Domain Hosting

20 Essential Tips for Choosing the Best Domain Name for a Website

It is crucial to get the greatest possible domain name for your website. Your domain name is something that should be given hours, if not days, of consideration, and it’s no exaggeration to state that selecting the wrong decision can break a business in some cases. In summary, every website owner must check that their domain name is correct – ideally before they do anything else, and especially if the website will be used for commercial purposes.

At WP Circuit, we’re no strangers to domain names. In fact, we’ve talked about domains a lot over the last several months, demonstrating how important they are to would-be website owners.

So far, we’ve discussed what a domain name is and the differences between a domain name and web hosting, as well as the difference between a domain name and a website. In addition, we’ve compiled a list of the nine best website domain name registrars in 2020 — that is, where you may register and purchase a domain name.

However, we haven’t yet covered all of the factors to consider when selecting your ideal domain name – in other words, how to choose! Let’s make a difference today. Here are more than 20 helpful hints for selecting and registering a domain name (in no particular order).

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Always go for the.com version.

Best Domain Name

Let me tell it again: whenever possible, choose a.com domain.

Technically, the.com domain name extension is merely one of several available top-level domains (TLDs) (more on TLDs and other components of a domain name here). Other popular domain extensions include.net,.org,.co,.edu,.biz, and even.shop and.blog.

While all those fancy TLDs are enticing, going with the classic.com is almost always the best option. There are two reasons for this:

People are more familiar with.com domains than with anything else; they will type ‘.com’ into the browser URL bar by default, and will forget your extension if it’s too strange. Everyone assumes that a website is a.com.

According to research, 47 percent of all websites utilize the.com TLD. Is it possible that they’re all wrong?

All of this means that if your ideal.com is already taken, you should either forget about it or try contacting the current owner to see if they’d be prepared to sell the domain to you. Warning! This might be costly. (We’ll go through this in detail in No. 13.)

Don’t always go for the.com

Best Domain Name

Sorry. I’m sorry if I’m making things difficult for you, but please bear with me.

The.com regulation does include several exceptions:

Consider using a local TLD if your website is primarily targeted at a local audience. Building a blog targeting the German market, for example? Consider getting a.de address.

By making it clear that you’re in their country, you’ll provide your users a little extra awareness and increase your trustworthiness (via the local TLD).

You shouldn’t, however, limit yourself to only that local domain name. You could want to expand your brand in the future, and if that happens, you don’t want to discover that your.com has already been taken.

At the end of the day, even if you only want to cater to a local market, buying the.com version will save you money in the long run. Meanwhile, you may link the.com to your local domain, ensuring that visitors get at the same website regardless of whatever address they use.

Consider Using Non-Traditional TLDs as an Experiment

As indicated in No. 1, there are now a plethora of various TLDs available that weren’t available just a few years ago.

For example, domain extensions such as.shop,.club,.store,.blog,.design,.xyz, and so on are available. You can also play with with some of the TLDs that were designed to be local TLDs but, because to their unusual appearance, can be used for a variety of other reasons. Domain extensions such as.is,.io,.fm,.it,.ly,.cc, and others fall within this category.

To give you an example of the latter, if it makes sense for your brand and intended name, you may make the entire domain, including the TLD, appear to be one full phrase. You can do so by being creative with your TLD selection. For instance, Microsoft Translator is available at translate.it, which is the entire domain name and a clever use of the Italian top-level domain.it.

The problem with these TLDs is that they aren’t available from every domain registrar. Currently, GoDaddy offers the most extensive catalog.

Best Domain Name

However, if you’re looking for a certain TLD, you should search around with other registrars as well. This is our other resource, where we discuss the major registrars in the industry as well as some of the TLDs they offer.

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Think about purchasing the other main TLDs as well.

The first step is to secure your major domain name extension, whether it’s a.com or a local TLD. Step two is to obtain all of the other popular TLDs and redirect them to your primary TLD.

Consider obtaining the following domains if your target address is SeeMeBloggin.com:

  • SeeMeBlogg.in
  • SeeMeBloggin.co
  • SeeMeBloggin.net
  • SeeMeBloggin.org
  • SeeMeBloggin.co.uk, for example.

While this will add to your overall domain name payment at the end of the year, you will also be avoiding potential problems in the future. Specifically, you don’t want to end up competing with a site with the same domain name but a different TLD.

Other things you don’t want include:

People are making impostor sites, which seem exactly like yours but aren’t (meant to trick people).

Some of those missing TLDs are being registered by people who then try to sell them back to you at a much higher price.

Visitors mistyping your TLD and being unable to access your website.

Pick a Name That Can Be Branded

We all understand the importance of branding for long-term success, but what makes a domain name brandable? There are numerous elements at play here, but the following are the most important:

A brandable name has no specific definition (for example, ‘Google’ is not a word, and neither is ‘YouTube’).

It’s one-of-a-kind; your competitors don’t utilize anything like it.

It’s simple to remember because it’s not very long or contains complicated vowel combinations.

It’s simple to say and spell over the phone.

It sounds trustworthy – certain names are by definition shady; for example, WinTheLotteryToday.com might be a touch too brazen, but Lotterio.com sounds much better.

You can simplify the brainstorming process by experimenting with different combinations of actual words and random suffixes, as I did with the Lotterio.com example above. The key goal is to make the domain name have the ability to grow in brand value over time.

To put it another way, make sure the name has a good ring to it as much as feasible. It should be enjoyable to say aloud and easy to remember right away. Consider a company like Uber: It’s short and quick, and even when uttered casually in a conversation, there’s no confusion about how to spell it.

Make it as short, simple, and predictable as possible.

Best Domain Name

So, we’ve previously discussed brandability (if that’s a term), but there are some additional, more general aspects of a good domain name. The big four are as follows:

  • brief — preferably 15(ish) characters or less, omitting the TLD
  • basic — no hyphens, underscores, intricate words, or other punctuation as part of the domain
  • Just words – unless absolutely necessary (for example, if it’s part of your brand name, such as 9gag.com), avoid using numbers.
  • No strange spellings (for example, if your name is Myke and you want to make it part of your domain — such as MykeBlogs.com — people will consistently mistype it as MikeBlogs.com).

You can also:

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Purchase your domain’s common misspellings

This, however, may increase your annual domain fee even more, so you must decide.

In general, if you just concentrate on a few of the most common misspellings of the domain, you’ll be fine.

Lotterio.com could be misspelled as Loterio.com — single ‘T’, as in my previous example.

Once you’ve got those, point them back to your primary domain.

Use a Thesaurus to Come Up With Domain Names

So, regardless of what I say about choosing a domain name that is brandable, simple, has a nice ring to it, is easy to remember, and so on, the truth remains that coming up with a truly good name is difficult.

Sometimes you’ll simply go through dozens of words before settling on the perfect one, while other times nothing will suffice. In that scenario, Thesaurus.com could be a valuable addition to your armory.

The tool will assist you in finding synonyms as well as providing brief definitions to ensure that you do not make the error of naming your domain after a term whose meaning you have misinterpreted.

Note: As I previously stated, using a typical dictionary term as your domain name, even if it originates from a thesaurus, is not recommended. Always add some modifiers to it, or change a few characters here and there to make it something unique.

These tools are not only easy to use, but they are also remarkably useful. They only require one term from you — a seed keyword (or seed key-phrase) — and in exchange, they provide you with tens or even hundreds of suggestions, all of which are genuine and available domain names that you can register right away.

Use some domain name generators to help you out.

This is another type of tool you can use if you’re having trouble coming up with a catchy domain name and, by extension, a catchy business name.

The following are the best examples of such tools:

The Automattic team produced LeanDomainSearch (also known for WordPress.com). When you look for the word ‘coffee,’ for example, you get the following:

Nameboy is a little more retro, especially in terms of design, but it’s still functional. This one requires more detailed input and performs better once you’ve decided on a general direction for your name.

Choose a domain name that you may legally own.

Infringing on a trademark might lead to serious consequences. And, while I understand that relatively few people register a domain name with the intention of infringing on someone else’s intellectual property, it does happen from time to time.

As a rule of thumb, whenever you have a great domain name idea and are about to register it, simply google the name and browse the first and second pages of results. Businesses that already use this name and (apparently) operate in a similar market or niche are what you’re looking for.

If you come across anything, you’ll probably need to change your domain name.

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Don’t get too worked up if your ideal domain name is already taken.

Best Domain Name

It’s not the end of the world if the domain name you really want is already taken. You might still be able to get your hands on it.

Here are some options:

If the domain name isn’t in use (i.e., there’s no website or the domain is ‘parked’ — it just displays ads), there’s a significant probability the owner bought it with the intention of selling it later. On that parked website, you’ll most certainly locate some contact information. If no information is available, utilize who.is to find the owner’s email address.

If the domain has a website, you can still try your luck and contact the owner to see if they’re willing to sell it. There’s a slim probability of success here, but it’s still worth a shot.

If the domain is absolutely vacant and no contact information can be obtained, check out well-known domain-flipping marketplaces like GoDaddy’s (auction-based), Sedo, SnapNames, or Flippa.

Purchasing an existing domain name is a different process than purchasing a new one, and it necessitates extra attention. In No. 13, we discuss this.

Another thing to keep in mind is that buying a domain from someone else costs money (emphasis mine). Good money can be found on occasion! A conservative estimate would be $250, but more likely $1,000 or more.

If you can’t afford it, don’t be too concerned… This leads me to:

Don’t get too worked up if your ideal domain name is already taken and you can’t get it.

So, as important as domain names are, and having the correct one might mean the world to you, don’t get too worked up if you can’t get your hands on what you want (it’s unavailable or the price is too expensive).

First and foremost, more crucial than everything else — perhaps more vital than the domain name itself — is to get the concept for your website or business right. The lack of that “ideal domain name” will not keep you back if you apply yourself to executing that idea and do so deliberately.

Second, domain names can be modified at any time. Even if you don’t have the correct domain right now, you can always buy one later and just redirect your website to it.

Sumo, for example, a suite of online marketing tools, did something similar not long ago. They started with sumome.com, but after a time, when they had enough money, they purchased the domain name they truly wanted – sumo.com. In their situation, the domain move was somewhat costly. Their new sumo.com domain cost $1.5 million in total. But don’t worry, you don’t have to spend this much money on yours. Sumo has just become the 83rd most expensive domain name in history.

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Exercise Caution When Purchasing Existing Domain Names

Purchasing an existing domain name differs from purchasing a new one, as I explained a few paragraphs above. First and foremost, because it is not new, it already has a history. And you’ll never know exactly what that history is.

On the plus side, because you’re not starting from scratch, Google may give you a boost because it already recognizes the domain.

On the other hand, if the domain has contained any ‘non-kosher’ content (porn, gambling, spam content, or email spam distribution), it may be completely banned from Google.

When you buy a domain from a marketplace like Flippa, you can be assured that it has been confirmed at the very least in the most basic way. You should, however, do your own inspections to make things a little safer.

To begin, perform a manual check by going to Google and typing in:

site:YOURDOMAIN.com

This will inform you if Google has any pages from that domain indexed. It’s a positive sign if you can find anything. It indicates that the domain is not blocked. However, not being able to find anything does not have to be a deal-breaker.

If the domain is empty — that is, if there is no website — there is nothing for Google to look for in the first place.

This is a red flag if there is a website but Google can’t find it (through the site:YOURDOMAIN.com phrase).

You can also use programs like bannedcheck.com and ismywebsitepenalized.com to perform checks. However, keep in mind that none of this is infallible. Consider them as a source of assistance.

But there’s still more we can do:

Use the Wayback Machine to look up the domain’s history.

Best Domain Name

Note: Even if you’re getting (what you think is) a new domain name, this one is worth verifying. It’s possible that the domain name you’re seeking to register was previously registered but abandoned by the owner. It’s still interesting to see what was on it.

You may search into the history of a domain name in a few different ways. One of the most popular, and one that is also accessible to the general public (read: not too technical), is the Wayback Machine.

This is one of the first of its kind software. Simply said, it allows you to step into a time machine and see how any website used to look in the past.

When I say “any website,” I don’t mean just any website. However, you may expect to locate most websites that had any significant traffic at some point in the past. In our situation, using Wayback Machine allows us to discover if the domain we’re interested in has ever been used for anything substantial, and if so, whether or not it was all kosher.

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Use who.is to look up the domain’s history.

After the Wayback Machine, who.is is the next best thing for learning about the history of a domain name. For at least two reasons, this one is really useful:

To begin, you may view current domain information, such as who the owner is (assuming they don’t have ID protection – more on that later), who the registrar is, and so on. It’s pointless for me to mention everything here; instead, go to who.is, type in your favorite website, and see what’s new.

Second, you can get a ‘whois history report’ from who.is. This is a paid service ($10), but it’s a bargain when you consider what you get in return: all of the whois data linked with a certain domain name from the beginning. This means you’ll be able to see the domain’s history, including when it was first registered and how many times it has changed hands.

Finally, if you’re considering purchasing an existing domain, which can be fairly costly, an extra $10 doesn’t seem excessive. It may also save you time and aggravation in the future.

Make a list of all of your social media handles.

Whether we like it or not, social media is a big deal these days.

Every day, the typical web-connected human spends one hour on Facebook, and the site receives 2 billion visits per month. That’s a BILLION dollars.

What I’m trying to imply is that people are far more likely to check in on your brand on Facebook than they are to visit your website. This is only one of the many reasons why you must have professional profiles on the most prominent social media platforms.

Get the same handles as your domain name as much as possible. If these are already taken, get inventive with suffixes and prefixes. Now, daily, hq, get, and app are a few alternatives. On Twitter, for example, my fictitious Lotterio.com brand may be known as LotterioHQ.

Select a Reliable Domain Registrar

A domain registrar is a corporation that registers a domain name for you and then gives you complete control over it.

When it comes to registrars, the goal is to only work with reputable and trustworthy companies. You don’t want to run into any domain issues later on, when your website’s brand has already established itself and losing the domain would be disastrous.

We always propose the following registrars:

GoDaddy and Namecheap are two of the most popular domain registrars.

SiteGround is a top-rated hosting provider that also sells domain names.

Do some comparison shopping to find the best deal.

Despite the fact that all domain registrars provide the same service — registering a domain name on your behalf — cost can vary greatly. As a result, shopping around with different registrars and comparing pricing for the domain name you desire is always a good idea.

To give you an example, if you want a.co domain extension, which is a popular choice these days, you’ll discover that the identical domain will cost you:

  • GoDaddy charges $11.99 for a domain name.
  • Namecheap charges $6.88 for a domain name.
  • ENOM charges $32.50, and so forth.

Now, I’m not claiming Namecheap is always the cheapest option; it isn’t. The price is always determined by the precise TLD you desire, so check with several registrars to see what’s available.

Also, as a general reminder, always keep your registrar’s user panel login credentials safe. Anyone who gains access to that panel has the ability to transfer your domain to their account.

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Secure the Domain to Prevent It From Being Stolen

Best Domain Name

Although it may appear strange at first, domain hijacking is more common than you might think.

Without getting into the technical technicalities, your domain can be hijacked in a variety of ways. Most frequently, this entails either cracking your password or persuading you to divulge your password through a phishing attempt, as well as a variety of other amusing activities.

Basically, if someone gains access to your registrar’s user account, they have complete control over your domains.

Some domain registrars provide a service that keeps your domain in Registrar-lock status, preventing unlawful domain transfers. Until you unlock your domain name, you won’t be able to update your registration details or DNS configuration.

Fortunately, enabling this feature is usually fairly simple and simply requires you to check a box in your registrar’s user interface.

Whenever possible, register your domain name yourself.

Allowing someone else (such as an agency) to register a domain name for you is a bad idea. Even though it’s easier in the short term (because someone else does all the work), it can lead to problems in the long run.

If you let someone else register the domain, they will have control over you and your website. If you ever decide to leave their services, you may run into issues with them not being keen to transfer the domain to you and give you complete ownership.

Here are a few examples of what can go wrong: They may take an inordinate amount of time to finish the transfer, or they may try to extort costs from you to do so, or they may simply refuse to do so (based on some fine print in your initial agreement).

Furthermore, you risk losing your domain name totally if the agency/person goes bankrupt or loses access to the domain registrar for whatever reason.

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Comment (1)

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