Choose the right domain name for your online business!
How do you know you have chosen the right domain name for your blog or website?
There are a few good rules you should always follow. There are also lots of examples of successful blogs or websites that break those rules. Still, following the rules will help make things easier for you to get your site to rank well in the search engines. Keep in mind that even when I give examples of rule breaking domains, these are the exceptions and you will be better off following the rules.
Let’s get started.
Always, always get a .com domain!
This is probably the single most important rule I can think of. Chances are, if you try to work on a non .com domain, all you are doing is advertising for the owner of the .com. You may be tempted to save money with a .info (I was) but after talking to those who have done some research, .info’s seem to rank lower in the SE’s (search engines) than .com’s.
Darren at problogger.net spent years trying to get the .com domain for Problogger. Now that he finally has it, it is not easy to switch the domain over to the .com without taking a hit from the search engines. At least now Darren can redirect the traffic from the .com that he was losing back to his original domain.
An example of another successful non .com domain would be del.icio.us.
del.icio.us is a popular social bookmarking site. Probably one of the few well known .us domains. Of course, if you have the option of a .edu or .gov domain those might make an exception, but most people will automatically put a .com on the end of a domain if they try to type it in. Avoid the chance and stick with a .com over any local or other type of domain.
Try to have a niche related keyword in the domain.
While not as important to SEO anymore, it may still help you rank a bit better if you have a popular keyword for your niche in your title. Also, Google bold faces the keyword if it is in the domain. Also, when someone sees the keyword in the domain itself, they know that site is likely to be about the subject they are searching for. Every little bit helps.
Keep is short and simple.
Shorter will be easier to remember, write down, and spell. Avoid too many words. Avoid words that are easy to misspell. We all want success, but can everyone spell it? Is that with one or two C’s and S’s?
Check your spelling.
I remember a demonstration video where the author did a search for possible domains and purchased a domain before realizing it was misspelled. Double check your spelling before you click the purchase button (triple check if you spell like me). Google is a play on the word googol. Sometimes spelling may not be that important.
Don’t use hyphens or dashes.
These are nearly impossible to tell someone unless they read the domain name. Maybe you will run a radio advertisement or be on a podcast someday. It is really inconvenient to explain dashes by voice. While the dashes or hyphens can make it easier to read the domain in a listing, you are better off just avoiding them.
Avoid trademarked names in your domain.
Even if you are planning to do an affiliate program for a company, avoid using and trademarked names in your domain. Nearly all affiliates will have a list of words that you cannot use in a domain if you wish to advertise their product. Even if you do get permission from someone at the company remember the person that replaces him or her may not feel the same. Don’t become lawyer bait. Find a related generic term. That way if the Zune never takes off your mp3 player site can still talk about iPods.
Avoid using free domain name search tools.
More than once I have read complaints from someone who used one of these services only to find that the domain names they checked were suddenly taken. I understand that there are some sites that apparently use the searches people do to find potential domains to purchase for themselves. Stick with the domain search tools provided by your registrar.
If you have the time and money, a used domain can have advantages.
A domain that has already been used can give your site or blog some advantages from the start. It may already have some page rank associated with it. It may have links pointing to it. It may still have some traffic coming to it. This can help your site hit the ground already running. It could also have been banned or delisted considered spam or associated with bad subject material that will prevent the domain from becoming successful at any level. If you go this route, be careful and check everything you can about the domain first.
Stick with well-known reliable domain registrars.
It will do you no good to save a few dollars on your domain if you cannot renew it because the registrar is messed up. This has happened to me. I also know someone who lost hundreds of domains and thousands of dollars in monthly income after a registrar failed to renew domains that he had renewed.
There are 3 registrars that I trust.
GoDaddy.com , eNom, and NameCheap. GoDaddy is the best known. Avoid purchasing anything other than the domain and whois protection. They will try to sell you everything under the sun. Also, I rarely hear good things about their hosting. I find eNom expensive. I do recommend NameCheap. They have been reliable and very affordable. The GoDaddy link is an affiliate link. This site is registered with GoDaddy, I have one or two with eNom and the rest are now with NameCheap. Personally, I find NameCheap to be much easier to buy from than GoDaddy.
The most important rule is to get your own domain.
Any domain is better than no domain. Use your name (unless your last name is difficult to spell like mine). If you are putting your traditional business online, using the company’s name would be good, or using part of the company’s name.
There are lots of examples of very successful blogs and sites that do not necessarily follow the rules I have given. Many popular blogs are on domain names of the author’s name. There is whatever.com that has become a million dollar business for a teenage girl. However, these recommendations should help your site get more traffic from the SE’s.