Tip 1 – Make sure when you start looking for domain names that you are ready to buy. I am sure there are programs out there looking at what you enter and if you don’t buy it there and then you could come back tomorrow and see it gone. It has happened to me a few times.
Tip 2 – Always buy your domain names through a registrar like Name Cheap, after all your want control. Early in my time on the internet I bought one with my hosting and it did quite well. Unfortunately the hosting company didn’t and it was very hard to get my domain name back so I could change hosting companies.
I know you want the Internet equivalent of 40 acres, where you can grow electronic mail, raise a small herd of Web pages and maybe someday open a little electronic cottage industry of your own, all with your own unique electronic brand. dot something. dot anything.
It used to be technically difficult for the average computer users to get their own personal, second-level Internet domain names – the part of an E-mail address to the right of the “@” and the part of the World Wide Web address that typically follows www. But if you could figure out how to do it, registering a domain name was free, and good names were plentiful.
No more. The Internet is now the world’s fastest-growing economy, and the commercialization of the Internet has created a feeding frenzy for domain names. A combination of greed, government bureaucracy, technical jingoism and wild consumer speculation has thrown the Internet addressing system into chaos.
With over 100 million people on the Internet, domain names are already a precious commodity. An Internet domain name is not just the equivalent of a telephone number and mailing address but also a status symbol, a powerful marketing tool and a vanity license plate. A while ago, someone in Texas was reported to have paid $150,000 for the name business.com.
As the Internet grows, catchy domain names are becoming scarce. It can be difficult to find a domain name that best suits your needs because so many other people in your field might be thinking of the same domain name. So, you must be creative and brainstorm a little while to decide on the right domain name for you.
Brainstorming to Choose a New Domain Name
I tend to go with a fairly long business name. My first was Multiple Streams of Income. This then broke down to MSI and so if I wanted a catchy name I could simply enter in MSI something and be fairly confident that I could get that domain name. So I have things like msijukebox.com, msiwebvideo.com, msiprompt.com and so on.
Our new company is called Global Internet Systems and again it is fairly easy to register domain names like gishelp.com and other rel relevant names. The point is that you not only need a domain name that is easy to remember but also that is targeted to your product or service so this can be a good strategy.
It also provides a good exit strategy if later you want to sell your business or website.
Write down these four things before getting started:
*Your company or organization name.
*Your products or services.
*Who is your target audience?
*Are you planning to do heavy advertising and branding for your domain name or small-business marketing?
These four factors can help you come up with a great domain name. When you buy or register a domain name, you must consider these things before getting started because they will help determine how effective certain types of domain names will be. Search engines place a fair bit of importance on how the domain name fits with the content of your site
Can’t I Just Use My Company Name?
You shouldn’t use your company name as a domain name unless your company is well-known to the general public, or you plan to make it well-known through heavy branding. The only other time you should use your company name is if the name is short and simple, and if it reflects the type of business you operate.
For example, if you own a company called “The Roland Brothers” and sell children’s toys, then the company name is not related to the product you sell. Visitors to your site will have a difficult time remembering this domain name. Maybe a better domain name would be RBToys.com
However, if your company name is “Tot Toys, Inc.” you could easily secure the domain name “tot-toys.com” or something similar if that one is not available, and you’ll still have an effective domain name. This all depends on what you have to offer and how the company name relates.
Otherwise, follow these simple rules to buy a domain name:
*Keep it simple.
*Keep it short.
*Avoid excessive dashes or other symbols within your main domain name.
*Choose a “.com” domain name if possible if you plan to operate an online business. Or, choose “.org” for an organization, “.edu” for an educational site, and so on.
That’s all there is to it for brainstorming! As you’ll see in the next step, to buy a domain name is easy, choosing it is usually the hardest part!
How to Buy | Register the Domain Name after Choosing One
Once you have a great domain name in mind, you must go online to a “Web Hosting” site or “Domain Registrar” site to check for availability of that particular domain name. We use Namecheap and GoDaddy though we are using Namecheap a lot more as GoDaddy is just getting to much advertising and you have to wade through it all before you get to finalize your account.
You can check as many domain names as you want at no charge. Some sites will even offer alternatives for your domain name if it is unavailable. So, visit your chosen host or registrar site and locate the “Register Domain Name” form. Type in the domain name you have chosen and select an extension (.com, .org, .net, .edu, etc.).
Then, submit the domain name to check for availability. If the domain name is available, you can continue registering it right then and there.
It’s really easy to buy a great domain name, but the whole process can be confusing for beginners. Use the tips above to register a great domain name today!
Thinking of the Future
Another factor to consider is what your blog might look like in the future. I’ve seen a number of bloggers start up blogs with domains that fit with the topic of the blog initially but which outgrow the domain down the track. In one instance the problem was that the blog started on a fairly narrow topic (a sub-niche) and on a domain that reflected this but that in time it expanded it’s topic as the industry changed. In the end the topic and name just didn’t fit.
Another ‘future factor’ to consider is how many blogs you’re thinking of starting on your domain. Take a look at About.com for an example of how it’s possible to have one domain with many blogs running off it. They blog (yes they are blogs – run by MovableType) ‘about’ hundreds of topics and have a domain name that suits this perfectly. I myself have fallen into the trap of not thinking ahead in this way with my www.soundbitesnewsletter.com domain where I currently have a newsletter on Internet marketing. It started off as a newsletter for my streaming products and has almost out grown this niche. I guess this is an example of how ultimately it doesn’t matter what domain you start on as it’s a site that does pretty well – however I often wonder how much better if could have done if I’d just thought ahead a little more!
Lastly on the ‘future front’ – don’t pick a name that you suspect might date quickly. Picking a name that is time specific in any way might find you searching for a new domain when it is no longer relevant at some future time.
There are a range of opinions on what the ideal length of a domain name is. Technically you can have one with up to 67 characters in it but it is generally accepted that short ones are better for a number of reasons including that they are easier to remember, that they leave less room for making mistakes when typing them in, they are good for word of mouth (online or offline) marketing, that they are more visually pleasing (eg on your business card) etc.
The other argument is that if you are looking for SE traffic that you might like to consider a longer domain name with a number of the keywords that you’re looking for traffic on.
My personal preference these days is for shorter domains if possible, but not just for the sake of being short. Plus short names are very popular and hard to find these days so you might be forced to consider something a little longer anyway.
Another eternal debate with domain names is over the value of hyphenated names. For example a hyphenated version of this blog might be Blogging-Empires.com. There are a two main reasons that some people prefer hyphenated names:
- Availability – one of the main reasons for going with hyphens is that ‘all the good names are taken’ (or at least it can seem this way). Adding hyphens to names definitely gives more options.
- SEO – hyphens are said to identify keywords to search engines more clearly (once again there is some debate over this).
Of course for every positive there is a negative and the arguments against keywords include:
- Memorability – adding hyphens can make it tricky for readers to remember your name
- Difficult to Communicate – have you ever tried to tell someone a domain name with a hyphen between each word? It can be quite an annoying process
- Increased Margin for Error – the more characters in your domain the more chance of a mistaken keystroke
- Cheap and Nasty Factor – there is a perception among many web-masters that domains with lots of keywords and hyphens are spammy. I personally don’t mind a domain with one (maybe two) hyphens in them but domains-that-have-lots-of-them-frustrate-me-and-turn-me-off.
Another option to consider when choosing a domain on a topic that is quite crowded is to include a number at the beginning or end of it. Once again this increases your chances of finding a domain with your keyword in it but could ‘cheapen’ the sound of your domain (a matter of personal opinion of course).
Most ‘experts’ in this area argue that a domain name should be easy to spell, pronounce, remember and type. Web users are notoriously lazy and if your site is not easy to find then they might just quickly give up trying to find it. As a result the easier you can make your domain to remember and access the more chance you have of traffic to it from repeat readers.
Keeping it Legal
it is highly recommendable to think seriously about the legal implications of the words you use in your domain name. Avoid trademarked names especially. I know of a couple of instances where bloggers were forced into making changes months into new blogs because of legal threats. Whether these laws vary from country to country I’m unsure – but it’s worth considering if you’re picking a domain that might clash in this way.
The ‘Blog’ Word
One temptations for many bloggers is to use the word ‘blog’ in the name and URL of their blog. This has the advantage of opening up new options for domain names but can also have some costs. For starters it could see the possibilities for expanding your site down the track limited. If one day you don’t want to run your site in a blog format you might feel a bit trapped. The other reason is that if you are wanting to use AdSense as an income stream for your blog down the track, it has a problem of serving ads about blogging when the word ‘blog’ appears too prominently on a site. This is ok when your blog is about blogging – but isn’t too conducive to high ad relevancy if you’re writing on a different topic.
Secure Multiple Domains
One piece of advice that many experienced web-masters recommend is making sure that you secure other similar domain names to the one you eventually choose. For example, if you choose a .com domain name it might be worth getting the .net and .org ones if you can, or perhaps even getting plurals or other logical similar ones. This is not essential but might help you protect your niche in some circumstances.
Opinions of Others
Before you buy that domain you’ve been eyeing off – it might be worthwhile running it by one or two other trusted friends (who won’t run off and buy it themselves). It’s amazing how focused you can become on finding the right name and how that can cloud your judgement. It’s also interesting to see how a name might sound to a person of a different culture to your own. Words mean different things in different part of the world and it could help you avoid an embarrassing mistake or just a dorky blog name.
Previously used Domain Names
It’s worth checking to see if a domain has been previously registered. Spammers often buy up domain names and then abandon them later once they’ve used them up. This can leave these domains banned by Google which gets you off to a pretty poor start.
Of course the above points are not hard and fast rules. As I’ve mentioned many times before – some of the worse domain names on sites have ended up being quite successful. I have blogs trapped on domains that were not thought through very well (largely because I didn’t know any better and thats the way things evolved) – some of them do poorly and others do very well.
There’s more to a websites success or failure than it’s name or URL – all I’m arguing is that a wise choice in this can better your chances in the long term.
Some tools you might like to use in selecting a domain name include:
Feel free to add your own tips, suggestions and experiences in comments below.