How to Find the Best Domain Name for your Website – The Ultimate Guide
When setting up a new website choosing the right domain name is extremely important and usually quite a big deal. However, it is not the most important factor when building a website, so don’t worry if you pick a domain and decide to change it later on. Despite that, you should still try your best to make a wise choice, so a year from now you will still think it is the best domain you could have come up with. Hopefully, after reading this guide you will be able to succeed in finding the best domain for your website.
In this guide we will cover:
- Keyword rich domains vs “Brandable” domains.
- To dash or not to dash?
- Adding “s” – pluralizing words.
- Adding generic searchable words.
- Switching the order of words.
- How to actually choose a domain.
TLDs – dot net vs dot com vs dot org vs the Rest
Whether you want a keyword rich domain or a “brandable” one, you have to choose a TLD (Top-Level Domain). There are two main TLDs that I think are better than the others – dot com and dot net. According to Wikipedia, dot net was originally intended for organizations involved in networking technologies. However, today it is used as a general TLD.
Dot com should be your first choice TLD, and dot net second. The main three reasons that dot com and dot net are the best TLDs –
- People tend to remember them better (especially dot com).
- They are more trusted by visitors.
- Google and other search engines “like them”. Meaning they will have better SEO (SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the process of ranking your website in search engines).
Your third choice would be dot org. Organizations such as schools, open-source projects, communities and non-profit organizations use dot org. Nonetheless, it is also used as a general domain, and a pretty good one, I must add.
Lastly, we have .co, .me, .biz, .info, .us, and more. I won’t go into their origins, but feel free to look them up. I really recommend that you DON’T to get any of those. They are hard to remember, less trusted by users and are difficult to rank in search engines. Don’t be tempted to use them just because your desired domain is free with one of them.
Keyword Rich Domains vs “Brandable” Domains
If you are building a website for your business/company, a specific product, a startup website, etc – use a “brandable” domain. No question about it.
The problem arises when you set up a website for other reasons, like affiliate based websites (which many of you are here for). Your main goal is to get high ranks on search engines, so which kind of domain should you pick? I’ll be honest; there isn’t an unequivocal answer to that.
Personally, I would go for a keyword rich domain. Simply because I think it is easier to get ranked. Although Google’s EMD (exact match domain) update on September 2012, made people think twice before getting a keyword rich domain, I still believe it is the wise choice. The Google EMD update created a change which means you can no longer get a keyword link that is your website’s keyword rich name, and still have it count as a natural link. However if you have good SEO, you will still be highly ranked. If you do decide on using a keyword rich domain the optimal number of keywords to use is 2-4. Below 2 and your idea won’t be easily represented and above 4 your domain will be too long and difficult to remember.
However, you still have the choice of using a “brandable” domain. It is possible to compete for high positions on search engines with a “brandable” domain name. It also has the advantage of people remembering it better, if you have a catchy name. Moreover, some think that it’s less risky, and even better for SEO to get a “brandable” domain.
In summary, for websites that do not fall into the first category, both choices are good. Go with what feels right.
To Dash (hyphenate) or Not to Dash?
Using dashes in your domain can make your life easier, simply because you can double or even triple your choices. Generally, try to avoid using dashes if possible. For example: MyWebsite.com is better than My-Website.com. But it’s not an ironclad rule. If your main desired keyword domain is only available with dashes then take it. If you do decide to dash your domain, don’t use more than one dash. Since we are trying to avoid all dashes, unless it is the only option left, then minimize the amount you have to use.
Adding “s” – pluralizing words
People tend to forget they can add an “s” to make a word plural. By added an “s” your keyword basically stays the same, but we managed to broaden our choices. For example: “robot vacuum cleaner” would be “robot vacuum cleaners“.
Adding Generic, Searchable Words
Words like: best, top, services, providers, reviews, etc. can be added to your domain. These words have high conversion rates, catch users’ eyes, and are usually being searched a lot. Consider adding them if your main keyword domains is taken. To find the best generic words to add is by doing some simple keyword research.
Switching Order of Words
Switching the order of words in your domain is a great thing to do, as long as the domain name still makes sense. Take for example, the keyword “robot vacuum cleaner”. Switching it to “vacuum cleaner robot” keeps the idea of a cleaning robot that vacuums and is a good switch. But “cleaner vacuum robot” is bad, implying the robot is cleaning the vacuum. Make sure any switch you make doesn’t change the idea of your domain name.
Note: “Switching Order of Words” is number six on our list, but you can try switching words through the entire process of searching for the right domain.
How to actually choose a domain
Before you begin searching for an available domain, you need to do your research. Find out the main keywords of your niche. Think of a few options for a domain and then begin the actual search. I recommend using DomainsBot.com. We will go through the entire process together. The easiest way to do so is with a real example.
Our niche will be “automatic vacuum cleaner”. After a quick search I found out that the main keywords are: automatic vacuum cleaner, robotic vacuum cleaner, robot vacuum cleaner, robot vacuum, and robotic vacuum. Each one is pretty good because they are being searched quite a lot by users (over 1000/month).
At this point we have two options:
Option 1: 3-4 Word Domains
Option 1 is creating a Domain using 3-4 related words. In this example, one word I would include is “cleaner”, because it has a high number of searches and it helps us broaden our options. I would also use “robotic” or “robot” and not “automatic”, since my research showed it is searched much more by users.
Now we can begin our search. I entered “robot vacuum cleaner”, and this is what I got:
Unfortunately both dot com and dot net are taken. All of the other keywords are taken as well. Lets try to filter the results, using the column to the left, to get some nice new ideas:
- TLD Extensions: check only dot com, dot net and dot org.
- Synonyms: Personally, I don’t really like synonyms since they will often turn up less used or less accurate words, but sometime it can give you useful ideas. In this sample Domainsbot gave us the word “machine”. A quick search shows that keywords like “robot vacuum machine” are hardly searched (so are keywords with the word “hoover”). So in this case, we will uncheck “use synonyms”.
- Add related keywords: Leave this one checked. We might get some nice ideas.
- Search premium domains: Buying a domain could be a very good choice. In order to do that you have to know how to check if a used domain is worth buying and for what price. I won’t cover that in this guide, but consider this option seriously.
- General: Check “require all keywords” and drag Number of keywords to 4.
Now our results are much narrower and focused on the keywords we want:
You can see that “Robot-Vacuum-Cleaner.net” is the only available domain. Two dashes should be used only if it’s your last choice, and we still have more options so let’s keep looking.
Our next option is to pluralize – adding an “s”. So our domain’s words would be “robot vacuum cleaners”. Unfortunately, there are still no available domains.
Since we don’t want dashes, couldn’t add an “s”, and have already narrowed our options it’s time to add a new word and make it a 4 word domain. This can easily be done using a generic keyword like I mentioned above. Our first try will be “best robot vacuum cleaners” (I’ve added the “s” to maintain proper grammar).
Viola! BestRobotVacuumCleaners.com is available. Hurry up and buy it 😀
- This domain is excellent for an affiliate website. It won’t be as good if you own your own product, and want to build a website for it. In that case, a “brandable” domain would be the best choice.
- VacuumCleanerRobots.com is available for sale. Consider this as well.
- VacuumCleanerRobots.org is available, and is also an excellent choice. But sometime s you have to go with what feels best and I just felt better with BestRobotVacuumCleaners.com.
Option 2: 2-Word Domain
Option 2 is very similar to Option 1 expect that it, obviously, uses only two words in the domain name. Following our example we will begin with the words “robot” and “vacuum”. Filter the results as explained above, except change the max number of keywords to 2.
Three options came up:
“Robot vacuum” is taken, with or without a dash. However, Vacuum-Robot.com is for sale for $500. This is an excellent option. Thirdly, a quick search for “vacuum robot” (using the switch order technique), shows that “Vacuum-Robot.net” is available. This is probably your best option for a two word domain.
This guide covers pretty much everything you need to know about choosing the best domain for your website. When picking a domain remember the 7 key parts to your domain, your TLD, keyword rich vs “brandable” domains, dashes, generic searchable words, switching order, pluralizing, and then actually picking your domain. Try playing with the Domainsbot tool I showed you; get to know it and you will start to understand even more.
When you find a free domain, it should feel right. If it looks good but it doesn’t feel right, doesn’t feel like “this is the one” – then keep searching. There are plenty domains out there for every niche. Good Luck!