Before starting your new website or blog, it's important for you to pick a domain name that is going to stand the test of time. Once you register a domain name for your site and start uploading content, it's not only very tough to change the domain and redirect all of your content, it's also a branding disaster in itself. For this reason and many more, it's extremely important for you to take some time to think about the perfect name for your site before registering a domain name at random to simply get your site live. In this article we are going to be covering everything you need to know about choosing the right domain name for your site. The most important thing to remember is that you are probably going to have your domain name for the life of your site, so make sure it's a good one!
The Basics of Choosing a Great Domain for Your Site
The good news is that your domain name can be anything you want it to be. The bad news is that millions of domain names are already registered and once they're grabbed, they're extremely hard or nearly impossible to get afterwards. In most cases, nearly every generic word or common personal name is already taken. If you are lucky you might be able to secure a .net or .org version of common words or names, but the .com's are the most sought after and hardest to get. With all of that in mind, let's first ask some important questions about your site and how it will help you choose a great domain name.
- Why are you starting a site and what type of content are you creating?
- What is the niche topic for your site and who is your exact audience?
- Research the focus keywords for your site niche and also find alternatives.
- Map out the longterm goals, monetization and marketing structure for your site.
- Perform a domain name search and see if your name or other variations are available.
While it may seem silly to answer these questions now, it will save you from massive headaches and frustration further down the road. Remember, once you register a domain and create a site with it, there really is no going back. At the same time, I also want to stress the important of not needing to get a generic domain name or one with multiple target keywords in the domain. For example, look at some of the most popular sites in the world today. BuzzFeed, YouTube, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat -- what do they all have in common? Simple... none of their names made any sense until the sites and services were created! Before registering a new domain name or trying to come up with something creative, be sure to follow these quick guidelines:
- Stick with a .com, .net or .org TLD
- Make sure your domain name is easy to remember and spell
- Don't use numbers in your domain name
- Stay away from using brand names and copyrights
A great way to decide if you have a good domain name for your site, is to tell it to someone and see if they remember it and know how to spell it. The last thing you want to do is register a domain name that you need to spell or explain every time you tell someone about it.
Registering Your Name as a Domain
One of the best things you can do, no matter what type of site you are creating, is to register your personal name as a domain. And luckily, domain registration is easy! If someone already owns your name as a domain, try to get the .net or .org version. With over 7 billion people on the planet today, it's very likely a lot of other people share the same name as you. Even if your name as a domain isn't registered right now, it will be soon -- and once it is, it's usually gone forever! Owning your name as a domain is a great way to protect your online reputation, rank higher in the search results when someone searches for your name and also a great way for you to start branding yourself as an expert or even building up your own resume online. Worst case scenario, you start a site and write about your hobbies or family. The important thing is that you own your name as a domain so no one else can. Also if you are interested in getting a host for your website, some plans offer a free domain with a hosting plan.
How can you find out if your name is currently available? Simple, just head over to A Small Orange's domain checker and plugin your name. If it's available you will be able to register it. If not, you will get a few other recommendations for other TLDs (top level domains) available or different variations of your name. While there are many different TLDs available, I would recommend sticking with the .com, .net and .org versions only, as they are most commonly used.
What if someone owns all variations of your personal name as a domain? You have a few options. Worst case scenario, there are still a few options available if you can't register your personal name as a .com, or if you simply must have a domain name that is already registered. Follow these steps to put the process into motion.
- Run a whois search to see who owns the domain name (individual or company)
- Send an email to the owner of the domain and see if they are interested in selling (Use a different email and name than your real info, this way they won't offer a high price since your name matches their domain name for sale)
- Research different domain name marketplaces and domain expiration services to pick up the domain if it expires
- If all else fails, contact a domain name broker who has experience in acquiring domain names
Even though millions of domains are registered daily, just as many are up for renewal or getting released into the domain name aftermarket as well. Should these domains not be renewed by their current owner, there is a chance you could register them through any domain registration site, or potentially pick them up through an expired domains marketplace.
The most sought after domain names in the world are the generic one-word .com names. As mentioned earlier, these domains have all been scooped up years ago, and if you were lucky enough to grab one of them, you may be sitting on a few million dollars in value! However, if you are looking to spend some money to get your hands on a highly sought after single-word domain name, you also have a few options here as well. Before jumping into your options, let's first take a look at some of the highest selling single-world .com domain names in history. As you can see, they all went for several millions of dollars.
- Sex.com – $12 million
- Porn.com – $9.5 million
- Business.com – $7.5 million
- Diamond.com – $7.5 million
- Beer.com – $7 million
The more exact a domain name, the more it is worth. Just because these domains sold for millions, it doesn't mean you will need to spend millions to can't get your hands on a nice generic one-word domain. If you can satisfy your needs with a .net or a .org domain name, you could be looking at prices in the single thousands range. You can see a running list of the biggest domain name sales for 2016 here. There are many ways to secure a single word domain name, but it will cost you. If the site is already established and is attached to a well-known brand, you might as well move onto the next best thing. If you visit the domain name and there is nothing there but ads or a place holder, there is a good chance the domain name is up for sale. If there isn't any contact information on the site, perform a whois search and see who current owns the domain name and see if they are interested in selling. Another option for securing high-level domain names is to search through domain name marketplaces like Sedo, GreatDomains or even Flippa.
Do I need a great domain to have a successful site?
Surprisingly, the answer is "no". You could theroectically start a site with a random domain name like sdfhdlksdf.com and if you have great content, great backlinks and a great service, it could be a huge success. However, if you want to create a solid website with a great foundation while trying to build a trusted brand, you should really invest the time and effort into securing a domain name that represents your site content and also one that you want to use for many years to come. You don't need to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a domain name, you just need one that you are happy with. The majority of time, work and effort that goes into your site is going to be focused on the content creation and promotion side, which we will cover in another article. My best advice for you is to reflect back on the questions posed at the beginning of this article, and then following the simple three step pre-launch formula below and create something amazing today!
- Know your niche and target audience
- Decide how and why you are providing value to them
- Pick a domain name and launch your site