the brand. Your name is the brand. It is a cool idea and there is nothing wrong with that. However, from a value perspective, it will be harder to sell off a website that has a personal name compared to a site with a general brand name.

clickbasics.com vs johnnyclicks.com

Which one will you buy? – and your name is not Johnny.

As I said, there is nothing wrong with choosing your name as your domain. I would only do it when I have a few portfolios of established sites. Then I would get my name and brand myself as an expert. In this area, the choice is totally up to you

(4) Dot.com or not?

This is probably the most asked question by anyone who is registering a domain name. Which extension should you be choosing? At the time of writing this, there is currently more than 1500 domain extension. There are so many types of extensions now which adds to the confusion. Let me try to make it simple for you to decide on which domain extension to choose.

I would recommend these top 3 extensions as your first choice. These 3 are considered TLD – Top Level Domain. These domains are perceived to be in a higher value than the rest and are the commonly used domain names on the internet.

.com

the most popular and sought after domain. You may find that most of the names that you can think of under this extension would have been taken. The availability of this domain is becoming less. If you can get one though, don’t miss out on it.

.net

the word ‘net’ refers to the internet. This will be your next go-to extension if you cannot get a .com. Example: You want to register ‘abstraining.com’ but it is taken. As you can see below, .net is available , you should go for it.

.org

this is an extension that reflects trust. When you hear the word .org, you think about NGOs, social entrepreneurship and organizations that have credibility. Fortunately, you do not have to have a registered company to own this domain extension. I would not recommend this for a product-related site. It is more suitable if you have a generic brand name or company name.

(5) Act Fast

If you do come across a domain name with the extension that you want and it is affordable and available, don’t take too long to snap it up. I can’t even begin to imagine the number of domains being registered every day. If you do not decide quickly, your choices will eventually diminish in the TLD category.

What to avoid when deciding on a domain name?

While coming up with a domain name, keep it simple and straightforward. You want to create a domain name that is SEO friendly. To do that, please avoid these commonly made mistakes:

  1. Avoid numbers and hyphens
    • Numbers and hyphens generally devalue a domain. It can be misleading and confusing. People do not hear and think in hyphens and numbers. There are exceptions of course but these are few. If you want to build a sustainable long-term business, you would want to avoid this.
  2. Avoid misspelling
    • Some people deliberately misspell their domain names. Example: fitness vs fitness, ClickBank vs clickbnk, etc. This is a kind of a ninja tactic to getting free traffic from people who mistype the name of the site.
    • This tactic makes your site looks spammy and less credible in the eyes of the visitor and Google.
  3. Avoid superlatives
    • Do not use exaggerated words like best, simplest, greatest, etc. Minimizing this helps you to tone down the hype. The hype is good but in my opinion, it needs to sound realistic and not come off as a marketing gimmick.
  4. Avoid abbreviations
    • This is another bad practice that you need to avoid. Short forms and abbreviations do not make a good domain name in most cases.
  5. Don’t take trademarks
    • Be careful not to include trademark names as part of your domain name. There could a copyright infringement claim against you. You do not need to take on the popular name. Create your own brand identity.

Where to get your domain?

Domain names for just 88 cents!

There are many places you can go to get your domain. Since this is the identity of your business, choosing a reputable registrar for your domain is important. You don’t want to get your domain from just any company but from a place that has been around for a while with good customer reviews. I would recommend one of these 4 domain registrars:

  1. GoDaddy
  2. Namecheap
  3. HostGator
  4. Bluehost
 Look for the best price, discounts on the first year, if the registrar is offering free WhoIS registration (domain privacy protection), free hosting and 24/7 customer service, etc.

However, when it comes to free hosting, I would suggest you buy your domain from one place and your web hosting from another. This makes sure that you will be able to move your domain name to another host easily later if you are not happy with the current web host.

What's Next?

A domain name is your website’s name. identity and reflects your brand. Choosing the right domain is important because you will be ‘stuck’ with for a long time and you need to feel good about it. By using the guide mentioned above, you will be able to come with the best search engine friendly name possible. Also, getting it from a reputable registrar helps to minimize any hassle in the long run. 

So go ahead and decide on a domain name. Purchase it and move on to the next step.