How to choose a domain name: a guide to ideas and strategies

How to choose a domain name for your website is a very important task that requires time and analysis. Don’t worry, I don’t want to discourage you!

On this page, I’ll reveal the strategies on how to choose an effective domain before purchasing it.

Choosing the right domain name is also important; in fact, this choice is critical for the success of your site and your business as it represents your activity and is your business card.   

If you’re interested in mastering the art of website creation, consider our WordPress and Website Creation Course for comprehensive insights into choosing the perfect domain and building a successful online presence.

How to choose a Domain Name?

Before understanding how to choose an effective domain, let’s look at the elements that compose it, which are read from right to left.

The top-level domain extension or suffix

The extension is the first distinctive element of a domain. Let’s see the different types to choose an effective domain:

National

There are national top-level domain extensions, called ccTLD (country-code top-level domain), composed of two letters, indicating the site’s location and used by countries.

For example, each country has its own, Spain has .es, Germany has .de, France has .fr, the European Union has .eu, and so on.

Generic

The term gTLD (generic top-level domain) indicates the generic top-level domain extensions, composed of three or more letters.

Some of these are considered “free,” as in the case of .com which characterizes commercial activities, or .info, which is typical of informational sites.

Others, on the contrary, are “restricted” and intended exclusively for certain types of websites. This includes .gov, used by government sites, or .edu belonging to educational institutions.

Infrastructural

Finally, there is a third type of top-level domain called infrastructural (infrastructure top-level domain). Currently, there is only one, and it is Arpa.

A complete list of top-level domains can be found on Wikipedia.  

how to choose a domain name for free

Which domain extension to choose?

You will choose the domain extension that best suits the type of business you want to promote with your website or blog.

For example, if you are building an e-commerce site and do not want national borders to be a limitation, you will choose .com. In general, the most commonly used extensions are national and commercial.

It is a common sentiment to attribute greater reliability and authority to these two types of suffixes, which are also the most widespread. In any case, there is nothing wrong with choosing a .net or .biz.

In 2012, there was a liberalization of generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

Since then, the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organization that manages the assignment of gTLDs and ccTLDs.

This oversees root server systems and IP address assignments and handles domain registrations only if they come from the legitimate owners of the companies or brands making the request.

The domain name or second-level domain

It’s time to unleash all your imagination and creativity!

The domain is the central part of an internet address and is what characterizes your business.

To understand how to choose an effective domain, put yourself in the shoes of your website visitors and think that if they find your content interesting, they will want to come back.

second level domain

Let’s see, then, how the domain name should be and what requirements it should have:

  • Consistency with the promoted activity: promote your business; if you don’t have a strong brand, the domain name should explain what you do.
  • Short and direct: get straight to the point without getting lost in descriptions. If you produce beer, use the name of your beer (www.mybeer.com); if you have a pub and your strength is offering craft beers, use www.craftbeers.com. Alternatively, if the pub is well-known, use the pub’s name.
  • Easy to remember, write, and pronounce: the simpler your site’s name, the easier it will be for users to remember and talk about it to others.
  • Foresighted: your business or blog will have a long lifespan. Try to choose a name that does not have a limited lifecycle and can be valid even for 10 or more years.
  • Unique: there is no domain identical to another, i.e., a duplicate. A good rule is to invent a new name and not use the .com extension if it is not available. Also, if it is a well-positioned site, you probably won’t be able to “steal” its traffic and users. Take your time and reflect on the name that best represents you.

What the domain name should not have:

  • Hyphens: it’s better not to include them unless necessary, especially if the chosen name is not used by others. It might be useful if you have the same vowel or consonant between two words composing the domain name: www.craftbeer.com is harder to read than www.craft-beer.com.
  • Numbers and articles: it’s preferable not to include numbers unless they strongly characterize the activity or refer to something well-known (www.fantastic4.net, www.the7dwarfs.com). The same goes for articles unless they serve to give more emphasis or are an integral part of an established activity, for example, www.thepubkeeper.com, and www.thetavern.com. As you can see, it’s not easy to read.
  • Double meanings and linguistic traps: sometimes, falling into linguistic traps or unpleasant double meanings can happen. I recommend carefully checking this aspect, even by having others read the chosen name and collecting opinions about it.

Third and fourth-level domain

Everything that comes after your domain name, always reading from right to left, represents a new level.

An example could be www.blog.myidea.altervista.org, in this case, blog. is a fourth-level domain.

Domain name and surname

A legitimate question you might have is: can I use my name and surname for the domain?

The answer is, of course, yes! However, there is always a but, there are advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of using a domain name and surname

If you choose to use your name and surname, it should be very prominent on the site, and you need to work a lot in terms of content.

So, also consider the visual aspect and the structure your site will have.

An advantage is that if someday you change the type of business, your site or blog will remain valid and not strictly tied to what you promote today.

Disadvantages of using your first and last name as a domain

Evaluate the complexity of your first and last name and how common it is.

If your name is Mario Rossi, it will be difficult to find an available domain, and it is not unique and distinctive enough.

If your name is Pia Serbelloni Mazzanti Vien Dal Mare, it is self-evident that it is difficult to understand.

Creating a domain name from scratch

Remember that creating a name from scratch for your brand has the advantage of being able to include keywords that distinguish your business.

On the flip side, it can be very challenging to find a domain name that meets the requirements mentioned earlier on this page.

If you’re experiencing a creative block, you can turn to some portals that will help you in the creation of your domain name.

These sites offer the possibility to check the availability of a domain, pairing it with various types of extensions. Here are some of them:

  • LeanDomainSearch.com
  • Panabee.com
  • NameMesh.com
  • BustAName.com
  • Dotomator.com
  • Domaintyper.com

Certainly, a search on these websites will help you get inspiration and choose your domain name.

SEO-friendly domain name

What is meant by an SEO-friendly domain name (Search Engine Optimization)? It is a technique, or rather a trick, that some use to climb positions on search engines.

The chosen domain name is what is called an Exact Match Domain (EMD). In practical terms, one or two keywords corresponding to those you want to index are inserted into the domain name.

This trick can be useful in the initial phase, but search engines, Google first and foremost, do not index and position your site just because it has an SEO-friendly domain name.

In fact, the risk you run is being penalized, resulting in having to work hard and spend a lot of time recovering lost positions.

To delve deeper into the topic, I recommend reading this article on Google penalization.

The general rule is that you will always have to work on the content because it will make a difference.

 

To refine your SEO Copywriting techniques and work effectively on content, I suggest downloading this free mini-guide

seo copywriting ebook guide

How to avoid choosing a spam domain

As you contemplate how to choose an effective domain, you may come across a domain that is currently available but has been previously used by others for purposes far from yours.

It’s essential to know its history before purchasing.

Check the reputation of a domain through sites like archive.org, who.is, or mxtoolbox.com because it may have been a penalized domain or even categorized as a spam site.

In this case, it’s better to choose another domain. However, if the expired or expiring domain has a good reputation, it can be an advantage, especially if it receives quality backlinks.

Domain name and social media

A final step before buying a domain is checking its presence on major social media.

Nowadays, many companies choose the social media path to promote their business. It’s not the same as owning a domain, but it’s certainly less demanding, especially for small businesses.

domain name and social media

Checking the existence of the chosen domain name on social channels will give you additional insights to consider.

A user searching for you on social media might find someone else’s activity, and a potential customer who can’t find you is a lost customer.

In summary, so far, you know how to choose an effective domain and have ideas for a domain name to choose. There is still one aspect to address: where to launch your website.

I am referring to the host server that you must rely on and which will host your site.

Registering a domain

Many companies provide web hosting services, which is a web server where you can allocate the pages of your website that will go online and be open to cybernauts.

The service can be both free and paid. The downside of free hosting services is that they include their name in the domain (www.whatIdo.altervista.org).

This type of domain suggests to users that your business is not as professional and important as investing in a domain and allocating resources to it.

The best practice is to buy a domain and register it for at least 3 years or more.

This practice is also used to please Google, which considers this aspect, and to make the most of the positioning and indexing potential of your site.

If the domain you’ve chosen is unique and hasn’t been bought with any extension, I recommend purchasing at least the two most common variants, national and commercial.

Finally, I also suggest protecting your site with a trademark, i.e., registering the brand.

Are you ready to purchase your domain and bring your site to life? Or do you want to delve deeper into some aspects?

I recommend following these two courses, SEO Course and Advanced SEO.

Elevate your online presence! Secure your unique domain today and let your website shine. Contact us for details

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