Choosing the Right Domain Name is the first decision that you have to make when you decide to start your own website, blog or online store. While I advise against procrastinating and wasting a lot of time on this task, there are some simple rules to follow and some very useful tools that can help you choose the right domain name that will boost your website to the top.
Ok, so let’s dig into it, we’ll keep it simple and short.
Brand or keyword rich
A brand domain name is something like google.com or yahoo.com but also a beyonce.com. So basically something that is already a big name and it’s easy to identify. Of course, those names were not brands all the time and it took a lot of work to become a brand. Depending on what your brand is, it may take a lot of time and money to become a recognized brand.
A keyword-rich domain name is a name relevant to the search engine. For example, if someone looks for “pizza recipes” on Google, a domain name like “PizzaRecipes.com” would have a high chance to be an authority website for that keyword. Of course, the website has to have great content to be ranked high but that is another topic
Characters to avoid
Hyphens and numbers. Avoid these at all costs. Let’s say you are a travel guru and want to look for a domain line travelguru.com. It is probably taken, but you will get suggestions from the tools you will learn about below to register travel-guru.com or travelguru20.com or others. While it may be very tempting to register your domain name like that since it is very close-looking, don’t. The problem with hyphens/numbers is that are hard to communicate in the spoken word. A lot of website traffic is still word of mouth. Whether you are in a podcast, or radio show or tell a friend over the phone, or others are telling their friends, the name will be “lost in translation” and you will lose potential visitors for this simple reason. instead of saying travelguru dot com you will have to say travel hyphen guru dot com or travel dash guru dot com. Or instead of travelguru dot com you have to say travelguru 20 dot com, or it is travelguru twenty dot com ? or travelguru tweny dot com ?
So just avoid these. And if you are still tempted to do it, run your domain name through the tests below
The best way is to keep the domain name as short as possible. Now as of 2017, all the domain names with 4 characters are taken. Probably even all the domain names with 5 characters. If there is anything left there are jumbled characters that most likely do not mean anything or mean something bad. Keep the domain name as short as possible. If the domain is your name or brand, you may not have a choice. If it is a keyword-rich domain, keep it to 2 or maximum 3 words. Like EasySimpleSmart.com
While there are many extensions available now, the DotCom extension remains the most popular. Maybe it is one of those terms that just make its way into our brains and stays there. There are many popular websites with .io or .tv or even .co . Also, there are country extensions like .ca, .co.uk or .jp. But if you are in US or Canada, the .com remains the most popular. Before choosing something like “SimpleSolutions.co” always check what websites exist at the .com site. For example SimpleSolutions.com. Be sure that some of your traffic will get there. If it is someone offering the same services or solutions as your website, you may lose some business.
First of all, sleep on it. Unless you find something like google.com available. Then just go ahead and buy it. (that actually happened once).
Once you find something that you think matches your vision, do not buy it right away. You may be making a mistake. Let your brain dwell on it for a day. Pass it along to your friends and family. Say something like “Hey, I’m thinking of starting this website called mydomain.com, what do you think ? how does it sound to you? what do you think the website will be about based on the name”. Then after a day of not talking about it, call your friends/family and ask them what was the domain name. If they remember, a good sign, it is memorable. If they don’t, maybe you can find a better one.
This one is fun. You can do it with your kids or your friends. Write on a large piece of paper a bunch of domain names. Say you have a short list of 5-10 domains. Make 10 domains and have one of your friends or one of your kids pass by holding the paper up. Just like your domain name would be on a side of a bus or like you would see it on a billboard driving by. Do the experiment with multiple domain names on your shortlist and maybe ask others if feasible to participate in the experiment.
Is it readable? Is it clear? Can you or others that participated write it down 10 minutes after?
The attention span is very reduced today due to the abundance of information. You want people to read something on a social media site or listen to a podcast and remember your domain when they get to the computer later.
The glance test
This is so important. We are so caught up in the project in front of us that we don’t see the elephant in the room. Write your domain in small letters on a piece of paper and look at it. What other words come out? Ask others to take a look, like your spouse or your kids. What do they see?
For example TechEasy or TeCheasy. CarsExchange versus… I’ll let you figure that one out. I don’t know why a car wants to do that. ?
Owning a domain is a yearly cost. Expect somewhere in the ballpark of 20$/year. Registration of a domain is usually the first year’s fee. Because you need to host your domain somewhere if you are building your blog, the web hosts are usually covering the cost of the first year or even might give one or multiple for free for the duration of the contract.
Just like with everything, a domain name is an investment. It is like a piece of real estate. If you find a good name, a 20$ fee might turn into a million-dollar return on investment. You probably heard many stories of people buying domain names just so that they can sell them later for a hefty price. And because domain name buying/selling is a thing, there is a market for them and there are sites that help. You could always look up a domain registrar and contact them with your offer, or you could have sites like GoDaddy do that for you for a fee. The price that you would pay for a domain is dependent on many factors but after all, is a negotiation of the value it has for you and how soon you’ll recover that investment.
Expired Domain Names
Domains require registration every year. That means at the end of the year, they expire. If the owner of the domain waives their right to renew the domain for various reasons, the domain names become available after a grace period. Those domains are up for grabs for a regular domain fee. There are some gems that become very good opportunities if you decide to buy an expired domain and there could also be some problems related to that. If you happen to buy a domain name that was banned by Google for bad practices, you may have some difficulties getting your business or blog started and you may not understand why. Check the tools section below to see how to avoid those kinds of problems.
Free Tools that help a lot
OK, so let’s look into some real tools that can help you a lot in deciding your domain name, checking its properties or even helping you come up with domain names based on your business idea or keywords related to your business idea.
1. Instant Domain Name Search https://instantdomainsearch.com/
This is by far the simplest and easiest tool to use to lookup for your domain name. If you have an idea and you want to see if it is available this tool will check all extensions in milliseconds and even provide suggestions. Another good thing about this is that it has an IOS app so it’s easy to check on the go if an idea pops in.
2. WHOIS https://whois.icann.org
WHOIS became a very generic term on the internet. The organization maintaining the database can be reached through the link in the title but many registrars and many websites perform a WHOIS search. They basically use the WHOIS search tools to give you the same result. a WHOIS search provides details about the domain name you are looking for. Here is an example of the WHOIS information for Google.com
I’ll be waiting for the expiration date, maybe I can buy it.
3. Domain Name Suggestions – https://www.leandomainsearch.com/
This tool helped me choose my domain name. After days of searching for something, I was under the impression that no domain names are available anymore. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this tool and to realize that there are millions of domains available. I was able to find a list of domains that I wanted and after doing some of the tests listed above, I chose EasySimpleSmart.com
4. Expired Domains Research https://www.expireddomains.net/
If you are looking to invest in an expired domain, this is the tool. It helps you track everything that expires or is about to expire. You have the opportunity to find a very valuable domain for no the price of registering a new one. This tool helps you filter through all. There are millions of domains available and they can be filtered and sorted by the number of backlinks, the number of searches, specific keywords, extensions, number of characters and so many other factors.
Finding a domain may look like a simple task but a good domain name can help a lot with SEO traffic and your business/blog image. What other tools do you use for finding your domain names? Leave a comment below.