Picking the right name and domain name that sticks with potential visitors, attracts them and projects the message you want to convey can be one of the biggest challenges when starting your blog.
A domain name is the internet address (the URL) that visitors type into their browsers in order to access your blog. A great name gives you credibility, represents you online and is your personal identity as it always stays with you. The domain name should be the name of your blog.
This article features three simple approaches to naming your blog that will break down this road block and make the process easier for you. Let’s get started.
Characteristics of an unforgettable domain name
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 and unforgettable. These characteristics might be very elementary but they actually are important to finding a great name:
- Short, simple, easy to spell, easy to type and pleasing to the eye
- Catchy, easy to pronounce, easy to remember and natural in your mouth
- Appropriate to your topic, reflects on your messaging, but is not so descriptive so it sounds generic
- Should not feature numbers and hyphens
- Different from your competitors, unique, distinctive and available
- Legally defensible, and not trademarked and copyrighted by another company
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 blog 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.
Dot what should I be?
Domain names have extensions such as .org or .net or .gov. There are quiet a large amount of extensions available – see the full list. The .com domain name extension is the most popular and most recognizable one. Most people regard that as the default extension and would automatically type .com after any name. Some recommend you change the name you had in mind in case you cannot find an available .com domain.
Majority of big and successful sites are on the .com extension. All of top 20 most valuable Y Combinator companies and 94% of top 50 are on a .com. You will also notice a lot of the search results have .com domains on top. 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.
Three approaches for choosing a domain name
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. People say that all the good domain names are gone but that is simple not true.
Here are the three main approaches you can use to choose a memorable domain name for your blog. Be open to all of these methods and try to find a balance between a catchy, brandable and descriptive name.
Use descriptive words
A great name can be descriptive, appropriate to the topic and tell the visitors or at least hint at what the blog is about and what they can expect. Descriptive words 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? Think about what values do you want to communicate. Write down these topical keywords. Use a site like this to find relevant words, synonyms and antonyms to your keywords as well. Now put some of these words together and make phrases. Try not to make the phrases be too long.
This is basically the method that I used to come up with my domain name. It will do some marketing work for you as upon seeing the name people will know what your blog is about.
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 and metaphors that can become your brand. These names are usually more memorable than descriptive keywords. 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 to:
- Mix and compound whole words (YouTube, FaceBook)
- Blend, mesh, overlap and truncate words (Pinterest, Groupon)
- Add affixes (prefixes and suffixes) to words to forms basis of new words (Napster, Spotify)
- Misspell words (Flickr, Tumblr)
- Create phonetic contractions (Reddit as in “read it”)
- Use foreign words as long as you are certain what they mean
- Make up words
The negative side of this option is that in some cases the name will be obscure and not descriptive enough to tell the potential visitors what the site is about which means that you will need to do more marketing work in order for people to associate your name with your topic. So don’t try to be too clever when naming your project. This could confuse people. Be clear and to the point instead.
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 personal 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. It’s also a great method when you switch between different projects. Your name always fits for any project you’re doing.
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! You need a domain name registrar in order to register your own domain name. They typically charge you an annual fee for the registration. 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 files and put your blog on the web. Another benefit is that setting your WordPress blog there is a quick process that can be done without any prior experience. Click here to check if your chosen domain name is available and to register it:
Note that when registering any domain name some of your personal details such as name, address, email and phone number will be publicly available through Whois lookup tool as the legal owner.
Bluehost allows you to select the “Domain Whois Privacy” option in the registration process which puts registrar’s details in the Whois instead of your personal details. It is a good option in case you prefer to remain private.
Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you signup to Bluehost using my link at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products and services that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to purchase through my affiliate link, thank you for your support!