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Nick Schäferhoff
Editor in Chief
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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. Shorter 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 websites. 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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84 comments

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  1. 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?

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Avatar

    Hi Nick,
    first of all, thanks for the great info. I have a business which provides english classes/translation services and professional coaching for companies. I was thinking of TheEnglishCoach.com but it is not available. Shall I go for a .co or think of another name? I’m quite fond of that one already 🙂

    1. Avatar

      Hey Lucia, what about YourEnglishCoach.com? Have you checked for that? Or maybe there is some other slight variation to the name you can use? There’s also a TLD ending in .coach. Maybe there’s an option for you there? Aside from that, going with .co is also a good way.

      Hope this helps!

  6. Avatar

    Hi Nick,

    Your articles are really helpful, thank you or creating this site!
    I want to start a ‘lifestyle’ type blog with the longterm goal of monetizing via sponsors and affiliates etc.
    My main features would be around the topics of skincare and sustainable fashion. I currently have the handle on instagram and twitter of PicturePortia and although I really like this as a domain, thinking longterm, I’m not sure if it sounds sophisticated enough? I’m in my late twenties and have toyed with free blogs before but I want this one to be professional and something I can use to boost my CV and social media platforms.
    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks!
    Portia

    1. Avatar

      Hey Portia, sounds like a great plan, good luck with that! I don’t think pictureportia is the worst domain name. It’s easy to remember and poignant. The problem that I see with it is that it doesn’t seem related to the topics you want to deal with on your blog. Therefore, I would maybe think about some more options that convey your site topic better.
      Hope this helps! Let me know if you have additional questions.

  7. Avatar

    Ummmm, hi…. me and a friend are creating a website in my language arts class. We chose a topic on how to save the cows, and other farm animals. We were looking to create a website full of vegetarian meals/snacks. We were going to do https:/www.savethecows.com, but that already exists. Any other website name suggestions?

    PS: I found your website very helpful!

    1. Avatar

      Hey there, first of all, as a vegetarian myself, I’m a big fan of your idea. Since I assume that this for the public good, have you checked if .net or .org is available for your original idea? These would be valid alternatives for a website like that.

  8. Avatar

    Hi Nick,

    Thank you for this! I’m a bit stuck in creating a domain name. I’m a freelancer and currently building my first website. I’m not sure if its best to use my name or use something related to architecture, since my profession is in line with that. And also, I’m thinking long term, what if I would have a collaboration with others and develop our services. I would appreciate your reply. Thanks!

    Best regards,
    Nina

    1. Avatar

      Hey Nina, I think that really depends on your business. If it’s mainly you as a freelancer, then going with your own name is fine. If you have a company with its own name and branding, it might be better to use the branded domain. Alternatively, you can always start with your own name and buy a company domain and move when things start taking off.
      As for using something related to your profession, you can combine it with your name, for example, as yourlastname-architecture.com. Alternatively, there are now many domain endings like .construction or .architecture. Maybe something like yourlastname.architecture would be an option for you?

      Hope this helps!

  9. Avatar

    Hi there!
    I am working on a new website to help with connecting elderly people and adult family homes.
    Can you please suggest the best domain from the following:
    1. CareHomeMatch.com
    2. GoldenVacancy.com
    3. Careloom.com
    4. BestCareMatch.com

    Thank You.

    1. Avatar

      Hey Victor, I like BestCareMatch.com. However, have you done some keyword research to see what people looking for your service would likely type into a search engine?

  10. Avatar

    Thanks for the great article! I am rebranding my business as BeyondClear Accent and Voice. What domain name would you suggest? BeyondClear.org (or .co or .net; .com is too expensive), BeyondClearAccentVoice.com, BeyondClearAccentandVoice.com, bcaccentandvoice.com, or BeyondClearAV.com? I have a very niche business so I thought it might be good to include keywords but the names are so long.

    1. Avatar

      Hey Indira, I would go with beyondclear.com or one of the other domain endings. It’s the easiest to remember. Everything else is too long and this way your site will be easier to brand.