Starting your own blog is a truly step towards opening many doors and realizing dreams in this digital age. While most of the actionable steps to setting up a blog are quick and simple, choosing the right domain name can get both confusing and challenging at the onset. As I often converse with interns, course students and aspiring bloggers from the Learn Digital Marketing community, one point I very commonly find aspiring bloggers getting stuck at is how to choose a domain name?
Many times, I also find that people are under the wrong impression that it all right to start with the subdomain of a blogging platform (for example xyz.wordpress.com), and leave worrying about choosing a website name for later only if the blog kicks off. I’d like to make a point here. If you want results it is always good to be serious from the start. Moreover, you need to sound authentic and truly invested in your own idea which can never come if you are not ready to even buy your own domain name. Also, say you build your brand, and then the same domain is not available for sale, you’ll find yourself stuck with lack of any choice.
Now, coming to the part around how to choose a domain name for your blog. There’s no one singular way or formula that guarantees an ideal name for your website. Choosing an effective and good blog name covers picking something that’s logical, technical helpful for you and is available! Each of these includes a few steps and good practices, which I will talk about in detail as we proceed.
But before I begin, I’d likely emphasize on why choosing a domain carefully is so important. So without any further ado, let’s begin.
I. Reasons to be thoughtful when you select a domain name for your blog
Choosing the right domain name is very important. Rushing through this process or being casual about the choice is not a smart move. The reasons are –
Your domain name is your identity on the web. If your visitors like your content, they are likely to stick with you and return to your site if your domain name is unique and easy to remember.
Domain names play a role in search engine optimization. They can actually bring in some new visitors your site, if your name signals to the spiders what your website is about.
While you always have an open option to change your artwork, content, layout and so on, changing your domain name isn’t really an possible option. It is more likely than not going to remain pretty much the same throughout your blog or website’s life cycle! That’s because once you start branding yourself with a certain name, it is extremely difficult, complicated and expensive to rebrand yourself under a different domain name (with absolutely no guaranteed results!).
Hence, it is only intuitive that you put in some good thought and start out with something that makes sense, is relevant to you and is likely to help you in the long run.
II. Proven Steps Explaining How To Choose a Domain Name That’s Bound To Bring You Success
Now that you know the importance of the domain name, let’s dive into the steps that you can follow to choose one that’s going to be good and effective for you.
1. Stick to relevance
As much as you might be tempted come up with names that are really clever, fun or unique, I’ll always emphasize that whatever you choose, make it a point that you sound meaningful and relevant. By relevance I mean, relevant to what your goal of blogging is, and the type of content you are planning to create. Some naming ideas that emerge as commonly relevant are described below-
Your Own Name
If you want to start a blog to build your own personal identity online and brand yourself, it can be good to use your own name and surname like oprahwinfrey.com, or meaningful variations of that. For example, you could try integrating your name with what you do like digitaldeepak.
Using names helps to build a good connection with your audience and have that long lasting personal connect. However, a point of caution here – if you ever wish to sell off thus blog on a future date, its nearly impossible to do so since it is always going to be linked to your own personal identity.
Your Target Audience
Choosing a name that enables your target audience to identify that the site is designed for them is another great way to name your site. For example – Think of problogger.com. It instantly connects with aspiring or new bloggers who wish to become professional bloggers one day. Similarly, names like fitnessfreak for a fitness site, couchpotato for an entertainment blog and so on.
If you are unable to come up with something catchy, but wish to choose a name that connects with your target audience, you can try using the word ‘only’ as a prefix or suffix or a relevant adjective in conjunction with your audience and see if you can come up with something meaningful. For example: onlyrealadvertisers.com or smartadvertisers.com if you want to create content that caters to advertisers.
Another meaningful way is to name your pursuit and cover your blog’s general theme in the domain name. In this approach, the chosen name needs to be like an elevator pitch in very limited words. You can talk about your topic or the result or benefit your site is going to have in store for your visitors.
Example – hightrafficblog. This name immediately strikes a chord that it is going to be about blogging, and how to build a blog that has the potential attract great traffic. Similarly, other topic oriented names are parentingtips.com, conversiontechniques.com and so on.
2. Choose something that is unique, easy & memorable
Your blog is your brand, and the domain its identity. You obviously want people to remember your name!
If you come with really different or bizarre names for your domain that are difficult to understand, spell or remember, you’re pretty much losing out the point behind investing in building your blog in the first place.
For instance – in its initial days, the popular photo site ‘Flickr’ faced a lot of traffic loss issues as people had a tendency to type out ‘Flicker’. To resolve it, they ended up purchasing ‘flicker’ and redirected it to flickr.
A good way to be sure that your domain passes this is to ask yourself the question – if you convey your website address to someone verbally, will they be able to get it, spell it and remember it without confusing it with some other name? If the answer is yes without any doubts or second thoughts, you’re good to go!
3. Be fundamentally appropriate from a technical & legal point of view
While we covered the logical aspects in the two points above, there are some technicalities and legalities that you must exercise caution about. They’re discussed below.
Try to stick to a .com extension
Whenever you buy a domain, you have to buy that name with an extension. For instance .com, .in,. co.in and so on. One of the most common problems I have been hearing for the longest time is finding availability of the desired domain name for blog ending with the .com extension.
Often times, domains are available on reseller sites but with extensions other than .com such as .in, .me, .net to a whole innovative bunch like .tech, .pizza, .photography and so on.
In case that happens with you, you too you might feel tempted to skip the tiresome trial and error to search for an available .com version. You might find it logical and easy to quickly take up the domain name you desire even if it is available with a unique extension.
However tempting that may sound, I recommend against it. The reasons are –
Even today, after the current level of Internet penetration, .com is the most established and credible sounding domain name extension. As against other extensions, it immediately creates a greater sense of trustworthiness. While .gov, .edu are trustworthy as well, they’re out of reach for common people. So best to stick to .com only.
Most Internet users are habituated to assume that websites end with .com. So if they ever go on to a browser to type out a URL, they tend to blindly type in .com. That’s because people rarely care to remember extensions, they only associate with domain names. Let me explain this with an example.
For instance, say your blog is about digital marketing careers. You can’t find digitalmaketingcareers.com. But you found digitalmarketing.careers with a .careers domain extension and bought it. Now, you shared your website address with someone verbally. They’re quite likely to type in digitalmarketing.careers.com and land up on an error page, and probably never visit you again! Worse, land up on a competitor’s site.
Well, these days keyboards too come with .com button. I’m sure you don’t need more reasons!
Just like integrating keywords into your blog content is a smart move from an SEO viewpoint, so is the case with domain names as well if you wish to be favored in the search engine results. Moreover, a keyword in the domain name is also a signal to potential visitors about your site’s niche and focus.
The execution procedure is simple, as the method to find keywords remains the same as it is for all other purposes. You need to use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest.io or some paid tools if you have the subscription.
Just one key – choose a keyword that is representative of your website and content as a whole.
Refrain from using hyphens or numbers
It’s not exactly a good idea to choose domain name that has hyphens in it. Hyphens are difficult to remember, and if your competitor has the same name without a hyphen, a good prospect of yours might mistakenly type it out without the hyphen and land up on your competition’s website. Why get lost in the crowd when you can choose something unique?
Moreover, hyphens are often associated with spammy web sites – something you would obviously not want to be connected with!
On the other hand, the case with numbers is that if you orally call out your website name, someone might be confused if it’s the word or the numeral leading to the same problem as using a hyphen.
Avoid abbreviations or double letters
Sometimes in order to shorten a very long name, people tend to choose abbreviations. This can get counterproductive when the abbreviations are not so common and are difficult to remember. This would then lead to mistakes in typing and possible loss of traffic.
Double letters on the other hand too can get difficult to brand and confusing to type as well. So it is best to avoid such combinations. For example, names like besttools.com or smarttechhadgets.com.
Stay away from legal hassles with integrating names of existing brands
Names of big and well-known brands some times come with copyright policies. This means that you may not be allowed to legally use their names in conjunction with your brand name without proper written consent. Same thing applies to your domain name as well.
Hence, before you’re intentionally picking up a domain name that includes a popular brand name, it’s always advisable to cross check if you’re not violating that existing brand’s copyright policy. As an example, using the word “WordPress” in your domain does violate its copyright policy and is likely to attract due penalties.
The same would be the case for using domains names that are identical with registered businesses. In order to avoid this, it is good to perform a trademark search, and check if there is already a similar name that is trademarked. Doing so could avoid unintentional confusions, as well as costs that could come to you with litigation due to violations.
4. Make sure to check it is available
This one is obvious, but after doing the entire exercise, most people tend to realize that the hours they’ve spent in arriving at their domain name choice is already taken or is not available for sale.
Hence, while you brainstorm for blog name ideas, it is good to keep one of the domain reseller sites open, and keep trying out combinations to see what is available and generate new ideas from the results as well simultaneously. Another way to generate ideas is using domain name generator tools like Instant Domain Search, Namemesh, DomainWheel and so on.
Once you’ve found something that resonates with you and is available, my advice is that you must quickly grab before some one else takes it. Domains are often cheap, and the Internet is full of people who buy domains for reselling or starting their own page. You wouldn’t want to lose out on something that’s available and fulfills all the criteria due to acting late.
Another tip I’d like to share here. As a beginner, it is best if you buy the domain name through the same company you’re purchasing the hosting from. This will save your time, and help you sort out the technicalities of linking your domain name with your hosting space much more easily than when you’re working with two different companies. Moreover, sometimes hosting companies provide free domains if you buy hosting from them. So you can make use of that deal too!
Choosing a domain name at first can seem to be like quite a challenging start to a blogging journey, especially if it is your first time. After all, it’s tricky, literally permanent and so important!
However, if you are systematic and smart about it, you can arrive at a choice that’s meaningful, technically appropriate and good for you at the same time.
I hope that these tips that I’ve shared out of my experience over the years simplifies this overwhelming task for you. Should you have any doubts, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments below.