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How To Find A Good Domain Name For Your New Website

Posted on April 9, 2015 by in Resources | 35 comments

How To Find A Good Domain Name For Your New Website

When you’re about to create a website, there are two things you need: (1) someplace to host your site, and (2) a name for your site.

These two things act like your virtual property and address where people will come in order to find you online. Both are rather easy to jump into and pick out as far as getting them, but CHOOSING them is another story.

When it comes to your domain name, the world is your oyster. There are hundreds of thousands of names you can pick from and an ever growing selection of extensions to choose from in order to become your new digital home address. However, just because it’s easy to buy one of these domain names doesn’t mean that you don’t have a big decision to make.

In fact, much like buying a home with the best address in town, your domain name is probably one of the biggest choices you have to make because picking the wrong domain name can be like buying the perfect house in the wrong zip code — bad investment choice.

But don’t get overly worried about this either. Choosing a domain name, though important, isn’t hard to do, but it does take some time and thought on your end.

Before you just jump in and buy the first domain name that suits your fancy, here are some things to consider to make sure you’re picking from the cream of the crop.

The Big Debate: Should You Use Keyword Based Domains?

keyword based URLs

When you’re searching for information about ranking your site with SEO, you’ll often find two schools of thought on domain names. Either people stick to the idea of that keyword based URLs are the way to go or they say that keywords in your domain doesn’t matter at all.

So which is true?

Well, if this was 2010 and Google Penguin wasn’t around, then yes, you should stick to your guns about choosing keyword based domain names because they would have been a good thing. But with Google changing up SEO and refining her algorithm updates (yes, I often refer to Google as a woman), you may have a losing fight on your hands.

As many of you already know, Google no longer places any value of SEO tactics that try and help a site sneak up the page when they don’t deserve it. Now that’s not to say that Keyword Based Domains will get you slapped with a penalty by Google, but those type of URLs don’t seem present the same SEO value now as they did back in the day.

Does that mean that you should avoid keywords in your domain altogether?

Well, no, not exactly. Keywords in your domain name can still be a good thing because they can give your potential viewers an idea of what your site is about.

For example, if your site is going to be on the topic of gluten-free living, the a URL of GlutenFreeLiving.com can be a good domain name for many reasons including the fact that the name tells viewers what your site is about, however, choosing that name doesn’t mean you’re going to see an SEO benefit.

Basically, a keyword in your URL can be fine, but it’s best to follow the tips below in order to get the best domain for you.

Follow These 5 Tips When Choosing A Domain Name

Shoot For Something Brandable

Google values brands over just about anything else. You can see that they favor blogs and sites that have built a good name and brand for themselves — especially is that the case in top e-commerce sites like Amazon.

Having a name that standouts as a brand can do a lot for you in the long run. Obviously, there is more to ranking in the SERPs than a simple URL, but picking a domain name that stands out will help build your brand, authority, and it makes it easier for people to recognize you and what you’re about.

Opt For The .com Extension

As far as top tier domain extensions go, the .com extension is the way to go. People and search engines alike seem to trust sites with domains that end with this extension when compared to others. As that is the case, it is almost always best to pick a domain that ends with this.

There are some exceptions to this rule though. For example, if your site is going to be like a TV channel, then choosing an extension like YourDomainName.tv may be a better choice for you.

If you’re building a blog, business website, or e-commerce site, then be sure to opt for the .com extension. And as an added tip, buy the .net extension to help lock in your domain name and keep it out of the hands of others out there.

Keep It Short and Memorable

There are plenty of sites on the web that have managed to build a site and online business that are brandable and whose names are both short and easy to remember. Want some examples?

Here are a few to consider:

  • Moz
  • HubSpot
  • ElegantThemes
  • WordPress
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

That list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. All of these sites represent well-established brands that also happen to have names that are memorable. Just take Moz as an example.

Moz focuses on content and products that help people learn and keep up to date with the latest in SEO, however, the name has nothing to do with SEO. But even though the name doesn’t clearly state SEO as the topic of the site, the site has established itself as one of those go-to brands when it comes to learning SEO and it’s super easy to remember.

Another example of creating something memorable is Pinterest. Pinterest took two words and ideas, mashed them together and create a name and brand is easy to remember and hard to forget.

Picking a short and memorable name is what can help you build a brand and building a brand is something that Google likes to reward.

Be Unique

Following the idea above, all the sites above have something in common: they’re unique.

Uniqueness is something to always strive for. Google loves content that is unique, so why wouldn’t she love a unique URL that is linked to a brand, blog or product? Heck, even your name as a domain name can be a good thing when you look at it from a uniqueness angle.

Avoid Hyphens

In the hopes of being unique and memorable, it can be tempting to buy a domain name that is catchy but that uses hyphens since the real name you want is already registered.

There are different schools of thoughts on this as well, but I am on the side that says that these domain names are ugly looking and really don’t help lend to that authority many of us strive for.

The other downside to using hyphens is that they tend to actually not be unique. If someone else already uses ExampleDomain.com and you register Example-Domain.com, then people who remember your name and type it into the search bar will more than likely forget the hyphen.

What does that do? It takes them to another site that has nothing to do with you. Yeah — bummer!

These tips are just a few to follow, but they’re ones you should consider when picking out a domain name.

Places To Find Domain Names

There are plenty of places to find domain names online so the choice is really up to you as far as who to choose as your registrar. Below are a few choices for registering a URL.

GoDaddy

buy domains on GoDaddy

When looking for a place to buy domains, GoDaddy is the big kid on the block. They are one of the most popular options that most people choose when buying domains and they often run deals to help you save a great deal of money when you first registrar a domain with them.

They also have an area when domains are auctioned off, so you can buy a domain name from someone else who has the URL you’re looking for and are willing to see.

Though GoDaddy is the most popular option, they do tend to charge quite a bit more when it comes to renewing your domains with them and WHOis privacy (something you’ll want) is hardly ever free. Average cost for renewing a domain for two years will run you around $50, which isn’t terrible but still worth noting.

NameCheap

buy domain names on NameCheap

This is another popular domain registrar and has a couple advantages when compared to GoDaddy.

As far as price goes, NameCheap is almost always cheaper to renew considering their .com extensions run around $10 with no discounts applied. Domains purchased through NameCheap also come with Free WHOis Protection which saves you close to $10 as well. Personally, I love to buy my personal URLs from them.

Your Host Provider

Many host providers offer the choice to purchase a URL or to get one for free when you sign up. Though many prefer to have their hosting and domains separated, there are some who like the convince of keeping them together.

Bluehost offers a free URL when you sign up with them and other providers like SiteGround have an area in the members area where you can search and purchase multiple domains and save them on your account.

Wrapping It Up

As mentioned before, where you decide to buy your domain from is purely up to you. Though the majority of your online success does not lie in your URL, your domain name can still affect things — either for good or otherwise.

It is worth your time to really consider what you will call your site and business since it will be what sets you apart from others. Just like your name connected is with your personality and features makes you different, a good domain name that is marked by brandable features and great content is what will help you be unique and stand out to Google.

Article Thumbnail by Blan-k via Shutterstock

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35 Comments

  1. why refer to Uncle Google as a woman?

      • Uncle Google? You mean “Big Brother” Google!

  2. Excellent Ariel, is required for all material wordpress, thanks !!

  3. Well said, Ariel! Great points, which are really helpful for picking a name. Also, +1 for NameCheap.

  4. Thanks for the article. Good tips all, except for the part about using GoDaddy. It has been my experience as a web/brand developer that their website is so rigged with unnecessary website and hosting add-ons that it’s like navigating a mud-run in a haunted house. I’ve had numerous clients who have attempted websites on their own using GoDaddy only to end up with expensive fees and services that they don’t need, but only because an offer popped up during a strategic moment in the domain registration process. The first thing I do is transfer their domain and hosting to another provider who gives reliable service and reasonable fees. After all, someone has to pay for Danica to show up wearing a swimsuit in a superbowl ad. Nuff said.

  5. Good points. Would like to add a thought regarding use of hyphens. If the website is going to be used as a support vehicle and not as the primary business – such as if the business is an app – I think use of ‘a’ hyphen is acceptable.

    Also, with so many domain names already taken, anyone looking to start a business should consider looking for a domain name *before* deciding on a business name. Starting with a business name first makes it near impossible to find a matching domain.

  6. One of the tools I like to use for domain names ca be found at http://bustaname.com . It can be very useful for brainstorming and finding new names based off your chosen keywords. The fact that you can specify prefixes, suffixes, domain extensions and word combinations makes it very powerful.

  7. There are many case where is better not to buy .com domain.
    Example:
    If you are targeting a specific country is much better to buy a national domain so Google will Know who is the target..

    • Good point Memok. I was looking for this specific peice of information.

  8. RE: Name or site first.

    I ALWAYS tell my clients to make a list of names/sites they’d like and put them in order of first to last choice. Then pick a site from which to buy but DON’T shop! That is, if you find a URL you like, BUY IT Immediately. Have your credit card in hand and buy it. I’ve had several clients Google names to see if any were out there, there weren’t, but when they went back the next day, guess what? Those names had been purchased — the day before.

    I’m not saying there are bots out there searching for URLs being searched for, I”m just saying!

    • Aye, there are some evil companies out there who offer a search box to “search and register your domain!” but, if you don’t buy it immediately, they themselves buy it so they can resell it more expensive to you. Try http://nic.com/whois

  9. I’m actually quite surprised you’re endorsing Go Daddy as a great source for domain names. They are usually the most expensive and charge all sorts of add on fees.

    I’ve had several instances where it seems that either there are bots or GoDaddy employees that are front running domain names. We have since moved all our domains to Namecheap. We are very satisfied with them and they also offer two factor identification for login which is great.

    I only now search for possible domain names on internic.org.

  10. is there any one who can guide me how to show stars on google search result

    • adding nameservers at godaddy account takes considerable dns time to update i find it slow, namecheap is wow! most of my domains are moved in there.

    • my bad posted the wrong comment, anyways you can search it at google: hobo web uk with keyword “rich snippet example” hope that works.

  11. I try to avoid generalized statements about such subjects. That said, your domain name will be influenced most by your budget and objectives. If your aspirations are modest (such as a personal blog without advertising), a keyword-based name that isn’t excessively long with any extension will suit your needs.

  12. I try to avoid generalized statements about such subjects. That said, your domain name will be influenced most by your budget and objectives. If your aspirations are modest (such as a personal blog without advertising), a keyword-based name that isn’t excessively long with any extension will suit your needs.

    For a business startup, I agree with others that the domain should match the branded business name. But beware of Moz-like names that mean nothing. It will take a substantial marketing effort to see a ROI. It would be better to go the Pinterest route instead. And in these cases, for a U.S. based site

    • .com is the safest choice. But if you intend to do work for the “greater good” go with .org.

  13. I suggest using https://domainr.com/ to look for domain name and alternatives, i.e., domain name hacking, if your desired .com has been taken.

  14. Note the excerpt below from article. Note the word ‘convince’. Such grammatical errors discredit the writer, the article. The correct word is ‘convenience.’

    Though many prefer to have their hosting and domains separated, there are some who like the convince of keeping them together

  15. I love the “elegantthemes” example in the “keep it short” section

  16. Domain name is the most important part for a website. A good name can change everything. If any one want to start online business site then he/she should choose a beautiful name.though choosing a good name for domain is not a easy task but thanks Ariel for making this easy.
    very useful article. keep it up
    🙂

  17. Hi Ariel,
    Thanks for your article, and now I can try to choose my new domain with more wisely and careful.
    Thanks again, Ariel.

  18. Great tips! Thank you. What about all the new extensions popping up: .today, .life, .center, etc…

    My gut tells me that five years from now, .com will not be the “king” anymore. But I am guessing for now it still is?

    I would love to hear a few thoughts and opinions on using one of the new extensions. Do most people advise against it for now?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Michael, here’s my personal insight regarding those other crazy TLD names: I’d use it as a last resource. For example, if my brand name is called “crazy brand”, I’d probably rather have “crazybrandcompany.com” than “crazybrand.digital”.

      I would really try something that’s in the kingdom of .com, before venturing into anything else, even if it’s .net or .biz or something not as new.

      And most probably is that, in the end, I’d register both (in my previous example).

      I have recently registered a .digital domain, which I use for these 3: as a redirect to my main site, as a custom url shortener (yourls.org) and an email forwarder (shorter domain name means shorter emails too).

      • Thank you Leo!

  19. Very useful article, Ariel.

    I have a country-based URL (ending in .com.au) but would dearly love to also acquire the “.com”. The .com is a parked website (and has been for the past 5+ years). I’ve tried to approach the company that owns the domain (a company that owns literally 1000s of similar domains) but have never had any luck even getting a reply.

    Do you have any suggestions on how I might be able to acquire the domain?

  20. My husband has owned his own business for almost 35 years. At that time, even though domain names weren’t necessary, choosing a good company name was all important. When he eventually needed to have a domain name, he simply added .com to his company name. He had no way of knowing that he should have purchased the domain names for all the variations of his company’s name in order to protect his business. The name began with “DFW” for Dallas/Fort Worth, and ended with “,Inc.” for Incorporated, so there were several ways to say or write the name of his business. One of his competitors, and an ex-employee bought those domain name variations and used his company’s name to get business. He found out one day when he randomly Googled his company name to see where it showed up. It’s been resolved, mostly, but my point is this – there’s always someone who wants what someone else has, and if all the hard work has already been done they want it even more. Internet laws are different than many of the laws that have been protecting individuals and their business ventures in the past. So, when choosing a domain name, and/or a company name, make sure it can’t be easily altered, and by all means, buy any variations you can think of.

  21. You notice my domain is not a “.com” domain. While we probably all wish that we could own the .com version of our company name it is not always possible and not always necessary. Here in Canada more and more businesses are using “.ca” as their go-to choice and it is the one I recommend to all my clients. I know in the US there is the “.us” option now available and I did register it for my company for a year or so but I do not think it has gained the same traction in the US market—probably because of the number of articles that maintain the same .com, .org, .net breakdown from the 90’s. Not sure if this link is allowed here, but if it is here is my post regarding getting a .ca domain for your Canadian company: http://catfishcreative.ca/your-canadian-small-business-must-have-a-com-domain-i-beg-to-differ/

  22. Ariel: I noticed a number of primary domains that include the word “Divi”. While WordPress does not authorize the use of there name in a main domain (WP is ok), other brands like Joomla do allow the use of their full name as long as your site makes it clear that you are NOT “endorsed” by………..
    What is ET’s position on this?
    I plan to launch a new resource focused on Divi.
    PS: I just hope you don’t drop the name Divi and go to “Extra” 🙂

  23. A great domain name, the brand name, pays for itself a thousand times over in the long run, actually many thousands. Startups who do not acquire the .com domain of their choice at the beginning tend to get it later down the road.

    • You are right, people just loves to visits sites whose domain name is usually dot com. The newer domain extension might be ok but dot com and .net are best. It’s also good to have keywords in your domain name if you are only going to target that particular niche. Every domain name worth buying should be bought if that gives a brand advantage over it’s competitors. Every big name we know such as google, bing, amazon, yahoo and million others has dot com domain names because they knew it’s worth having one.

  24. I agree having a memorable and relevant name will not only help people remember your website, it will help you rank better.

    There is a reason why people go after certain keywords for domains, because it works!

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