By now you know that you’ll have to pick a domain name for your home on the World Wide Web before you can do anything online. Selecting a good domain name is so important for your online success.
Wondering why it is so important to get this step just right: “After all, if it doesn’t work out I can always change it, right”?
Well yes, nothing is written in stone and while it’s correct that you can change things later, you may not want to do that. And here is why.
Think about your website as your business on the web. Your business has a name and an address your customers use to find you. Change the identifiers for your business and people won’t find you; you’ll lose customers and followers.
I think it’s easy to see that every time you change the name of your business and you move the business to a new location, you will lose customers. And it’s the same with an online business, your website.
As I mentioned in my last article, your website lives at a certain location (similar to a brick and mortar business). Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but we’re going for concepts here…!
When you publish content to your website it becomes part of the “location”. Let’s say you’ve just published an article titled “How to grow fabulous Orchids” to your site.
People searching the web for information about growing orchids may come across your article via different routes.
- They either access the article from within your site; no problem, they can find the information or
- They enter search terms and Google (or another search engine) brings up the result “yourwebsite.com/how-to-grow-fabulous-orchids/” and displays the article page directly, without going through the site first. So every time you change the name of the site the article location/address changes as well.
Can you see where I am going with this?
While it’s possible to change everything at any given time and there are ways to redirect to new sites and addresses, it’s just simpler if you don’t have to do that.
So what should you consider when selecting a solid domain name so you don’t have to make any changes right away (or at all)?
When choosing a domain you need to come up with both, the actual name and an available extension. The extension is the last part of the domain, most commonly they are .com, .org, .net or .info.
If the .com extension is available, go with that because it’s the default URL most people remember when they go online to visit a website. However, if it’s not, choose one of the other extensions listed above.
Of course, this also depends on what the topic of your site is. If it’s a store, try to stick with the .com, but if it’s a non-profit, going with the .org is usually better.
For the actual domain name, choose one that best represents your site. If your site is about flowers, than choose a name that indicates that. You’ll see this referred to as choosing keyword based domain names.
For example, let’s say your site is about growing Bonsai trees. Wouldn’t it be better to choose a name containing the phrase “bonsai trees” rather than just the phrase “Trees”?
In essence you can go two different ways with choosing a name. You can follow the safe route and choose a keyword based domain name or go with something catchy you think might take off all across the web (think Face book, Google, or Twitter).
Most people prefer to go with a keyword based domain name. You want your website to rank well for your chosen subject and keywords are the prime way you’ll achieve that goal. You can use a free or paid keyword tool to make a list of the top keywords in your niche.
You will buy your domain from a domain registrar, which there are many to be found. Stay with an established registrar; after all, this will be your piece of real estate on the web. Look for support, ease of use and lastly cost. Expect to pay around $10 – 15 for a year of domain name registration.
Through my years on the web I have used both Godaddy.com and Namecheap.com (there are many more out there). I suggest you check out both, GoDaddy and NameCheap and perhaps even look at some others.
When you buy your domain, you’ll be typing in the URL you hope to land, such as growingfabulousorchids.com. If it’s not available, the system will usually show you some alternatives that are available, such as growingfabulousorchids.net, etc.
As you check out with your domain, many registrars will try to sell you additional products and services, like hosting, privacy, site building tools and more. You probably won’t need any of these right away and can always add them on later.
It’s best to take the time and brainstorm different names for your website. Ask yourself:
- Does the name tell visitors what the site is all about? Remember “tree” vs. “bonsai tree”?
- Is the name clear and easy to pronounce? This is important because people often tell friends about sites they like.
- Is the name easy to remember, easy to spell or are there multiple ways to spell it? For example a domain name containing “for” could be spelled “for”, “four” or “4”. You don’t want people to guess.
- Is the name short and to the point?
- Is the name trade marked? You don’t want to spend time building a site just to find out that the name or something very similar to it has been trade marked. Why not head over to TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) to find potential “offenders”.
Expect to spend some time on selecting a solid name for your domain; it will pay off in the long run!