Tips on Choosing the Best Possible Domain Name
I was quite shy my first three years in high school. I went through an entire year in the same Junior History Class with half the class not knowing my name. Then, between my Junior and Senior years, we moved to a new town.
The school had almost 3,000 students. Talk about being lost in a crowd …
Fortunately, I was good at basketball. Through this one little niche, I began to make friends, meet new people, get my first girlfriend, and even attend more parties than I'd gone to in my first three years of high school. It was the worst — and best — of times.
I'm reminded of those times whenever I fuss over choosing a domain name for a new website or project. While there's quite a bit more involved in being seen online than making friends as a shy high school student, the issues are the same. It's no fun being alone.
Your domain name is only one aspect of your online presence, but it's an important one. In this article, I'll discuss choosing a domain name for a niche Money-Making Website, and I'll also touch on domain names for your web-writing business. First up: choosing your business domain name.
Choosing Your Business Domain Name
One of the first questions many copywriters ask is whether they should use their own name for their domain or choose a keyword-rich domain name. My feeling is that you can use both, assuming you can get your name.
You are your brand, so if you can get a domain name that's a variation of your name, you'll want that to be the showcase site when people do a search for you online. (If you search for me, you'll find that I haven't touched SidSmith.com in many moons … long story).
But, you can also focus on your business niche. This involves more work, but you can use the “yourname.com” site as an online brochure, and then post informative blog articles at “yourbusinesniche.com.” You then cross-link between the two, which improves the search rankings of both.
The advantage to this approach is that it's easier to use your primary keyword phrase in your "business" blog domain name than in your “personal brand” domain name. And, any articles you post to the blog are easily related to your primary keyword phrase, thereby giving you a better shot at getting ranked in Google.
Choosing a Niche or Business Domain Name
First, let's talk about domain names and SEO. The bottom line is that having your primary keyword phrase in your domain name matters.
A niche website that offers information and advice on improving eyesight naturally would use the domain name "ImproveEyesightNaturally.com." A business website for someone who writes B2B white papers might be named "B2BWhitePapers.com."
The key to a good domain name is that it makes sense AND is an exact match for your niche. In my experience, it's easy to get even a brand-new website ranked for a keyword phrase when the domain name includes that keyword phrase.
In fact, I heard on a recent webinar that including the primary keyword phrase in the file name for a YouTube video (the actual file name in addition to the title) will improve the ranking for that video, even though the file name isn't displayed anywhere on the page.
Plus, having your keyword phrase in the domain name makes the URL stand out on the Google search-results page. There’s no question that your website is a match for their search.
While selecting a domain name that includes your primary keyword phrase is important, it's not the only factor. Here are 7 other important considerations for domain name selection:
- Stick with a .com name. We are creatures of habit, and as such, we expect "real" websites to use .com in the domain name. I have not honestly seen any advantages to buying the other extensions (.me, .net, .biz, etc.).
- Keep it simple and short, but understandable. I have a colleague who shortened his domain name to three letters and a number (the initials of his company name). It violates every other rule in this list. It's not memorable. It means nothing to Google. And, although it is short, it doesn't say who he is or what he does.
- It should make sense. If you do B2B email marketing, then say it in your domain name. Try variations if your primary keyword phrase is taken. If I look at your domain name and see "B2BEmailMarketing.com," I will know exactly what you do even before I get to the site. And, here's a bonus: Google will know, too.
- Punctuation, numbers, and special characters. Do not use hyphens. Avoid numbers, especially "0" and "1" because they look too much like letters. Don't even think about using special characters because they will likely be invalid anyway. Also, avoid using the same letter (especially "s") consecutively, such as "successstories.com." (Yikes!) Your domain name should be easy to type, read, and understand.
- Avoid being clever. Unless you've got a multimillion dollar budget for branding, a clever domain name will just keep you lost in the crowd. People won't remember it, Google won't know what your website is about, and the only pat on the back you'll get is from yourself.
- Keywords, yes. Industry jargon, no. Common words are forever. Industry jargon comes and goes. By basing your domain name on an industry buzzword, you're setting yourself up for obsolescence.
- Watch out for copyright issues. This should be a no-brainer, but do pay attention. There might be a reason your "too good to be true" domain name is available.
Finding and Buying Your Domain Name
Note: You can buy a domain name from many services. You can HOST your website somewhere else. That is, you do NOT have to host your website at the same place you bought the domain name.
You can buy a brand-new, unused domain name for about $10/year at any one of dozens of domain name registrars. Most hosting companies will waive the cost of the domain name with your first year of hosting, so you can select your domain name first and then get the hosting company to register it for you at their expense.
You can also buy a "used" domain name that has become available. These can cost hundreds of dollars, but the value is that they have been already "aged" in Google's eyes. In theory, this gives you instant page rank in Google, but I've not personally seen any great advantage to offset the additional expense.
Here are a couple of independent websites that can help you find a solid domain name:
- www.namestation.com. This is a fun and powerful website which gives you the option of either using their system to find possible domain names based on your primary keyword phrase; or, you can start a "naming contest" in which you give a prize to the person who comes up with the best name.
- www.nameboy.com. This site is a bit more limited, as you can only get domain names based on two words. However, it will show you expiring or other domain names that are being sold.
Get creative. Have fun, and go ahead and buy good domain names for your niche, even if you won't use them today. At only $10 per year, you can probably afford more than one domain name.
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