When you plan to start your brand new website, blog or online store you probably ask yourself these questions: “How to Choose the Best domain name?” and “How important is a domain name?”. Also: “What is the best place to buy domain name?”.
In fact, it’s absolutely crucial and will affect your future website (and possibly entire business) significantly. So don’t rush up, take your time, read this step-by-step manual carefully. It was created to narrow down your search as much as it is possible. And it will certainly help you understand how to pick the best domain name.
So, let’s start with the important basic things.
What is a Domain Name?
Domain Name is a unique name of your website and the address where the Internet users can find your site. It’s used instead of IP address (which is fairly difficult to remember). You can find domain name in your browser search field.
There are some other important terms we need to learn.
Domain Extension or Top Level Domain (TLD) is the last part of your domain name that goes after the last dot (.). For Example: com, org, net, info etc.
Subdomain – is a subdivision of your main domain, mostly used to separate the structural parts of your website. Subdomain goes right before your domain name:
Subdirectory (Subfolder) – is a part of your website that houses a specific portion of your content within your domain. Also, there can be multiple nested subfolders for better content arrangement.
Protocol HTTP / HTTPS is a protocol that facilitates the communication between a client and a server. You can see it as the part that goes right before your domain name/subdomain:
Uniform Resource Locator (URL) – it’s a full address of your site page. It includes all the above-mentioned parts:
Why Domain Name Is So Important?
A very good question is “Why it’s such a big deal to choose the right domain?” Let’s check just the most important arguments:
Your domain name is the face of your business online. It will be on your business card and social media. Also, you will share your link with your clients, visitors, and partners. It’s how they know and remember you.
Domain Name influences your SEO. A good domain name will increase your visibility in search engines like Google or Yahoo and vice versa the bad one will hurt it.
Changing name may cause problems. If for some reason, you decide to change your domain name to something new, it may produce troubles like: lost customers, broken links from other sites, penalties from Google, etc. Hence, it’s better to pick the right one from the very beginning.
Steps For Choosing a Domain Name
Step#1. General Recommendations
- Keep it short (but not too short). Short domain names win over the long ones. They are easier to remember and to type. The biggest sites like Yahoo, Google, YouTube, Bing have short domain names. However, it shouldn’t be too short since the domain has to give some primary information either about your brand or about your industry.
- It should be simple to spell. Make sure not to use the words that are tricky to spell or have multiple spelling options. When you say it – the other person should definitely know how to write it down correctly. Also, try to avoid homonyms, like “Right”, “Date”, “Type” etc that have multiple meanings.
- Make it simple to pronounce. People like the words & brands that are easy to pronounce. It also works when you speak with somebody about your site over the phone or on a meeting and want your companion easily recall your domain name.
- Keep it easy to read. Seriously, just write it on a piece of paper. Does it look well? Is it easy to read? It’s quite important not to get into trouble. For instance, your company name is “Business Success” – it is quite ambitious. But when you write it down: businesssuccess it looks awkward. Another example is when you join 2 words they can create confusion to read, for example, therapist.com or expertsexchange.com.
- It should be clear and intuitive. Don’t make your domain name too sophisticated. Your name should display either your brand name or the topic of your site. If you sell cars DON’T use anything like mechanicfriends.com or metalpets.com. It is hard to start your site with an unclear domain name.
- Avoid numbers and dashes. Try not to use any special characters or digits. People always confuse dashes with slashes and underscores. Also when you pronounce a number it can be “2” or “two” or “too”. It definitely causes confusion and your visitor will type the wrong URL.
- Be merciless to bad names. Don’t hurry up and start making a list of your potential domain names (it may take a couple of days). If any of them don’t fit either of the above basic recommendations just cross it out without hesitation.
Step#2. Brand Name vs Keywords in Domain Name
Let’s imagine the situation. For example, we have a traveller John Doe that decided to open his own online Travel Blog. Should he choose “branded” domain name, like: johndoe.com or “keyword-rich” one, like: travelblog.com?
Let’s think about this. If John is a famous person in Social Media or maybe he used to work on TV, his best choice is definitely his name: johndoe.com. Also, what if John is not that famous, but he wants to build his personal brand and then maybe sell some travel stuff on his behalf? In this case, it is better for him to choose his name for his domain name.
However, if John is going to turn his site into a content or affiliate marketing blog he will go with the keyword way. He will choose the words relevant to the topic. This way in short-term he will rank a bit better in Google. Furthermore, it will be easier for him to sell the site in the future if he decides so.
Let’s check the other case from a different industry. Imagine the company named Yolox that sells clothing online.
If they go with the “keywords way” they will have something like: clothes.com / clothing.com / customclothes.com / fashionclothing.com etc.
The disadvantage of this approach is that the company loses its face and becomes 1 of 100s similar sites. Above all, it is really hard to remember and then difficult to distinguish these sites for customers.
They should probably go with the brand name, like: Yolox.com / YoloxBrand.com / YoloxFashion.com, etc.
Here is a great tool for brand name ideas: Business Name Generator. Just type in your keywords and check the results.
You can also check various blog name generators: 10 best options compared.
In the long term, it will bring significant positive results since brand name is memorable and in order to find your site people can simply type 5 letters and Google will bring them to you.
Here is a table that shows when it’s better to use brand or keywords in your domain name:
|You already registered a trademark/brand||When your company/brand name is too long or complicated to type|
|Building a long-term results-oriented site||Building a short-term results-oriented site|
|Already have branded accounts in Social Media: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram||Creating Content / Affiliate Marketing oriented site|
|When your main keyword is unavailable. For example: for ex. selling cars: cars.com or travelling: travel.com||When your main keyword available and/or you are able to get it: for ex. selling cars: cars.com or travelling: travel.com|
|Personal Blog, Portfolio, Corporate site, Own Production Store, Business site, Restaurant, Cafe, Sports team, Movie, Application, Real Estate, Design & Development Agency||Industry Blog, Niche Blog, News, Resale Store, Non-profit organization, Food Delivery, Municipal Institutions, Single Product landing, House maintenance services|
What is the Best Domain Name for SEO?
In simple words Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – is the process of adjusting the site’s structure, code and content for better organic ranking in search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. And yes, your domain name has its impact on your SEO.
In the short term, the keyword-rich domain name gives some positive results. It happens because:
- In search results, people see their keyword in URL (they may not know your brand yet, but they have an idea what you do)
- If your domain name is the “exact keyword match” – it’s a great benefit and you will rank really high:
However, we have to be realists. All “exact match keyword” domains are already purchased by somebody. Therefore, you have to be either super lucky or redeem it from the current owner.
In the long run brand name wins over the keyword.
- People like brands. What comes to your mind when you want to buy new sneakers? Probably something like Nike, Adidas, Skechers or New Balance. What about soda? Cars? Laptops? Smartphones? Also, if the customer wants to visit the site, for example, Apple Inc, he/she will type something like apple.com.
- Google likes brands as well. Google ranking is quite a complicated system. And it also takes your brand into consideration. It means that if people use your brand name in their search, on their blogs, forums, social media and comments it’s a positive signal about you and your site.
- You still can include keywords in your URL. Should Your Domain Name Contain Keywords? Not necessarily! But you still can place your keywords in your page URL, for example on a subpage: domain.com/keyword1-keyword2
- Visibility. Branded domains are much easier to remember and people will faster come back to your website. For example when you google “cleaning company” you may see results like: cleaningcompany.com, cleaningco.com, thecleaningcompany.com, cleaning-company.com, cleancompany.com, cleaning-services.com, etc… It’s hard to choose and difficult to remember.
Step#3. Pick the Domain Name
Now it is a time to pick a perfect domain name for your site. If you already have a brand or trademark – go ahead and use it in your domain. Here is the list to follow.
Choosing Domain Name Cheat List
- Follow general requirements mentioned above.
Make it as unique as it is possible. Pronounce it and write it down on a piece of paper. For branded name ask yourself these questions: “Does it sound like a brand?”, “Does it look like a brand?” Ask your friends to do the same. For keyword-rich domain use broad keywords.
Here are some great tools to generate ideas:
Domain Name Generator, Domain Name Search, Domain Name Ideas.
- Make sure your brand name isn’t under someone’s trademark. First of all, google it and see the results. Then use this tool to check the trademark:
Also, make sure your name is not similar to well-known brands. It will definitely cause confusions in the future. Moreover, the “Big Brand” company can simply sue you.
- Choose .com over the other extensions. People more likely go with this domain extension and it is more commonly used as well. In the next paragraph, we will talk a bit more about this.
- Check if the domain name is free for registration. There is a chance that someone already bought the domain name you want. And here you have 2 options. The 1st one is to figure out another name (change it a little bit, add a prefix, combine other words). The 2nd option is trying to redeem the name from the current owner (it may be costly).
In case you decided to buy it out from the owner here are some really good tools to do that:
Domain Owner Checker, Domain Name Auctions, GoDaddy Name Auction, Expiring Names Market.
Also, you have to make sure that the domain you want to buy has a good reputation. Check if it was not used for spam, scam or improper content. Here are some nice tools for that:
Web Archive (it shows the site content that was in the past), aHrefs (check links and domain rating), Google Penalty Checker.
You shouldn’t suffer because of someone’s bad reputation in the past.
- Don’t hurry up. Think a lot before making your decision. It can be days or even weeks. Make a list of suitable names. Check them every day and cross out weaker options mercilessly. Show the list to your friends and then ask them to pronounce and recall the options they liked.
Step#4. Pick Extension .COM vs .NET vs .INFO vs .ORG
As it was previously mentioned in case you can get your domain name with the extension .COM – go for it. People intuitively got used to it. Also, it is easier to pronounce and remember. Furthermore, Google “likes it”. Above all, it is simply the most popular one.
However, there are some cases when it still makes sense to pick a different one. Let’s check some of them.
- When to Use .ORG
.org is mostly used for non-profit organizations, NGO and public forums: Wikipedia, charity organizations, WeForum. Also, it is used by open source platforms like WordPress, Apache, Mozilla.
Basically, by using .org TLD you tell the world that your project isn’t made for profit. It’s for making something better for free by providing some info, sharing experience, communicating with each other, arranging a community.
- When to Use .NET
.net stands for “network”. Initially, it was used for telecom and communication companies, Internet providers. Now it is also used for companies that provide hosting services, domain registrars and online tech companies.
When you use the .net TLD you state that your site is reliable for some kind of networking. It unites some customers, computers, sites or databases in one organized system. The biggest examples are: CSDN, PopAds, and SaveFrom.
- When to Use .INFO
.info domain extension was created for sites that share the information (quite obvious, right?). This information can be concerning some great idea with the details, articles, and researches. Also, it can be the information about the person, country, industry or arts.
Once you go with the .info TLD you notify search engines and the visitors that your site provides the exhaustive information about the specific topic. The biggest projects are: Spotscenered, BlockChain & Dochyedu.
However, we have to warn about the important fact! Years ago all .info domains were amazingly cheap and were sold like $1 each. It was abused by black SEOs and spammers who purchased hundreds of domain at a time for spam and multi-redirects. Hence, Google reluctantly ranks the sites with .info.
- When to Use .BIZ
.biz extension was made for businesses. It was meant to be a substitute for .com business sites. Although, it did not become much popular at all. It looks odd at the end of the domain, it sounds weird when you pronounce it. Also, it is complicated to type since people don’t usually type this letter combination in any word.
So, .biz TLD is your last choice when you choose the domain extension. The top .biz resources are: FLVTO, Livedoor, TrafficFactory.
- When to Use Local Extensions: .US .RU .DE .IT .ES
In case your business is located in one country and your website is run exclusively on local language then it makes sense to go with the local domain extension. Also, large companies like Google, Ford, Apple that have their local self-managed divisions use the domains with local extensions.
If you buy the domain with for example .es TLD you tell everybody that the content, info, and products on your site were made specifically for this particular region. And yes, for users from this region ceteris paribus you may be ranked higher.
Should I Buy Multiple Domains for One Project?
If you have the financial opportunity to buy several domain names for your future projects then definitely do that.
Here are some cases when it really makes sense:
- Misspells. If people misspell or mistype the word in your domain name quite often it makes sense to buy this spelling variant as well. Once purchased you will be able to set a redirect to your main project. Therefore, even if people type it incorrectly they are still headed to your site.
- Different TLDs. Even if you were able to register a .com name it still makes sense to also buy other extensions. For example, you bought a domain bonko.com. You can also purchase bonko.org and bonko.net. This way nobody else will buy them and people will not confuse your sites. Also, it will protect your brand.
- Local Versions. In case you have divisions, subsidiaries in different countries or you have 1 local and 1 global version of your site then you can buy .com + local version.
How to Register a Domain Name
In order to start working at your site, you need 2 things: Web Hosting and Domain.
You can get a Web Hosting from a Web Hosting Provider. Here is the step-by-step guide on how to choose the best web hosting provider. And the domain can be purchased from a Domain Name Registrar. But the good news is that you can get everything from one place.
Most web hosting companies can provide domain registration services. In case you are going to create a brand new site with 1 domain name (90% of the cases in the net) it will be smart to just purchase everything from the web hoster. It will be the best domain name registrar for you.
For example, if you go with BlueHost, the new domain name will be registered for you for FREE. Especially it’s great if you buy 3-years hosting services ($3.90/mo). Though, if you buy just 1-year hosting it will be $5.90/mo.
The company made the process quite smooth. When you sign up for the services they offer you can choose:
- Register a new domain for free.
- Assign existing domain for free.
- Add free domain later.
The other great hosting provider is SiteGround. Their basic 1-year plan starts with $4.50/mo, but the domain name registration is $15.70/year ($1.31/mo). So the total will be $5.81/mo.
As we can see the price is about the same as 1-year BlueHost. But if you choose 2+ years BlueHost gives an additional discount.
When You May Keep Web Hosting and Domain Registrar Separately?
There are some cases when it makes sense to separate Web Hosting and Domain Registrar.
First of all, if you really got used to your current domain registrar then it’s fine to keep it.
Second of all, if you are an adherent of “different eggs baskets” then it’s also fine to register a domain in one place and buy hosting in a different one.
Thirds of all, in case you manage multiple websites on different servers (or even locales) you may want to keep them separate.
Also, some domain registrars provide a significant discount for bulk domain purchases. So if you buy let’s say 15 or 20 domains at a time it makes sense to think about keeping them separately from the hosting company.
How to Move to a New Domain Name?
Let’s imagine you have a site and for some reason, you need to change your domain name. Make sure not to jump with both feet. There are several reasons why you should do it carefully and correctly.
Some of your visitors remembered your current domain name and you don’t want to lose them.
Also, you don’t want to hurt your SEO and organic traffic. The thing is that Google has already crawled your site and it will take some time to do the same with the new site.
One more thing is that some other sites could’ve linked to your articles or services. If you change your domain name all their links will become broken. It will hurt their SEO and your’s as well.
So let’s make a list of steps for the painless move to a new domain.
- Go ahead and register a new domain name.
- Don’t just park the domain. Put some info on a new page. You may start with something like “This is a new domain for site example.com”.
- If you have 1 website to transfer – go ahead and move just a small part. For example, separate pages, subdomain or separate articles. Put 301 permanent redirect from the original page to a new one.
- If you have multiple sites that you want to combine in a new one – start with the smallest one.
- Once you transferred the 1st portion test it and follow up with changes.
- Check the traffic. You may use Google Analytics
- Check the Google Rankings. Use Google Search Console
If you see major negative changes check if all your redirects work fine if your new domain name wasn’t spammed in the past by the previous owner, if your new pages are crawlable by Google.
If your traffic and rankings work fine, keep going with your staged transfer.
- Go to your Google Search Console and check who links to you the most. Talk to the biggest ones and ask to change the links to your new domain.
- Don’t delete your old domain name and the site immediately. Leave them for a couple of months. Check your statistics and follow up with traffic and rankings transfusion.
- Revamp vs Shifting. If you simply shift your site from one domain to another you just carefully transfer the parts of your site. Although, if you also revamp your site during the transition try to fraction the sections of your project and move carefully and slowly. Moreover, track the changes attentively. It’s because your new site version may perform quite differently.
Useful Tools & Links for Getting Domain Name
- Google Keywords Search
- aHrefs KeyWord Explorer
- Instant Domain Search
- Domain Finder
- Domain Ideas
- Business Name Generator
- Taken & Expired Domains
- GoDaddy Domain Auction
- Domains Close to Be Expired
- How the Site Looked in the Past
- Domain Owner Checker
- Alternative Domain Owner Checker
- Link Explorer
- Trademark Checker
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- BlueHost Domain/Hosting
Good job! You were persistent enough to read this article entirely. Now you know how to choose the best domain name, what are the best domain registrars and web hosting providers.
No need to hurry up when you pick the domain name. Take your time. There are multiple factors you should take into the account.
Once the domain is chosen go ahead and register it. Though, there are some cases when you can register it separately from your web hosting, but it is much easier to buy them together from the same provider.
Don’t forget to renew your domain name on time.
Be patient, work hard and the results will pay off.