Are you planning to start a new website? I bet one of the most challenging questions is what domain name to choose.
Coming up with a good name and selecting a domain is a key question for most people when launching a website. For anyone just starting out with their first online adventure, this can even be a paralyzing topic. Some people simply freeze at this step. But even if you already have a dozen or more sites, it still can be a difficult question what domain name to pick for your new project.
I guess you could write a whole book on this topic, but I will keep it simple. With answering one easy question, you’ll be able to figure out the most infuriating part of picking a domain name.
Is SEO Your only goal?
The only question you need to answer is this:
Will SEO be your main and possibly only method of traffic generation?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. But don’t worry, if you’ve never heard of it then your answer to this question is simply no. In this case go ahead an read my article about SEO for Beginners.
But let’s see what type of domain name to choose depending on your answer to the question above.
- If the answer is yes, and SEO is the main planned traffic generation method, go for an EMD, possibly PMD. See what they mean below.
- If you answered no and you are planing to use other traffic sources (or don’t even know how SEO works), pick a branded domain.
Two Parts Of A Domain
To be able to pick the best domain, you need to understand the most basic structure of every domain name. You’ll need to decide on both of the following parts when selecting your domain.
- TLD. TLD stands for Top Level Domain, sometimes called domain extension. It is the last part of every website name, after the last dot. The most common TLD internationally is unarguably .com.
- Your domain name. Your domain name is the one that comes before the extension. Here is where you can be really creative. In my example of this very website businesscookhouse is my domain name.
How To Pick A Domain For An SEO website
Let’s get back to our main question. If your answer was yes, and your main traffic source will be SEO, simply choose a domain that contains the most sought after keyword of your niche.
Two technical terms you can easily come across when choosing an SEO domain:
- EMD (Exact Match Domain). An EMD is a domain name that exactly matches your main keyword. BestTreadmill.com would be a good example of an EMD.
- PMD (Partial Match Domain). In case of a PMD your domain name partially includes the main keyword. MyBestTreadmillHub.com is an example of a PMD.
Luckily, in the era of hundreds of new domain extensions, it is now much easier to find a good SEO domain name that includes your keyword. You can safely use any of the new TLDs (e.g. .online, .store, .blog, .tv etc.), they behave the same in search engines just like a .com domain would.
Of course it is wise not to use very figurative extensions for projects that don’t match that extension. To give you a few examples, .tv should only be used for a website that focuses primarily on videos. Similarly, .gay extension is only advised to use in LGBT-related projects.
But to keep it simple, what you have to do in case of an SEO website is find a domain name that contains your main keyword or at least a variation. Then find an extension that’s free with that name, and you’re good to go. Buy that domain and use it for your SEO project. Namecheap is my preferred domain registrar (affiliate link), but you can use any company you trust.
Please note that using an EMD or PMD does not guarantee any rankings. But if used wisely, as part of an elaborate SEO strategy, these domain names can unarguably help rank a website that focuses on one single topic.
In Every Other Situation
On the other hand, if SEO is not your only traffic generation method, my best advice is to build a brand. And this is a general advice for your whole business. It is much easier to build confidence, get new clients and keep old ones if they associate you with a brand.
A branded domain name is simply that, a domain that contains your brand name.
Yes, I know it is hard to find a good brand name, and this is far beyond the scope of this article. Use your imagination and make sure it adheres to these three rules below.
Remember, it is not the name that makes a brand big but the values behind it. PR, business experience, failures, a lot of money and time can grow your new name big, not the order of characters.
Pick a brand name that is:
- Easy to remember
And no, it does not even have to refer to your niche or your business. How does an apple relate to a computer???
.com Is Best For Branded Domains
When using a branded domain, simply go for the .com extension. It is still the one that comes into most people’s mind when thinking about a website’s address. And if someone types in your brand name directly into their browser with the .com extension, wouldn’t it be nice if they landed directly on your website?
Another alternative can be a country-specific top level domain (like .co.uk, .com.au, .de, .fr). These are great if you plan to do business in one single country.
Taking all this into consideration, in order to choose your branded domain, you have to use a brand name where the .com or country-specific domain is not taken. This can even alter your brand name, as it is not wise to use a name where you cannot buy the .com domain (or your local one).
So your task is to find a good brand name first. Don’t overcomplicate it, and don’t fall in love with it. Go and check whether the .com is taken or not. Again, my preferred registrar is Namecheap (affiliate link). There you can also check if a domain is taken. But feel free to use any company you prefer.
If that domain is free, go and buy it and use it for your new business. If it is taken, simply repeat the last step until you find a brand name that you’re comfortable with and where you can buy the .com or your local domain name.
A Quick Note On Online Success
Just as the brand name does not determine the success of a company, it is the same situation with the domain.
It is not the domain name that makes a website successful, but the hustle behind it.
So don’t dwell on picking the best domain for your website. Create content, advertise, find out what people need and provide that day in and day out. Give time to your online project. Success will come after a long and tremendous effort.