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Posted on Aug 7, 2014 in blog, web development for beginners | 0 comments

How to make a website (lesson 2) – how to choose a domain name

A good website starts with a great domain name!

OK, here we are again, back with the webfoxes development team. Today we are going to continue our web development lessons by looking at what factors make a good domain name (get a good address for our house).

How to choose a domain name

Hunting down a good domain name is getting really hard these days

Hunting down a good domain name is getting really hard these days

Choosing a domain name is not an easy thing to do. It requires (1) knowledge (are you looking for a .com domain or for the new domain names?) and (2) luck (most of the good domain names have already been purchased!)

Finding a really good domain name that is still available is very difficult in our days, and most of us have a hard time hunting for domain name opportunities. Having said that, I feel that I need to emphasize that it is always a great pleasure when I find that special domain name that somehow is still available!

What is my website going to be about?

But let’s get started! The very first question you need to ask yourself is: “what is my website going to be about?”

Is it a personal blog? Is it about my business? What sort of content I am going to publish on it? For example, if my name is “Apollo” and I want to make a personal blog, then a name like “Apolloblog.com” could be sufficient. If on the other hand my Company’s name is “Apollo” then a name like “Apolloblog.com” is no good…

I know what domain name I want to have. Can I get it?

Sometimes you can! You see, deciding that you like a name is not enough, as you still need to check if:

a) The name is available
b) Apollo is not the brand name of an existing company  and that you’re not infringing on anyone’s copyright with your site’s name, e.g., if you’re living in the USA you may want to visit copyright.gov (if under the US law) and search before you buy! But we are going to come back to this one later…

Where should I check for domain name availability? Do you recommend any websites?

Well, as far as availability is concerned, you can check for it in many places, but I usually use instantdomainsearch.

Please have a look a the video bellow to see how this website works…

how to choose a domain name

instant domain search

However you also need to know that in many cases you can save the money you usually pay for the domain name, by taking advantage of certain marketing opportunities that some web hosting providers offer. For example iPage or Just Host offer FREE domain name registration with every web hosting plan! Have a look!

How should I know if a domain name is good for my website?

So you got yourself a domain name? Yes, if your name is Apollo and you are going to develop a blog! But what if your website in not about your personal blog, what if it’s about your business or your hobby… well, then a different domain name is probably required. A brand name maybe (like honda.com ), or a description of your hobby (like http://www.birdwatching.com). So how you should know what domain name is best for your website?

This is where we come, and in order to help you we listed 7 tips that we think will make life easier for you!

Our 7 basic tips on how to choose a domain name

1) Make your domain as short as possible.

bbc.com is a great domain name

bbc.com is a great domain name

A domain name like “eggs.com” is much better than a domain name like “weselleggs.com”. Google loves short domain names, it is great for SEO, and users (or potential customers) will find it easier to remember too! The bad news are that most of the short names have already gone…. But that shouldn’t stop you trying…

2) Preferably choose either a .com domain, or a domain name with your country’s extension.

But before you decide, always ask yourself the following questions: “where is my audience coming from? Who is going to visit my website? Where are they coming from? In how many languages is my website available?”

For example, say that you own a shop that sells books about history. Let’s also assume that you are a Greek based in Athens. The very best domain name that you could find – no matter where your visitors are coming from- would be the domain name “historybooks.com”, (because it’s a “com”) but unfortunately this name is already taken. So at this point you ask yourself:”who is going to visit my website?

If the answer is “people from all over the world, because I have books written in many languages plus I have my website translated to many languages”… then you should avoid using the country’s extension (.gr) to your domain name. HistoryBooks.gr is no good for you. You need a more generic name, and now that .com is not available you should try to see if the .net or .org extensions (in that order) are available. If none of them is, then don’t bother with other domain extension (like .info etc)… they are not of any real value.

Don't buy domain names like "info" or "me" etc. Always go for the .com domains, and if they are not available your next best choice is .net and .org

Don’t buy domain names like “info” or “me” etc. Always go for the .com domains, and if they are not available your next best choice is .net and .org

So what do we do in that case? Well, try other variations like Classic HistoryBooks.com or YourHistoryBooks.com etc. Use your imagination without compromising too much from your original idea. If all the above fails, as a last resort, try to add one (but no more!) hyphens and search for “history-books.com”. But as a general rule try to avoid this, hyphens (as you will see below) are not recommended!

If on the other hand your audience is going to be Greek oriented because you plan to sell books only in Greece, or most of your books are in Greek, or because you want to capitalize only in the Greek market, then a domain name like historybooks.gr would be great for you!

3) Make a list of 3-5 terms or phrases that best describe the domain you’re seeking.

Once you have the list, you can start to pair them or add prefixes & suffixes to create good domain ideas. For example, if you’re launching a football related domain, you might start with words like “football, players, world, matches, games” then play around until you can find a good match.

4) Say NO to hyphens and numbers!

Let’s say that ypu want to make a website about football, or a website about the best web hosting companies! A domain name like footballworld.com is much better than a domain like fottball-world.com. A domain like bestwebhosting.com is also a better choice than best-web-hosting.com or 15best-webhosting.com. Domain names witth hyphens and numbers look ugly and they make it hard to give your domain name verbally. We use hyphens only when there is no other alternative choice (like we did before with history-books). Also Google doesn’t like them any more…

5) Learn when to use a brand name and when to use keywords that describe your business

Well, the basic rule here is… use a brand name only if you are going to spend extra money on advertising!

Think of it. “Mercedes-benz” is a brand name. The-very-best-web-hosting.com isn’t. The point is that everybody knows Mercedes. We know what they do. We know their brand name, we know how to look for them! For these guys having a domain name like http://www5.mercedes-benz.com makes perfec sense. But how many people know your brand name? Be honest!

Lets take another example: if you have a laundry service and you are based in London and your brand name is “the London star” , what do you think is your best option? When in need of your services, how many people are going to search in Google for “laundry service London” and how many people are going to search for “the London star”? What sort of domain name would be better in your case? www.londonlaundry.com or “theLondonstar.com”? If you prefer the latter option, are you prepared to back it up with money for advertising until it becomes well known?

6) Make your domain name Easy to Type and to remember
If a domain name requires significant attention to type correctly, due to spelling, length or the use of un-memorable words or sounds, you’ve lost a good portion of your branding and marketing value. For example www.technology-and-it-projects.com is a bad domain to have! techpro.com on the other hand is a great domain! Easy does it, as they say! ( now try to see if this name is available! )

domain names should be easy to write and easier to remember

A bad example of a domain name. Domain names should be easy to write and easier to remember

7) Avoid Copyright Infringement
To be sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s copyright with your site’s name, visit copyright.gov and search before you buy.

So this is our basic list of tips on how to choose a domain name. Last but not least, it’s also a good idea to check the history of a domain you’re interested in. Go to DomainTools and type in a domain from your list. If you see under “Registrar History” that it’s been dropped or under “Whois History” that it’s been registered before, stay on the safe side and move on to the next domain in your list. You want a good clean record with Google and other search engines and re-registering a domain with a previous history (especially a bad one) could potentially be damaging to your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

So.. this is it! We really hope that you liked this lesson and that you did learn the basics about how to choose a domain name! Remember that if you have any questions you should contact us and let us know about it, we are only glad to help! Please be patient for the next lesson which is coming soon!

how to make a website (lesson 2) – how to choose a domain name

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