If you’re wondering how to choose a domain name that’s right for you – congratulations!

You’re taking one of the first steps in your entrepreneurial journey and we are so excited for you.

Whether you’re starting a business, starting a blog, or both, this post will cover everything you need to know to choose your domain name in 2023.

What is a domain name?

A domain name is your unique address on the internet.

If you’re starting a business and/or blog, it’s best to choose a domain name that will also be your business name or blog name.

For example, our domain name is samanthadigital.com and our business name is Samantha Digital LLC (learn more about us here).

How do I get a domain name?

Here are the steps to get a domain name:

  1. Identify a domain registrar: our favorite is Siteground, however Bluehost is slightly more affordable.
  2. Choose a domain name: that’s what this post is all about!
  3. Register your domain name: your domain registrar will walk you through the registration process on their website.

Really – that’s it!

Why do I need a domain name?

Your domain name is how your clients and audience will find you on the internet. 

Domain names builds credibility for your business and makes you appear more professional.

Are domain names free?

Domain names are not free. 

The cost of domain registration for one year generally starts at $15 and increases as the perceived value of the domain name increases.

According to GoDaddy, the most expensive domain name publicly reported was carinsurance.com for $49.7 million (source: GoDaddy).

Don’t worry, you will likely find a domain name much closer to $15 per year.

For example, we bought samanthadigital.com in 2022 for $20 per year.

Best Practices For Choosing Your Domain

Domain Name Best Practice #1: Make sure it’s easy to say out loud 

This is something I ignored when I started my food blog and I regretted it later.

Whenever anyone would ask me what my website name is, I would say it out loud, they would repeat it, but miss a key letter in the name when they typed it into Google.

This was not because the name was spelled incorrectly, but because it was hard to say out loud. 

Domain Name Best Practice #2: Avoid spelling errors

We get it – the best domain names are likely already taken.

Does that mean you should replace an ‘s’ with a ‘z’, for example?

For example, choosing dogz.com because dogs.com is already taken.

No.

Similarly, while goodfinancialcents.com is a widely successful financial blog, we would not recommend this domain name for a new business or beginner blogger today.

Why?

Because the correct spelling would be goodfinancialsense.com and this would cause your audience and potential customers to question if it is ‘sense’ or ‘cents’ when they search for it in Google.

This will make it more challenging for potential customers to find you when you’re just starting out.

Domain Name Best Practice #3: Choose a reputable top-level domain

A top-level domain is the last part of the domain name.

For example, .com, .io, .gov, and .net are all examples of top-level domains.

As of April 2021, there are 1502 top-level domains (source: Wikipedia).

However, there are only a handful that you should consider for your domain name.

This includes .com, .io, and .co.

Why?

These TLDs are considered more professional and trustworthy by users and by Google. 

Domain Name Best Practice #4: Be professional

Don’t worry – we don’t mean that your domain name should be something similar to harvardprofessional.com. 

We simply mean, avoid slang and curse words.

Enough said.

Domain Name Best Practice #5: Exclude dashes or numbers

Again, we get that there’s a good chance that your #1 domain name is already taken.

However, just because your ideal name is taken, doesn’t mean you should add a hyphen to your domain name.

Not only will this cause confusion between brands, it also appears as less professional and less trustworthy. 

After all, would you go shopping on amazon123.com or amazon-store.com?

Domain Name Best Practice #6: Prioritize an SSL certificate

SSL stands for secure sockets layer and indicates to Google (and users) if the data sent between the server (that hosts the website) and the client (your computer) is encrypted.

Most domain registrars provide a free SSL (including Siteground), however if you choose a registrar that does not, make sure you prioritize getting an SSL.

When your site is not properly configured with an SSL certificate, Google Chrome users will see a ‘Not Secure’ warning in the search bar.

As a result, your credibility go down with users.

Also, keep in mind that not having an SSL certificate for your site will hurt your rankings in Google.

To learn more about what it takes to rank in Google, check out our SEO for Beginners Guide.

Domain Name Best Practice #7: Don’t be too niche

We touched on this above, but wanted to include it in our list of best practices because this best practice is so important, but easily overlooked.

When choosing your domain name, keep in mind your longer term goals and the bigger picture.

For example, if you are starting a new blog on cars reviews, but know that one day you want to expand to motorcycles, avoid using ‘cars’ in the domain name.

Domain Name Best Practice #8: Keep it short

In general, the shorter the domain name, the better.

Not only does it make it easier for your audience and clients to navigate to your website, it also makes it easier for them to remember your name.

Domain Name Best Practice #9: Make sure you love it

The last but certainly not least domain name best practice is to make sure you love it!

You should be proud to tell people your business, blog, and domain name.

How To Choose Your Domain Name

There are 5 steps to choosing your domain name:

  1. Research and list of competitors
  2. Brainstorm keywords in your niche
  3. Build out your list of domain name ideas
  4. Do research and narrow down your list
  5. Choose a domain name

Let’s break this down further.

Step 1: Research and list competitors

Listing your competitors is important for a few reasons.

First, you don’t want to be too similar to your competitors.

For example, one of the most popular food blogs on the internet is sallysbakingaddiction.com.

Therefore, if you’re just starting out, avoid choosing a domain name such as samsbakingaddiction.com.

Why?

While it may seem like there are perks to using a name similar to an existing popular domain, it’s not a best practice.

Your audience will see right through this. 

Also, when you mimic a competitor, you make it even harder for your blog to stand out.

Being unique and true to yourself is one of the best and fastest ways to grow online.

The second reason it’s important to list out your competitors is to get inspired and get keyword ideas.

More specifically, as you research your competitors, you may find inspiration for a domain name that you haven’t even thought of yet.

Also, brainstorming keywords as you research competitors will help with Step 2.

Related: Competitor Analysis Worksheet within the Free Blog Planner Kit.

Step 2: Brainstorm keywords in your niche

The next step in choosing your domain name is listing keywords in your niche.

Going back to the food blog example, some niche keywords might be:

baking, sweets, cooking, savory, spatula, apron, oven and kitchen.

As you brainstorm keywords for your domain name, be careful not to get too specific. 

Let’s say you are starting your food blog on vegan cookies but know you want to expand to vegan desserts.

In this example, avoid using the keyword ‘cookies’ because it will  mislead your audience as you grow.

To stay organized, we recommend using our Domain Name Idea Worksheet, which you can download for free as part of our Beginner Blogger Toolkit:

Preview of the domain name idea tracker template

Step 3: Build out your list of domain name ideas

Now that you have a list of your competitors and keywords, it’s time to build out your ideas:

Here are some recommendations for coming up with domain name ideas

  1. Name + keyword
    1. Examples – samanthadigital.com, danflyingsolo.com
    2. Pros – adds personalization to your business
    3. Cons – may be harder to sell in the future
  2. Keyword stacking
    1. Examples – lovesweatandfitness.com, atlasandboots.com,
    2. Pros – keyword rich
    3. Cons – more likely will be longer domain name
  3. Adjective + keyword
    1. Examples –  nerdwallet.com, organizingmoms.com, theblondeabroad.com
    2. Pros – can be used to be more relatable with your audience
    3. Cons – none
  4. Same letter or alliteration
    1. Examples – closetcooking.com, millennialmoneyman.com, familyfocusblog.com, busybudgeter.com
    2. Pros – likely sounds good together
    3. Cons – could be harder to pronounce
  5. Play on words
    1. Examples – makingsenseofcents.com, thefinancialdiet.com, pinchofyum.com, a beautifulmess.com
    2. Pros – clever
    3. Cons – people may spell it wrong (depending on the name)

Step 4: Do research and narrow down your list

Now that you have a list of possible domain names, it’s time to do some research to see which domain names are actually available.

To find out if your desired domain name is available, head to bluehost.com/domains.

From here, you can conduct a search for the domain name:

You will quickly find if your domain name is available or not:

Update your Domain Name Idea Worksheet based on the results.

Note, if your desired domain name is not available, review this list of recommended options to see if another domain name stands out to you:

Once you’ve checked the availability for all the domains in your list, it’s time to move on to social media.

For each domain name that is available for registration, check Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Youtube, and Pinterest.

Update your Domain Name Idea Worksheet according.

Note, if the domain name is available for registration, but is not available on social media, it’s ok to slightly alter your social media account name if you are really set on a particular domain.

For example, while we were able to purchase samanthadigital.com, ‘samanthadigital’ was not available on Instagram at the time, so we went with ‘@samanthadigital.co.’

Step 5: Choose your domain name

At this point, you’ve likely narrowed your list from a dozen or more to just a handful of available domain names.

If you have a clear winner, congratulations! 

It’s time to move on to registering your domain name.

However, if you’re stuck between a couple domain names that follow the best practices above, here are some tips:

  1. Ask your audience and clients: this is the best way to get feedback on your domain name because appealing to your target market is critical.
  2. Ask family and friends: if you don’t have a domain name, then there’s a good chance you don’t have clients yet. In this case, asking family or friends for their opinion is a great ideal too. 
  3. Sleep on it: while we don’t recommend waiting too long to register your domain name, it’s certainly not a bad idea to sleep on your options. After all, it’s important that you like and are proud of your name – it’s not easy to change later.

Tips for Choosing Your Domain Name

Domain Name Tips #1: Your domain name won’t make or break your business or blog

Like we suggested above, there’s a good chance that your dream domain name is already taken.

That’s why we’ve laid out the exact steps for choosing a domain name that you love in 2023.

However, if you still find yourself struggling to choose a domain, remember:

Your domain name alone won’t make or break your business or blog.

Domain Name Tips #2: Consider going all out

If you can register the .com, .co, .io at once, it

Domain Name Tips #3: Try out a domain name generator

If you’re still feeling stuck, here are some domain name generators to help:

  1. Namestudio.com
  2. Nameboy.com

Domain Name Tips #4: Don’t wait

Once you narrow down your domain name, it’s important to register it as soon as possible so that one one else takes it.

Conclusion: How To Choose Your Domain Name

Choosing and registering your domain name is one of the very first steps you will take in building your online business or blog.

We hope that with the steps to register your domain, domain name best practices, and domain tips, you will be well on your way.

If you have any further questions, please post a comment below.