Website How To's

5 Essential Tips When Selecting a Domain Name

domain name selectionURL – is that another way to spell Earl?

Domain Names…can I just use my own name?

Yes, it’s true, I’ve heard these questions a time or two and they still make me chuckle.

A domain name is an important decision all internet entrepreneurs have to make when starting an online business. It’s almost as crucial as naming your kids 🙂 The domain name you pick could end up being on thousands of t-shirts, billboards, TV commercials, or, only you and I may ever know about it (let’s hope that’s not the case).

When picking a domain name, I follow 5 specific guidelines as I name my future money making opportunity.

Here they are in order of importance:

1. Short, Sweet and To the Point:  Keep your domain name easy to spell! 3 Words or Less, Avoid words like “to”, “two”, “too”, “2” or words that can be spelled wrong – if a visitor can spell it wrong, they WILL!

2. Easy to Remember (aka Brandable): eBay is a perfect example of a brandable, easy to remember website.  Others that come to mind are Yahoo, Amazon, and ESPN :).

3. Use of Keyword Phrases is Helpful: Question – which domain name tells more about what my site is all about or  Using a keyword phrase in the domain name is very helpful in getting natural search engine placement for that phrase.  Just remember to follow the above rules first before you buy a domain name with 6 words just because it had your keyword phrases.
Here’s an example of using they keyword phrase “Utah County” in the domain name:
Out of 340,000 websites about Utah County, my Utah County Tourism website is number 3 naturally, a lot because the keyword phrase Utah County is in the actual domain name.

UPDATE: Google has made many updates and stuffing keyword phrases in the domain name is not as relevant as it once was.

In fact, Google’s John Mueller said the following:

“Just because a website has a keyword in its domain name doesn’t mean that it’s more relevant than others for that keyword.

“In short, you don’t need to put keywords in the domain name.”

So although it was at one time helpful, in today’s day and age of SEO, it’s not going to help much.

4. Buy Your Domain Name for More than One Year: this may be an urban legend, a wives tale, or it may be right on; I’ve heard that Google has a way of detecting how long you’ve registered your domain name.  The longer you have the domain name registered, the more “credibility” they give your website.  Again, this is all heresy, but it seems logical to me.  Besides, if you’re truly committed to running a successful online business, why wouldn’t you get the domain name for 10 years?

5. Make a big list and run your options by friends, family, etc.: This was an important step for me when I chose my first ever domain name for my clogging taps website.  I’d researched the availability of hundreds of domain names and found a few I really liked.

Once I’d narrowed it down to about 5 or 10, I invited my wife, my parents, and some close friends (who I knew wouldn’t steal the idea :)) to pick their favorite(s).

Getting the opinion of others doesn’t need to be the determining factor, but many times a spouse or person of the opposite sex thinks about things a bit differently – go figure!

What are other rules you follow when buying a domain name for your start-up internet business?