Is it finally time to build a website? This may be a site for your business or a blog that you’ll use for personal branding. Whatever it is, you’re passionate about it and you want to make things right.
If you’re a total beginner at website development, you’ll start with the step that’s simple, but challenging at the same time: choosing the site’s domain name. It’s its fingerprint, which has to be unique and recognizable.
How do you choose it?
What’s a Domain Name?
This is how it’s defined on Wikipedia: “A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet.”
Okay; that’s an unnecessarily complex explanation. Definitions are usually more complex than they should be, so let’s explain it in layman terms: it’s the address that you type into a browser to get to a particular website.
Give a Good Name made it simple: good-name.org. Regular visitors recognize it, and they can easily type it when they want to access the site without googling.
WordPress lets you get a free domain name. But it’s not nearly as memorable and professional-looking as a normal one. A free domain for this site would be good-name.wordpress.com.
When you focus on making your site memorable and distinguished among competitors, the domain name is where you start. You can buy it from Google Domains, GoDaddy, Hover, and a few other services. First, you need to decide what it’s going to be. We’re here to help with that.
The Process: Choosing a Good Domain Name for Your Site
- Make It Relevant to the Brand
If this is a website for your company, it’s important to include the brand in the domain. But sometimes, that name might be taken.
For example, let’s say you own a local toy store named Toy Story. ToyStory.com is already taken, so you’ll have to think of an alternative. The domain should still reflect the spirit of your brand, but it should be unique enough for people not to mistake other websites for yours. If you check for the domain name toyland.com, you’ll see that it’s currently available.
If this is a personal project and you still don’t have a name for it, that’s where you start.
- What kind of brand are you going to develop?
- Start brainstorming. Take a piece of paper (or use an online brainstorming tool) and write down all the words that reflect the spirit of your brand. Don’t think; just write whatever comes to your mind. By combining some of those words, you’ll find a unique brand name that you’ll reflect into the domain name. If you can’t think of something unique, rely on Thesaurus to tweak the terms a bit.
- Use a Domain Name Suggestion Tool
If you only use your creative ideas to think of a domain for your site, you’ll notice they are not that creative after all. Someone in your industry may have thought of the same domain name, so now you can’t have it. Maybe you can’t think of something that sounds cool, catchy, and memorable.
A tool can help.
You can use a free domain name generator that requires a few keywords related to your brand to suggest plenty of options. If you like some of the listed suggestions, you’ll simply register it. The tool is free, and it can quickly get you a catchy domain name.
- Use Keywords If Possible
What keywords would your target audience use when searching for a business like yours?
If you’re offering fitness classes online, they will use just that: fitness classes online. If you manage to register such a domain name that reflects a keyword search, you’ll have high chances of getting your site featured on the first page of Google’s results. But if it’s taken, you can check for other key phrases, such as wellness program, online fitness classes, and other variations.
You can also combine the brand’s name with a keyword.
- Think of Something Easy to Remember
The domain name that you choose should be easy for people to remember.
If it’s too long or too weird, people will forget about it. Even if they are impressed with content at your website and want to visit it again, they will forget what they were supposed to type in the search bar. They might search google with keywords related to your brand if they remember any. They might search for the content they already read, so they could see what else you have at your website. But these quests usually fail. Most Internet users don’t have enough patience to continue searching after the first failed attempt. They will find another resource through Google, and it will be relevant to their search.
When you have a few options for your domain name, choose the one that’s easiest to remember. It will probably cost more to register it, but it’s well worth the extra.
The domain name should also be unique. If it’s memorable but too similar to a competitive brand, it won’t make you look good!
- Choose Your Domain Extension Carefully
The usual choice is .com. But it’s not the option you have. It’s important to consider the purpose of your site, so you’ll choose the right extension.
- If it’s a blog or a site for a business, you can go for .com or .biz.
- If the site is for an organization, you can go for the .org extension.
- Extensions that target a geographical area are also a good match. If you target an audience from Canada, for example, .ca is the extension you can use. If this is not a site intended for an international audience, a geographical extension is a great choice.
- If you’re developing a blog that serves as a knowledge database, you can go for .info as an extension.
- If you’re building an educational website, use .edu as an extension.
- The extension .net is generally intended for networking sites. However, it’s versatile and you can use it for different sites, especially if related to technology.
Finally, you can get creative with the extension. Bit.ly, postach.io and similar examples show that you’re not stuck with the well-known options.
There are four main elements to the perfect domain name:
- Including the brand name
- Including a keyword
- The perfect extension
A domain name suggestion tool can help you come up with an option that meets all these conditions.
Don’t worry about this too much. It might take a day or two before you come down to a decision, but it’s not the most complex step of creating a website. You’ll come across so many challenges in the future that you’ll remember your domain name struggles as the funny part.
Still, it’s important to focus and find a domain name that works.