Domain names require careful consideration and planning.
With the help of this guide, you’ll be ready for this important task.
But first, let’s cover the basics.
What are domain names?
Domain names are addresses used by visitors to access your website.
Internet users type words or numbers (Mid-level domains) in their favorite browsers and combine them with a Top-level domain (such as .com).
For instance, affiliatenova.com is a domain name. When you type that string in your browser and press Enter, the browser sends a signal to the DNS server. This communication serves one clear purpose: decoding the Internet Protocol (IP) used by the website.
Domains =/= URLS
A common misconception is that domains are the same as URLs.
URLs are specific and actually include domains. They provide more information.
Here’s what a URL looks like (domain bolded):
Your domain must be easy to type
Ask people around to type your wanted domain without spelling it out. If they can’t, go back to the drawing board. There are words that should be avoided as to not create unnecessary frustration. Kerfuffle might be an English word – that doesn’t mean you have to use it.
Your domain should be short
No one enjoys typing a lengthy URL string just to get to your website. However, that doesn’t mean you have to aim for 5-6 characters either. According to Verisign data, the average domain length is 12-13 characters. Chaining 2 words that make sense together is a good idea.
Use a .com
There’s a reason why choosing .com is the best: it’s the most widely used Top-level domain (TLD) extension by far. People who aren’t tech-savvy might hesitate to click on anything else. Also, .com is trusted and has been around since the beginning. It’s really your best bet when it comes to registering a new domain name.
Make it brandable
For a long time, keywords had a lot of weight in ranking. In recent years, this has changed with the introduction of new algorithms from Google. The quality of your content and backlinks are far more important today, which means you don’t have to jam as many keywords as you can in your domain. Your brand is your unique identity, something you want people to remember – you’re delivering an experience.
Take for instance BestBananaShop.com. That might sound clever with 1 very strong keyword (“Best”), but that’s not really brandable. Something like BananaKing.com doesn’t tell right off the bat that you’re the best banana shop around, but the potential for branding is enormous. Let your content and marketing efforts do the talking!
Avoid hyphens and numbers
While it’s true hyphens open up a lot of possibilities, there’s a good reason why there’s so many available to register: recall issues. Just as you wouldn’t use hyphens to describe a brand in real life, it doesn’t make much sense online either. The same can be said about numbers, to a lesser extent. They make your domain harder to advertise because of pronunciation, but if they’re used sparingly it can still be a good option.
Slang terms are not ideal when registering a domain. They’re usually harder to pronounce and even harder to type for non-native speakers.
Be mindful of trademark and copyright laws
Maybe you just want to get a free ride from another successful brand – don’t! It will only lead to legal trouble. I wouldn’t touch any corporation name with a 10 foot pole. Even if the plural or hyphenated domain is available. You could also be hit by the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act in the United States if you go that path.
How to register your perfect domain
Planning goes a long way to secure a great domain name, but you also have to make sure it’s actually available for purchase.
One of my favorite tools is https://instantdomainsearch.com. It’s not 100% accurate, but it lets you see if a domain is available with all the most popular extensions (TLDs). There are even suggestions and domains for sale all on the same page.
Once you have an idea if the domain is available or not, head to your favorite domain registrar. Here’s my 2 favorites choices I recommend for new clients:
- GoDaddy often runs a promo where the first .com costs $0.99
- Namecheap includes domain privacy for 1 year with WhoisGuard
All you have to do once the domain has been bought is to start building your website. If your hosting provider isn’t the same as your domain registrar, you’ll have to manually change the Nameservers.
Find the DNS Management option for your domain, then copy & paste the server address of your hosting provider. Be aware that propagation might take up to 24 hours. In the meantime, your domain will still be shown as parked on the registrar.
Further Help with Your Domain
Still having trouble finding that perfect domain? Don’t hesitate to contact me! Feel free to share additional tips in the comments below.