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Tips for choosing a domain nameHow 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.

Full disclosure: I earn a commission if you end up purchasing any of the domain (and web hosting) services through referral links in this guide. This helps me to keep WebsiteSetup up and running and up-to-date. Thanks for your support.

P.S. Domain name costs generally $10/year. If you are with Bluehost you can get it for free (1 year). Alternative domain registrars are Domain.comGoDaddy and NameCheap. You can read more about the topic: registering a domain name.

How to Choose the Perfect Domain Name

 1. 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.)

2. Keep It Concise

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.)

Domain name lenght distribution

Source: DataGenetics.com

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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 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!

6. Consider Using Keywords

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.

7. Think Long-Term

longterm thinkingAre you ready to marry your domain? You should be because it will be one of the biggest elements that defines 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 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.

8. Check Availability on Social Media Sites and Trademarks

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.

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.

9. Use the Right Domain Name Extension

TLDs distributionWhen 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.

10. Use a Domain Name Generator to Gather Ideas

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.

Bonus tip:

If you’re starting a blog, podcast or your personal website, it may be best to use your own name!

This helps you become more recognizable. What’s more – simply owning the domain of your name can be a good strategy.

If your blog/website/speaking career makes it big, you may become a household name – and that domain, “YourName.com” may become a hot commodity. You’ll be glad you have it!

Now, if your name is a bit long, difficult to spell/pronounce, or the domain is already taken, consider using a nickname or even a combination of your first name and middle name.

Conclusion

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 – use these 10 tips to help you choose the best domain.

Further reading: How to Register a Domain Name (+ tips for getting it for FREE)


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64 comments

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  1. Avatar

    Hi Websitesetup,
    Thanks a lot for your advice. It is so clear and very helpful.
    Please, I have a question: I want to start an affiliate site. I’m looking towards expanding in the future but I want to start with food supplements first. Do you think I should go with my name; goodnesspat.com or find a generic domain name for the niche?

    Thank you.

    • Avatar

      Hey Goodness, I’m not sure I’d go with your own name, unless you plan on branding the site as a personal project. I wouldn’t make it too generic either but instead find a brand name that is related to your field and easy to remember.

  2. Avatar

    This article was so helpful for me! I am working on creating my early childhood training website and I am stuck on domain names! I have 2 options-dare2succeed4ece.com and trainingforthefuture.com. I want something that will peak interest!!

    • WebsiteSetup Editorial
      WebsiteSetup Editorial

      Hi Dee,

      Between those two, I’d go for the second one if it’s still available – having numbers in the domain name usually doesn’t look very professional.

  3. Avatar

    What are the thoughts on having a name on social media, or even written on your website as a longer version, but then the domain name being shortened?

    • Avatar

      That can work. For example, Jeff Goins, who is a very successful blogger, has his site on goinswriter.com. So, it’s not his complete name in the URL but it still pops up first in Google when you look for his name. In addition, you can usually find me on social media under nschaeferhoff and not my full name as a handle. Hope this answers your question!

  4. Avatar

    Hi WebsiteSetup Editorial

    This is a really helpful post. Thank you very much. I’m starting off as an artist and want to set up a new website. Would it be worth putting ‘art’ after my name or better just to stick with my name?

    Thanks Angela

    • WebsiteSetup Editorial
      WebsiteSetup Editorial

      Hi Angela,

      ‘Art’ is a short word, so putting it in your domain name wouldn’t make it overly complicated + it will help to let potential visitors know what your site is about just by looking at the domain name. I think it’d be a good idea to include it 🙂

  5. Avatar

    Hi WebsiteSetup Editorial,
    Also thanks from me for your tips. May I ask your opinion on following name: 5starkitenyogaescape.com.
    Should the 5 be written out? Is the n instead of an AND ok? Does escape sound like a retreat? Thanks for your advice in advance 🙂
    Best,
    Sabrina

    • WebsiteSetup Editorial
      WebsiteSetup Editorial

      Hi Sabrina,

      I think it’s a bit too complicated for a domain name, you’ll want something that people will be able to remember. Shortening words and using numbers can be fine as long it sounds natural.

  6. Avatar

    Hi,
    What will you recommend for web application name:

    1. A nice 6-letters .net domain
    or
    2. Similar but longer with prefix 8-letters .com domain

    Thanks
    Lilly

    • WebsiteSetup Editorial
      WebsiteSetup Editorial

      Hi Lilly,

      It would depend on the names, but 8 letters is not very long by domain name standards so I’d maybe go with that.

  7. Avatar

    I need to start a website for a group of 4 churches. We don’t yet have a group name so am challenged by how search engines will find us if I use the rather long
    DenstoneRocesterCroxdenHollington.com
    These are the four villages where the churches are located. Do you think this would work?
    Thank you

    • WebsiteSetup Editorial
      WebsiteSetup Editorial

      Hi Liz,

      I would advise against it as that name is really long. Try to come up with a group name for all these churches that’s about half the length, it doesn’t necessarily have to include all the locations in the domain name itself for SEO.

  8. Avatar

    Great article – and most helpful. I thank you! Quick question, would you consider juliavandersluis.com too hard to spell? (I’m starting a coaching business and ‘juliavanessa.com’ is taken – Vanessa being my middle name).

  9. Avatar

    Hi WebsiteSetup Editorial.
    Thank you for this excellent article. I am a newbie and want to have my own blog site. Read many blogs on “HOW TO..” but yours is simple and best explanation.Will definitely read all your other articles to learn more.
    Just one question. Can the blog be used as an online store? Because that is my aim.
    Thanks again.

  10. Avatar

    Hi WebsiteSetup Editorial, great article! So.. what about past tense domain names?

    I have a dating advice site called Maxed Out Dating. Would this confuse
    potential visitors.. or is this something I shouldn’t worry too much about?

  11. Avatar

    Hello, WebsiteSetup Editorial! I am intending to create a Shopify store for my fine art. Here are my choices of domain name: AnaTheArtist.com (catchy, but until I am established, people might spell Ana with two n’s = being directed to another artist’s [small, dated] site,) LivingstonFineArt.com (generic as well as there being several online artists with the last name Livingston,) and AnaLivingstonFineArt.com. Your opinion on the best choice? Thank you in advance. ~Ana

  12. Avatar

    Hi WebsiteSetup Editorial,
    Thanks for this post.
    I have a .org domain name that I have been using for over a year for Affiliate Marketing purposes. The .com domain has already been taken.
    Do you think a .com domain is better and I should purchase one and move my existing site across?

    I’ve used the .org email address for many websites – Social media, affiliate sign-up etc and my concern is if I do move my site to a new domain I might miss updating a service.
    I really don’t know what to do and would like your advice. I know at the end of the day it’s down to me.
    Thanks

  13. Avatar

    Hi WebsiteSetup Editorial,
    I read your site, great and very informative but have a question.
    How can I register more then 1 email address to my domain name?

  14. Avatar

    Hi WebsiteSetup Editorial,

    Thanks for comprehensive explanations on the matter.
    Can I ask one question please ? When trying to find a domain for a online store selling handmade goods shall I try to think of something containing word “craft” in it (for example – craftrule.com, craftregion.com) or shall I try to think of something new and brand-able like Google, Bing, and Yahoo ?

    Thanks in advance for your answer.

    • WebsiteSetup Editorial
      WebsiteSetup Editorial

      Hi Gore,

      Both versions are OK. A domain name ending/starting with craft can also be “brandable”.
      Hope this helps 🙂

  15. Avatar

    Hey, Thanks for the nice article. I’m a beginner in freelance writing. I have read many articles about having a personal website; the confusion here is whether to go with a domain with personal name or other brandable name. At the moment, it’s just me who has begun the freelance career.

    My full name is Vinayak S Jawalkar. I researched and found vinayakjawalkar.com is available and this is 15 characters long. vinujs.com is also available which is just 5 characters long. What do you just?

    • WebsiteSetup Editorial
      WebsiteSetup Editorial

      It’s a solid substitute for .com, but I’d personally try to grab a .com version (whenever possible).

  16. Avatar

    Thanks, very helpful. My book is about to be re-published and I’m focusing on building a new website to support my work and publicize the book. (Non-fiction). Question: I’d like to use my name, but I have a tricky spelling of my first name (Cris not Chris) and my last name is polysyllabic and also unusual. Other than that, it sounds nice, is alliterative. Could the topic I want to be associated with somehow be included in a subtitle, or something? Am not familiar with SEO issues around this.

    Thanks you!

    • WebsiteSetup Editorial
      WebsiteSetup Editorial

      Hey Cris,

      I don’t think your name is all that difficult to spell/write. And the domain name doesn’t have to associated with your website topic/content – don’t worry about it. Domain names used to be a factor of SEO, but it’s not that anymore.

  17. Avatar

    What you advice me,
    selftruenature or selfnurturelife ?
    I want to build a blog about healthy habits and also spiritual lifestyle.
    I hope you can give me some tips.
    Thank you!

  18. Avatar
    Norman Eugene Parks

    This was very helpful for me. You have given me some short and understandable directions on where to go for setting up my web site properly and more efficiently, which will make it that much more quicker and easier to get up and running. I’ll go through the suggestions you afford here to get more of an idea on a lasting Domain. Thank you so very much and I do Highly appreciate finding this free information enabling me to do my own web with less out side help.

  19. Avatar

    Great article. Choosing the right keyword is essential but one must know how to optimize it after. If the domain is business focused, it is better adjust your domain name based on the target market you are aiming.

  20. Avatar

    Where do we register our domain name?

    Why do we have to register our domain name with a company? They don’t own the internet.

  21. Avatar

    I have a quick question. While I am trying to start a blog since I’m trying to build a base for a manuscript I’m hoping to get published, I’m hesitant on using my name for the URL because my first name is Linsey (most people put a d in there) and my last name is also spelled differently. Do you think it would still be good to use my name, or should I try to come up with another creative url that explains my manuscript topic? Thx!

    • WebsiteSetup Editorial
      WebsiteSetup Editorial

      Hey Linsey,

      That’s a GOOD question. Since you’re hoping to get published your manuscript, I think it’s still wise use your name + last name or just last name. Hope this helps.

      WebsiteSetup Editorial

  22. Avatar

    Hey WebsiteSetup Editorial if you are still responding. Question here. I am torn between a domain name that would be short and concise but would have to end in .net or .org; Or making the domain name the full wording at 15 characters but with .com still available. What do you suggest? go for shorter but with a weaker extension or go for longer with .com?
    Both sound quite good and are relevant to your other suggestions.
    Thanks

    • Avatar

      Although they might sound “cool” or “unique” (i.e pizza.pizza) not too many people might be familiar with them or see them as real or credible extensions unless of course you have the means to properly advertise and or prove the legitimacy but it seems .com is the easiest way to go (i.e pizza.com) or something along those lines

  23. Avatar

    I read your advice and was torn between my name.co as .com, .net and .org were already taken. As it is going to be primarily for business and .com being the most popular, I stuck with my business name.com

    Thanks for your excellent web page and help.

  24. Avatar

    Really good reading, got some useful tips for future domain-hunting (as that what it is today). A few months ago I registered a domain for my business and that became also the name of my business, not vice versa.

    So my point is, if you are in a competitive market, you should definitely check for a domain BEFORE you fall in love with that great name of your new business.