Struggling with how to choose a domain name? Picking the right domain name is one of the most important things you’ll do for your website. In addition to defining your site, your domain name will communicate important information to both human visitors and search engine bots.
Fortunately, there are a few reliable methods you can use to make your domain name as effective as possible. For example, you can research strong keywords to incorporate into your content, use a blog name generator to get ideas and base your ultimate decision on some important criteria.
Why it pays to put some thought into your domain name
Your domain name is your website’s home address on the Internet. And while it’s not the only thing that affects your site’s success, there are tons of reasons it’s important to choose a domain name carefully:
- A unique, memorable name is more likely to stick with visitors and encourage them to return.
- Your domain name can immediately give new visitors (or search engine users) an idea of what your site is all about.
- Domain names have an impact on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- Changing your domain name after creating your site can lead to time-consuming complications.
Names have power – this is as true for a website as for anything else. Picking the right domain name should, therefore, be a careful process, and you’ll want to consider all of your options before settling on a winner.
How to choose a domain name for your website (in 4 steps)
Obviously, we can’t tell you what domain name is right for your specific website. However, we can walk you through the process of making a careful, well thought-out selection.
These aren’t absolute rules – domain names aren’t a science (you never would’ve come up with “Google.com” by following these rules!) – but they are great best practices for most websites.
Step 1: Choose one or more keywords that represent your website
There are a lot of ways to start generating ideas for a domain name. You can simply base your site’s domain on your own name, or on your existing business. However, a key ingredient of a truly effective domain name is a strong keyword.
Using keywords in your domain name is smart for the same reasons using them in your content is. The SEO benefits can bring in more traffic by helping your site rank more highly in search engine results. Plus, keywords can help potential visitors better understand your site’s focus and niche.
Fortunately, the process of researching keywords for your domain name is the same as finding effective keywords for other uses. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner and KWFinder to search for terms that have both a high search volume and (ideally) low competition. Just remember that in this case, you’re looking for a keyword that represents your website and content as a whole.
Step 2: Use a domain name generator to browse your options
Once you have a few keyword options, it’s time to brainstorm ideas for your domain name. While you can do this without any special tools, it’s often difficult because you’ll keep running into names that are already taken.
Using a domain name generator like HO Domain Search will help simplify the process by both brainstormings for you and making sure that all its suggestions are actually available for purchase:
All you need to do is visit the website and enter a keyword into the search box. To illustrate this, let’s imagine that you’re starting an advice blog about how to train dogs. For your keyword, you’ve settled on “dog training”. Entering that term into the search bar will return these results:
As you can see, there are lots of variations to choose from. If you don’t like any of them, you can try a slightly different keyword, or scroll down for random ideas and keyword suggestions. We suggest taking your time and coming up with a few solid options, so you can narrow them down in the next step.
Step 3: Select the best domain name based on some simple criteria
At this point, you’re ready to narrow down your shortlist and finish out the process of how to choose a domain name. Part of this process is subjective – after all, it’s important to choose a domain name you like. However, there are also some simple criteria you can use to make the decision easier.
For best results, you’ll want to pick a domain name that is:
- Concise and clear. Long and confusing names are harder to remember and easier to mistype.
- Creative and memorable. The more unique you can make your domain name (while keeping it clear and concise), the more memorable it will be.
- Easy to read and pronounce. Avoid numbers and special characters because they’re confusing when spoken aloud. It’s also worth asking your friends to pronounce it as well, so you avoid accidentally ending up on this list.
Finally, it’s also important to carefully consider your domain name’s Top-Level Domain (TLD).
In simple terms, this is the part at the end – .com, .org, .net, and so on. For many sites, .com is the best choice, since it’s what most visitors will expect and is easiest to remember. However, it’s getting harder and harder to find quality .com domain names, and users are becoming more accustomed to other extensions. So if you absolutely love a non-.com name, go ahead and buy it.
The only thing to be careful with is TLDs that apply to a specific region (like .co.uk or .ca). Google uses these to help goetarget websites, so only pick those extensions if you really do want Google to geotarget your site.
Step 4: Register your new domain name
After settling on the right combination of keyword-based name and TLD, all you need to do is buy the domain name. The way you do this will often depend on the hosting provider you decide to use.
You can usually purchase a domain name during the process of signing up for a hosting plan. In addition, you can buy a domain separately through a dedicated registrar or hosting company. If you’ve chosen a name using Domain Wheel, you can even use the View Details button to go straight to a checkout page:
Of course, you don’t have to get your hosting and domain name from the same place. If you pick up a domain name elsewhere, you can still connect it to your new or existing site after the fact. How this works will depend on the web host you’ve chosen. You should check out your provider’s documentation or ask their support team for assistance when making the transfer.
Final thoughts on how to choose a domain name
Learning how to choose a domain name for your site can seem intimidating at first. After all, it’s a very important decision. However, you’ll find that with a little research and the right tools, the process is surprisingly approachable.
To choose a domain name for your website, all you need to do is follow these four steps:
- Choose one or more keywords that represent your site.
- Use a domain name generator to browse your options.
- Select the best domain name based on some simple criteria.
- Register your new domain name.