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How to Choose the Best Domain Names

Take some time to find a domain that fits your blogging niche. It’s possible to change a domain later, but it’s painful and you’ll take, at least, a temporary traffic/ranking hit. So do it right the first time.

When I coded my first web site in 1994, finding a great domain was easy. Today, domains are a scarce commodity. To test for availability, go to any domain registrar (I recommend My Domain), enter some combinations in the field, and click Find. You will be told if the domain is available for purchase.

Here are some tips for finding the best domain for your niche blog.

Buy the Dot Com Version of your Domain Name

Traffic depends on readers finding you and coming back for more. And to do that, they need to remember where you are.

I strongly suggest you stick with dot com for your top-level domain. That is the ending people will assume and look for by default. You are fortunate if people  remember your hostname, don’t force them to remember an unexpected top-level domain, too.

Still, if another top-level domain really fits your site (for example dot org for a non-profit corporation), use it. But by all means buy the dot com as well and forward it to your site.

One caveat: avoid dot biz like the plague. It’s generally considered spammy and will likely cause you all sorts of headaches. I learned my lesson the hard way, using a dot biz for a legitimate, professional site. Our emails were filtered and our ranking was constantly in question. We ended up having to rebrand the business.

Exceptions:

  1. If you qualify for a restricted top-level domain (.edu, .gov, .mil, etc.), use it.
  2. If you’re good with branding and clever about domain hacking (Ado.be, Del.iciou.us, Fa.me), that’s a fun option.

Get a Descriptive Domain

Having a domain that tells a bit about your topic or business isn

Having a keyword or two in your domain is good. Stuffing your domain with keywords just looks like spam.   Look at the difference:

  • SuperCheapBudgetBooks.com vs. CanaryBooks.com
  • GetASizzlingHotDate.com vs. DateNow.com
  • BestPoliticalPoliticsBlog.com vs. ParentPatriots.com

Domain Name Spelling Matters

Get a Domain That Is Easy to Spell

There are plenty of people in the world who can’t spell under the best of circumstances. Don’t make it harder for your readers to find you by using domain names that are likely to be misspelled.

If your domain has words in it like “conscientious,” guarantee,” “entrepreneur,” or even “misspell,” you can assume many of your potential readers won’t find you, because they can’t type the URL into their browser.

Don’t Use Invented Spelling In a Domain

Some people think alliteration is so clever, that it is worth misspelling a word. So the daycare down the street becomes Kids’ Kare Korner.

Personally, I think this practice an annoying and cloying (like too much rhyming?), but on the internet it is just not smart. It’s hard enough to get name recognition. Don’t make it more difficult by fabricating spellings.

Similarly, don’t use shortened terms unless you’re willing to buy the longer one as well. If you really must use FastNFunCooking.com, please buy FastAndFunCooking.com as well and forward it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve used invented spellings myself. My lifestyle design blog is called Pix2Brix.com. But I also own PicsToBricks.com — and just about every other variation — and have forwarded them. (Click both links to see what happens.)

Buy All Domains with Multiple Possible Spellings

If you choose a URL with a work that has alternate spellings, how will readers remember which one you chose?

If you decide to get a domain that could be spelled multiple ways, buy them all and redirect the ones you don’t use to the your site.

For years I’ve owned a popular site with the word “momma” in the URL. In order to keep readers from ending up at a dead end or (worse!) at a competing (or copycat) site, each year I pay for the version I use, as well as versions with “mamma” and “mama” in them. Then I have to make sure they are properly redirected to the correct site.

Managing the alternate spellings isn’t a big deal, but it’s an expense that you should be aware of.

Keep Your Domain Reasonably Short

Domain names can be as long as 67 characters. But keep it simple is a good motto. Shorter domains are usually easier to remember and reproduce. Which do you think will be easier to get back to?

MyGreenGlassBowlsWithSparkles.com vs. GreenBowls.com

Your Domain Name Should Be Your Blog Title

Choose a domain that you can accept as the official blog title.

If you want to call your site “Darlene’s Darling Darning,” and DarlenesDarlingDarning.com is taken, choose a different name. Even if you are emotionally attached to it, let it go.

Don’t buy the domain DarleneDoesDarning.com or MyDarlingDarning.com and then insist on plastering “Darlene’s Darling Darning” in your header. You will confuse readers, who will be more likely to remember your header title than your domain name.

Again, make it as easy for readers to come back to your site as possible!

Do Not Use Apostrophes in Title Names

Since you can’t use an apostrophe in a domain name, try to avoid using one in the title — since (as per the item above) you want the title and domain to match. Apostrophes can confuse site visitors. They don’t know if they should put it in the URL or replace it with a dash or something.

Keep your title/domain simple.

Do Not Hyphenate Your Domain Name Unless…

I love hyphenation in domain names because it improves readability in multi-word URLs — to visitors and to Google. Consider:

wealllove.com vs. We-All-Love.com

I own a few dozen hyphenated domains. But I only buy them if the non-hyphenated version is available as well. While they are easier to read initially, your readers may only remember the words — and not the hyphens — and yo want them to be able to find you again with just the words. And you certainly don’t want to send your precious traffic to another, non-hyphenated site that predates your site.

Watch for Misreadings of Your Domain Name

While hyphenation might clarify your intended title, you’ll still need to avoid domain names that could have problematic readings.

Experts-Exchange.com will likely pull a different clientele than expertsexchange.com. And while it might be perfectly legitimate to look for counseling at Therapist-Finder.com, you might wonder about someone doing research on therapistfinder.com. And you might feel cutting edge with Speed-of-Art.com, your upper crust readers might not be amused with speedofart.com.

Choose You Domain Name

With a little care and preparation, you can still find just the right domain for your new PopCred blog. Just this week, I helped two clients find fabulous domain names. In fact, they were so good that if they hadn’t used them, I would have purchased them for resale.

Be thoughtful and creative and you’ll find the perfect domain fit.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Tams March 20, 2012, 1:54 am

    Choosing your domain name correctly from the start will keep you from questioning yourself later. This is a lesson I failed to learn before I started and realized what I actually wanted to blog about. I still question daily whether I should change the name of my blog and move everything with a 301 redirect. What a pain!
    If your name doesn’t serve your sites purpose well it will plague your mind each day until you decide you like it or change it. But, I do believe even an unrelated name can be ranked over time, just much more than it would normally take.
    Read Tams’s inCREDible post…Missing Out on Traffic to Your Blog?My Profile

  • ProSapien March 20, 2012, 10:28 pm

    Tams, I agree 100%. Start out right and it won’t be a constant thorn in your side.

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