Many business owners and Internet entrepreneurs rush in by registering a domain without too much thinking or doing enough research about the domain name they bought. While we should note that a domain name isn’t the most important factor in the success of your website and how high it will rank on Google, it is important enough that you should look into it and optimize the name to suit your business as best as possible.So how does one choose a domain name that is good? We will go over some good tips and the do’s and dont’s of choosing a domain name and review some of the best tools you can get for this task. Let us get started!
How to Choose a Domain Name Based On Keywords
If you are starting a blog, for example, in the niche “home insurance reviews” your primary task is to find several keywords you want your business to focus on. Don’t aim too high as there are some keywords that you may not be able to rank first due to hard competition, but you can always find some unique keywords that have little competition. You can use Google Insights for free to check the popularity of a keyword for the worldwide web or even specific regions and countries. This is the beginning of answering the question: how to choose a domain properly? Use this powerful tool to narrow down the important keywords for you business. You can use these keywords to come up with an interesting domain name that is pretty straightforward. Maybe somethings like “BestHomeInsuranceUK.com” if your service is region specific? Sure it may sound too common at first, but with enough brainstorming you can get something rather unique that is based on your keywords.
Choose a Unique Domain Name
Don’t try to get a domain that sounds like a different version of something that already exists and is quite popular. Imagine that you are in a business that deals in Forex and stock trading online and you main competition is MoezStocks.com. Do not be one of those who will get a domain like StockMoz.com or anything similar. The fact that a similar site (in terms of domain name) existed before yours means that you will stay in their shadow and your brand or business will not rank as high as you want it. In some cases you can even have legal issues with this!
So how to choose a domain name that is unique for your online brand? Do research and brainstorming, think about the field you are in and terms that are related to it that may be humorous or smart references.
Most of the time You Should Go For a .com Extension
Another thing we should points out is that you should choose your domain name
extension carefully. Your TLD (top-level domain) should be something that works good for your business or blog and most of the time this is a .com domain. If you have no practical use of a domain such as .tv or .me then don’t go for it. Also, people almost instinctively type in .com when they try to search for a website directly. What if you used a cheaper .info domain and suddenly lost a valuable client just because of that? For this reason you should also consider domain forwarding as a good idea. Register the same name with .net and .org extensions and have them forward to your main .com site. A lot of popular sites do this and it really helps them gather traffic.
Interesting fact: Here is how a company named Domainr made their domain name: domai.nr and it’s pretty good-looking and a nice use of a not so popular TLD. If you can combine your brands name with a TLD then you can have yourself a pretty nice brand.
Keep it Short and Simple
While a domain name like BestHomeInsuranceInWesternEngland.co.uk looks pretty straightforward it is something you should avoid. If your domain name is focused on a particular keyword then don’t add too many unnecessary keywords to the combo. Up to three should be quite enough. If you, however, are building your own brand name than go for a clear and simple name like Hotmail.com. Just by reading it you already have a good idea on what the site is about. A name like Zillow.com doesn’t really ring any bells and requires a lot more work to brand and promote.
The Do’s and Dont’s of Choosing a Domain Name
Armed with the knowledge of the chapters above we can create a general list of things you need to avoid and the things you must take note off when choosing a domain name.
- Research the keywords of the niche and choose a few that would go well
- Go for a .com if no other extension name explains the purpose of your site in any other special way.
- Still buy a .com domain even if your site is .org or .net do use it for redirecting. For example the popular site SEOmoz.org still has a .com version that redirects to the .org website.
- Make your domain name as short and simple as possible. If you are building a brand (for example a blog about movies) then go for something original, but have it still be pretty self-understandable.
- If needed you can use hyphens in your domain name and it may even improve your page rank on Google. For example, cheap-flights.com looks pretty good.
- Never use long domain names that are hard to remember and type.
- Do not include the letters q, z, x, p or w unless necessary as these are the letters people most commonly type incorrectly.
- Never use slang in your domain name.
- Avoid numbers and special characters. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use these to build a brand. For example, 9gag.com, uses numbers to make itself more unique and the “9” is a part of the brand and the title explains the purpose of the site well. However, a serious company should not do this.
- If you do have to use a number try not to go for a zero. The 0 and O can sometimes be mistaken and you don’t want to lose traffic because of this.
Five Tools That Can Help You Choose a Domain Name
As promised we will also go over the tools that can be very useful in choosing your domain name. Google Insights is a good way to find the keywords, but won’t help you in arranging them and coming up with something unique. Here is our top 5 picks:
Domainr (http://domai.nr/) is a tool you don’t even have to download and is easy to use right away! You can use it to type in your keywords and get suggestion and then instantly check if the domain is available or on sale by the owner. It doesn’t provide you with too much ability to research, but it is one of the fastest domain searchers on the Internet and great for those situations when you are brainstorming and need to check something out really fast.
dnScoop (http://www.dnscoop.com/) is a very interesting tool with several usages. You can use it to check some estimated values of your domain or website (which you already have) to get some insight in how you stand. But, there are also cases when somebody is offering you a domain they own and the price can seem to big. You can use this tool to see if the domain they are offering you is really worth it or just a scam.
Ajax Whois (http://ajaxwhois.com/) is a fresh, clean domain checker tool similar to Domainr with a free and instant WhoIs feature in case you want to contact the owner of a domain you think is for sale to inquire about the price.
Domain Tools (http://www.domaintools.com/) is a bit slower and less use friendly then Ajax Whois or Domainr, but has some of the functions they lack. They provide you with information on whether or not a domain name is registered, whois information and provide you with suggested names as well.
Dot-o-mator (http://www.dotomator.com/) helps you generate your website name and is great for those situations when you have writers block. Enter several keywords as prefixes and sufixes and the Dot-o-mator will generate suggestion and check if they are available.The tool also has some presets you can use as well.
Bonus Tip: Think About Domain Forwarding!
Another practical example of domain forwarding is this: imagine you register a name like TheCheapestHotelsInLondon.co.uk because you believe it will help in your rank on Google. In theory yes, but what if you wanted to promote this URL outside the Internet, how would be people be able to remember it? It is quite long, right? Why not register a domain name like HotelsLondon.com and have this redirect to your main web page? People who see it on signs or banners will remember it and will find the site easily. Here is another interesting use of domain forwarding you should consider if your site becomes very popular: a lot of people tend to spell a word in a domain incorrectly. Sometimes you can even make a mistake when writing something as simple as “Google.com”. But the smart people and Google don’t want others to use this to their advantage so they registered even domain names like “Gooogle.com” or “Googl.com” so that they forward to their main site. A smart strategy.