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Begginer's Guide:  How To Choose a Domain Name

Don't underestimate the power of your domain name.  It's your address online.  It's your brand.  It's your image.  It's everything.  So learning how to choose a domain name shouldn't be a process you take lightly.  Read through this beginner guide to ensure you don't miss anything important before you finalize your decision and make that purchase.  Good luck!

What is a domain name?

A Domain name is the unique address that you chose for your website.  My website domain name is "EdenFried.com". The domain name for Facebook is "Facebook.com".  To access Facebook, you type the domain name into your browser and it directs you to your profile.

Domain names are part of the Domain Name System. Currently there are over 294 million domain names worldwide – that’s a ton, for the record. With so many domains already registered, how will you go about choosing your domain name? 

Simple!  Follow the steps in this "how to choose a domain name" guide 😉

But really, it's competitive.  Choosing the right domain name for your website could make or break your success.  Before we dive into the basics, here's a little background info on DNS.

What is DNS?

DNS is an acronym for Domain Name System. This system is the mechanism by which IP addresses can be translated into word domains. In doing so, people have an easier time remembering how to access certain sites rather than memorizing a slew of IP addresses.

Think of it like this – how do you go about calling the people in your phone contact list? Do you remember all of their phone numbers? Likely not. Instead, you probably search their name in your phone and click on the dial button or their name to give them a call. In the same way you search Joe Shmo in your phone to call Joe Shmo, you type a domain name into your browser to access a website, which allows the browser to locate the exact address of the site you’re trying to access. Rather than memorizing IP addresses (a unique set of numbers that is assigned to each device that access the internet), you can simply type in a domain name and let the browser do the hard part for you.

Domain Name Anatomy

There are a few different components of a domain name. To break it down in an easy to understand example, we’ll use Facebook.

Domain Name/Web address: www.Facebook.com

Sub Domain/Third Level Domain:

www.

Second Level Domain/Domain:

Facebook

Top Level Domain (TLD):

.com

Note: The Domain + top level domain = Domain Name or web address

domain-name-anatomy

Besies just .com there are tons of other top level domains out there. To name a few...

  • ​.edu
  • .gov
  • .co
  • .org
  • .net
  • .biz

How To Choose a Domain Name - Tips & Guidelines

1. Domains can’t be longer than 63 characters

This might differ per TLD, however the rule is generally consistent. Plus, it would be fairly hard to remember a domain with more than 63 characters. I’d say that rule isn’t without merit.

2. Keep it short and simple

Facebook is a great example. Originally Mark Zuckerberg called it TheFacebook.com. Can you imagine typing that everytime instead of just facebook? Yuck. Even something as silly as taking the “the” out of your domain name can increase your brand impressions. For particularly long names, consider creating an acronym or shortening your domain in a creative way. Example: instead of volunteerlibrary – why not something like volunteerli.com? The main takeaway here is that people are moving more towards mobile, and no one wants to type long domain names into their browser on a small phone. Keep things simple. Don’t overthink it. When possible, shorten your domain.

3. Make sure your domain name can be brandable

Instead of choosing something like easymealrecipes.com why not go with something brandable like easymeal.com (no idea if that’s available, just rambling) or EZmeal.com or even mealsy.com? You can create a brand out of your domain name or, better yet, a domain name out of your existing brand.

4. When in doubt – choose .com as your TLD

We covered earlier that there are tons of Top Level Domains to choose from. However, if at all possible, it’s best to choose .com. People are bias in favor of .com – so why not capitalize on that?

5. Make no spelling mistakes & make it simple to spell

Perhaps you’ve heard that Google.com was originally supposed to be Googol.com. They made a spelling mistake when shopping for domain names and never went back. Their error worked out in the end, but it’s best to do a simple spell check before you add your domain name to the shopping cart and whip out your credit card. It just might save you a major headache later. To that end, make sure your audience can actually spell your site correctly and easily. That’s a no brainer, though.

6. Should you skip the “www” in your domain?

Up to you, at least these guys think so – but the reason we point this out is because your domain name MUST be able to load whether or not a person types www or doesn’t. Example: try typing in www.Facebook.com into your browser. It should work! Now open another window and just type facebook.com – that should work, too! If your domain doesn’t work both ways, you have some work to do.

How to Register a Domain Name

1

Brainstorm Domain 

2

Find a Registrar

3

Make your Purchase

Step One: Brainstorm your Domain Name

Use the tips above to choose the best domain for you and your business!

Step Two: Find a registrar

You can choose to find a reputable registrar that only focuses on domain registration, or you can find a registrar that also offers website hosting. If you’re going to create a website for your domain immediately, it’s recommended that you host your site in the same place that you registered your domain. That way everything will be in the same place. For more information on your web hosting options, check out some reviews for top web hosts on the market.

Step Three: Make your Purchase

When you make your domain purchase, ensure that you’ve purchased domain security and signed up for auto renew. It would be a shame for your domain name certificate to expire after a year and have someone steal it from right under your nose. To avoid having someone snag your domain from you when you certificate expires, protect yourself with domain auto renewal. Or, better yet, purchase your domain name for a period of several years, that way you won’t have to think about it for a while. Whatever you do, make sure you protect yourself and your domain name from being taken from you.

Feeling confident with your knowledge on how to choose a domain name? Great! Check out what's next.

1. Learn how to setup your WordPress website

2. Or, if you’re not ready for website setup yet and you just want information on how to choose a web host, no worries. We got you covered. Check out this beginner’s guide to choosing a web host.

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Eden Fried
 

Freelance writer, blogger, WordPress web designer.

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