One of the most important success factors of many popular blogs is their domain name. The reason is that we create blogs for humans not search engines. The more you make it easy for your readers to retain your domain name, the more they can easily find their way to your website.
Your blog’s domain name can be anything from A to Z and 0 to 9 but it’s important we be able to give our business a name that’s catchy and attractive.
In the early days of the Internet, it was a quick game to come up with fancy and meaningful names for any online business. But as time went on, many businesses started making their way online, grabbing every available name.
The domain name business grows more lucrative making it even more complex and difficult to pick an easy name for your website.
In today’s blogging world, even with the diversification of domain name extensions, many still feel attracted to the .com extension as their first choice.
Having been online for over a decade, I understand how hard it is to come up with an easy-to-remember name for your blog. So I’m going to give out some useful tips to help you in this process.
1 – Domain name vs business name
One of the errors many of us commit is that we come up with an exciting business name, give it a legal status before going online to register its domain name. Most of the time, we get disappointed, finding out that the domain name is not available.
Sometimes, the fast guy who picked and registered the domain is a domain broker who is now asking for $10,000 or more to release the domain. And because we already have the business name registered with local authorities (and we are not ready to give some guy $10k for a domain name), we have no choice but to use a hyphen (my–business.com) or turn to some uncomfortable extension (mybusiness.xyz).
The hyphen in the name or meaninglessly unrelated extension keeps me and many readers really embarrassed. So what do we do?
Before giving your business any legal recognition and dropping the name with authorities and business databases, make sure the domain name is available for your registration.
2 – Don’t worry about its meaning
Some of my coaching students have told me they want a name that means something but I keep telling them it’s not important. All the words in my Oxford Dictionary have been registered with the .com extension.
If you really want a domain name that means something, you may have to turn to your mother tongue or some other language. You just have to be sure no special characters are involved. Alternatively, I tell my students to come up with a word and make it a brand. For the most part, I recommend using a business name generator. There are many name generating tools out there for you to choose from.
While most of the time I use Wix’s tool, I have seen success with Notify’s name generator. You may have to use as many tools as are available to come out with the most suitable name for your blogging business.
3 – Short and brandable business name
Most of the time, because we want something meaningful, we find ourselves with long and complex business and domain names. It’s important to keep it short, pronounceable and brandable. Name generating tools use artificial intelligence to combine two or more words to come up with a list of proposals. But sometimes, you may want to forget about them and come up with a completely strange word to build your business.
The first time I came across YAHOO, I asked myself what that meant:
4 – Name vs content niche
Now, take a look at the word YAHOO and its meaning. What’s the relationship with the content of the website? Absolutely none.
You can pick a word that’s less known or non existent and give it a new meaning by way of branding. Sometimes, giving your blog meaningful names may limit the scope of your content. If you are blogging in a large industry, that may not constitute a blockage, but for the most part, a generic name opens up for massive expansion. The team at YAHOO can cover anything on the website without fear of stepping out of their niche.
5 – Hyphens and extensions
I mentioned this point briefly above but I think it’s important I give it some more emphasis. If your domain name happens to contain more than one word, there is that temptation to use hyphens (-) to separate these words (my-business-blog.com).
Some advocate that this improves the domain’s readability. Going through my SEO toxic domain tool, more than 60% of toxic domains linking to my blog are hyphenated. Moz confirms this by pointing out domain names that have hyphens have almost a direct correlation with behavior that could be considered spammy. If you must use hyphens for some reason, I personally recommend not exceeding one.
6 – Does the extension matter?
From the point of view of SEO, I don’t think this matters. But to an extent, country-specific domain extensions are always good for businesses that are targeting local customers. It has something to do with raising the confidence of your readers who are from your country.
Your extension may add more meaning to your domain name with:
- .org for organization
- .tv for television
- .gov for governments
- .edu for educational institutions
- .eu intended for websites, personal or commercial, in Europe
- .us intended for websites, personal or commercial, in the US
There are many more extensions that point to the direction of your business so you do not just pick an extension because it sounds good. Some domain extensions are more pricey than others. Consider these factors before making a choice.
7 – Avoid confusion with extensions
As much as using a hyphen to make your domain name different from that of your competitor further confuses your audience, using the extension as a differentiation makes it even more confusing.
If your competitor’s domain name is bigmama.com, avoid using big-mama.com Don’t even go for bigmama.net. This will only create more confusion in your community and will need additional effort to clear things up.
8 – Using numbers in your domain name
Technically, this is allowed but sometimes, it can make things confusing. If your company is Four Cakes PLC, will the domain name be 4cakes.com or fourcakes.com? The problem is that people who who hear you pronounce your domain name have a 50/50 chance of actually inputting the correct domain name. If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to register both domains and redirect one to the other. By doing so, readers won’t be lost choosing to use any of the domains. You will only have to deal with renewing both domains yearly.
9 – Homophones in business and domain names
Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. Some examples are ‘flour’ and ‘flower’, ‘break’ and ‘brake’, etc.
Now if any of these words is available in your business name, it may create confusion for people who hear your name and rush to the Internet to check it out. If your company name is FreshFlour Ltd, people may not know what to type in the address bar: freshflower or freshflour.
10 – Use your personal name
When I started blogging, I used to read Johnchow.com. I loved him blogging on his name. It’s his home so he does content in any niche and it’s valid as far as he relates it to himself. So I created EnstineMuki.com which is made up of my names. Though I share content on Blogging, Blog monetizing, Social media and SEO, each time I write about my travel experience, it doesn’t feel like I’m touching a different niche. The reason is that it’s about me and it’s all relevant.
Neal here has chosen to go with nealschaffercom.bigscoots-staging.com, which is in line with me and John Chow. Another successful blogger who uses his name is Zac Johnson of zacjohnson.com. Did I mention neilpatel.com? Of course these and many more have made their names brands in the industries and nothing stops them from spreading to any niche from a personal point of view.
Your name may not be as easy as the names of some of these pro bloggers. Some of us have complex names based on our different cultures. If your content has to go international, you have to consider the fact that readers will be coming from all over the world, so your name and a business name shouldn’t be the obstacle to growth.
Give in some time to make sure you’ve chosen a name that’s easy to remember and easy to type (with no confusion). It may not have any direct meaning to your blogging niche but as long as you can push it forward and make your blog popular, it’s fine. Do not rush to register your business with your authorities until you are sure that the domain name is available.
I hope these tips help you as you come up with a short, brandable name for your blogging business and domain name.
Hero photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash