Welcome to the first step in your blog-building journey! Today we’re starting – where else? – at the very beginning: your domain name. So, what exactly is a domain name and how do you choose the right domain name for your blog? Let’s get started!
A domain name is the unique online address of your blog. It’s the web address visitors use to find your site. Without a domain name, your blog can’t exist online, so this is a pretty logical first step in your journey to blogging superstardom.
Your blog’s domain name should mirror its title. Something short, catchy, and memorable. Something that’s easy to type into a web browser as visitors keep coming back for more.
But how exactly do you choose the perfect domain name? How do you know when you’ve created the one?
It’s a high stakes question, but fortunately for you, the answer is pretty straightforward. I’m here today to cover the four basic steps to choose the ultimate domain name for your blog.
Step 1: Choose a Blog Theme and Start Brainstorming Domain Names
You can’t create a domain name without knowing the purpose of your blog. Perhaps you have a few ideas, but they’re still marinating in your mind. Now is the time to stick them all on the grill and choose the best one!
For example, don’t simply blog about food. Establish your territory within the food blogging realm: healthy meals, quick and easy recipes, farm-to-table, or anything else that ignites your passion. This type of niche focus will set you apart from other food blogs out there and help shape your final domain name.
Once you’ve honed in your focus, brainstorm a domain name that reveals the general gist of your website to potential readers. For example, the domain name cookingwithkids.com tells the reader that your blog focuses on meals and recipes geared toward children.
Keywords are essential at this stage. Internet users have mastered the art of skimming the screen, stopping only when important keywords appear. Including a few major keywords in your domain name will clarify your blog’s purpose and draw more readers. For example, crockpotcooking.com specifically targets people searching for slow cooker inspiration.
Take Action: Take out a sheet of paper or open a Google Doc and jot down all of the potential domain name ideas bouncing around in your head. Don’t be picky at this point; the more ideas, the better. You never know where inspiration will strike.
Step 2: Narrow Down Your List of Blog Names
Now that you’re armed with a list of domain name contenders, it’s time to narrow the field and select a winner. I know, that’s a lot of pressure, but I’m here to guide you through it.
It’s natural to have a few domain name favorites. If you’re only blogging for yourself, your domain name can be anything you want! But if your goal is to develop a successful and profitable blog (and I’m pretty sure that’s why you’re here!) then your reader’s preferences come first.
Take the emotion out of your decision by using these five simple guidelines.
- Select a name that’s unique and memorable, because those traits make it ‘brandable’. A generic name is too easy to forget. For example, www.acityaday.com is intriguing and fun compared to www.citytravel.com.
- Do some keyword research. Use a tool like my Blog Name Generator to learn more about the search popularity of keywords in your blogging niche. You don’t have to spend hours down a keyword rabbit hole; you only need a few minutes to identify terms and phrases most likely to receive steady web traffic.
- Keep the name short and uncomplicated. The longer your domain name, the harder it is for readers to remember… and the more likely for spelling errors to interfere.
- Choose a name that’s easy to pronounce. Is the name easy to say? Can others easily guess how to say it?
- Avoid numbers and dashes. Punctuation, numbers, and other “extra” characters are easy to forget or become misplaced. For example, 15miles-a-day-2-run.com is doomed by its complexity.
- Test your domain name with friends. Ask others to give your domain name a test run. Make sure it’s easy to say and spell.
Take Action: By now you should have a long list of domain name options. Take a break to clear your mind, then come back and review your list using the five points above. Narrow your choices down to two or three finalists to take to the next level.
Step 3: Pick an Extension and Confirm Availability
Time to get technical. As a former accountant, this area is my specialty.
Every domain needs an extension in order to “connect” to the web. You see these extensions every single day but probably never give them a second thought: .com, .org, and .net are the most common. Others have specific applications, such as .gov for government websites and .edu for educational organizations.
If possible, select .com as your extension. It’s by far the most widely and easily recognized used extension. In fact, most internet users automatically assume websites end in .com, and they type in that extension regardless.
This hurts blogs like thebestpetfoods.info and jennasjewelry.org since most users automatically type thebestpetfoods.com and jennasjewelry.com when trying to visit those websites.
Take Action: At this stage, you need to make sure the domain and extension combination you choose isn’t already in use. Visit a site like Bluehost and type in the domain name you’re planning to use. You’ll see if someone else has already claimed that name.
Pro Tip: If you have an utterly perfect domain name, but a .com extension isn’t available, stick to the next best options: .net or .org. If you strike out on all three extensions, head back to the drawing board and adjust your domain name.
Step 4: Think Through Your Domain Name’s Long Term Impact
This is the final “rider exit” in Disney World before the high-speed roller coaster begins. It’s your sanity check before you commit your time, energy, and resources to your domain name. Stop and consider the overall usefulness of your domain name outside of your blog.
After all, your blog isn’t the only place online to generate a following. You’ll probably expand your footprint to include a companion Facebook page, Twitter profile, or Instagram handle in the near future. Does your domain name lend itself to social media as well?
Beyond social media, consider whether your domain name leaves room for growth in the future. Is the name so specific that it backs you into a corner? The blog momslovemakeup.com may work now, but what if your passion grows to include hair or nails or essential oils?
Kevin, the man behind the curtain at epicgardening.com, provides a perfect example of how this long term planning paves the way to success. His popular urban gardening blog inspired his first book, Field Guide to Urban Gardening, which has garnered hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon.
Kevin was just an average guy with a passion for gardening when he started. He didn’t have some secret portal to blogging success that the rest of us don’t. Instead, Kevin figured out how to leverage the Big Picture of his blog to make Big Money.
Take Action: Time to think a few steps ahead. Nobody can predict the future, but where might yours lead? Try to select a final domain name that’s clear and focused while still leaving room to evolve. Check for the availability of your name on your favorite social media platforms right now. If your name is still available, claim it immediately to avoid losing the opportunity.
Wrapping It Up
You have all of the tools and tips you need to choose a domain name. Maybe you’re already decided, or maybe you need to sleep on it first. If you’re having trouble, don’t be afraid to ask a friend for suggestions or search the web for more inspiration.
Wherever you are in the process, just remember to follow the four simple steps I outlined above. They’ll never lead you astray:
- Narrow your focus and start brainstorming
- Make your domain name user-friendly
- Pick an extension and confirm availability
- Think about your domain name’s long term impact
Feel free to share your list of domain name contenders below! Thinking out loud is a great way to work towards your final decision.
You’ve made your list and checked it twice. Now it’s time to select your final domain name and commit to it.
But don’t worry. If you wake up tomorrow in a blind panic wondering, What was I THINKING!? you can always make adjustments.
Got it? Great! Now that you have a domain name for your blog, join the 30-day blog challenge and learn how to launch a profitable blog.