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How to Choose a Domain Name: Five Simple Tips

January 3rd, 2009

domain-name-how-to-choose.jpgWhen choosing a domain name for future website development, the most important thing you need to know before purchasing is: what your site is going to be about? Is it going to be a personal blog? Is it going to be a web design or gaming related site? This is important because, for example, if your site was called sporting-goods.com and you were in fact selling video games, this might confuse your visitors, leading to a very high bounce rate. Here are five simple tips to help you choose the right domain name and give your website a solid foundation.

1. Relevancy Is Key: Keep the name of the domain relevant to the overall purpose of your site. While it may be easy to simply put, for example ‘free-mp3-music-player-wma.com’, that is a hard name to remember, which will likely mean fewer returning visitors. The tricky part is choosing a name which is short, relevant, and contains your website’s keyword as most of these obvious choices have already been taken. One thing that might give you some ideas is using an online thesaurus and running your main keywords through the site’s search engine. In most cases, this will bring up various similar words to use that may not be as popular.

2. It’s All In The Name: Purchasing a .com instead of a .net, .org, or any of the lesser known extensions for your domain name can make a significant difference. For example when someone types in the address of a website into their browser (for example, ‘google’ minus the ‘http://www.’ and the ‘.com’) they can simply press Ctrl + enter (return for mac) to automatically add the ‘.com’ to the name. This is a nifty little shortcut and makes browsing a little bit faster, but if your website isn’t a .com, then you may be missing out on some of this valuable type-in traffic. So do try to obtain a .com address whenever possible. If the exact domain name you wanted is already taken, then try alterations but relying on .net, .org domains should preferably used as a last resort. Also keep in mind that some people tend to look down upon .info, .ws, and many other domain name extensions that are less familiar to the public.

3. Search And Destroy: Search around on as many domain name websites as you possibly can. Look up reviews, coupons, and feedback for the sites from which you may be considering making a purchase. Don’t just stick with a certain company because it’s more popular, as these sites tend to charge more and aren’t necessarily the best to buy from. Look for sites with the best deals or coupons and the best feedback from buyers. Some companies will have a significant amount of bad feedback, while others may have somewhat less; in either case, don’t be deterred by a single negative review. Always research the companies thoroughly so that you can get a sense of the overall picture.

4. Characteristics: Cramming your new domain name with targeted keywords can be helpful with organic search results, but as previously mentioned this can be quite hard to remember. With adding multiple keywords to your domain name, you face more problems than just the visitors’ ability to remember such a long name. You also need to consider the fact that you will need to separate each word to be able to make any sense out of it. Here’s where the hyphen comes into play. By placing the hyphen between your keywords, you instantly have a divider which makes your domain name more readable to the naked eye. But how much is too much? For most sites, having two hyphens in one domain is more than enough; otherwise it makes the name look ugly and spammy. For example, ‘Fun-and-Games.com’ makes more sense than something like ‘Video-Games-Play-Fun-Computer.com’.

5. The Acquisition: If there is a domain name that you simply must have and it’s been registered by another person there is still a chance of acquiring your prized domain. If the owner has the domain for sale you may try looking up the address and if it’s parked, then you should have an option to ‘contact owner’ for the purpose of buying the name. You can also look on the marketplace sections of known webmaster forums such as DigitalPoint and SitePoint for ongoing domain name sales. Also, companies like NameCheap often host auctions for domain names that have been bought through them. Keep in mind, however, that if you want to buy a domain name with a popular keyword in it, be prepared to pay a substantial amount for this type of acquisition.

Regardless of the method you choose, acquiring a good domain name can be the foundation for a profitable website or can even be a money maker on its own. It is possible to make a separate business out of buying and selling domain names for profit, or you can earn residual income with enhanced domain parking services such as WhyPark.com.

One Response to “How to Choose a Domain Name: Five Simple Tips”

  1. comment number 1 by: lvs

    There are many domain names expiring everyday. Many of these already have backlinks (so good PR) and good traffic (so good Alexa). Picking up one of these expired domain names that satisfies the above criteria that you have listed out would give one a head start.

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