Looking for help with how to choose a domain name?
I’m guessing that you’ve wanted to start a blog-based online business for quite sometime now.
And you’ve likely invested weeks or even months of your time choosing a profitable blog topic that you are passionate about.
And now, you’re excited to jump straight in and set up your WordPress blog.
Am I right?
But there’s just one hang up that’s holding you back.
What the heck do you call it?
I remember the same feelings of frustration.
All the gurus and every article you read online say that choosing the right domain name from the very start is CRUCIAL to your success.
But the domain name you want is already taken!
What do you do?
Do you modify it somehow? Add hyphens between words? Register the domain name with a (TLD) that’s not already taken? Or try to find something completely different?
Finding a good domain name that’s available is tough. It can bring your progress to a screeching halt, and I’d hate to see that happen to you.
That’s why I’m going to challenge the status quo by saying don’t worry if you can’t find the best domain name from day one.
Obviously, picking the right domain name from the start is ideal, but nothing we do on the internet is set in stone. If you pick the wrong domain name now, you can always change it later.
Granted, changing domain names will create extra work, but it’s not impossible.
If fact, just last month, I helped a done-for-you client change domain names during her third year online.
The move took less than 1 day to do and had no negative long-term impact on her SEO traffic.
What matters more right now is that you don’t let this phase of the business building process hold you back. In my opinion, it’s better to just get something started, than to not start at all.
How to Choose a Domain Name: 3 Simple Exercises
Here’s 3 easy ways to choose a domain name for your blog when the one you want is already taken.
1. Use Stop Words
If your desired domain name is already taken, before brainstorming new domain name ideas, try adding a stop word.
For example, when I registered the domain name for this website, TheBlogMechanic.com, I really wanted to call my business Blog Mechanic.
But the domain name BlogMechanic.com was already taken, which is quite frustrating because there’s not even a website on the server. Maybe I’ll put in a bid to buy the domain name one day. But I digress …
Instead of looking for something completely different, I added a stop word (the) at the beginning. Thankfully, TheBlogMechanic.com was available, so I quickly grabbed it before someone else did.
Could you do something similar?
2. Start With Your Name
Assuming your perfect domain name IS already taken and it doesn’t make sense for you to add a stop word, for whatever reason.
Rather than waste weeks, probably months of your time, trying to find another perfect domain name for your blog, consider using your real name instead.
For example, my name is Kerry Russell. If I used my name as a domain name it would be KerryRussell.com
But like most domain names, KerryRussell.com is already taken, in which case I would try adding my middle name, Lisa.
And with a quick search on NameCheap, which is my recommended domain name registrar, I can see that KerryLisaRussell.com is available.
Now, it’s possible that you’ve already considered and decided against using your real name as a business name, but I encourage you to not dismiss the idea just yet, because you don’t have to use it forever.
I mean, if you are struggling to find a good domain name, right now, that’s not taken, and your real name or at least some variation of it is available, you can use your real name until you find another domain name that you’re happy with.
Because starting with your name until you do eventually find the best domain name for your blog, means you don’t have to put your kick-ass business idea on hold until the perfect name comes to you – you can get your WordPress blog setup – populate it with content – and start growing your audience.
Makes sense, right?
3. Do a Giant Word Brain Dump
If number one and two above are not working for you, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and start brainstorming new domain name ideas.
Grab a pen and get some paper, and a thesaurus if you have one.
We’re going to do a giant brain dump of every word you can think of – descriptive words and keywords.
Combining descriptive words with keywords is a great way to finding the best domain name for your blog.
This is how I come up with my business name in just one weekend, and it works like a charm. 🙂
In fact, I used all three types of combined words – a keyword (Blog) – a descriptive word (Mechanic) – a stop word (The).
Let’s get started.
Make a List Of Keywords
Write down the main, top-level, broad keywords or keyword phrases that best describe your business. For example …
I help creative entrepreneurs with the technical side of creating a blog-based online business using WordPress.
The main, top-level, broad keywords that best describe my business are WordPress and Blog.
What are your keywords? Write them down.
Make a List Of Descriptive Words
Now, take some time to really think about what descriptive words best describe your business.
Here’s three key questions you should be asking yourself:
- What problem does your business solve?
- How do you solve that problem?
- What exactly do your target audience want?
For example, maybe you want to start a weight loss blog that helps readers reduce chronic pain symptoms and in some instances, reverse chronic illnesses such as diabetes, migraines and irritable bowl syndrome, by eating a healthy low carb diet.
Some descriptive keywords you could list are cure, manage, pain, heal, healer, eat, health, healthy, food, eating, chronic, low carb, diet, medicine, doctor, illness, disease, fight, beat, no more pain, control, thin, slim, skinny, and so on.
Once you’ve added every single word you can possibly think of, pull out your thesaurus (if you have one) to look for even more words with the same meaning as those already on your list.
If you don’t have a thesaurus, worry not. Your trusted friend Google has one that you can use HERE for free.
When you’ve finished adding new words from the thesaurus, look at your very long list (it should be long!) of words and start combining them.
Some combined words from the example used above are …
Take your time with this exercise and be creative!
As you compile your new list of combined words, you’ll likely come up with many more descriptive words that you can use in your business name.
You won’t like all of them and that’s okay. The goal here is to just come up with as many names as you possibly can because most of them will be taken, as you’re about to find out in the next step.
The Domain Name Test
Okay. Now that you’ve finished combining words, it’s time to see if the word combinations on your list are available as a website address URL.
Go to NameCheap and enter the first item on your list into the search field, adding .com to the end of the combined words. We’ll talk more about the importance of using dot com in just a moment. Keep reading.
Is it available?
Add it to a new list!
This is the last list, I promise. 😉
If it’s not available, before you dismiss it …
Can you add a stop word or modify it in some way?
Okay. Forget about it and move on to the next item on your list. Then rinse and repeat.
Upon completion, you will be left with a list of potential domain names that are available.
Choose the best domain name and grab it quickly before someone else does – IF and only IF – it meets the criteria below.
Important Factors to Consider When Choosing A Domain Name
You should now have some good domain name ideas to choose from. But before you rush off and register the best domain name on your list, make sure it meets the following criteria.
1. Choose a .com domain name:
Using .net, .org, .co, .tax or any other TLD can cause confusion.
People trust .com URL’s more than any other TLD and most people automatically assume a domain name ends in .com because dot com is the most popular and memorable domain name extension.
If your domain name is something like BeatChronicPain.club, when people accidentally go to BeatChronicPain.com you’ll lose traffic AND you could run into trademark infringement issues.
The only exception is if you are targeting a specific country such as the United Kingdom, in which case it’s okay to use the (ccTLD) .co.uk
2. Avoid Using Numbers:
Using numbers in a domain name is also confusing. When people hear your domain name they don’t know if the number is numeral or spelled.
If you absolutely must use numbers, register both variations and point them to the same website so you don’t lose traffic if someone misspells it.
3. Avoid Using Hyphens:
For some time now, many leading search engine optimisation (SEO) experts have been debating whether or not hyphens in a domain name are good or bad.
Some say hyphens are a BIG no no because Google sees them as spammy behaviour previously used to trick the search engines to get higher rankings, while others say it’s perfectly okay.
Personally, I don’t know if using hyphens in your domain name will get you penalised by Google or not, because there are several red flats that Google looks for to determine if a site is using black hat SEO tactics such as over optimised content stuffed with keywords.
But I do think it’s best not to use hyphens anyway because a domain name with hyphens is harder for people to remember – and you want to make it as easy as possible for people to find your website.
And again, you’ll lose traffic to the dot com domain name without hyphens.
4. Choose a domain name that’s easy to spell:
Not everyone will click a link back to your blog in an email, through Google search, or on social media.
Some people will hear your website URL on a podcast show or some other kind of audio recording. And there will also be times when you have to share your domain name with someone in person.
Your domain name should be easy to spell for any listener.
Choosing a domain name for your blog is obviously an important first step towards building your online business. It takes time and requires careful consideration, but it’s NOT as crucial to your success as everyone says it is! It can be changed.
If you still can’t find the perfect domain name after doing the exercises in this post, don’t put your kick-ass business idea on hold until the best domain name comes to you.
If your birth name is available as a website address, use that to get started, or just select a not so perfect domain name for now, providing it meets the criteria listed above.
You CAN always change it later!
Yes, your domain name is important. But what’s more important is: Getting your blog setup, publishing great content and growing your audience.
I hope this article has helped you learn how to choose a domain name. If you liked it, you may also like how to buy a domain name.
And if you need help setting up a WordPress website, see my blog setup service.