How to Choose the Right Domain Name

How to Choose the Right Domain Name

The first step in establishing your online presence is to choose your domain name. Since this is going to be your business’ real estate, you’re going to want to put perhaps as much thought into this as you would in choosing a brick-and-mortar location. Yes, you can change your domain down the road, but it can come with some serious downsides. Better to choose wisely in the beginning than to regret it later.

Here are seven tips to help you choose the right domain name for your website.

Dot-Com Domains are Best–Mostly

If you can, choose a dot-com (.com) domain name. Dot-com is the most common and the one 99% of people will type in when looking for your site. However, there are now many options for domain names, so if your preferred name isn’t available as a dot-com, you may want to consider other extensions. Be wise in your choice though. While ICANN now offers more than 800 top-level domain extensions, it’s not a free-for-all. You’ll also want to check out Spamhaus’ list of the spammiest domains (and avoid them).

If you’re going to use something different, make sure it’s appropriate to your business so potential customers aren’t confused.

Choosing the right domain name is important

Register Your Name

If your site is personal or for a personal business (i.e., solopreneur), get your name if you can, like The exception to this would be if you have a hard-to-spell name. If it’s for a business, the name of your business is best if you can get it. I also own and as I have been a photographer for many years. If you are starting a new business, don’t lock yourself into a name until you have managed to get a domain for it. You will be most successful if your domain matches you or your business. So register your domain name BEFORE you finalize your business name.

Consider registering more than one variation of your domain name. While it’s best to choose a domain that has only one possible spelling, sometimes it doesn’t work that way.  If you have a name that is often misspelled, register the misspelling and use a redirect to send miss-spellers to your website.

Keep It Simple

Keep it short. Shorter names are easier to remember and less likely to be mistyped. It also fits better on your business card. I recently read a statistic that the top 10 websites have no more than six letters in their name, but don’t quote on me on that.

Avoid using hyphens, underscores and other symbols that may confuse people. People don’t really “see” these symbols and instead of typing in, they will likely type in and won’t find you.

Make sure your domain name is easily understandable when you speak it. When a potential customer hears that your website is, he or she is equally likely to type in and end up at your competitor’s website.  You don’t want to spend the rest of your life explaining your domain name to customers.

Unique is good. Weird is not. If you can find a way to be unique without making it complicated or difficult, go for it. Unique and simple gets remembered. And yes, making up words is perfectly acceptable as long as they aren’t confusing or complicated.

Use a relevant keyword in your domain

Avoid Embarrassment

Write your domain name out just as it will look typed into the browser bar. Read it carefully to make sure it doesn’t create other words that will be embarrassing for your business. If you aren’t sure what I mean, check out this list of the 50 worst domain names and you’ll understand.

Use Keywords

If you can’t have your first choice of names, brainstorm keywords that describe your niche or business focus. Also consider combining a keyword with your first or last name—or both, if it’s short. For example, my photography site,

Avoid Legal Minefields

Don’t infringe on someone else’s copyright or trademark. Copyright and trademark violations can be very expensive and can put you out of business. Search here for US trademarks and here for US copyrights. Don’t try to play on a copyrighted or trademarked name either. You run the risk of legal hassles and confusing your customers.

Don’t Wait

Once you’ve decided on a name and it’s available, register it immediately. There is a good possibility that it could be gone the next time you log on. Once a domain name has been snapped up, you are either out of luck or face the possibility of paying someone’s hefty asking price for the domain of your choice. While domain registration fees vary by registrar and extension, registering a domain is a relatively cheap way to protect your possible names, even if you’re not yet 100% sure you’re going to use them.

To choose the right domain name is more important than ever for blogs and small businesses. Whether you’re starting a brick-and-mortar business or an online business, your digital real estate will be a critical part of your marketing strategy. Heeding these tips as you select and register your domains will help you choose the right domain name and get your business started on the right foot.

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  1. I first wanted a website that was my name. Engin Soysal… but that means that I had to spell my name which… I definitely don’t want to start doing.

    I found a cool way to come up with awesome domain names. Find something that has 4 words in it. The last word should be a powerful keyword. The first 3 words you shorten by only using the first letters.
    For instance: Radio Quad Copter Drone would become RQCDRONE.

    1. Marie Leslie says:

      I can see where your name would be a spelling challenge. I’d probably reserve it anyway, just to keep control. Your method of choosing the other domain name could defintely be workable too, depending on the words, and it’s certainly worth trying out. Thanks for your comments,

  2. Great tips! Love the link to bad domain names! Who would have thought! I am thinking I should get the domain name for a variation on my last name! Great idea. – thanks!

  3. I used to have 2 blogs for 2 diff niches— one had a skin care related domain name and one had a direct sales related domain name. Personally, my life has been easier since I dropped those blogs and decided to stick with ONE domain– my name—- no matter what I do or how many pies my hands are cooking, I can put it all there. Great article!

    1. Unless you have two entirely different businesses, it is always best to combine them into one site. When I decided to focus more on my writing and social media work instead of photography, I originally had them as separate sites, but as I realized how interconnected the two are, I combined them as you did, Heather, and it’s been great for both sides of my business. I do still have two websites that are so different and appeal to completely different demographics and readers that it would be really awkward to combine them. I “acquired” my other site from its original owner a few years ago and found they really don’t combine so well.

  4. I agree about the importance of registering your domain name that matches you. It is the first thing I did when I started my blog. I used the same name everywhere..on all forms of social media and my blog:)

  5. I still hang on to several domains I loved at the time and hold for individual programs related to my main site. And some are just silly things I want to do some day. But it sure has gotten harder to get easy, applicable ones compared to a bunch of years ago!

    1. I agree, Sharon. I’ve got a few domains tucked away as well. One has plans for the near future but some of the others were just brainstorms. Who knows? I may yet do something with them. I had one a few years ago and let it slip away when I wasn’t using it. I’ve regretted it ever since. Those extra domains (especially since they are .coms) are a small price to pay for bursts of creativity that could lead to new business.

  6. Excellent guide to get a domain name Marie Leslie, that’s one of the most important decisions for small business owners!

  7. The domain name should really cover the theme of the site. Nice breakdown of topics on how to choose domain name. Any examples of domain names that are most relevant today?

    1. There are so many different niches and domains out there, Lorii, that it would be tough to pick the few that are most relevant. I think both small entrepreneurs and big businesses are really recognizing the need to have a domain that matches as closely as possible their business name, though I think future business owners will really have to get creative as more and more people set up websites and continue to snatch up domain names.

  8. Great tips! Another one I would add, that’s super important these days… is make sure it’s easy for you to say out loud… like if you’re at a networking event… if you’re doing a webinar… if someone is interviewing you on their podcast… you don’t want some quirky thing that’s spelled different or with numbers and letters…. so when you say it out loud on an interview you’re like ‘I am the founder of – but the 2 is a number two…. or like I’m the founder of w3bsitesthatsell… but the e is really a number three… haha 🙂 That’s not going to go over well for your branding. Yeah, it might have been ‘available’ for you to buy when the one you REALLY wanted wasn’t available… but you’ve got to think about these things.

    1. I definitely agree, Robin. If you are spending all your time explaining your web address, you really need to rethink the domain name you’ve chosen. Awkward is not memorable in a good way.

  9. This is fantastic advice Marie! I’ve been coaching my students to not choose a domain randomly. But they never listen…

  10. Fantastic advice and so wish I had had it years ago! I did try to get and it wasn’t available (although the company holding it was “willing” to take a price of at least $5K!…eek).

    have a great one…

  11. Love the breakdown of this topic. Choosing your domain is important. when I talk to my clients I tell them the same thing you mention above. The name is very important and it need to relate. Thank you so much for sharing this a great remind and resource.

  12. I checked the link for the 50 worst domain names (as you mentioned) and there are definitely a fair amount that crack me up 🙂 This article is a good reminder that domain names should be simple, easy to remember, and MUST represent the person or the business as clearly as possible.

  13. I really struggled getting my domain name, as I wanted it to match my corporate registration. What a chore! I wish I’d had these helpful tips before!

  14. Great tips and I wish I had them when I was choosing my domain name. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Excellent insight on choosing domain names. I remember some crazy ones I bought back when I was affiliate marketing..LOL

    1. I think we’ve all bought a few strange ones, Anita. Thank goodness they aren’t break-the-bank pricey.

  16. I agree I too see people with domain names and their site doesn’t matching anything on their site. The domain name is especially important for a business.

    1. Having that disconnect really makes it difficult to build recognition for your business. It can even turn people off if they feel they’ve been taken somewhere they didn’t intend to go online.

  17. Choosing a domain name is a lot easier said than done. This post will help lots of people choose the one that’s best for their business. Thanks!

    1. Yes. It definitely is, Dawn. It’s not so hard when the business involves your name (and it’s available) but I have worked with many people who needed to come up with a business name AND find the domain for it. It can be a challenging process, but rewarding when it’s done right.

  18. Great advice Marie. When I first came online looking to gain more customers this was very confusing for me. Wish I had your guidance back then.

  19. This is a great list. When we come up with domain names, we sit down and make a huge list of potential domain names that are available for purchase. After brainstorming our huge list of names, we pick out the best domain name out of the list. We had a huge list of potential domain names when we finally decided on the name Uplifting Families for my blog. We are about to use the same process to start a new business entity for our family.

    1. Sounds like you’ve come up with a good strategy, Christy. Good luck with the new domain search.

  20. Great Advice, there are too many people buying domains that don’t reflect their companies..