How to Choose a Domain Name
I remember when I bought my first domain name. It was so exciting!
…and a little scary.
When I bought my first domain name it was very different than it is today. There were so many things that you just had to know.
Meaning, there wasn’t a lot of “how to” type help online and there was a lot of manual steps to buying and then setting up a domain name.
Luckily for you, today the process is about 1,000% more simple. Today buying a domain name is almost as simple as buying a book. If you’ve chosen the right hosting provider, you really have nothing to do except to start using it.
If you’ve chosen the wrong hosting provider, or you are hosting your site with a company that is different from where you bought your domain name, then you may have a few steps to walk through to get your domain hooked up to your website.
That's right, they are not the same thing.
Again, there are plenty of resources out there that will be able to walk you through the process. If you get stuck you can post a comment here (scroll to the bottom of this page) and I'll do everything I can to help you.
Alternatively, you can post a comment in the Wealthy Affiliate community and not only will I help you, but countless community members will help you as well.
What is a Domain Name?
As I explained in part 1 of “How to Find the Best Niche Web Hosting Providers”, a domain is like an address or a phone number.
Note: If you are really interested in the high-level mechanics around domains then keep reading, otherwise skip to the next section.
You can think of a domain name as an easy to remember address that ultimately translates to a not so easy to remember number. So, an address like someDomain.com might translate to 10.11.55.13.
See what I mean? It’s much easier to remember someDomain.com than it is to remember that nasty four-part number.
When you type in a domain into your web browser, or you click on a link, then the web browser goes to a special set of servers that translates the domain to that number, then it goes through another series of specialized computers called routers.
Each router narrows it down to a smaller set of possible locations until it gets to the right individual server where your website is hosted. Understand that’s a grossly oversimplified version of what happens, but that's the gist.
Thankfully, you don’t have to know all those inner workings in any way. I include that explanation only for the morbidly curious.
Where Do I Start?
If you’ve chosen a niche then you should have a list of some broad keywords (within your narrow niche).
These are going to come in handy once again now that you are ready to start thinking about your domain that will be used at your new hosting provider.
Let’s take a moment to answer some questions. You are going to have to answer these questions specifically because they are important to your unique needs.
Do You want to target a specific region?
This question is important. For example, if you are intending to deal primarily with customers local to a region (your town, your state/province, or even just your country) then that is good information at this stage to know.
The reason this is good to know has to do with localized targeting of both search engines and social media.
Both of these channels have ways of favoring local results for local traffic that gets better week by week and are hugely important so that local traffic can find you in real time.
I'll go over the reasons why this is important in the guidelines linked at the bottom of this post.
Do You Already Have a Product or Product Line?
This is important because if you already have a product you may want to consider using the name of your product to brand your website.
If you have a line of products and that line has a brand in common, then this too should be considered when picking out a name.
Do You Already Have a Business Name or Brand?
Like the last question, if you already have a brand then you are going to want to try and target that brand, especially if it already has a following.
The power of a brand and future branding can hinge quite a bit on the domain name you choose.
If you choose the right domain name then you are going to benefit from those people that assume if they type YourBrand.com that they are going to find you without even searching.
Do You Intend to Brand Yourself?
Like the questions before, if you are intending to use your name, then you should try your best to get a domain that reflects just your name.
This can be very difficult though because most dot com names have been taken for common names.
It is possible sometimes to get a dot org or dot net with your exact name (YourName.org for example).
What's cool about branding your own name is that you can then get creative with your email address. For example, me@YourName.com is one I like to target.
Have you read the post about choosing a niche?
It’s important to have a well thought out foundation of information before you choose a domain name. If you have not read my post, “How to Find a Profitable Niche Market” and you don't have a topic (or brand) for your website already, then I suggest you do this before proceeding.
This post will walk you through the due diligence information gathering strategy that will greatly assist you with choosing a good domain name. But it borrows heavily from the strategy executed in my post about finding a niche.
By going through the exercises to not only find and research your niche, you'll be much better prepared to choose a domain name that is going to serve your niche well.
Choosing Your Perfect Domain Name
The following posts will take you through the process of picking out your perfect domain name.
13 Tips to Choose the Right Domain Name - This post will give you the 13 guidelines you should be considering while picking out your domain name.
While you should read this article completely to firmly place these guidelines in your mind, the next article you can just skim since it's more of a reference document.
You'll be coming back to the domain name generators post as you go through the last article in this series where you actually choose the perfect domain name for your new enterprise.
Tools for Inspiration: Domain Name Generators - The tools we use can help make our tasks easier, use these domain name generators for inspiration.
Make sure you save this page, because these generators are good for more than just domain names, they can be used for business names, product names, or anywhere you need a name.
Choosing the Perfect Domain Name - This is what it's all about, all the other information in the other parts of this series has been leading up to this task.
Your domain name is the first thing people see, it's your first impression. It needs to be something that helps visitors understand what you're about, and it needs to inspire trust.
Take your time, go through the three additional parts of this series and choose the perfect domain name.
Engage! Be Fearless!
There's simply no way for me to know if you are finding this information useful if I need to be clearer or to answer your questions if you don't ask them.
Take a minute and let me know your thoughts, questions, and comments so that I can help you as much as possible.
I want you to succeed, be fearless and engage!