A domain name is the address (the URL) that visitors type into their browsers in order to access your blog. It represents you online and is your personal identity. Picking the right name and domain name that sticks with potential visitors and projects the message you want to convey can be one of the biggest challenges when starting 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. 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 blog. These characteristics might be very elementary but they actually are important to finding a great name:
- The name should be different from your competitors, it should be unique, distinctive and available
- It should be short, simple, easy to spell and be pleasing to the eye
- It should be catchy, be easy to pronounce, easy to remember and natural in your mouth
- It should be appropriate to your topic and should reflect on your messaging, 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. Be open to all of these methods and 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 blog 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? 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. 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.
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 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 and mix, match, blend and mesh some of the words together, maybe even overlap the words or truncate the words. Using foreign words could work as well as long as you are certain what they mean. Many online companies have gone with the verb-noun combination and affixes so that is worth a try as well. 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 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.
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! 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.
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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