They say first impressions count and they’re right.
If you’re like me, when you visit a new site one of the fist things you look at is its domain name.
Once you’ve decided to take blogging seriously one of the first things you need to do is get your own domain name. Even if you’re still hosted at one of the free blogging sites like blogger.com or wordpress.com you should still take advantage of the option to use your own domain name. By choosing the right name from the start you’re setting up a solid foundation for building both your blog and your brand.
Having a good domain name can also be a great motivator to keep you working on your site. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen people start a site with a really crappy name and then just lose interest after a few weeks. I’ve been guilty of this myself a few times as well… By choosing a good name you’ll be proud of your site and want to do everything you can to build and share it with people.
[typography font="Lobster" size="22" size_format="px" color="#333333"]Q.[/typography] But how much is it gonna cost me?!
[typography font="Lobster" size="22" size_format="px" color="#333333"]A.[/typography] Around $10.00 per year (usually less)
Choosing the Right TLD
When talking to people about getting a new domain the question usually comes up about if it’s ok to get a .net, .org, .info etc…. I’m going to be very direct about this. You need to do everything you can to get a .com. People are familiar with and will remember a .com domain a million times more than any other TLD. It’s gonna make your site look a lot more professional. Not to mention how bad it would be to work super hard on developing your .net just to have someone else out there with the same name as you but with the .com. You’d always be second to them.
Length of Your Domain Name
Ideally you want to find a one or two word domain name. While all the single words have been taken already you might get lucky and find a good deal in the domain aftermarket (more on that later). The easiest way is to find a nice two word combination. Or three if its short. However since most two word combinations have already been taken, if you’re trying to find a new domain that’s never been registered, you’re going to have to get a bit creative and think a bit outside the box .
Hyphens Numbers and Weird Spelling
You want to avoid anything that’s gonna make your site look amateurish or cheezy. Don’t fall into the trap of putting 6-key-words-together-with-some-numb3rs.com it just looks bad and makes your site look bad. If you’re trying to cram your top keywords into your name for SEO, forget it. There are WAAAYY better ways to do SEO than sacrificing one of your most important assets.
Another thing to keep in mind is making sure your domain name is easily spellable. If you use a weird spelling of a word like replacing an s on the end with a z or something like that you’ll be battling it forever. People will type in the wrong address when trying to go to your site, they’ll tell people the wrong site when recommending it, they’ll link to the wrong site and all kinds of other stuff that you just don’t want to deal with. You’re much better off having a normal or at least easily spellable domain name.
Brandable or Keyword based? (or both..)
Before spending too much time trying to find your domain you’ll want to decide if you want it to be brandable or keyword focused.
Sites like google, bing, mashable, twitter, etc… are all made up words that have then been turned into a brand. This can be good as long as you’ve got the time and/or money to build up your brand. The #1 most important rule here and I can’t stress this enough is to make sure people can pronounce and spell it. The last thing you want is a word no ones ever heard of that they can’t even pronounce or spell.
Another good reason to go with a more brandable domain name is for when you go to do any kind of paid advertising. If people see your add but don’t click it they might come back to your site later on their own by just typing in your URL or doing a google search. They just have to be able remember the name. A friend of mind that does a lot of pay per click always tries to get the craziest most memorable names he can come up with just for that one reason.
Keyword Based: The Good, bad, and often very ugly
Having one of your keywords in your domain is a great way to get extra search traffic. However as a blog owner you should be targeting more than just one keyword. When choosing your domain its best to focus on the bigger picture and choose something that both looks good and can branded. Something you can be proud of. Of course, if you can get a keyword in your domain name and have it look good then its win win and you’re off to a great start SEO wise.
In my opinion and from experience you’re better off having a brandable easy to remember domain than a long clunky keyword rich domain. If you’re just putting a site up for a quick buck then sure, go with the exactkeywordmatch.com But if you’re in this for the long haul and want a site that’s gonna be around for years, have lots of fans, grow and become a brand then you’re better off with a good brandable domain.
To Sum Up:
- Make it memorable
- Go with the .com
- Easily Spelled and Pronounced
- Stay away from hyphens and numbers
- Don’t make it read like a vanity license plate
- The shorter the better
- Stick with normal spellings
- Keep your future branding in mind (does it look good on a logo?)
Buying a Premium Domian (pre-owned)
It can be extreeeeeemly difficult to find a good domian name that isn’t already taken. When searching for your domain name you’ll come accross sites that have already been developed and sites that someone has or had plans of developing. You’ll also quickly notice that a lot of domians names have been bought up by some of the many scumbags out there that register hundreds of thousands of domian names just to sit on them in hopes that you’ll come along and offer to pay them a million bucks for the name. Domain hoarding is such a lucrative business that every word and nearly every possible combination of words has already been registered. (can’t really blame them.. everyone’s gotta make a living. but still.. it’s annoying)
Once you’ve exhausted your search for an available domain name or if you’ve got something in mind that you just have to have it’s time to take your search over to the domain aftermarket.
There are several sites that offer services for people to buy and sell already registered domain names with Sedo.com being the largest.
- It’s a good idea to buy up a few other TLD’s of your same name .org/net/etc.. then forward them to your site.
- Register for longer period of time if you can afford it. The longer the better. Most registrars will let you get 10 years. If you’ve ever lost a domain because you didn’t get the email reminder to renew it then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Don’t think it’ll happen to you? Think again, it happens every day.
- Consider getting your personal name: if you’re a professional its a great idea to go ahead and get your own name as a domain name. If nothing else just so you have better control of your online presence.
- Avoid Copyright Infringment! Never use a brand name or trademark in your domain.
- Be careful where you search for your domain. Some shady sites have been known to keep track of what is searched for and then immediatly buy up the domain before you can in hopes of selling it to you at a premium. Only search for your domian at trusted, reputable sites.
Where to register:
So what’s been your experience with buying a domain? Share your story, questions or tips in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you think!