Today I am going to give you 11 things that you absolutely must know before you go through the process of choosing a domain name. This is really important stuff that I've learned through all the time I've spent in the area of online business, and I want to pass that information on to you.
First thing's first—do not spend too much time choosing the domain name. Is it important? Absolutely. But don’t let it be a hurdle.
Sometimes I see people literally not taking any other action because they’re stuck trying to choose a domain name. That's ridiculous. A domain name doesn't make your business.
What makes your business is the content on the website. Yes, the domain name does have some importance and you don't want to choose something totally random, but it isn't going to be the core focus of your business.
You can have a great domain name, but it won’t matter if you don't have any content on your website because nobody’s going to see it.
That's actually not even one of the 11 things you need to know, but I just had to tell you that. If you're looking this content up, I don't want you to get stuck at this level, not taking action because you're stressing about a domain name. At the end of the day, it’s really not worth it.
Now let's go ahead and get into the list of the 11 things that you need to know.
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1) Buy a .com Domain Name
Number one is that you should buy a .com domain name. It's what the web was built on—.net, .org, .co—there are so many different ones now, but I would just build it on a .com.
I can't tell you that you have to choose this one, because there are all these different intrinsic benefits, but generally speaking, the web was built on .com. Just stick with what works.
I've done this with all my websites and I never, ever change from it. I've been pretty successful with what I've done, so don't go into all these other ones.
2) Buy Your Domain Name Separate from Your Hosting Provider
Number two is, you want to buy your domain name separate from your hosting provider. One caveat to this is that if you have never started before, skip to number three. It isn't worth it for you to stress about this yet.
When you are buying your domain name at your hosting provider, I personally recommend SiteGround.
The thing is (and this hasn't happened to me), if someone is somehow able to hack into your hosting account and your domain name is there, they could potentially transfer your domain name over to their hosting. Once that happens, it is very hard to reverse, so it can be a security issue.
As I said, if you're just starting out with your first website and you've never done this before—forget it. You're going to make some mistakes along the way. Your first website may or may not be a home run. If it is a home run, you can easily transfer your domain name.
However, if you have a website that's been around for a while and you're thinking, “Well, what should I do with it?” that's one reason to transfer it over. When you transfer it, the domain name provider that I prefer is Namecheap. I've seen really good things with them and I've used them for years.
3) Stay Broad with the Domain Name
Number three is to stay broad with your domain name. Now, this is a mistake I made quite a few times when I started out. The reason you want to stay broad is you want to be able to expand.
For example, I'm from Chicago, so I'm a Chicago Bears fan. If I wanted to make a website about football, it wouldn't make sense for me to call it “chicagobearsfans.com,” because I would really be focused on Chicago Bear fans and the Chicago Bears in general. Plus, I would probably get a trademark violation, but that's a whole different thing.
The point is, it’s too narrow. If you just called it “footballlovers.com,” for people who love the game of football, that is much broader, so I could talk about the Chicago Bears, the Seattle Seahawks, the Minnesota Vikings, the Green Bay Packers, etc.
Just make sure you use a broad domain name so that you're not stuck creating content in one area and you can actually expand out into other areas and keep your website broad.
4) Short and Sweet Is Best
Number four is that short and sweet is best. Having a website domain between two to four words is ideal. Also, don't use long words, or words that are hard to spell.
Try to make it something that will stick in people's minds. The shorter and sweeter you can make it, the easier it is to remember, which is really the goal.
5) Alliteration Is King
Number five is to try to use alliteration, which is when you have two words in a row where the first letter is the same, or they sound the same.
The example I like to go with is something like “cathat.com.” That sounds the exact same. I don't know if it's available, but that's alliteration. Or, you could do “christmas.com.” They both have that “c” sound, and they're easy for people to remember.
Now, why did I just choose cats as a subject matter for this? I don't know. It's late. I'm tired. It's been a long day. What do you want from me?
6) Use Creativity with Your Domain Name
Number six is to be creative with your domain name. This is really important because most of the domain names you're going to want will already be taken. That’s bad news for you, but it's just the reality of the situation. However, it doesn't mean you can't figure anything out.
When I think of the perfect name I’ll search it and usually find that it’s taken. This almost always happens. Then, I will go to thesaurus.com and type in each word to try to get different words that mean the same thing and try to find something that fits together.
I create many of my websites this way. It takes some practice, but again, you shouldn't spend more than an hour on this. You can come up with some pretty good ideas there. A lot of times, the ones that are a little bit odd usually aren’t taken.
7) Add Extra Words If Nothing Else Works
Number seven is to add extra words if nothing else works. This isn't something that I recommend every time, but you can do this if you absolutely have to.
For example, did you know that facebook.com originally started off as thefacebook.com?
Why do you think that happened? Because good old Mark Zuckerberg couldn't afford facebook.com. It was probably owned by someone else.
So what did he do? He just added “the” in front of it. Then, when the company became more profitable, he purchased facebook.com. That's the smart thing to do. In the beginning, just get something that's cheap. Don't spend all your money on this.
Now, there are many different words you can add, like HQ (as in headquarters), hub, home, world, etc. There are many different words you can add to a domain name that still make sense, so go ahead and do that if you need to.
8) Think of a Concept with Your Domain Name
Number eight is s a little bit higher-level marketing, but it's something that I always try to do when I think of a domain name. That is, I try to think of a concept.
Once I get a domain name that I like, I kind of a brand the concept around it. An example of this is a failed website I had, but the branding was really good. It was called “goodnewsgum.com.” The slogan of the website was “Chew, smile, repeat.”
What we meant was to chew on the news (as in read the news), smile about the news (because it was a positive news website), and then repeat and keep coming back. It was a great concept, but the website failed completely because it was about news, which is a brutal industry.
The point is, is that I always come up with concepts, in both my failed websites and my successful ones, before I actually go about building it.
9) Still Stuck? Use Some Tools
Number nine is that if you're still stuck, just use some tools. There are many different tools for this, like Name Mesh, Instant Domain Search, or Lean Domain Search.
If you're really stuck and you can't think of a domain name, these tools will help you. They come up with some pretty random things, and I've gotten plenty of ideas from them.
Using those tools to figure out a domain name is great, but I still purchase them on Namecheap. I do that because I've had good experiences with Namecheap, so I make sure to go there to actually purchase the whole domain.
10) Don’t Buy a Domain Name
Number 10 is a huge mistake that people make, especially if they're just starting out. If you're a seasoned veteran and you know what you're doing, that’s a different story—but if you're just starting out, do not buy a domain name at the regular domain name price.
Uner $20 a year is fine, but do not go out and spend $100, $500, $1,000, $5,000, or any significant amount of money on a domain name. Why? Because you don't have a business yet, so why would you spend your money on that?
You may think, “Well, I'll create the perfect website.” Okay, great. Buy a domain that's good enough and then build your business to be super profitable. Then, buy the domain name you want and transfer the website over.
It is totally fine to do that, I just don't want you to waste your money in the beginning. It is much better that you get a standard domain name that might not perfect, but is good enough, then take the money you would have spent on that and invest it into the content. Content is what will really propel your website and make it grow as a business.
11) Don’t Get Stuck Here
This is actually a repeat of the beginning, but don't get stuck. Don’t be the person who sits there and says, “I've got to figure out the perfect domain name. It has to be perfect.”
You'll see one year, three years, five years pass by, and then you'll look back and say, “I really wish I had just built that website.” Don't be that person; it’s silly and foolish. It's a waste of your mind space, and it's super stressful.
Ultimately, you need to find something within an hour that's good enough. Then say, “You know what? I'm just going to pull the trigger and move forward with it.”
To be successful in online businesses, you have to take action and get started.