Choosing the right domain name is the first step to having a successful website. The domain that’s right for you will depend on your goals. For example, someone who wants to start an online store or other type of business will have to consider factors such as the brand name, as well as the possibility to use “keywords”.
For a personal blog or website, your domain is not quite as vital, though even then you should choose one that’s easy to remember and to type in. In this article we’ll be focusing on tips to help you find the right domain name.
Are all the Good Domains taken?
It’s often said that all of the best domains are already taken. While there is an element of truth to this complaint, it’s still an exaggeration. It’s true that most of the desirable .com domain names have been snapped up by investors (if not by people actually using the domains for their businesses).
If you want to find a one-word .com domain for a popular term, you will probably find that it’s gone. The same is true for .net and .org domains. This means you will have to be a little creative when thinking of your domain names.
If your preferred domain name is taken, you have a few choices.
Add more words to the domain
Instead of bestdiets.com, try bestdietplans.com or dietplansforwomen.com, etc.
You should only add one hyphen to your domain name. Do not add 2 or more hyphens as this will make the domain name difficult to type in and to remember.
Look up different domain extensions
There are now many new ones, such as .co, .us, .biz and lots of others associated with various countries.
So which of these options is the best?
I would advise against getting domains with extensions that aren’t well known. This makes the domain more difficult to remember, and less professional looking in many people’s eyes.
If you ever want to sell the domain, you will have a much harder time if you have a newer or less well known domain extension.
For these reasons, I’d suggest using either more words or a hyphen (but no more than one) when searching for an available domain name.
Should you search for an Exact Match Domain?
For a while, an exact match domain (EMD) was considered highly desirable. If you had a domain name that matched popular search terms, it would help you rank highly with the search engines.
This is often used by people looking to rank for local businesses. For example, a domain like newyorkaccountants.com is good for a website promoting an accountant in New York.
Since the latest Google Panda and Penguin updates, however, exact match domains have become controversial. Some people believe that the search engines actually penalize these domain names, but there is no real evidence for this. What seems to be the case is that an exact match domain will not help you if your site is low quality or is not SEO optimized in other ways!
So there’s certainly nothing wrong with exact match domains, and they can be good for helping you build a brand. With this type of domain, people will immediately know what your site is about. However, you shouldn’t go overboard trying to get an EMD.
Don’t get a domain name that’s too long or that contains multiple hyphens (dashes), as these will lower the value of your domain even if it’s an EMD. If you can’t get a short EMD, do the next best thing and get one that still uses your main keyword.
Do Keyword Research
You can find good keywords by using a tool such as the Google Keyword Tool. You can also search for keywords at popular sites such as Amazon, Google Trends or Yahoo! Answers. See what people are searching for and buying.
You can also use an online (or offline) thesaurus to think of more words that describe your product or service. Naturally, you want to choose words or terms that are popular, so you should still run anything you find through the Google Keyword Tool or something equivalent.
Keyword Rich Domain vs Unique Brand
Not all domains must be “exact match domain” or contain keywords. While most businesses try to find domains that describe what they do, this isn’t always the case. If you want to build a unique brand, you can use a domain that has your own name or even a word you invented!
The problem, however, is that when you try to create a unique brand from scratch you must work extra hard at getting exposure. You also need to spend a lot more money for marketing and promotion.
Since people won’t know what you’re doing by your name, you will have to find other ways to tell them. On the plus side, if you’re willing to do this, you can often find a short, easy to remember domain name that is still available.
How to research Domain Names
Where do you search for domains to see if they are available or to get suggestions for alternatives?
When you log on to these sites, the first thing you will see is a box where you can search for domains. If the one you type in is taken, they will usually give you suggestions for similar ones that are still available.
I have focused on buying inexpensive domains in this article, but if you have money to invest, you can also buy a premium domain. These are available at domain registrars such as Godaddy, where you can bid on them at domain auctions. eBay also has domains for sale.
This is a complicated process, though, and you should do plenty of research before investing a lot of money into a domain. Don’t assume that a domain is worth a lot just because it has a high price tag.
If you are just starting out, I’d suggest buying some standard priced domains (usually between $10 and $15 per year) before getting into premium domains!
Conclusion – Finding the Perfect Domain Name
There are many factors to consider when buying a domain. You can search for one that contains your chosen keywords, or you can set out to create a unique brand from the ground up.
Some key points to remember when shopping for a domain name are:
- Stick to well known extensions. They are .com, .net and .org.
- The shorter the domain name, the better.
- Never buy a domain with more than one hyphen.
- Research keywords your audience will be searching for.
Buying the right domain is the beginning of a successful website, so make sure you put plenty of thought into it!