How To Pick A Domain Name For Your Website

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Perhaps the trickiest and most important part of any website is choosing the domain name.

A domain name can make or break you.

Literally.

You’ve got to be careful and take your time because you’re going to be married to this name for a long time to come.  You want something that is future proof and that you don’t hate.  I made this mistake on a domain name and it stung for 7 years as I had to repeat the domain name over and over and over.  I cringed every time until I finally bit the bullet and changed it.

When selecting a domain name, it’s imperative to understand who your audience is and what you’re trying to convey to that audience.

A website serves one purpose and one purpose only: to provide a visitor with valuable content, services or both.

Where most people go wrong is that they forget the purpose of the website and who it’s actually for.

Case in point, one of my colleagues asked me last night what I thought about a domain he wanted to register with a name like: isellmiamihouses.com

I don’t like it for a lot of reasons, the first of which is that it is self centric instead of centered around what it’s going to do for the site visitors which presumably are home buyers.

When selecting a domain name, my personal opinion is that it needs to identify the benefit to the visitor unless you’re going for a unique and memorable catchy non-related name like Google.

The isellmiamihouses domain is more centric on what the site owner does than the benefit conveyed to a visitor.

Despite Google’s stated policy of an algorithm change against exact match domains, I still like them and believe they do add value and weight in the search engine rankings, if for no other reason than people will click on them because they convey what people are looking for.

What is an exact match domain?

An exact match domain is a domain that exactly matches the search string entered by a visitor to Google.

A few examples:

  1. Cars.com
  2. Diapers.com
  3. MiamiHomesForSale.com
  4. OfficeSupplies.com
  5. Rentals.com

These are just a few but you get the idea. Someone looking for information on cars would generally type in “cars” in Google’s search bar. Someone looking for homes for sale in Miami would generally type in Miami Homes For Sale.

Exact match domains quickly and easily convey exactly what the site is about in a very succinct manner. Is there any question what Diapers.com is about?

None.

A huge consideration in selecting  a domain name is the method of how you’re going to drive traffic to the site. If you’re relying on organic search traffic from Google, you’re going to be heavily reliant on quality content and quality links from other sites (which will only link to quality content).

Otherwise, you’re going to have to pay for traffic or use some other method to drive traffic to the site. If organic traffic is your primary source, again, I like exact match domains or something as close as possible to an exact match domain.

The shorter the better……and no hyphens….ever!

You also don’t want to use any slang or numbers like rent2own.com. It becomes a nightmare every time you have to tell someone the domain because you have to explain that there’s a number two where the word “to” should be. You want your domain to be able to be seen at a glance and instantly memorable.

Ideally, you want to use a .com if you can get it. If not, it’s not essential but since the U.S. public has been conditioned that websites generally end in .com, it’s better to get this if you can, otherwise, you can end up sending your traffic to your competitor who owns the .com version of the same name.

I personally have a combination of .com, .org, .net, .it, etc., but I have specific knowledge on how I’m going to drive traffic to each of these sites that isn’t always reliant on Google.

So, to recap:

  1. Unless you’re going for catchy branding and can put a lot of money behind it to generate traffic, stay away from things like Fiver.com and go with a very succinct exact match domain that your visitors will identify and easily remember.
  2. No hyphens or numbers
  3. Always try to get the .com
  4. Answer the “what is this site about” question in the domain whenever possible.
  5. Make it visitor/customer centric
  6. Answer the WIIFM question whenever possible ~ What’s In It For Me>

 
Got more questions?

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  • http://newseasonhomestexas.com Greg Woolsey

    Very useful and to the point advice. This makes sense and will help bring more traffic to your site(s). Thanks Vincent!

    • Vincent Polisi

      Thank you for the kind words, Greg. I hope it helps.

  • http://www.homebraska.info/ Joshua Sherman

    Thank you +Vincent Polisi
    I’ve set up my personal website using your advice.
    Sharing this one far and wide!

  • Rob Greenwood

    I love this content

  • http://darrenlgill.wordpress.com/ Darren L Gill

    I to have struggled with this at times, Sometimes your options seem limited as so many good domain names have been taken already. Taking your time, to think it through and use these pointers will pay off big for many years to come

  • http://jenniferkellam.brandyourself.com/ Jennifer Kellam

    Great information, thanks for sharing. I have to purchase a new domain and was going to use a hyphen. Saved me time and money.