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Getting Off On The Right Foot: Choosing Your Domain Name

Choosing a domain name can be a very daunting task. There aren’t many “good” domains left to be had (last I checked there was over 100 MILLION .com names registered), which is why we see mutations and odd spellings of names popping up everywhere (fiverr, flickr, etc..)

See this story on how Buffer.com came from the original domain bfffr.com to later on bufferapp.com to now finally getting their business name Buffer.com.

Buffer.com – See this post for the story on how it happened.

You should take a considerable amount of time deciding on a domain, as it can (and in most cases should) be your entire identity…or at least the brand you build your identity around.

Your Domain is Your Brand

First and foremost, if you can get one for a reasonable price, you should consider buying an established domain that already has authority, or the backlink profile you are looking for, etc… This is a seemingly obvious little trick that a surprising amount of people don’t know about.

We always have our ear to the rail here at Feedster, and of course we get our fair share of “inside” info. Before I get into our best advice for buying a domain, I’ll let you in on a little gem that we recently got word of. They are a newly launched company that sells these “seasoned” domains. I would HIGHLY suggest checking them out first, because the owner of the site is a VERY experienced SEO guy, and the domains he has are nothing short of top notch.

Finding Strong Domains For Your Site

From their site: “We seek out only the strongest available domains with backlinks from major, high profile, authority sites, we manually check them only pick out the best of the best.” “Looking for something in the Tech Niche with a .net extension backlinked by a powerful Geek site?  Or perhaps something in the politics arena with an authority news site linking to it? Business, Music, Art, Finance… the opportunities for you to find the type of domain that fits your online strategies are sitting right here in our Domain Showroom.”

As you can see, you can even get super custom. I’m telling you, you really should not buy a new domain, if you can get something at a site like this, especially the ones they find and build.

That site is DomainAlly.io

Again, I can’t stress how much a domain like this can benefit your site and your brand, and I cannot recommend these guys highly enough.

Tell them you’re friends with us at Feedster…they’ll take care of you (wink, wink).

That being said…if you can’t find something that fits your brand or niche over there, then hop on over to Namecheap and grab a new domain.

But before you do, have a look through this checklist. It’ll help you make the right decisions when it comes time to click the buy button.

The Domain Buying Checklist

Start with Multiple Options

First of all, as you search, you’re going to find that you’re forced into thinking of alternate options anyway. There simply aren’t a ton of options out there. But, even if you’re pretty sure, brainstorm some ideas. You’d be surprised at how many times I’ve heard that people brainstormed ideas, discovered domains that they never even considered and liked those better so they bought those instead. Have some fun with it, but make sure you do this right. It all starts here, and it’s a VERY critical step.

Make Sure it’s Unique

Don’t make the rookie mistake of thinking you’re going to piggyback off of an established site’s authority or traffic by registering the plural, mis-spelled or hyphenated version of their name (ie: trying to register facebooke, or facbook because you think you’ll catch the traffic from those that type the wrong word into the search). It always ends up in disaster. They’ve undoubtedly spent millions building their brand, and all you’ll get is high bounce rates (that can absolutely KILL your SEO efforts) and frustrated searchers. Don’t do it. Find your own unique name and build your brand around that.

Only Register Dot Com Names

I know the pool of good dot com names gets drained daily, but if at all possible, grab the dot com. There are people out there that don’t even realize that any other domain type exists. Tossing that fact aside, why would you want to spend time and money building your dot net name, only to give up the traffic because a searcher automatically assumes yours is a dot com, and goes there first?

Make Sure it’s easy to Type

Kind of common sense here, but needs to be said. Don’t try to be clever. Don’t use any weird words, or words that are difficult to spell. Try not to have too many of the letters in the name close together on the keyboard, adding to the difficulty.

You Want it To be Easy to Remember

Making your domain easy to remember has a few key benefits. Obviously it’s an advantage if someone who hears or sees your domain in an ad, can remember it very easily later when they want to visit your site. Next, word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. If someone wants to tell someone else about your site, it’s no doubt better if they can easily recall the name. And finally, you want them to instantly recognize your name and brand if they come across later on.

Keep the Name as Short as Possible

Short names are easier to remember and easier to type. They allow for more characters in the URL (did you know that URLs are limited in max character length?) and they fit so much nicer on any business media (letterhead, business cards, etc…).

Make it Identifiable

When someone sees or hears your domain name for the first time, they should immediately know what to expect when they visit your site. This helps with branding as well, or at least it considerably reduces the budget needed to build a brand. For example, you know Target because of the millions of dollars they’ve spent branding themselves. Without repeated exposure to them, you wouldn’t easily know what they do. However, even if you had never heard of Dollar Loan Center, it’s not too difficult to guess what their business model is.

Avoid Copyright Hassles

Make sure to check your domain idea at copyright.gov before you invest too much time or money into it. This is a headache you do NOT want on your plate.

Brand Yourself

You’ve heard this one over and over, but it really is that important if you’re serious about building a business, and not just “having a website.” Branding is something that you can build a business around. It’s not simply throwing words together to tell people what you do, like WeSellSuits. Men’s Wearhouse is a brand, and it’s fairly easy to figure out what they do just by looking at the name. The name is their brand, and they have built that brand around their name.

Don’t Use Numbers or Hyphens

Domains with numbers and hyphens are not only difficult to remember and type, it’s also very difficult to explain verbally. It’s also a good idea to stay away from numbers because people get confused as to whether the number is spelled out, or if it’s an actual number.

Don’t Try to be Trendy

I know it’s all the rage to have one of these “Web 2.0” domains like Fiverr or Flickr, but again, unless you have (or can afford to) spent a considerable amount of time and money branding yourself, it’s just not going to make sense to most people. It’s not very search engine friendly, and what happens when your company becomes successful? If you have a photo sharing site or an app, you might be able to get away with it. If you sell cars, it’s not very corporate or professional to build your brand around Carz.

The next two tips were left until the end for a reason. The jury is out on these two points, and it really depends on which side of the fence you stand, as to which you believe is true. It seems to be about 50/50, so I decided to include them. Take them with a grain of salt, and ask a few friends which ones they consider true.

Use Keywords in Your Domain

Some will argue that having your keyword in your domain can help rank it better in the search engines, others will argue that it just isn’t true. I myself believe that in the “old days” it made a difference for sure, though I just don’t know which way to fall these days. I think The Big G is on to this trick, and may have discounted the relevance of simply having a keyword rich domain. Not sure though, so don’t take my word for it.

Target Your Area

I think I’m more inclined to believe this one over the last, if for no other reason than local search is easier to rank for. There’s probably not a TON of competition for Las Vegas Plumber (at least not as much as there is for something with no geographical boundaries like “weight loss”), so ranking for a local term is just that much easier. I also believe that when searching locally, people actually type in the name of the city when they’re looking for a business.

Again…these last two are open for discussion.

There’s a lot to consider when searching for your domain name. It’s the foundation on which you will build a good online empire.

Take the time to do this right, and you will be off and running with the foundation of a great business under your feet.

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