What is a domain name?
A domain name is how your website will be known online, no matter what type of website you’ll have. It is the unique address of your site on the internet and it will be yours as long as you continue paying the annual fee ($10 – $15 for the .com domain). Users who know your domain technically referred to as a URL (uniform resource locator) can simply type it in their browser’s address bar, and be taken there. Others will be able to discover your blog through search engines such as Google and Bing.
Domain name structure
- Prefix – an internet application protocol of your domain (http: – standard, https: – secured).
- Subdomain – the third level domain of your website name (some sites use “www” some not).
- Name – the second level domain of the website, picked by the person registering the domain.
- Extension – the top level domain can be picked for the variety of available choices.
Owning your domain name is an important part of your success online. In an ideal world, you will own sites associated with your brand before it has strong public recognition. This reduces the risk that someone else will buy the name, forcing you to purchase it for a great deal more than a few dollars. If your brand is well established, you may need to be a little more creative in coming up with an alternative domain name, if the obvious choices aren’t available.
Domain name extension
When you choose a domain name, one of your choices will be what domain extension or Top Level Domain (TLD) extension to use. There are hundreds of top level domains from which to choose. Here is the breakdown of the most popular ones.
- The original top level domains (TLDs) include: .com, .net, .org, .int, .gov, .edu, and .mil. Only some of them are available for general use, and .com is far and away the most important.
- Many country code top level domains (ccTLDs) exist, including: .au (Australia), .cn (China), .in (India), .jp (Japan), .ph (Philippines), and .uk (United Kingdom).
- There are also topic specific generic top level domains (gTLDs), though their use has yet to catch on widely, including: .accountants, .agency, .business, .city, .digital, .photography, and .social.
Not sure what to choose for a top-level domain?
Here Are Some Tips Choosing A Domain Name For Your Blog?
1. Choose a unique name
If you are marketing yourself, ideally you’ll be able to use your first and last names (johnsmith.com or janesmith.com). Even if you aren’t marketing yourself, it’s not a bad idea to register your name as a domain now, in case you want to use it in the future. If you are marketing your business, you should see if your business name (yourbusiness.com) is available.
Using a search engine like Google, search for your proposed blog or website name. Does your search show any sites with similar domain names? If it does, try a different name. Giving your website a name that’s similar to other existing sites is the first step to failure. Also, don’t choose names that are plural or misspelled versions of existing sites.
Pick at least five words or phrases that describe the key topic of your website. Write them down, then mix and match the words to create possible domain names. Choose one that sounds good and will be memorable.
There’s a rule in advertising that says when launching a new product, you need to start by making a list of ten names. The first three are easy. Maybe you can do five or six without breaking a sweat, but by the time you get to last one, you’ll be stuck for more ideas. Using the outline described above, choose the best one from your list and you are on your way. Don’t be afraid to ask some friends what they like. That’s the best way to help choose your domain name!
3. Make it easy to type
If you have to spell out your domain name more than once for it to be understood, then it won’t work. Keep the name simple to remember and easy to enter in an address bar or search field.
Why is simplicity important? Because you don’t want your future visitors to incorrectly type in your name and be directed to a different site. A classic example is the popular social media site, Flickr.com, introduced in 2005. Four years later, the company had to acquire Flicker.com for a large sum of money in order to redirect the many visitors who misspelled their name. If you’re determined to have that oddly spelled name, make sure common misspellings are also available so you can register them and redirect visitors to the main domain.
4. Choose “.com” first
Up to 75% of all websites are “.com” domains. It is still the preferred extension and the easiest to remember. If your number one name choice isn’t available, then try your second choice before accepting other TLDs. Remember that some browsers accept address-only entries in their address bar. If you type just the domain name (and who knows how many of your users will just do that?) they will return, by default, to the “.com” site.
5. Make it brandable
Your domain name will be your brand. Some names speak for themselves. When you hear the name, you know what the website is about. Take a look at Top 100 blogs by DailyTekk, and you’ll see that most popular websites have brandable names.
6. Shorter is always better
As we’ve been saying, shorter is better. If you can’t get your domain name down to one memorable word (almost impossible to come by these days), then consider adding one or maximum two more words. Combinations of two words work great for the memorable names like LifeHacker.com or GeekSquad.com. Also, don’t use an acronym. People will never remember the letters unless it’s a highly catchy name.
7. Avoid trademark problems
Once you’ve decided on your top choices for your site name, make sure you are not violating anyone’s trademarks. To check within US, visit uspto.gov/trademarks and do the search before you register the name. It is always good to check now because this could kill a great website and business down the road. Also, if you are going to include some big name product, such as Twitter or Facebook, review their terms and conditions. Most will not allow you to use their name in any part of your domain.
8. No numbers or hyphens
Numbers and hyphens (especially hyphens) cause confusion. Stay away from them at all costs. Even something as clever as the number1website.com will cause confusion. Make the name speak for itself.
9. Beware of trends
Anything that deals with something trendy will, like the trend, fade away. Stick with a classic name that will span the generations and not be tied down to a trend or fad. Deciding whether something is a trend or here to stay, is a matter of personal judgment, but it’s usually not too hard to tell.
10. Marry your domain name
It sounds odd, but you have to be absolutely sure you love your domain name. Once it’s set, you have it for years to come. If you decide later to rename it, then you will lose time, money, branding, and rankings. We do not recommend changing your domain once your blog has been live for any considerable amount of time.
11. Check social networks
Before you register your desired domain name, it’s always a good idea to check social networks for the same name. To keep your site name constant and to build your brand, you want a name that is readily available. For example: check facebook.com/yourdomain, twitter.com/yourdomain – and secure them as well. KnowEm is a great tool to use to see if certain names are already branded on social platforms.