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How to Choose The Best Domain Name for Your Website

If you're building an income generating website, the best domain name is vital. Here are 5 important tips to remember when choosing your domain name.

September 20th, 2010 by Becky Turner


How To Choose The Best Domain Name

How To Choose The Best Domain Name

A website domain name is your home on the internet. It's how both human visitors and search engines will discover your site, so first up it has to be memorable, easy to spell, and relevant.

But choosing the right domain name goes deeper than that. We have to consider keywords, readability, and extensions. Then we need a quick way to find out if it's available at the registrar. Luckily for you my friend, everything you need is here. This article explains the two underlying rules of choosing a website domain plus 5 straightforward steps to make your decision easy.

I'll be using my own domains as examples, so you can understand exactly why I choose the likes of www.World-of-Lucid-Dreaming.com and www.Improve-Vision-Naturally.com and just why they work so well.

First though, let's take a quick look at the two major points of consideration: robots and humans.


Rule #1 - Make It Robot Friendly

When I say "robot friendly" it doesn't mean your domain name should appeal to your toaster. It means you have to starting talking SEO.

SEO stands of Search Engine Optimization. It's a fancy way of saying that your website is loaded up with all the juicy, high-traffic keywords relevant to your niche. Having the right keywords littered throughout your website helps the search engines identify exactly what your site is about. This means better rankings on Google and, in turn, much more traffic.

Choosing a robot friendly domain name is just the beginning of your SEO efforts - but it's a major step. Below I've explained exactly how to make your website URL extremely SEO friendly.


Rule #2 - Make It Human Friendly

The second rule of choosing the best domain name is making is appeal to humans. You've already optimized your domain for the best search terms but now you need to give it feeling. Your squishy, emotionally-driven human visitors need a website name they connect with and remember.

This is a branding exercise, and your biggest challenge is to pick a good brand name that doesn't conflict with rule #1. You need a unique name that spells out exactly what you do - no fancy, mysterious titles.

Below I've outlined my ideas for giving a website domain emotional impact and memorability in those oh-so-few characters you have spare. Remember, a website name should be catchy, and certainly not much longer than World of Lucid Dreaming I must admit.


How to Choose The Best Domain Name

Here are my top 5 tips for picking the best domain name. I go through all these steps before registering any new website address, because getting it right will have a major impact on the success of each online business.


Step 1. Use Your Primary Keyword

After doing a truckload of brainstorming and keyword research using Site Build It, I created a powerful list of 300-400 profitable keywords for my first website based on the topic of lucid dreaming.

As expected, the primary keyword for my niche was lucid dreaming, then I had hundreds of specific related search terms like how to lucid dream, dream control, vivid dreams, alternate realities, etc. This list formed the skeletal structure of my site plan, which guided my entire site.

But my first job was to simply make my domain name robot friendly, so I knew it had to contain the main keyword lucid dreaming. So far, so good.


Step 2. Separate Words With Dashes

Though Google may not have much trouble splitting out keywords - your human readers might. If I run all the words of my domain name together it makes it hard to read: www.worldofluciddreaming.com - not good.

But even more problematic is a word combo that can be easily misunderstood, as in the case of these unfortunate domain names:

  • Who Represents (a website for celebrities and their agents) unwittingly came up with a corker in www.whorepresents.com

  • I can't believe Experts Exchange (a programming forum) didn't see their double entendre when they chose www.expertsexchange.com

  • In need of therapy? You will be after visiting Therapist Finder at the absurdly named www.therapistfinder.com

  • And if you thought that was inappropriate, visit the Mole Station Native Nursery at www.molestationnativenursery.com

Thankfully, the owners of these websites have since realized their glaring error and moved on. Don't make the same mistake - just add dashes.

I also employed this technique to avoid www.Improve-Vision-Naturally.com becoming www.improvevisionnaturally.com. Note how I capitalize the words to make it more readable too, although bear in mind domain names are NOT case sensitive; this is just a written preference for your human readers.


Step 3. Make it Easy and Memorable

This is the branding part - and it's all in aid of your human visitors. Quite possibly, if www.Lucid-Dreaming.com had been available I would have stopped there. But it was already taken - and you'll find that with a lot of profitable niches. So you need to make it a little different anyway so use this opportunity to personalize your domain name.

There are a number of obvious choices which make your URL both memorable and gives it a further push in the keyword stakes, such as:

  • Lucid-Dreaming-Guide.com
  • Lucid-Dreaming-World.com
  • About-Lucid-Dreaming.com
  • Lucid-Dreaming-Central.com

They're not too inspired, but they are easy to spell and get right to the point - no messing about with odd spellings or pointless, made-up words such as Beccis-Fantabulous-Lucid-Dreaming-World.com.

If you want to personalize your domain name with your own name, go right ahead, as long as it's easy to spell and remember:

  • Dans-Beanbag-Guide.com
  • Kellys-Amazing-Apes.com
  • Colins-Car-Wash.com

If your name ends in a vowel or an 'S' - don't go there. See how much harder it is to read or remember Jesuss-Bible-Club.com or Sues-Camera-Guide.com - it just doesn't read as well.

In the end, I settle for World-of-Lucid-Dreaming.com because it parallels with the idea of a "dream world" being an alternate reality. I felt this was appropriate for lucid dreaming, which is known for its realism and for being like an actual place that you can visit in your sleep.

With Improve-Vision-Naturally.com I had a three-word keyphrase which was already long enough so it would be foolish to add extra words. I chose this domain name because it is an excellent keyphrase with lots of searches and very few websites catering to it. The phrase also contains another hot keyword (domain already taken) which is improve vision.

Another trick is to switch the keywords around because Google still reads the same word pair:

  • Dreaming-Lucid.com

To sum up, branding your website domain name is - at most - a case of adding one or two words to your primary keyphrase. Ideally the extra words should be after your SEO keywords although it's not essential.


Step 4. Decide on an Extension

For your URL extension you have a number of choices like:

  • .com - US Commercial
  • .net - US Network
  • .org - US Non-Profit Organization
  • .edu - US Educational
  • .ca - Canada
  • .co.uk - United Kingdom
  • .com.au - Australia

The list goes on... Ideally, you want a .com domain as these show up internationally (and you don't have to be in the US to buy it).

If you choose a country-specific domain, your website will be largely restricted in search results to that country. This is better if you run a local business and don't care about international traffic, or if you write in a language limited to that country. But if your business is purely online and appeals to a worldwide audience, there is no sense restricting yourself.

I have always gone with .com domain names in the past, however when it came to Career-Evolution.net we could only get the .net variation. We could have played around with more branding ideas but the name Career Evolution embodied everything we wanted to say. So if you can't get the best domain name as a .com, taking .net instead is the next best thing.


Step 5. Check Availability

Many of today's best domain names are already taken - even the ones that have been personalized and branded. Don't even think about nabbing a three-letter domain either; they are long gone.

To quickly identify which of your potential domain names are available, visit Better Who Is (formerly known as Who Is, only now it's better). In a few seconds you can find out if your chosen domain name is already taken - and who owns it. You can offer to buy a domain name off someone else but this can be hard work and they may even try to exploit you. I recommend going back to your list of potentials and trying an alternative. It may take numerous searches but keep going till you find one you're happy with.

Finally, sleep on it. Ask someone you trust if it sounds good, and what images your domain name conjures up in their mind. You might find inspiration strikes you while you're off doing other things, and you'll be glad you didn't register the very first domain you settled on.


Final Thoughts

Having chosen the best domain name, you'll need to register it. This can be managed by your web host. Fans of this site will know I'm a huge advocate of Site Build It - and with them your domain name comes free. This is the ideal option if you've never built a website before, because Site Build It will teach you everything, step-by-step, including how to make money online.

Alternatively if you're a seasoned pro, choose a website host like BlueHost which is packed with great features like unlimited bandwidth and costs only US $6.95 / month including a free domain name for life. I use both BlueHost and Site Build It and I am delighted with both services.