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Nick Schäferhoff
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choosing a domain name

How thoroughly should you think about your domain name? Is it really that important?

If you have a quality website and business, people will visit your site no matter what the domain is, right?

Well, not so fast…

You see, your domain name is the key element of your website. It can make or break you, so it’s crucial to choose a domain name that works for your business.

But wait, why is your domain name so important?

  1. It’s your “first impression”. Your URL is the first thing your visitors will see. A good domain name can make a positive and lasting impression, while a bad domain name can send visitors running.
  2. It affects SEO. While exact match domains (EMDs) are no longer a necessity, keywords in your domain name can still help your SEO ranking.
  3. It defines your brand. We’ll talk about this in a minute – your domain name is a branding opportunity! The right domain name can increase brand recognition.

These elements are only a few of the many reasons why your domain name is so important.

How do you choose the right domain name? That’s precisely what I’m going to share with you today.

How to Choose the Perfect Domain Name

1. Use The Right Domain Name Extensions (.com, .org, .net)

Top TLDs distribution

Source: domainnamestat.com

When you choose your domain name extension, you can be sure of one thing: “.com” is still the best.

According to research from DomainNameStat, 43% of all domains have the “.com” extension.

Why? Well, “.com” is the most familiar and easiest to remember.

While there are many successful websites with a “.net” and “.org”, your website will probably do better if it has a “.com” extension. It’s the safest bet.

My advice: Go with .com. If that’s taken, try .net or .org. If these are taken too, you’d be better off brainstorming a new domain name. And oh! – Avoid those weird extensions like “.club”, “.space”, “.pizza” and so on.

2. Brandable Over Generic

Creative and brandable are always better than generic.

Remember: Your domain name is how visitors will find, remember, and share your company on the web. It is the foundation of your brand.

Here’s the main difference between a brandable and generic domain name:

A brandable domain name is unique and stands out from the competition, while a generic domain name is usually stuffed with keywords and unmemorable.

For example, do you know the difference between Healthinsurance.net, Newhealthinsurance.com, or Healthinsurancesort.com? Probably not, right?

These are horribly generic. They don’t have any meaning. You won’t hear anyone talking about how awesome “Insurance.com” is. Variations of the word “insurance” will increase the competition and make it blend in even more.

Sites like UnitedHealthCareOnline.com and Anthem.com stand out because they stand for something. When people hear those domain names, there is a trust factor there.

Here’s how to find a more brandable domain name:

  1. Create new words. You can make up your own catchy, new words. That’s what Google, Bing, and Yahoo did.
  2. Use existing words. You can use a thesaurus to find interesting words that fit your brand.
  3. Use domain name generators. These tools can help you create a unique, brandable domain name from your initial domain ideas and keywords. (We’ll highlight some of our favorite domain name generators later in this post.)

3. Short Is Better Than Long

Domain name lenght distribution

Source: datagenetics.com

In general, when it comes to the length of your domain, shorter is better.

According to research from DataGenetics.com, a blog by Nick Berry, the most common name length is approximately 12 characters.

(Popularity, in this case, refers to the amount of web traffic the site receives.)

All of this data shows that you should keep your domain name concise.

Aim for 6-14 characters – and remember the shorter, the better. Most likely the shorter domain names are taken a LONG time ago and sold for thousands of dollars. If you can’t find something short, make it brandable.

My own site – websitesetup.org is exactly 12 characters.

4. Make Sure It’s Easy To Type

Think of some of the most popular websites in the world. What comes to mind?

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yahoo, CNN…

One big thing they have in common is that they’re all easy to spell.

Your visitors should be able to type your domain name without a problem. If you have to explain the spelling more than once for it to be understood, it’s too complicated!

The last thing you want is for the potential visitors to mistype your domain and end up on a different website!

Here’s an easy way to test this…

Tell 10 people your potential domain name and ask them to spell it. If more than a few people struggle to spell it, you need to simplify it.

5. Make Sure It’s Easy To Pronounce

As easily as your domain name rolls off the tips of your fingers, it should roll off the tip of your tongue.

This makes it easier for visitors to share your domain name by word-of-mouth and makes it easier for you to share your site with friends and potential customers.

You can test this the same way as with the “spelling”.

Write your domain name on a piece of paper and ask 10 people to pronounce it. If more than a few people struggle to pronounce it, you should simplify it.

Here’s what to keep in mind: You want your domain name to be passed along easily by you and others. The only way for that to be possible is if it’s 1) easy to spell and 2) easy to pronounce.

6. Avoid Hyphens And Numbers

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 might 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!

7. Consider Using “Niche” Keywords That Reflect Your Website

Our website mainly about web development or helping people to create a website. Hence we chose to add a name that reflects all of it – “website”. Obviously website.com (or .org, .net) was no longer available, we simply chose “WebsiteSetup”.

Keywords can help to improve your SEO – you need to tread carefully here! If you try to awkwardly stuff keywords into your domain, it comes across as generic (like we talked about before).

If you choose to use keywords, put the keywords at the beginning of your domain. That’s where they’ll be the most powerful for your ranking.

You can find keywords with tools like Google Keyword Planner and Keywordtool.io.

8. Think Long-Term Over Short-Term

NEW IMAGE FROM TOM

Are you ready to marry your domain? You should be because it will be one of the biggest elements that define your business and brand for years.

If you decide to change the domain in the future, it will cost you money, branding, and SEO rankings. In short – it’s a huge pain!

When you’re choosing your domain, think long-term.

For example, if your company helps businesses optimize their websites for SEO, you could choose a domain name like, “OptimizedSEO.com”

If you think there’s a chance you might expand to more general digital marketing services in the future, like email marketing, PPC, etc. then it might be wise to reconsider your domain name.

You don’t want to pin yourself down to a certain niche if you think you might expand out of that niche.

Therefore, keep your long-term vision in mind when picking your domain name.

9. Check If It’s Not Trademarked Or Already Used

Before you move forward with a specific domain name, check to see if the name is available on social media sites, as well as if there are any trademarks already registered to the name.

You can check current trademarks here: https://trademarks.justia.com/

To build your brand, it’s ideal to have the same name across your domain and social networks. This builds familiarity and makes it easy for your visitors, fans, and customers to find you around the web.

Avoid legal issues; you should stay away from names that already have trademarks.

How can you quickly check social networks and trademarks for your potential domain name?

It’s quite easy with a tool like Knowem. Search your potential domain name – it’ll show you if it’s available throughout over 25 popular social networks and if there are any trademarks already registered to the name.

If it’s taken, consider tweaking it so that you can create original social media profiles.

10. Use Domain Name Generators When Stuck

At this point, you should have at least a general idea of some possible words to put in your domain. Some of those words may already be taken, trademarked, or just don’t have the “sound” you’re looking for.

That’s where domain name generators come into play. These generators can turn your ideas into fresh, available domains.

Here are some of our favorite domain name generators to try out:

  1. Wordoid. This tool allows you to plug in a word; it will come up with ideas that either contain that word, begin with that word or end with that word.
  2. Lean Domain Search. This tool matches your keyword with other keywords and generates a list of available domains.
  3. DomainHole. This tool allows you to search keywords, find expired domains, generate new names, and more.

Where Should You Register Your Domain Name?

If you don’t know where to register your domain name, I recommend choosing another guide of ours – How to Register a Domain Name (+ tips for getting it for FREE)

Your domain name will have a significant impact on the success and potential of your website. Make sure to put some careful thought into choosing yours.


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96 comments

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  1. Avatar

    Hi Nick, I’m in the midst of re-vamping my website and wanting to change domain name. Business is growing quickly and think I it’s time to rename now while still early (I can forward my old domain to new domain). It’s an asphalt business, sealcoating, repairs, line painting, new pavement, etc. I’ve recently added concrete repairs and have done well in that sector of the market also…pretty diversified business. My company name is Line King (started out with line painting and asphalt sealing is reason for name), and have nice logo with a crown, people like the name and logo so would like to stick with that, it is becoming a brand name now.
    Anyways, my current domain is “lksealcoating.com”, would to re-brand my company to “Line King Canada”, as that is where I am. I don’t want to pigeonhole my business to just sealcoating. I have a few domain options available, I trust your opinion, here they are:
    – linekingcanada.ca
    – linekingcanada.com
    – lkcanada.ca
    – lkcanada.com
    Are the first 2 options too long? Your thoughts?

    Thank you in advance.

    Jason

    1. Avatar

      I would definitely write out “line king” in your domain and not shorten it to “lk” as it’s unclear what it means. Have you checked “lineking.ca” or “line-king.ca”? That way, you would have both the name and the appropriate domain ending in one and it’s shorter. If that doesn’t work, I am leaning toward “linekingcanada.com”. However, if it’s very common to use the local domain ending in your country, “linekingcanada.ca” might be the best solution.

  2. Avatar

    Hey Nick,
    Love the article i have been struggling with this more and more. I currently have a website called moreinflow.com that i started writing about blogging and making money online. The problem is i really love learning about blogging. I find myself on your site plus other blogging websites like shoutmeloud or startbloggingonline. My question is what do you think about – in a domain name. I follow a blogger who has a blog named onemorecupof-coffee.com and his site seems to do very well. So i guess my questions are 1) Does moreinflow.com work as a website that i can pivot to talking about blogging? 2) Start a new website with “website” or “blog” in the name but use – between a word. my blog currently is still brand new so i can pivot it. I seem to always pick a blog and then blog about 20 topics which gets me no where. Starting a blog that has blog/website in the same will make me focus on just that.

    1. Avatar

      Hey Matt, we also love to write about those topics so welcome to the show! Here are the answers for your questions:

      1) I think using a dash (-) inside your domain name is no problem at all. It can actually make things easier to read. However, you should be consistent, so don’t only hyphenate one word but write everything else together as in your example.
      2) Your domain can work for blogging as well, especially if you are planning to focus on teaching others how to get more visitors. But if you are not invested in the name, feel free to change it. Many big names in the “blogging about blogging” sphere actually have the word “blogging” or similar in their name, e.g. smartblogger.com, problogger.com, etc.
      3) There is no need to include something like “website” or “blog” in your domain to describe what your site is about. People will figure out easily what kind of site it is. It’s more important that you include your site’s topic in the name or use a brand name that visitors can recognize you by in the long run as described in the post above.

      In short, if you want to switch your focus and are not invested in your domain, feel free to change it. However, you can also start blogging on your current domain about the topic you want to to see if there is enough interest and then switch to another domain once you see that your idea holds water. Just don’t forget to set up proper redirects when you do. Good luck!

  3. Avatar

    Thanks for the awesome site! I tried posting this as a reply to your “How to choose a domain name” blog few days ago from my mobile device (and again just now), but the post doesn’t appear to be sticking… I’m trying to solidify my domain name, but was hoping to get your feedback. So as to not give up my actual desired domain name, I’ll substitute an example:

    Say I’m looking for a domain for a business named “Clear Sight Home Inspection.” Not only does ClearSightHomeInspection.com seem too long, but there’s also a good chance for misspellings (site instead of sight, inspections (plural) rather than singular).

    In these cases would you recommend shortening to something like, say:

    1) cshomeinspection.com (keywords: home, inspection)
    2) cshomeinspect.com
    3) csinspection.com
    4) csinspect.com (shortest)
    5) … different recommendation?

    I wasn’t sure how important it was to include keywords in the domain name versus trying to keep it short and simple.

    Once I get the domain name nailed down, is there additional benefit to securing the exact same social media user names on FB and IG, or does matching up other platforms matter less?

    Thanks for any insight!

    1. Avatar

      Hey Mikey, out of the options you presented, I would go with cshomeinspection.com. Alternatively, maybe something like ch-home-inspection.com would also work though I think the first option looks better. While including keywords in the domain is not as important as it used to be, in a business like the one you describe, I think it makes sense. Just using your brand name (like clearsight.com) does not convey what you are actually doing and is not too memorable.

      As for social platforms, of course, it’s nice to have the same handles there as your domain as far as that is possible. This way, customers only have to remember one thing. If it isn’t doable, I would see that at least all the social handles are the same to make things easier, even if they are not the same as the domain.

  4. Avatar

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    We have registered a new company named as ACCURAM INSTRUMENTS. in which we want to sell our dental and surgical instruments . accuram.com is already taken. so kindly let me know which domain name will be suitable for us?
    1- accuraminstruments.com
    2-accuram-instruments.com
    3-accuram-inst.com
    4-accuraminst.com

  5. Avatar

    I found your article very informative full of specific and useful advice. What most impressed me though is your willingness to help others as they consider domain names. Which brings me to write of my situation. Your guidance is appreciated. For years I have thought making a website for a blog geared toward people who are struggling with skepticism, intellectual doubt, troubling unanswered questions about faith, whose faith is not “working” for them. This is not a money maker idea. I want to share knowledge I have and to interact with my “client” audience with questions and answers. The wisdom in Torah which is the Tree of LIfe is my source to relieve their issues. I started with a Facebook page: Tree of Life Wisdom. So I want to stay with that in some way. I also have discovered that the people that I am trying to reach are seeking or searching for truth. I am trying to find a way to incorporate that also. So I have questions for you. The first is do you advise me to set up a website for this or to stay within the framework of Facebook? Second: If I go with a website/blog which of the following would be the best domain name? treeoflifewisdom.net (.com is not available, .info is also available) truthintreeoflife.com truthistreeoflife.com or treeoflifeistruth.com I have another one that i think is a bit of a tongue twister and cute but here it is onetruetreeoflife.com As of now all these domain names are available. I thank you in advance for any guidance you can offer.

    1. Avatar

      Hey Chana, first of all, you should think about what function a potential blog should fulfill. If you only want to converse with people about your topics, a forum-like Facebook page or group might be all you need. However, if you think you have enough to say about this topic that it would sustain a blog with regular posts, I think it’s a valid idea to build one.

      As for the domain, I like treeoflifewisdom the most. It’s the easiest to remember. Have you checked whether the .org domain is available?

  6. Avatar

    I have registered pelotonmarketing.com
    I did this as I was looking for a domain name that, on the surface, would allow customers to have a hint as to what we do and our process.
    Needless to say you can’t expect a domain name to say it all. The word “peloton” comes from the French word “platoon” and as most people know it is a cycling strategy where teammates converge in a race to create an efficient slipstream. As a cyclist I know it works.
    The issue I have is “peloton.com” is a high end stationary bike company and that space on any search engine is very crowded.
    My company is small and the number of clients I will have will not exceed more than 5 at any time. I have no intentions of competing with the peloton.com world.
    My question is whether you would recommend this domain name for the reasons I outlined above.
    Thank you.

    1. Avatar

      Hey Philip, if you have no intention of competing with them, there shouldn’t be a big problem. In addition, Google is pretty good at figuring out what a website is about, so they will probably not even rank you on pages relating to bikes if the content of your website is clearly aimed at something else.

  7. Avatar

    Hi! I’m recently started a nutrition business. The business name is Finding Balance Functional Nutrition. The .com for that is available, as is findingbalancenutrition.com. I feel like using the full name is too long – but it’s still long even if I cut out the “functional” part. findingbalance.com and fbfn.com are taken. Or what about just using my first and last name – tonyaromano.com? The business could grow and offer other things at some point so just my name might also make sense?? Appreciate the help!

    1. Avatar

      If you are trying to build a business, it’s probably better to use a brand name. People would probably rather buy nutritional products from Finding Balance Nutrition then from a single person called Tonya Romano (no offense). What about balancenutrition.com or finding-balance.com?

  8. Avatar

    Good evening Nick. I just wanna say thank you for writing such a great article that will benefit new entrepreneurs such as myself. For a while now I have been trying to find the right domain name for my company which is called, Blue Sphere Aerial Imaging LLC. I would like to get into both the construction and real estate fields using my drone for inspections, advertising etc. My biggest hurdle has been trying to come up with a catchy domain name that will draw a decent amount of traffic to my site. I have come up with many different ones that encompasses my company name but also doesn’t. If I use my company name that definitely will be way too long for a domain name. I also know abbreviating it probably isn’t the best as well. So if you have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate any ideas, but if not no worries I will just have to figure it out. Either way thank you for the awesome article.

    1. Avatar

      Hey Joe, thanks for the detailed comment. I think in your case it might make sense to include “aerial imaging” in your domain somehow as it’s quite a specialized field. How about something like blue-sphere-ae.com?

  9. Avatar

    Hi! Thanks for the info, please i want to open an online store that deals with wears for males, which of these domain name is a good brand to choose; Hotswagboutique.com, bigguywears.com, dresssmart.com, dressfine.com, my hot boutique.com. thanks for your help

    1. Avatar

      Hey Benjamin, I’m not sure about any of these. bigguywears is not correct English, dresssmart doesn’t look nice with three times s in one word, dressfine is a little boring. hotswagboutique could work but it really depends on what kind of clothes you are planning to sell. I think the most neutral at this point is myhotboutique.com. However, overall I would advise you to think some more.

  10. Avatar

    Hi Nick. Your article was very helpful. All of my social media (FB, IG, Twitter, etc) use the phrase CreateYourSty or CreateYourStyle. When I do my live steams, I welcome viewers to Creating Your Style With Cahye. I would love to use CreateYourStyleWithCathye as my domain name, but from your recommendation, I would exceed the 12-14 character length. I think the other two variations are pretty generic. What would you suggest that I do?

    1. Avatar

      Hey Cathye, I agree that that is too long as a domain name. Maybe you could go with a short version like yourstylewithcathye or stylewithcathye? I definitely think your name should be in the domain because it sets you apart and catches the attention for its unusual spelling.