For some, the task of choosing a domain name can quickly grow from a simple checkbox on your to-do list, into an incredibly daunting decision. After all, this is where people are going to find you on the web! You’re going to post this name all over social media and print it on business cards and share it with your neighbor. It’s like choosing a tattoo! Such a permanent decision…
Fear, not my friend - I’ve got you covered.
We’re going to walk through this post together and by the end, you’ll know:
- What is a Domain Name?
- Where Can You Purchase A Domain Name?
- The Do’s and Dont’s Of Choosing A Great Domain Name
- What To Do If The Domain Name You Want Isn’t Available?
- What To Avoid When Choosing Your Domain Name?
- How Much Does Your Domain Name Impact You On Google Search?
Ok, ready to dive in? Let’s get to it!
WHAT IS A DOMAIN NAME?
Your domain name is where people go to find you on the web, typically it’s your brand or business name. For example, the domain name on my website here is “emworkshop.co”. If we didn’t have domain names, we’d have to memorize a long string of numbers to be able to visit our favorite blogs or shopping sites (Imagine if that was real life! 😅).
The domain name was created to make it easier for humans to navigate throughout the web. Remembering “emworkshop.co” is a heck of a lot easier than “1.438.56.739”. Your website does still have an IP address, but as the human websurfers, we don’t see them.
A Domain Name is Made Up Of 3 Parts:
- “www” or the Machine Name
- Mid-Level Domain or simply, Domain Name. This is what we most commonly think of as a Domain Name.
- Top-Level Domain or TLD. The TLD is the bit at the end of our domain name, like .com or .org etc. (.com is historically used for businesses, .org for organizations, .edu for schools (these have special requirements for purchase, and you have to go through a specific registrar), .gov for the government (you have to go through a special process to register .gov domains) )
WHERE CAN YOU PURCHASE A DOMAIN NAME?
Domains can be purchased on a number of websites (see below) called Domain Registrars. These Registrars are basically the holders of all the information, such as the IP Address, associated with the domain name you choose. The Registrars will have a different selection of domain names available, so you may want to look in multiple places. Here are two that I like but there are a TON of options, here’s another blog post on that if you are interested.
This is my go to when looking for a new domain name
I like Squarespace because 1) they have a lot of creative options available 2) it makes it even easier than it already was to get your website live.
THE DO’S AND DONT’S OF CHOOSING A GREAT DOMAIN NAME
- Use a Common Top Level Domain
.com is still the most popular option for domain names, .co, .net and org are great options as well. If your business is location specific, then a country specific TLD may be a good option, such as “.nyc” or “.uk”. More and more industry-specific TLD's are becoming available, like “.community” “.art” etc. This wouldn’t be my first recommendation, but if it fits with your branding and perhaps, your first choice wasn’t available, then I’d say go for it.
- Make it Relatively Short and Memorable.
Ideally, your clients and customers can visit your site without needing to click on a link, as they know how to get there by heart! Do your best to keep it short and sweet so you can be there for them when they need to find you!
- Use Keywords When Appropriate
If you own a yoga studio, then it might make sense to have a domain name like “www.[yourname]yoga.com” but never feel obligated to use Keywords in your domain name unless it fits your brand. It won’t make much of a difference to Google. The main benefit of using a keyword is that when someone does a search, Google will highlight the term that was searched for in the search results see in the example below that the word “yoga” is featured in Bold on all the search results. This isn’t a huge benefit, just something to know about.
- Choose a Domain Name that Feels Good.
At the end of the day, it’s got to be something that you’re proud to share with other people and to have represent your business. There are no tricks or tips or ways to “game the system” that will win over a name you’re proud to post all over the world.
- Cram Your Domain Name with Keywords
It used to be that jam-packing your domain name with keywords, or words that your customers are searching for on Google, would win you big points in the SEO game. That time is over. Google cares around relevant, helpful and inspiring content, not about the most keyword specific domain name. Just because someone owns the domain name “www.besttshirtever.com” doesn’t mean that they actually make the best t-shirts ever.
- Be Aware of Your Domains Age.
Sort of like how the age of your credit cards affect your credit score, having a domain name that you’ve held onto for a while can offer a marginal boost for your posts. The theory is that if you’d had a blog that’s been around for a while, that you’re a real human posting real, valuable, heartful content — and not just some robot somewhere. With that said, having an older domain name (meaning you’ve owned if for a few years) will NOT give you any advantage whatsoever if you don’t have valuable, relevant content to go along with it.
- Don’t Stress Too Much
Above all else, don’t make this a huge, overwhelming decision. Choose what feels right at the moment for you and your business. Make a thoughtful, but not an overly time-consuming decision based on what's available and then turn your attention to writing great content, offering worthwhile services and figuring out how you are going to change the world with this new website or blog or business of yours.
A Few Examples Just For Fun…
So, you’re ready to buy a domain name, but what do you choose?
Let’s evaluate some examples together:
Say your name is Ernie and you own a cupcake shop in New York City.
You write down the following ideas:
This is a great option! It’s short, easy to remember, and uses the word cupcakes, which mainly will offer you the relevancy highlighting we talked about above
This is another good one, your Cupcake shop is based in NYC so this will give a little hint to Google and help them guide people who are looking for cupcakes in the nyc area to your shop
This one could work, but it doesn’t say a whole lot about your brand. Unless you are calling your shop “The Best Cupcake Shop” I would stick with a name that feels authentic and representative of who you are.
This feels a little like we’re trying to game the system, no? Remember, keywords in your domain don’t matter. Your domain name should fit your brand and your story. It shouldn’t feel cheap or forced. Google knows this and you lose points when you try to game the system.
So in summary — all of the domains could work for Ernie and his cupcake shop. There is no right or wrong. They key here is to stick with what feels most authentic to you and your brand. Your story and your service will win in the end.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF THE DOMAIN NAME YOU WANT ISN’T AVAILABLE?
So you thought of the PERFECT Domain Name for your site, rushed over and typed it into the search box on GoDaddy and “Shoot!”, it’s not available. 😫 Take a deep breath! It happens 🤷♀️( “emworkshop.co” wasn’t my first pick). But here I am today, still going strong and actually loving the minimalist vibes.
Here are a few ways to get through this mini-crisis:
- Try a different TLD
if .com isn’t available, have you tried .co, .org or another relevant TLD?
- What other words could you incorporate or add to your business name? Always start smaller, and you can add additional information or context to your domain name from there. For example, instead of “happybellyyoga.com” maybe you can try “happybellyyogastudio.com”.
- Is it for sale? In some cases, you can reach out to the domain owner and make an offer to purchase the domain if you feel that it is critical to your business success. Be aware of how much you are willing to spend and what your budget might be. Good Luck!
HOW MUCH DOES YOUR DOMAIN NAME IMPACT YOU ON GOOGLE SEARCH?
This might be one of the more common questions that comes across my social channels and email — so to settle this once and for all, the answer is…*drumroll please*…
IT DOESN’T 🎉 (Phew!)
Google reviews around 200 different factors when determining how websites rank in search results. Your domain name is only a very very marginal part of that equation, and truthfully it’s influence is more likely to go down vs. up.
Whether you decide to use your brand name, or include some keywords to boost your visibility — what matters most, more than anything else, is that you are creating great content for your website visitors.
Well, my friends, I hope this has helped to clear up any confusion you might have had around choosing the best domain name for your blog, business or project. Remember, the domain name is even less than the tip of the iceberg — what matters is the content, services, heart, and soul of the website that it’s attached to! Happy Creating ✌️🎉
PS. If you are looking for more guidance like this, plus an inspiring community of Wellness Leaders to learn from, grow with and celebrate success, I’m inviting you to join me at SPACE CAMP! It’s time to flip the script on what it actually takes to grow a creative business with love, ease, and success.