When you’re about to create a website, there are two things you need: (1) someplace to host your site, and (2) a name for your site.
These two things act like your virtual property and address where people will come in order to find you online. Both are rather easy to jump into and pick out as far as getting them, but CHOOSING them is another story.
When it comes to your domain name, the world is your oyster. There are hundreds of thousands of names you can pick from and an ever growing selection of extensions to choose from in order to become your new digital home address. However, just because it’s easy to buy one of these domain names doesn’t mean that you don’t have a big decision to make.
In fact, much like buying a home with the best address in town, your domain name is probably one of the biggest choices you have to make because picking the wrong domain name can be like buying the perfect house in the wrong zip code — bad investment choice.
But don’t get overly worried about this either. Choosing a domain name, though important, isn’t hard to do, but it does take some time and thought on your end.
Before you just jump in and buy the first domain name that suits your fancy, here are some things to consider to make sure you’re picking from the cream of the crop.
The Big Debate: Should You Use Keyword Based Domains?
When you’re searching for information about ranking your site with SEO, you’ll often find two schools of thought on domain names. Either people stick to the idea of that keyword based URLs are the way to go or they say that keywords in your domain doesn’t matter at all.
So which is true?
Well, if this was 2010 and Google Penguin wasn’t around, then yes, you should stick to your guns about choosing keyword based domain names because they would have been a good thing. But with Google changing up SEO and refining her algorithm updates (yes, I often refer to Google as a woman), you may have a losing fight on your hands.
As many of you already know, Google no longer places any value of SEO tactics that try and help a site sneak up the page when they don’t deserve it. Now that’s not to say that Keyword Based Domains will get you slapped with a penalty by Google, but those type of URLs don’t seem present the same SEO value now as they did back in the day.
Does that mean that you should avoid keywords in your domain altogether?
Well, no, not exactly. Keywords in your domain name can still be a good thing because they can give your potential viewers an idea of what your site is about.
For example, if your site is going to be on the topic of gluten-free living, the a URL of GlutenFreeLiving.com can be a good domain name for many reasons including the fact that the name tells viewers what your site is about, however, choosing that name doesn’t mean you’re going to see an SEO benefit.
Basically, a keyword in your URL can be fine, but it’s best to follow the tips below in order to get the best domain for you.
Follow These 5 Tips When Choosing A Domain Name
Shoot For Something Brandable
Google values brands over just about anything else. You can see that they favor blogs and sites that have built a good name and brand for themselves — especially is that the case in top e-commerce sites like Amazon.
Having a name that standouts as a brand can do a lot for you in the long run. Obviously, there is more to ranking in the SERPs than a simple URL, but picking a domain name that stands out will help build your brand, authority, and it makes it easier for people to recognize you and what you’re about.
Opt For The .com Extension
As far as top tier domain extensions go, the .com extension is the way to go. People and search engines alike seem to trust sites with domains that end with this extension when compared to others. As that is the case, it is almost always best to pick a domain that ends with this.
There are some exceptions to this rule though. For example, if your site is going to be like a TV channel, then choosing an extension like YourDomainName.tv may be a better choice for you.
If you’re building a blog, business website, or e-commerce site, then be sure to opt for the .com extension. And as an added tip, buy the .net extension to help lock in your domain name and keep it out of the hands of others out there.
Keep It Short and Memorable
There are plenty of sites on the web that have managed to build a site and online business that are brandable and whose names are both short and easy to remember. Want some examples?
Here are a few to consider:
That list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. All of these sites represent well-established brands that also happen to have names that are memorable. Just take Moz as an example.
Moz focuses on content and products that help people learn and keep up to date with the latest in SEO, however, the name has nothing to do with SEO. But even though the name doesn’t clearly state SEO as the topic of the site, the site has established itself as one of those go-to brands when it comes to learning SEO and it’s super easy to remember.
Another example of creating something memorable is Pinterest. Pinterest took two words and ideas, mashed them together and create a name and brand is easy to remember and hard to forget.
Picking a short and memorable name is what can help you build a brand and building a brand is something that Google likes to reward.
Following the idea above, all the sites above have something in common: they’re unique.
Uniqueness is something to always strive for. Google loves content that is unique, so why wouldn’t she love a unique URL that is linked to a brand, blog or product? Heck, even your name as a domain name can be a good thing when you look at it from a uniqueness angle.
In the hopes of being unique and memorable, it can be tempting to buy a domain name that is catchy but that uses hyphens since the real name you want is already registered.
There are different schools of thoughts on this as well, but I am on the side that says that these domain names are ugly looking and really don’t help lend to that authority many of us strive for.
The other downside to using hyphens is that they tend to actually not be unique. If someone else already uses ExampleDomain.com and you register Example-Domain.com, then people who remember your name and type it into the search bar will more than likely forget the hyphen.
What does that do? It takes them to another site that has nothing to do with you. Yeah — bummer!
These tips are just a few to follow, but they’re ones you should consider when picking out a domain name.
Places To Find Domain Names
There are plenty of places to find domain names online so the choice is really up to you as far as who to choose as your registrar. Below are a few choices for registering a URL.
When looking for a place to buy domains, GoDaddy is the big kid on the block. They are one of the most popular options that most people choose when buying domains and they often run deals to help you save a great deal of money when you first registrar a domain with them.
They also have an area when domains are auctioned off, so you can buy a domain name from someone else who has the URL you’re looking for and are willing to see.
Though GoDaddy is the most popular option, they do tend to charge quite a bit more when it comes to renewing your domains with them and WHOis privacy (something you’ll want) is hardly ever free. Average cost for renewing a domain for two years will run you around $50, which isn’t terrible but still worth noting.
This is another popular domain registrar and has a couple advantages when compared to GoDaddy.
As far as price goes, NameCheap is almost always cheaper to renew considering their .com extensions run around $10 with no discounts applied. Domains purchased through NameCheap also come with Free WHOis Protection which saves you close to $10 as well. Personally, I love to buy my personal URLs from them.
Your Host Provider
Many host providers offer the choice to purchase a URL or to get one for free when you sign up. Though many prefer to have their hosting and domains separated, there are some who like the convince of keeping them together.
Bluehost offers a free URL when you sign up with them and other providers like SiteGround have an area in the members area where you can search and purchase multiple domains and save them on your account.
Wrapping It Up
As mentioned before, where you decide to buy your domain from is purely up to you. Though the majority of your online success does not lie in your URL, your domain name can still affect things — either for good or otherwise.
It is worth your time to really consider what you will call your site and business since it will be what sets you apart from others. Just like your name connected is with your personality and features makes you different, a good domain name that is marked by brandable features and great content is what will help you be unique and stand out to Google.