Choosing a good domain name is as equally important as choosing a name for your newborn child, if not more so, because, unlike people’s names, you can’t reuse a domain name that’s already taken. You also have to keep in mind that the name you choose will be your brand; thus, it should be catchy and short enough to be memorable, preferably with a top-level domain.
Your domain name can give you a successful online presence or it can bury you in the virtual world. A carefully crafted one can draw traffic to your blog and build your brand. And, like a spouse, it’s something you’ll have to live with. You can change it, if necessary, for compelling reasons but you’ll have to redirect and deal with other consequences. From this perspective, you’ll want the perfect domain name when you launch your blog.
“The giving of names is no small matter, nor should it be left to chance or persons of mean abilities.” – Socrates
There are standard tools and tips to follow when deciding on a domain name. But recent trends in naming startups and quite a few super successful websites that have become household names have defied the conventional. So, get creative and be guided by these tips but leave room for ingenuity and imagination to come up with a domain name that will get people to take notice.
Get a top-level domain (TLD) extension.
Dot-com, the holy grail of domain name extensions, may have been used by all the words found in Merriam-Webster by this time. Dot-com is a favorite for SEO and gives your business blog a cloak of trustworthiness. If your chosen domain name for a dot-com is taken, as is usually the case, go for the other extensions which are also known, such as .net, .org, and .co. Other options are generic domain extensions or geo-domains, such as .nyc, or country codes. Dot-de and .cn are the most popular country-code domains. However, second-level domains do not bring as much traffic as .com.
It’s not difficult to find out if your choice of a domain name is still free. A good domain checker will help and even give you other suggestions if your first choice is taken.
Keep it short and simple, or not.
The desired length of a domain name is between 6-10 characters, or 2-3 words. It should be easy to recall and spell, for better memory retention. Users are more likely to remember familiar words, and conciseness makes them easier to type in.
Weird spellings and spelling errors are normally forbidden, as are words that are not in the dictionary. In spite of this rule, startups are naming their sites differently, with success. AI (artificial intelligence,) a huge trend in technology, is found in several domain names, one of which is Argo AI, a startup in the autonomous vehicle field. The Moz in moz.com is not a known word.
Other domain names that have gone beyond obscurity and achieved fame are first names, which were widely used only in personal blogs, i.e., Oscar in hioscar.com and Lynda in Lynda.com. Apple, Google and Yahoo for tech companies do not make sense in the traditional manner for their industry yet they are now the heavyweights in technology.
Intentional misspelling is a technique new sites sometimes resort to if the correct spelling is taken, although Lyft was ahead of lift.co, a marijuana company based in Canada.
Avoid hyphens and numbers, as Google is not partial to them in search engine optimization. They are prone to errors in typing and are associated with spammy behavior.
Have a keyword in your domain name.
But only if it makes sense and has relevance. Google has a prejudice against exact match, partial match and keyword rich domains and has tagged them as spammy. As an example, a search for “running shoes” gives you Runners World, Nike, etc. The actual store runningshoes.com lands on page 5 on Google although quality content, among others, also play a big role in optimization.
Promote your brand.
Your brand should be easily recognizable in your domain name but be sure you don’t get sued for trademark infringement. A unique brand name can make you stand out, bringing users to your site. The ultimate in successful branding are Apple (mention Apple and people think of computers and smartphones, not the fruit,) and Google (now officially a word in dictionaries.)
Finally, don’t ignore the reality that criteria for a good domain name change, as the gods in technology so decide. So if you’re mulling on picking a good domain name, keep up with the latest methodology.