Right, so after doing your market research, you should have a pretty good idea which niche you’ve decided to go for. Picking a suitable domain name and extension is the second step of the process.
No, wait…I’ll rephrase that: To pick the perfect domain name and extension for your site…
This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Your choice of domain name is the second most important one following your choice of niche.
Why is it important to choose the best domain name and extension?
The name is crucial as it will stay on your website until this comes to an end. When this will be, depends if you’re happy with it, or not. You can eventually sell off your domain name if you so wish, but we won’t be going there this time.
This article should help you decide on a name for the best website in the world (yours). When considering which one to go for, the following points will also help make your website a very successful one.
You’ll want your site to have loads of traffic, and having a great domain name will certainly help you in that department.
By now, you might have started to realize the importance your domain name will have on the future of your website, for this is the very foundation of your brilliant site.
Understandably enough, people new to this tend to mess up the first few domain name choices until they hone their name-selection skill, but after you’ve covered this article, you’ll be one up on everybody else.
Domain name exceptions to every rule
Having said that, there are always exceptions. Whoever thought that Amazon, as a domain name, would be the online giant it is today? Nothing under Amazon’s umbrella has any relation to the word ‘Amazon’ itself.
This choice of name took place years ago when single word domain names were still widely available. Nowadays, things have changed drastically since all the good single word domains for popular niches have all been bought. You’ll be lucky if you can find a two-word domain for your site, but still, depending on your niche, this is still not impossible.
The structure of a domain name
A domain name is made up of two different parameters:
The actual name,
and its domain extension.
To further confuse the living daylights out of you while making your choice of domain name, you’ll be glad to know, or not, in finding out that there are more domain extensions available than just the famous dot com, or .com.
To add some technical terms, these domain extensions are better known as Top Level Domains, TLDs in short.
The TLD is the last part of the domain name; the part following the ‘.’ symbol.
Every domain name has a suffix, and that indicates which TLD it belongs to.
To clarify things a little, take the domain name of this site, fedupofwork.com.
The actual name of this site is ‘fedupofwork’, and the TLD is ‘.com’.
These two pieces of the domain name have to work hand-in-hand to create a closely-knit brand-name for your site.
Why a .com is always your best choice
Purely for SEO purposes, when choosing a name, go for a .com domain extension, always, if this is available. There are other types of domain name extensions to choose from, but the .com (or dot com) is the most popular.
When you think of a website, the chances that its domain extension is a .com is quite normal. This is because more than half of all the websites out there are .com sites.
Let’s say you have a niche in mind, one about cats, just to take an example. Ideally, you would go for a domain name which would be cat-orientated, like ‘cats.com’. You will certainly not go for one like ‘dogs.com’.
It’s obvious, I know, but in this example I went a bit over the top, just to let you know what I mean.
Whatever domain name you go for, ideally, it would be related to the niche of your choice.
Since the cat niche is a very popular one, the chances of the domain ‘cats.com’ being available are next to negligible. You then opt for another domain extension, say ‘cats.net’.
That’s fair enough, it’s available, and so you buy it.
Great…or is it?
Domain Name complications and loss of traffic
However, complications are bound to arise when somebody is looking for your domain name, and they look up ‘cats.com’ instead of ‘cats.net’. This easily happens, and very often, as many people immediately assume the domain name they are looking for ends with a .com extension. Domain names ending with a .com TLD are easier to remember.
Your potential traffic would go to a site called ‘cats.com’, and not to yours, ‘cats.net’.
Goodbye potential traffic!
You might think this is daft, but believe me, it’s not. It’s even happened to me a few times in the past. I search for a particular domain name, say ‘cats’, and type in the .com version in the search box.
Of course, the search results would not be what I was looking for, so I don’t bother to look anymore, thinking that I had made a mistake in the ‘name’ itself, and move on.
How do big companies deal with domain names with different extensions?
It is a known fact that some companies will purchase all the extensions relating to their domain. This is done to prevent anybody from using the company’s name, of course, with a different domain extension, for personal gain.
If you feel inclined that you really need to buy all the related extensions, please do so, but you would need to redirect them all to your main home page.
What if my choice of Domain Name is not available?
If you are adamant about wanting a .com extension, which, depending on your intended site, is suggested, then you can try adding something to ‘cat’, which would still be available in the .com TLD directory.
Be creative with your choice…
You can name your site ‘cutecats.com’, if available, or ‘cuddlycats.com’, or even ‘catsrule.com’. You can choose whatever you think is suitable, always keeping in mind not to deviate your name in relation to your niche.
Try to stay away from using hyphens in the name so it ‘would be different’ from the one you wanted. It won’t work too well either. Also, the use of hyphens in a domain name might look spammy, and could easily raise a few eyebrows.
When you decide on a name, apart from the obvious example outlined above, there are various advantages to go for a .com extension.
If you decide to go for Affiliate Marketing, I do recommend you go for a .com, and not some obscure extension.
One reason is that some Affiliate Managers will not rate your site too well if it ends with something other than a .com
Also, major search engines won’t give a website all that much importance if it doesn’t end with this domain extension.
THE MOST POPULAR TLDs, AND WHICH YOU SHOULD GO FOR
There are many types of Top Level Domains available
The most common TLDs will be covered here. You’ll understand which best to use, and when. Depending what you intend your site to focus on, the ones you should stay away from will easily be obvious.
One thing you should know at this point is that there cannot be two identical domains. It is possible to have two identical domain names, but these will have to have different extensions.
Actually, the reality of the matter is that there are hundreds of TLDs, but here we’ll just cover the most popular ones.
The .com, which originally stood for commercial websites, is the most popular domain extension.
The .net, which was originally intended for networked websites, is widely used today for any type of site. If your first choice of .com is not available, the .net extension can be considered as the next best choice.
.org, which stands for organization, is best used for the non-profit type of websites. I would shy away from using such a domain extension for a business as it sends the wrong type of messages.
.edu, which stands for education, is used by educational institutes. This domain extension isn’t normally available for anybody unless the website is education related.
.info, which stands for information, is ideally used for information-related websites. If your plans are to monetize your site, this domain extension might not work very well for you.
.biz, which stands for business, is an alternative to the .com extensions. However, spammy sites tend to use this domain extension, so it’s not really your best alternative. You can say that people lost their trust in this TLD.
.me, which stands for ‘personal, is usually used for personal sites, personal branding if you wish, that have no plans of monetizing it.
If you wish to have a look at an updated long list of TLDs, and just how popular these are, take a look here, at w3techs.com.
In all fairness, the extension you go for really depends on what kind of website you are building on, from which country you are, and which country your target audience is.
Apart from the most common TLDs available, there are also those which are country-related. At the moment, there are well over two hundred different country code Top Level Domains to choose from. If you live in the UK, your choice of TLD could be .co.uk, or .ca in the case of Canada.
Your choice of country-related TLD is really for SEO purposes.
If you have a business in the UK, and your audience is targeted to be from the UK, choosing a .co.uk domain extension makes a great deal of sense, as people in the UK searching for something local will be presented with domains having the .co.uk extensions in their searches.
Just so that you know, these country-related searches are also known as “country-code” TLDs, or better still “ccTLDs”.
BRANDING YOUR DOMAIN NAME
The domain name of your choice should be something which is easy to remember.
Ideally, it would be simple and one which comes to mind easily. Also, when somebody reads your domain name, they can easily guess what your website is all about.
It’s not a good idea to add anything fancy to the name you choose. In other words, keep a balance and do not complicate matters when a simple option is available.
SHORT AND SWEET
If you want your domain name to work for you, then do not go for a long and complicated one.
Amazon.com, as well as Google.com, Holiday.com, Flying.com, and Sex.com come to mind. Simple, sweet, and to the point.
‘Takeyourbestholidayyet.com’ just will not cut it, nor will ‘Theflyingexperienceofyourlife.com’. These two domain names, even if they were available at the time, are just not ones to remember after a few days of accidentally coming across them.
These will never work for you.
The chances of somebody coming across them again would be quite remote unless these have been bookmarked for future reference.
Always go for a short and sweet one, one which is easily remembered, and one which can be spoken out during the course of a normal conversation.
Should I use Keywords in the domain name?
Before, it was deemed as imperative that your domain name includes keywords. However, the way Google’s algorithms are updating the way websites are indexed, having keywords, or even partial matches included in the name, isn’t as important as it used to be, at least for SEO purposes.
Try not to get too clever with your choice of domain name, still thinking that keywords used in it will help to rank. Having said that, the domain name of your choice matching your website’s purpose does help a great deal with its branding. That said, it’s not always 100% true…remember Amazon and Google as names.
You can say that Google has become very clever, and even though your website’s domain name is noted, the content of your article is what really stands out more.
Final thoughts on the choice of your Domain Name, and Extensions
Having stated that the choice of the domain name you go for will be a great help to the success of your site, this must never be taken on its own.
What good is having a great domain name.com, and the content is not worth anything. It’s of no use to anybody, and it helps nobody to learn from it.
Always remember that content is king…it has always been, still is, and always will be.
Right…you got it.
Be aware, before you go for a domain name of your choice, to check if there are any penalties imposed by Google on it. It does happen, and once you’ve purchased it, it might not be easy to rank if Google has it in its black books.
You can easily check this out if you go to ismywebsitepenalized.com.
If it is penalized, you can try to write to Google, explaining that you are the new Webmaster, starting on this start from scratch and if they will consider lifting their ‘ban’ on it. If nothing comes out of your correspondence, it would be a good idea to find another name for your website.
Remember that your perfect domain name has to have the following characteristics:
- It has to be memorable,
- It has to be catchy,
- and, it is easy to spell
And regarding the Top Level Domain of your choice, remember these characteristics:
- Always choose the TLD to suit your business
- Always go with a country-related TLD if you have a particular country in mind to sell your products to
Other than the above, good luck, and all the best…
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