How to Choose a Domain Name

Once you’ve picked your blog niche, it’s time to buy a domain. But finding an available domain name is tough, and you don’t want to get it wrong. This is where your blog is going to live for the rest of its life.

Before picking a domain name, there are a lot of things you need to consider. Here’s a short bullet points version of how it usually goes:

  • Your ideal name is already taken. So are your second through 36th choices.
  • Avoid very long names, or names with numbers or characters like dashes.
  • It’s generally not a great idea idea to use the same name someone else already has with a different domain extension.
  • Generally, you want the .com extension and if it’s taken, you should look for a different name.
  • Picking a nonsense name might be cute (seems to work for search engines, right?) but it doesn’t help SEO.
  • Your name as a domain name only makes sense if you’re trying to brand yourself for a service or as an expert. (That said, you may want to nab your name as a domain if possible, just so no one else gets it.)

So let’s crack on and I’ll tell you how I go about this.

Laptop on table with text overlay saying How to Choose a Domain Name

The Ideal Domain Name

Let’s say you’re developing a website of potato recipes. The ideal domain name would probably be PotatoRecipes. Or you’re blogging about your travels around the world with your kids, and the ideal name might be TravelingWithKids.

Plug those names into a domain name search to see if they’re available, and I can almost guarantee you they are not. I use the search at TigerTech because they don’t try to sell you domains that squatters are sitting on at exorbitant prices – more on this in a minute – and that’s where I register my domains.

Chances are the name is not only taken, but it’s a developed website. So you don’t even have the option of buying the domain name from a squatter. Domain squatters are people who buy good domain names and sit on them until someone buys them for more than they paid. I’ve never bought a domain that way and doubt I ever will.

So you need a new name.

The good enough domain name

The trick to a good name is to ask yourself: what words will help my content rank?

Every URL on this site has “blogaliving” in it. This is a site about blogging, so “blog” is a good word to have. I’m not sure “a living” help my SEO, but neither do they hurt it. And the name as a whole, hopefully, conveys to readers that it’s a site about blogging for a living.

For your potato recipes site, those are the obvious two words you’d like to have in every URL. Maybe you can just add “best” or “delicious” or “healthy” at the beginning and that version will be available. The domain search will make some suggestions:

Screenshot of domain search box with suggestions

Again, I wouldn’t go with the ones that use a different extension like .net. You’d be competing with the established .com site, with no way to really brand yourself or stand out. Also, if they have the name trademarked, they could cause you trouble.

The search suggests putting “the” ahead of the name, which also doesn’t help you stand out from the competition. That’s why I suggested words like “delicious”. Or “yummy”. Or “favorite”. Just keep brainstorming and you’ll find something that sounds good to you as a human and will also be good for SEO.

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to register the domain. I register mine with TigerTech, as I said above, and recommend them. I’ve had trouble with a number of popular registrars, so the only two I recommend are TigerTech and NameCheap.

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