A lot of people think that design and logo creation is the first step when starting their own website or blog. That may have been true in the past, but when you get serious about marketing your business online, you start to put more thought into what domain name you actually need, and the names themselves, rather than just the look of your site.
Although the actual purchasing of your domain name may be completed very quickly, the brainstorming process will take several days, and involve some research
When trying to come up with as many good possible domain names as you can think of, you're going to do a lot of talking! You'll talk to others in the industry, talk to your peers, talk to your family members, and talk to your friends, and whilst you might not mention you're looking for a domain name, you will be indicating you need a name and their feedback would be welcome.
Whenever you have an idea for your brilliant domain name... jot it down.
Guidelines for Brilliant Domain Names
- Only register domain names that you can get .coms for unless your business is a strictly local business in which case a co.uk, .eu or .us is acceptable.
- The fewer words the better.
- Don’t use hyphens or underlines.
- Don’t use numbers. You don’t want to have to say “that’s 36, in numbers” every time you say your website to someone.
- Don’t use a word that’s awkward to spell… unless you are prepared to buy every possible variation on that name.
- Pick a name you can grow into. A name that’ll work just as well 5 years from now as today.
- Don't choose a name that can be misinterpreted.
Don’t pick “ToniasTeddies.com” if you might expand into other lines of toys, for example. “ToniasToys.com” might work better.
Domain name don'ts
- Don’t use your own name as the domain name. If you are setting up your website with business in mind, at some point you will exit the business. When the domain is your name it becomes harder to sell and a business liability rather than an asset. Also, if the business is failing, you'll be so emotionally attached to it because it has your name, that you'll struggle for longer, rather than re-group and start afresh.
- Avoid trademarks – names of other businesses like Twitter and Facebook are trademarked, so you may have to take your site down and cancel your domain if you use a trademark.
- If your name is taken then try adding blog to it ie xyzblog.com or online like xyzonline.com
- Brainstorm a lot of possible names, and then pick the best one.
Exact Match Domain Names
You’re probably going to have to come up with two or three-word domain names. Some people recommend having a keyword in your domain name, but there is no longer any advantage for having your domain as your exact keyword and hasn't been since 2012.
What to do if your domain name is taken
Single-word domains are almost always going to be taken. You may occasionally be able to pick up a single word domain name from Sedo’s Great Domains auction or from various domain name forums, but you won’t be able to register a name from scratch unless you invent a word.
Choosing the right domain name
Write all Your potential domain names down
And then say them aloud. Cross out
- Any brilliant domain name that your tongue trips over
- Any domain name you have to spell out loud
- Any domain name that your other half asks you to explain
This gives you a good idea of how memorable your domain name is, and how it sounds when you say it out loud, which you will do more than you think!
You'll need to brainstorm plenty of domain names and variations, in case the one that you want isn't available. I recommend writing a list with 10 or 20 on them.
Got your shortlist? It's now time to buy your domain name!
Buying your Domain Name
Buy your domain name with your hosting, for ease, or separately if you don't like all your eggs in one basket. I buy mine at 123-reg because you can activate the auto-renew option and not lose your domain name or have your site go down because you've missed a notification.
When buying a domain name, you might not think you need a lot of support, but the moment you run into a spot of trouble, you'll discover how good the support really is. Again, 123-reg have never let me down and answered anything I need to know quickly and courteously.
At the time of purchasing your domain name, you'll be invited to buy a hundred other variants of your domain name, whether you need email services, SEO etc. I suggest you just buy your chosen domain names for now. You can always add on the things you fancy later.
Got my domains, now what?
When you've got your domains, and rubbed your hands in delight, the next step is to point the domain names at your website hosting name servers.
Now, this isn't very complicated, and if you buy your domain names with your hosting, you don't have to complete this step at all.
When you purchase your hosting you'll get a welcome email and this usually contains a welcome pack, explaining where to find the various bits and pieces that you'll need and one section will tell you the web address to point your nameservers too. They tend to look like this:
You then go along to your domain name's control panel and look for the section marked nameservers.
On 123-reg I select the domain name and then select manage to access nameservers
I then scroll down to the "advanced" settings to find the change nameservers link:
Click update and you're done!
And there you have it, not only do you have a brilliant domain name, you know how to buy it and where to change your nameservers. All you have to do now is set up your blog 🙂