Today, I want to share some of my best tips on how to pick the right domain name.
During the past ten plus years of making money online, I have owned nearly 50 domain names. Some names I selected were good, but most were bad. When I first started online, I had no idea about what I should or shouldn’t do when it came to picking a domain.
Through the years, I learned some valuable lessons about how to pick the right domain name, mostly through trial and error. I hope you can learn from my successes and mistakes, so you can choose the perfect domain name for your website.
What you will see below are my 12 steps to success. I’ll also share some secret tips from the experts. Just follow these suggestions and you can’t go wrong.
How to Pick the Right Domain Name
# 1 Pick Your Niche & Site Keyword
The first thing you want to do is pick your niche and site keyword. Who do you want to serve? Who is your target market? What is the primary purpose of your website going to be? Do not skip this step. Ideally, you want a niche that isn’t too big and isn’t too small. An example niche might be “weight loss” and an example keyword might be “natural weight loss.”
# 2 Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition
What do you want your website to be known for? What makes your website different from all of the other websites in your niche? What do you have to offer people? WHY should people visit your website rather than someone else? Try to write down your Unique Selling Proposition in a short and simple sentence. An example might be “we help people over 40 lose weight.”
# 3 Use the Keyword in Your Domain
Whenever possible, you want to use the site keyword you chose in your domain name. For example, if your keyword is “roller skating” you want a domain such as rollerskatingtips.com.
In my opinion, this gives you more credibility, informs your visitors about your niche and purpose, and might even help you with your search engine optimization.
Here’s what GoDaddy.com has to say about this:
Try using keywords that describe your business and the services you offer. For example, if you’re a glass replacement business, you may want to register GlassRepair.com or GlassReplacement.com.
# 4 No Hyphens or Dashes
I was once told that hyphens or dashes were good things. After more than 10-years of making money online, I no longer agree with that statement. I believe there is no reason to ever use a dash or hyphen in your domain name.
For example, rather than doing roller-skating-tips.com I think it would be much better to do rollerskatingtips.com.
Remember how your domain name should be easy to spell and pronounce? Hyphens and numbers make it more difficult.
Imagine explaining Facebook if it had a hyphen in there…
“Have you seen this new site Face-Book? There’s a hyphen in there by the way, between the ‘Face’ and the ‘Book.’”
Facebook may not have spread so quickly if that was the case.
The bottom line? Your domain name should be smooth and punchy – hyphens and numbers get in the way of that.
Stick to the letters!
# 5 Keep it to Two to Four Words
Less is more. I’ve visited some websites that had more than 100 characters or letters in the domain name. That is not a good thing. I believe that three words or less is ideal. It would probably be hard to find an available one-word domain name, but two or three words is very doable. Four words max and you will be good to go.
Here’s what WPBeginner.com has to say about keeping it short.
While keywords are important, don’t go overboard with domain length. It’s better to have a domain name that’s short and memorable.
We recommend keeping your domain name under 15 characters. Longer domains are harder for your users to remember.
Not to mention, users will also be more prone to entering typos with longer domain names which can lead to loss traffic.
That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your domain length short.
# 6 Make it Memorable & Easy to Remember
Ideally, you want your website to sound like a good jingle. It should be catchy and easy to remember. Short and sweet is good. If it rhymes, even better.
Here’s what SearchEngineLand.com has to say about keeping it short.
Word-of-mouth marketing is still the best of all. If you want to help your brand spread faster, make your domain easy to remember. Having a great website won’t matter if no one can remember your domain name.
# 7 Pick a Dot Com Website
While .net and .biz websites aren’t bad, you really want to look for a .com domain name whenever possible. It’s just my opinion, but I believe the .com websites have more credibility to your audience than a .net or .biz website does.
Here’s what NameCheap has to say about this:
We’d recommend you go with .com wherever possible. .com domains are the most recognized and websites with this appendix are ranked better in search engines. The biggest global brands and organizations are registered with a .com domain from the New York Times to Apple.
# 8 Brainstorm 20-50 Potential Domain Names
The next thing you want to do is get a notepad and brainstorm potential ideas for domain names. Write down as many potential domain names as you can think of. Ask your friends and family for ideas.
The more ideas you come up with the better. Take 48 to 72-hours to do this step. Once you have at least 20 to 50 potential domain names, you can move to the next step.
# 9 See Which Options Are Still Available
Your next step is to visit a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy.com and see if any of your potential domain names are still available for purchase. You will quickly discover that many of the domain names that you like have already been taken.
Any domain name that is not available, just cross it off your list. Once you’ve researched your entire list, make a new list containing the domains that are still available. You should have at least three to five options left.
# 10 Check for Trademarked Terms
The next thing you want to do is check your potential domain name against trademarked terms. The last thing you want to do is pick a domain name, only to receive a cease and desist letter from a big law firm, a few months or few years later.
You don’t want to include a trademarked name IN your domain either. For example, if you write about Ford cars, don’t put the word FORD in your domain name, because that would be seen as a trademark violation.
Here’s what WinningWP.com has to say about checking for trademarked terms.
Infringing on a trademark can mean a really bad day. And, while I realize hardly anyone registers a domain name with the intent to infringe on anything, those things do happen every once in a while.
Therefore, as a rule of thumb, whenever you have a nice domain name idea and you’re just about to register it, simply google the name and look through all of the first and second-page results. What you’re looking for are businesses that already use this name and (seemingly) operate in a similar market or niche.
If you find anything, you likely need to pick another domain name.
# 11 Don’t Rush It
Before you make a decision on your final domain name, sleep on it for a day or two. Do not rush it. One of my biggest mistakes is not putting enough thought into my domain name. What sounded like a good idea at the time turned out to not be not so good.
Had I put a little more thought into it, I would have done more due diligence and been 100% sure before I made a decision. Once you are set on a top choice and a second choice, you can move to the next step.
# 12 Register Your Domain
The final step in the process is to register your domain name. On most registrars, this will cost you between $10 and $20 per year. After you register your domain you can purchase hosting and start building your website.
In summary, these are my best tips on how to pick the right domain name, the first time around. While most of this should be common sense, it’s still pretty easy to make these common mistakes.
On a side note, I would love to hear your thoughts about how to pick the right domain name. What do you suggest? Do you agree or disagree with what I said? Please leave a comment below to tell me what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.