A domain name is the address (the URL) that visitors type into their browsers in order to access your site. Picking the right name and domain name for your blog can be one of the hardest parts of starting your online project. This article features three simple approaches to naming your site to make the process a bit easier for you. I’ve also included links to tools that I find useful for discovering new and interesting words to work with.
Characteristics of a good domain name
Here are some quick tips for naming your site:
- The name should be different from your competitors, it should be unique
- It should be brief, simple and easy to spell
- It should be catchy, easy to pronounce and easy to remember
- It should be appropriate to your topic, but not so descriptive so it sounds generic
- It should not feature numbers and hyphens
- It should be legally defensible
When choosing a name make sure to think long term. Beware that many ideas and topics inevitably evolve, especially in the online world where everything moves quickly. Because of this try and avoid picking a name that is too specific, instead think of a more expansive name. The last thing you want is make a decision, start a site and after some time want to change the name and the domain name. This could negatively affect what you have built in terms of search engine optimization and branding.
Imagine that you told the domain name to a person you met at a conference, will he or she be able to recall and correctly remember it the day after? It’s important to make it memorable so do take your time to decide as it could be hard and confusing to change it later on. Sometimes your name just comes to you instantly, sometimes you need to spend some time thinking and brainstorming the options. Spend some time researching the possibilities to choose the name that fits your project well. Here are the three main approaches for choosing a domain name:
Approach 1: Use descriptive keywords
A great name can be descriptive, appropriate to the topic and tell the visitors or at least hint at what the site is about and what they can expect. Descriptive keywords make your domain relevant to the topic and content of your site. Keywords help express what the site is about, and spell out benefits to the potential visitor. Start by describing what you do and what topics you cover in your content. What do you help people with? Write down these topical keywords. Use a site like this to find relevant words, synonyms and antonyms to your keywords as well. This is basically the method that I used to come up with my domain name.
Approach 2: Come up with a brand name
The second method for choosing a name is to think about brandability and do a brainstorm to find some creative names that can become your brand. When thinking of brand names think of Google, Yahoo, Instagram, Twitter and similar. Something unique, catchy and short. Get your creative juices flowing and make up some interesting names. It can take a while to find the right name but can be really powerful way of starting something big. To create something new, cool and brandable try and mix, match, blend and mesh some of the words together, maybe even overlap the words. Couple of the sites that can help you mesh keywords together and invent brandable words are this one and this one. The negative side of this option is that in most cases the name will not be descriptive enough to tell the potential visitors what the site is about.
Approach 3: Simply YourName.com
You can also brand your site by your own full name. It is a nice way of having a more personal and warm presence while also building a name and a brand for yourself. Many bloggers have built their names in their fields which has allowed them to start selling teaching courses, doing conference talks and even publishing books. This option is not for everyone as some people will not be too comfortable putting themselves into the spotlight that much. You have to figure out if you are comfortable with this approach of putting yourself into the spotlight.
How to register your domain name
So you now have some domain name ideas in mind for your project? Very good! The process of checking if the domain name is available and then registering it is pretty simple. I recommend Bluehost for this. You can get your domain name for free there as long as you also get them to host your site. Another benefit is that setting your WordPress site there is a quick process that can be done without any prior experience. Click here to check if your chosen domain name is available:
The .com domain name extension is the most popular and most recognizable extension. Some 80% of top ranked sites on US based Google searches are .com domains. Most people regard that as the default extension and would automatically type .com after any name. Because of these benefits (including search engine ranking benefits) I always try and get the .com domain name, it is especially important if you are writing to a global audience.
If you are writing a site in a language other than English then it should not be much of a problem to use a domain extension of your country. It is actually positive to have a local extension as visitors will understand that the site is targeted to their territory and search engines might send you more visitors from searches from that country.
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