How To Pick a Great Domain Name for Your Site

Before you start telling a story online, you need to give it a name. That is come up with a great domain name for your site and similar handles on social media. Your domain name is the first touch point between you and your future audience—it defines your brand and your blog business. So it’s critical to give it plenty of thought! Use these tips to brainstorm the best brandable domain name for your new website.

Go for the .com Version

.com TLD (top-level domain) is like a little black dress—you can’t go wrong with it. Roughly, 47% of all websites on the Internet use this extension. Most web users by default will type the .com version of the website before thinking about fancier TLDs e.g. the new ones like .blog or .shop, or even the old goodies like .org or .co.  So if you want to save yourself from people mis-typing your domain name and landing elsewhere (or nowhere at all), try to secure a .com domain name.

NB: If the .com domain name is unavailable, the second best option to go for is either:

  • A local TLD e.g. .fr, .co.uk if you plan to cater to a local audience and a local market primarily. Local TLDs give users a bit more awareness that you are operating in their locale and a slight boost in ranking in local search engine results.
  • A new TLD e.g. .co, .ly, .it etc. if you can integrate that, add it to your brand name. Visual.ly, for instance, gave its domain name a creative tint by choosing .ly TLD instead of .com.

Pick an Easy-to-Type Name

First of all, you don’t want people to struggle with remembering your website address. Secondly, your domain name is the key element of your personal brand. It’s the first thing a new reader will interact with. So it should be easy-to-remember (and type); unique and brandable. Here are a few general tips to follow:

  • Use 15 characters or fewer—don’t get too wordy and try to avoid awkward vowel combos.
  • Avoid hyphens, punctuation or apostrophes – all of these will make it harder to remember and type your domain correctly.
  • Use words only—unless a number is part of your brand name e.g. 20something.me is OK, but foodblog91300 isn’t that great.
  • Be predictable—avoid commonly misspelled or ambiguous words. Because people will get it wrong all.the.time. So if your name is Kymberly, chances are people will mistype it as Kimberly when searching for your blog.
  • Make it easy-to-pronounce—it should roll off your tongue without much effort.

Struggling to come with something artful? Try the following exercises to invite creativity back to the room.

Use a Thesaurus To Get More Ideas

Came up with some great domain name ideas…only to find those domains are already taken? Fret not. Try synonymizing parts of your name or playing around with different combinations. You can go to OneLook dictionary and use their advanced search commands to get more ideas.

Use a Domain Name Generator

If you still feel stuck, try automating your search for that perfect word to describe your website (and your brand). Domain name generators can be surprisingly helpful and easy-to-use. Just type in your main keyword (e.g. vintage) and get hundreds of suggestions in return. You can then play with them further until you like the sound of your new name. The cool domain name generators to try are:

  • Namelix—free AI-powered brand name generator.
  • LeanDomainSearch—another free tool, created by the guys behind WordPress.com.

Mind the Trademarks and Copyrights

Before you snatch a cool-sounding name, quickly google it. You’ll want to make sure that there’s no other business using a similar sounding brand or product name. The last thing you’ll want is to infringe someone’s trademark or appear affiliated with another company you have no connection to.

Verify Social Media Handles Availability

You’ll definitely want to use the same (or very similar) sounding handles on social media. So before buying a domain name, make sure that those variations are indeed available. If the exact name is taken, try adding some suffixes/underscores or a word extension e.g. blog, gram etc.

Finally, don’t sweat it too much if your “ideal” domain name is taken. You can always check up that website, and if it’s been inactive for a while, contact the domain owner and negotiate a sale. You can also migrate to a similar, better sounding domain name later down the road!

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