Introduction: How To Choose The Best Domain Name

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, a blog, or both, this post will cover everything you need to know about choosing your domain name in 2024.

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 brandable 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.

How do I get a domain name?

Here are the steps to get a domain name:

  1. Identify a domain registrar: our favorite domain registrar and web hosting solution is Siteground. Other popular domain registrars are GoDaddy and Bluehost.
  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. 

A domain name 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.

However, choosing a domain name that’s easy to pronounce is crucial for effective word-of-mouth marketing, brand recall, and user experience.

A domain name should roll off the tongue easily, allowing anyone who hears it to search and find your site without confusion. This principle helps in avoiding the common pitfalls where potential visitors mishear, misspell, or forget your domain due to complexity. Opt for simplicity and clarity to make your domain name a powerful asset in your branding strategy. For instance, a straightforward and memorable domain like “samanthadigital.com” significantly reduces the risk of misunderstandings and ensures your site is accessible to everyone.

Domain Name Best Practice #2: Avoid spelling errors

Ensuring your domain name is spelled correctly is vital for maintaining clarity and professionalism.

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

Does that mean you should replace an ‘s’ with a ‘z’ (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?

Such substitutions can confuse potential visitors and dilute your brand’s perceived credibility. Instead, strive for a domain name that is both straightforward and conventional in its spelling to prevent any ambiguity and enhance findability on search engines.

Domain Name Best Practice #3: Choose a reputable domain name extension

The choice of domain extension, (aka top-level domain (TLD)) —the segment that follows your domain name, like .com or .net—can significantly impact the perception of your brand.

As of April 2021, there are 1502 domain name extension options (source: Wikipedia).

While there are many domain extension options available today, it’s essential to choose one that conveys trust and professionalism. Domains ending in .com, .io, and .co are widely recognized and respected by both users and search engines such as Google.

A reputable domain extension not only enhances your brand’s credibility but also plays a crucial role in your online identity, making it easier for customers to remember and return to your site.

Domain Name Best Practice #4: Be professional

When selecting your domain name, maintaining a professional tone is key.

This involves avoiding slang, overly casual language, and any potentially offensive terms.

The professionalism of your domain name reflects directly on your brand and can influence both first impressions and long-term relationships with your audience.

For example, while a playful domain might be tempting, it may not convey the seriousness you want to be associated with your business.

Choose a domain that is appropriate and respectful, aligning with the professional image you aim to project.

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, but it also appears less professional and less trustworthy. 

A domain name’s simplicity is key to making it user-friendly and memorable. Stick to clean, concise domain names that effortlessly guide your visitors to your site.

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

Domain Name Best Practice #6: Prioritize an SSL certificate

Securing your domain with an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is not just a best practice; it’s essential for protecting your users’ data and building trust.

An SSL certificate indicates to Google (and users) that the data sent between the server (that hosts the website) and the client (your computer) is encrypted.

Most domain registrars and web hosting solutions (including Siteground) provide a free SSL; 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 goes 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

When selecting a domain name, it’s wise to think about your long-term vision and potential for growth.

Choose a name that allows you the flexibility to expand your offerings or shift your focus without limiting your brand to a specific niche.

For instance, if you start with a blog focused on car reviews but plan to eventually cover a broader range of automotive topics, a name like AutoInsights.com would be more adaptable than CarsReviewsOnly.com.

This approach prevents the need for a rebrand as your business evolves, ensuring continuity and scalability.

Domain Name Best Practice #8: Keep it short

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

A concise domain name is not only easier to remember, but it also simplifies typing and reduces the risk of errors during entry.

Aim for a short and impactful name that captures the essence of your brand without unnecessary complexity.

This strategy not only enhances the memorability of your domain but also strengthens your online presence.

For example, a name like TechFlow.com is much more accessible and brandable than TechnologyFlowSolutions.com. Keep your domain succinct to ensure it resonates quickly and effectively with your audience.

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

Selecting a domain name is a significant decision that sets the tone for your brand’s identity. It’s crucial to choose a name that not only fits your business but also resonates personally with you.

Your domain name is often your first impression online; it should be something you are proud to share and promote.

A domain that you genuinely love will naturally inspire confidence and enthusiasm when networking and marketing your business.

Now that you know the best practices, let’s move on to how to choose the perfect domain name for your business, blog, or personal brand.

How To Choose The Perfect Domain Name

There are five steps to choosing the perfect 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 that using a name similar to an existing popular domain has perks, 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 ideas tracker within the free blog planner
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 a 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 check domain name availability, conduct a Google search or 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 perfect, brandable domain name.

However, if you’re stuck between a couple of 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 also a great idea. 
  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

As 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 2024.

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 no one else can use it.

Domain Name Tips #5: Check Domain History

Always check the history of a domain before committing to it. This helps avoid inheriting any previous issues like blacklisting or negative associations that could impact your brand’s image and website’s search engine optimization.

You can use a tool such as Whois History to check.

Conclusion: How To Choose The Perfect Domain Name

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

As you move forward in choosing and registering your domain name, remember that a brandable domain will serve as the cornerstone of your digital identity, playing a crucial role in your brand’s long-term online success.

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.