Choosing a great domain is probably the most important single thing you can do to help your site achieve SEO success. Once you find a great domain name that you love it is going to make you much more motivated to invest time into developing that domain into a thriving success.
For that reason I’ve compiled a list of some excellent tips for choosing a great domain that you’ll love and invest time and effort into for years to come.
Google considers the domain a strong indicator of the content of the site therein so if you are able to include a keyword or keywords in your domain that are often searched in your niche that will make your life much easier when it comes to getting search engine traffic.
My site “twittertoolsbook.com” does well with search engine traffic because it contains the keyword twitter, which is searched millions of times a year.
Identify the keyword or keywords that your site will address and then take hints from the tips below to develop your domain into a powerhouse.
1. Keep It Simple
When it comes to choosing a domain it is best to avoid complication, incorrect spelling, numbers, double letters, and long or hard to spell words.
The rule is that a straightforward domain name is easy to remember and increases brand recognition. Additionally, it’s better to use common words rather than obscure acronyms.
2. Shorter is Better
While your domain name can theoretically be up to 67 characters long, this is definitely one area of life where shorter is better.
While there are many advantages to shorter domains, the most prominent are ease of remembering the domain, and less chance of error from typos or misspellings. Basically, shorter translates into more people finding you when they are trying to do so.
3. Select Some Top Keywords
When you first begin your domain name search it helps to have 5 terms or phrases in mind that best describe the domain you’re seeking.
Once you have this list, you can think of different ways to mix them up and create different great domain ideas.
For example, if you’re launching a mortgage related domain you might start with words like “mortgage, home equity, finance, interest rate, house payment” and then play around until you can find a good match.
4. Build it, Then Buy it
I own dozens of domains and thrown hundreds of dollars away on domains that I bought in the heat of the moment, but then never made anything of.
So a rule I created for myself to stop the needless buying is “Build it, then buy it.”
Now when I have an idea and find a domain I will start to build out a plan for the site, work on graphics, and write out the steps I plan to take once I buy the domain.
If I wait a while and work on the site sometimes the reflection will cause me to re-consider, or keep searching and find a better domain. Other times it will help me lay the foundation for the domain so I know exactly what I want to do next after I whip out my wallet and buy.
At the end of the day your domain is going to be used by other people.
Always be sure to receive feedback from at least three different people to confirm that their reactions and feedback meet with your approval to proceed with the domain purchase.
Don’t just jump into a domain purchase. Ask your friends for feedback and advice and you’ll shed light on your idea or help you brainstorm and think up a better one.
6. Avoid Hyphenated Domains
Sometimes hyphenated domains work, but usually they stick out like a sore thumb.
Use them with caution.
7. Don’t Use Numbers
Just because your domain has “for” or “to” does NOT mean you need to use the number “4″ or “2″ in the domain (e.g. “dance2live.com”).
This will make the domain harder to remember and will cost you visitors.
100.000.000 .COM, 13 million .NET, and 9 million .ORG in existence, and more being registered all the time.
Here is a graphic from CNN Money Tech showing how many there are of each.
In terms of SEO the TLD you use does not make much of a difference. A .net or .org will rank as easily as a .com, but people are more familiar with a .com so if you can get one that you like that is the best way to go.
The most important thing is to get a catchy domain that you love because the most important element of success will be the energy you invest.
Overall, your domain is going to increase with value as more and more people find your information online.
This means the weight your domain plays in your business/organization’s marketing is critical.
Don’t rush into a domain.
Take your time to pick a brand you’ll want to work with and grow for years to come.
9. Consider Buying an Established Domain
Since older domains carry greater weight with Google you should consider buying an aged domain if you have money to invest. I would not spend more than a few hundred dollars on this but your budget is up to you to decide.
10. Find a Domain Name with help from Domain Generators
Domain generators, and online domain search tools are one of the best known tricks for finding relevant, valuable, and most importantly, available domains.
The most prominent domain generators include:
11. Purchase Your Name as a Domain
Make sure to secure get a domain that matches your name.
For example, I bought GarinKilpatrick.com years ago and use it to link people up with the many different profiles and projects I have on the go across the web.
If you build a site named after you then there is a very good chance that it will show up at the top of Google when someone searches for you.
If you are active on social media people will probably Google you so I recommend you buy your name and take 10 minutes to install WordPress into it.
12. Brainstorm Many Possibilities
When choosing a domain there are millions of possibilities.
There are many different domains that could be right for you so get all of your ideas down on paper or into a word document.
If you have a white board even better.
Identify the keywords that matter the most and then consider adding a catchy suffix.
HQ and XL are two suffixes you might want to consider. My copywriting site CopywritingXL uses this strategy and so far I have had nothing but good feedback from the people who have checked it out.
13. Get an Easy to Remember Domain
Remember that word-of-mouth and SERPs dominance marketing (where your domain consistently comes up for industry-related searches) both rely on the ease with which the domain can be called to mind.
You don’t want to be the company with the terrific website that no one can ever remember to tell their friends about because they can’t remember the domain name.
14. Consider a Domain Hack
A domain hack is when the main part of your domain and the suffix of your domain spell a word.
A few examples that come to my mind include the infographic site visual.ly, and the blog WordPress founder ma.tt.
It’s harder to get keywords that will help you rank with domains like these but if you choose the right domain you can make up for it with memorability.
15. Try to Pick an Intuitive Name
When someone hears about your domain name for the first time, they should be able to instantly and accurately guess at the type of content that might be found there.
That’s why I love domain names like AutoTrader.com, CareerBuilder.com and WebMD.com.
16. Take Your Time
Don’t rush the domain selection process, take your time and make sure that you are 100% happy with the domain you are selecting before you make the purchase.
17. Avoid Copyright Infringement
This is a mistake that isn’t made too often, but can kill a great domain and a great company when it does.
To be sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s copyright with your site’s name check out copyright.gov and search before you buy.
18. Use an Ajax Domain Selection Tool
I use the tool domainr for helping with my domain selection process when I am looking for a .com. This has an iPhone app as well.
If you are open to a .net, .org, or .co I recommend domize. Below is a screen shot showing what it looks like.
If you want more options for helping with your domain quest here are 12 domain selection tools to help.
19. Get Country Specific Domains if You Own a Local Business
If your business is local you will probably be able to get a better domain if you use a country specific TLD and this will rank better within Google as well.
Examples of these are .ca for Canada and .co.uk for the UK.
If you do not have a local business I recommend going with a generic TLD so you can appeal to the whole world, rather than just one country.
20. Make Sure Your Domain is Unique
Having your website confused with a popular site already owned by someone else is a recipe for disaster.
For this reason I never choose a hyphenated or misspelled version of an already established domain.
Think different and create your own brand. This market leadership will help position you for massive success.
Now you have the knowledge to take action and choose an awesome domain! You can make it happen.
Once you have a domain in mind you can use our handy guide to get set up with WordPress in just 10 minutes.
You get a free domain when you sign up with Bluehost!
Let us know your domain in the comments below! 🙂