First – what is a domain name? yep. This is another one of those terms you need to understand as you begin your journey into blogdom – or really – any online business. A domain name is like a virtual identification card. In essence, it is that thing that follows the “www” and allows others to find you online and to go to your site. Also, it is the best way for people to verify your online presence and see that you are REAL.

Common mistakes in selecting a domain name

A common error is for beginners to believe that having a bad domain name is better than not having one at all. This is not correct. What are the negatives of having a bad domain name? Well, having that bad name can backfire and even cause you to lose customers. If not chosen carefully, having a bad domain name makes you look unprofessional – like an amateur. While it is OK to be a beginner and to be learning “the ropes,” you don’t want a name that makes you look
like a rank amateur. Why? Because this name will follow you for life. So, you don’t want to stick your business with a yucky name.

On the other hand, a good domain name leaves a positive impression. This great name you select fosters a feeling of trust within your clients. As an added bonus, and a very important one at that, a carefully chosen domain name can result in your website ranking higher in search engine results. This in turn allows your site to be seen by even more people. Being seen by m ore people leads to more clicks, more readers, more business. Well, you get the idea.

In addition, your domain name will be on your letterhead, business cards, and more. Even if you are completely online, your “real-world” identity needs to be reflective of your very professional – serious – business. Clearly, selecting an appropriate domain name is one of the most important tasks you have in starting your business online.

How to choose your name

Now that you understand HOW IMPORTANT it is to select your domain name, how do you go about making the best choice? Begin by making a list of potential domain names for your website. At this point, realize that you have literally millions of choices. You do not just have to use your company name. In fact, if your company name is long, complicated or difficult to spell, then it might be better not to use your company name.

If you have a complicated business name, then your domain name might be one of your most important products. A consumer looking for this product would likely search online for that product rather than your company name. Thus, this can result in better customer conversions and higher search engine rankings since more customers would be searching for the product than the company.

If you happen to be the face of your brand, you might consider using your personal name as your domain name. For instance, Martha Stewart and Donald Trump are two people that are the face of their business. If that’s the case for you, then you may want to use your name as the domain name. Also, if you are beginning in your online presence, but want to build YOU as the brand, then that would definitely be a good domain name to select.

Another very important option would be to use a keyword in your niche. Then, as people are looking for topics relevant to your niche, then your domain name is more likely to rank higher. You can build your list for domain names at the same time that you are looking for keywords for your business or even as you are trying to determine your niche.

Next, eliminate domain names that won’t work

Work on building a large list of potential domain names. Brainstorming is the key here. Write down everything you think of – no matter how silly or strange. You want to do this because it gives you the freedom to explore ideas – and this enhances your creativity. So – write, write, write your ideas. Ask others for ideas. And at the beginning, don’t limit ideas.

Then, once you develop a long list of potential domain names, it is time to start narrowing down your choices. To do this, first go through and cross out name too long. A good rule of thumb: Try to stay under twenty characters for an easy to remember domain name. It is also a good idea to strike through any name too difficult to spell. If “psychiatrist” is one of the words in your domain, for example, many cannot spell it correctly and will likely resort to something easier – like mental health.

The next step is highly important to consider. Cross out ANY name that might have negative connotations. First, If you select a name with several words, write them without spaces to be sure that your domain name won’t have potential to be offensive or misread. Be careful that your name does not become a hilarious example of what not to do.

What does this even mean? Well, avoid creating a Slurl – a portmanteau of slur and URL. A slurl is a domain name with a double meaning, many times crude or sexual, that occurs when a website name is misread. Remember, when words are all strung together without spaces, different people read the words differently.

“Funny” domain names to avoid

Some examples of what I mean make very funny web addresses. While well intentioned at the beginning, most of the URLs have been changed since originally purchased. The good news is that if interested, you can probably purchase them at a bargain. Other URLS are still in existence – albeit still funny to many.

www.effoff.com – No longer using this address, it was originally the URL for an Ohio based company called Effective Office Environments. I can certainly see why they changed the domain name.

www.childrenslaughter.com – Obviously, this URL is no longer in use although it was originally for The Children’s Laughter Foundation in Dallas, Texas. See why you have to string your name together to see if it can be misread?

www.speedofart.com Still in use as of this article, you have to wonder how many hits this site gets when people are looking for cures for eating too many beans.

www.ilovebigals.com Yes, well, Big Al’s is a bowling alley – but if you don’t know this, you might wonder what this site is really all about.

Whorepresents.com
Indeed, this site has attempted to be more understandable by highlighting the appropriate words Who Represents, it nevertheless reads as a gift exchange for – well, for … you get it?

And one final example. This domain name is currently for sale Mp3shits.com for a bargain price, no doubt. While music download sites are popular, I think this URL probably had some problems.

Avoid potentially offensive names

If you enjoyed these chuckles, as I did, Andy Geldman wrote a whole book on hilarious Slurls that he found on the Internet. Hilarious examples show you just how careful you need to be when selecting a domain name!!! So, string your words together and be sure you show it to multiple people to read to make sure it will not be offensive to anyone. Cute and funny is OK, but offensive is not.

Another thing to consider is the initials formed by the first words of your domain name. We like to shorten phrases to letters. Consider CIA, NSA, FBI, SSA, and on and on and on. For example, you don’t want someone LMAO at your condensed domain name. You don’t want “A Safe Soap” company to be shortened to ASS.com

Now that you have a list of possible domain names, it is time to tweak a bit more. Go through your list and cross any additional names that just don’t cut your “I really like this name” list. Then, rank the domain names in order of your most favorite to your least favorite ones. Now it is time to go online for additional research on those “final” names. For a free alternative to looking up names, go to Whois.net to look up each name. This site will tell you whether the name is available. If it is already taken, then it will offer alternatives that you select.

Should you select a dot COM name?

Now is the time to decide whether you want a .COM name as opposed to some other newer domains such as .XYZ or .BIZ. This is what I have to say about that. Bottom line, most websites are .COM websites. Most people think .COM is the extension for your website almost automatically. Ever looked for a business online? What did you type in? xyz.COM – right? How many times have you been surprised when you didn’t get the site you wanted and had to go back and see the URL? Oh — .net you say. But, I bet the next time, you made the same mistake and automatically typed in .COM. You might wonder, how much more popular is the .COM domain extension?

Take a look at the graph below and you will see just how popular the .COM extension is based on current information gathered from Domain Tools. Yes, significantly more popular.

[insert graph here]

Thus, this is what I say. Go with .COM. You won’t regret it!!! Now, this might mean you have to select a name from your list that was not your favorite one. However, IMHO, your less favorite .COM domain name will be more popular than the same name with a .BIZ extension. Besides, if indeed, someone types your business name with a .COM extension they will be going to that site FIRST instead of your name with a less used extension. Do you really want to send someone to another business?

Check with Google for similar names

One final thing to check out. Go to the Internet and look to see what names are similar to yours that you may not want to be linked to. What do I mean by this? Well, years ago, before there were computer filters to protect you from things like this, I wanted to a website called Granny’s Basement. Well, that name was taken. So, I opted for Grannie’s Basement for DIY craft ideas. Cute, right? Just a little different spelling and the .COM version was available. You can bet I signed up for it fast. I thought I had hit the jackpot of names.

Then, I decided to go check out Granny’s Basement to see what they had to offer. Well, to my horror, I saw much more than I wanted to see. For hours. And hours. As XXX porno screen after porno screen popped up for Granny’s Basement. Yes, it took me hours to get all the porn off my computer. Not to mention my husband’s comments as he walked by. And the time it took to calm my nerves. Definitely something you do not want to put your readers through – even accidentally.

Really! Who would have thought? My recommendation, then, is to check your domain name out carefully before you drop the bucks to buy the domain. Be absolutely sure to Google it before buying it. Make sure that no one else is using a similar name for something dishonest, spammy or offensive – or heaven forbid, Granny porn. While this might seem like a time-consuming task, you DO NOT want your business confused with a similar website that’s not ethical.

How do you get your domain name?

Once you have decided on your domain name, what is next? Well, you can buy your domain from someone like NameCheap which offers domain names – cheap. Also, if you are interested in building an online business with full support behind you, I recommend you check Wealthy Affiliate out for education, support, hosting and domain name purchases. Even the free account at Wealthy Affiliate allows you to purchase a domain name cheap. The best thing about this company is that it is a one stop shop so that you can track your domains and hosting from the same company. This makes things run much more smoothly as you begin to build your business.

After securing your name

After completing this critical task, you are one step closer to beginning your online business. If you are not sure what to do next, I highly recommend that you use this free checklist with the necessary steps for starting your blog. While you are at the beginning of your journey, taking the time to carefully select your domain name will help you to be successful more quickly. And – it makes you very official – because you are now the proud owner of extremely critical real estate in the online world. The domain name you have selected and purchased remains yours forever as long as you continue to register that domain. It is indeed your official virtual identification card. Congratulations on a job well-done!!!! Once you complete this step, please take the time to share your new identity with others by commenting below.