Before you even think about building your website, you should register a domain name.
Your domain name represents the URL (or permanent web address) of your website. Therefore, when anyone types in “yourdomain.com” or “www.yourdomain.com”, they will see your website.
Definition: The domain name is an alphanumeric unique name that identifies individual web sites on the Internet. The domain can be of any length up to 67 characters, which includes the 26 letters of the English alphabet, numbers 0-9, and hyphens (-).The domain name cannot begin or end with a hyphen but, can contain one or more hyphens. The domain names have a suffix or extention, called also TLD (Top Level Domain), which is based on the type of organization it is associated with. Common suffixes include: .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us etc.
1. Choose a Memorable Domain Name
In order for people to easily spread the word about your website you need a domain name that is easy for people to remember. People often talk about what they read online when they are speaking to friends in the “real world”, so you need to make it easy for them to spread the word and pass on your URL.
2. Choose a Domain Name That Reflects Your Website /Business
You should choose a domain name that truly reflects what your website is all about.
It’s also worth trying to get a keyword or two that is relevant to the market you intend to target if possible. This will help for search engine rankings as well as for increasing click through rates from the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages).
It’s unlikely to be able to get exactly the domain name you want, so be creative and look for good variations. Brainstorm a few ideas and using some generic words that you can add to your keywords and you should come up with a few possible domains to choose from.
When brainstorming, try to come up with as many words as you can think of related to your preferred domain name. Also, list as many words as you can think of that are related to the content of your website.
Make different combinations with the listed words that are
- not easily confused,
- hard to misspell,
- related to the core of the business,
- with appropriate sounding to the core of your business.
As you brainstorm for domain names, you can at the same time start searching for the availability of these domains on the registrar website.
3. Long or Short Domain Name?
Domain names can be of any length up to 67 characters. You don’t have to settle for an obscure domain name like avab.com when what you mean is AcmeVideosAndBooks.com.
Having said that, it’s up to you to decide whether a long or short domain name is better.
Some argue that shorter domain names are easier to remember, easier to type and far less susceptible to mistakes. Others argue that a longer domain name is usually easier on the human memory, for example, an abbreviation or a sequence of unrelated letters will be harder to remember and type correctly, than the expanded long form.
Some of these arguments are actually academic. It’s increasingly difficult to get short meaningful domain names. If you manage to get a short domain name though, the key is to make sure it’s a meaningful combination of characters and not the obscure.
Long domain names that have your site keywords in them used to have an advantage in the search engines. However, today I don’t think having keywords in the domain gives you any special advantage in the searches.
Which would I go for? I’d say go for the shorter name if I can find a meaningful one, but I’m not against longer names. That said, I would probably avoid extremely long names (over 20 or maybe 30 characters). People might not be able to remember such a long name, it would also be a chore typing it and trying to fit it as a title on your web page.
4. .COM, .ORG, .NET, etc?
As a general rule it’s best to grab the .com version if you can, as it is the extension that most people will use automatically, as it’s the most popular.
If you really want a particular domain name and the .com isn’t available then you could go for the .net domain, a local country (or state) version like .co.uk or .ca, or if you are going to be building a primarily information based (non commercial) blog, then going for a .org is a good choice as people tend to recognize these sites as “non-profit” free information sites. Some people advice avoiding .info domain as they have been used heavily to build spam sites, because they are so cheap to register.
Having said that, for Search Engine Optimization purposes and how the search engines treat your site for ranking, it really doesn’t matter which you go for, there are some very popular sites and blogs that are on .net for instance.
You register your domain name through a domain name registrar or hosting provider. You simply check that your preferred domain name is available, then register it (online). Domain names are registered on an annual basis, and you can usually register it many years in advance (or set ‘auto-renew’). Prices usually range from between $8 to $15 for new domain registration.
5. Registering Your Domain
Usually the hosting companies provide one free domain registration when you sign up for a new hosting account. If you register the name with anyone else other than your hosting company, you will have to take several extra steps, including changing name servers. So, for your first domain I recommend that you go with your hosting company.
If you want to register more domains and want to save on domain name registration costs, you can use www.1and1.com (I use them and I can recommend them).