Your domain name is more than your online address. It’s your online identity and the public face of your brand. Choosing the best name for your online presence is an important decision. A creative, memorable name plays a big part in drawing visitors to your site. However, getting it right might be a challenge. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you out! If you want to know how to choose the domain name that perfectly represents you online, then read on.
What is a domain name?
Let’s start with the basics. A domain name is the address that people fill in the browser bar. Otherwise known as a URL. For example, the domain name for Bluehost is bluehost.com. You can buy your desired domain name at domain registries. That is, if it’s still available, of course! If you want to know more, read our blog on how domain names work.
Related Content: Is my domain name available for purchase?
The in-depth answer
Domain names are a user-friendly way to avoid dealing with a website’s true online address: the Internet Protocol address. The IP address is a string of numbers with a few other characters thrown in. While it is a unique code, it’s also nearly impossible to remember. That’s why you need to have a domain name. They stand in for the unwieldy IP address with a word-based format that’s easier to remember.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers maintains and coordinates the supply of IP addresses worldwide, which makes sure that every entity on the Internet has a unique address and a unique domain name that represents that address. When a new domain name is created, it must be checked against ICANN’s databases of domain names that are currently in use to avoid duplication. If the domain name you want is already registered to someone else, you won’t be able to use it for your own site, but if your new domain name is not already in use, you can register it. As long as you continue to renew your domain name, it will remain exclusively yours.
Now you know what a domain name is. But how do you choose the right one for your business?
Tips on how to pick the perfect domain name
Think like a visitor
When deciding on a domain name, it might be helpful to think like a potential visitor to your website. What kinds of names related to your brand or business are easiest to remember? And which ones stand out for their originality? Keep in mind that your name should also be an accurate representation of your brand. Consider the most important features of your brand and the message they convey, then look for phrases, words, and keywords that express those ideas.
Make your domain name brandable
People form an impression of someone within seconds of meeting them. The same is true when they first encounter your domain name. The name you choose is the online representation of your brand, so it should reflect the service or product you’re offering as well as the values and mission of your brand. Why? Because it will make it easier for potential customers to remember you.
However, don’t use too generic keywords. Chances are that other companies already use these. And you want to stand out from the competition. It’s also important to think long-term about your domain name. Too many keywords might create limitations if your business changes focus later on. You could always change your name, but this will be difficult if you used it everywhere for a long time.
How do you make your name memorable?
Studies have shown that the most familiar domain names in the world, such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter, share some key characteristics: they’re creative, instantly recognizable, easy to pronounce and spell—and short.
While keywords can help with searches for your domain, use them sparingly. Consider getting creative with an obscure word or phrase that evokes the spirit of your brand. You could also use an existing word in a new way. The most memorable websites typically have short, punchy names that are between 6 and 14 characters long. This makes them easy to remember and type into a web browser.
Word of mouth
Let’s imagine the best case scenario: people are starting to talk about your brand. Word of mouth is a great way to organically grow your audience. That’s why it’s important to choose a domain name that’s also easy to say. Avoid names that contain numbers, hyphens, or other special characters that make them hard to pronounce and remember. But what if your company has a long name? Consider using its initials, perhaps in combination with a single relevant keyword.
Search for the best domain extension
Aside from choosing a name, the part that comes after the “dot” can also influence your business. The most recognizable domain extension is still .com, even though many more are now available. New extensions like .church or .photo can help to instantly convey what a site is about, but more fanciful choices such as .me or .pizza may not convey the right image—or stand the test of time. In most cases, .com remains the best choice because of its familiarity and association with commerce and reliability. If .com is not available, you can consider other neutral extensions such as .net or .info.
The availability of TLDs has expanded so users have more opportunities to get creative with their domain names by including extensions like .me, .us, .biz, .blog, .tech, and more!
Using a top-level domain can give a user more flexibility to describe what their website is about and can include different pricing options depending on their web host. If you are wanting to target a specific country or region, top-level domains also offer the option to incorporate a geographic location like .co.uk or .us. You should always consider the popularity of a TLD and make sure it’s helping to improve your online presence and not alienating potential visitors. Once you’ve determined a TLD that aligns with the vision for your website, it’s time to register your domain.
Register your domain with the right company
Domain names can be registered with an independent domain registrar, or with a web hosting provider that will host the website attached to the name. Bluehost does the latter. We are responsible for checking name availability and maintaining records on registered domains. All domain name registrars must be accredited by Top Level Domain registries, which are in turn accredited by ICANN.
Registrars don’t provide web hosting; they simply manage the databases of domain names in use. If you don’t currently have domain web hosting, or you’re simply reserving your ideal domain name or names for later use, registrars can “park” your domain name temporarily until you’re ready to launch your site. If you’ve already set up an account with a hosting provider like Bluehost, you can complete the entire name search and registration process on the provider’s site.
To register the domain, you’ll simply need to provide your chosen name and some information about yourself as the registrant who will be responsible for the domain. Registrars typically request standard contact information such as a physical address, phone number, and email address. This information goes into a Whois database, which stores contact information about domain registrants and makes it available to the public, so that anyone can look up the owner of a domain. If you are worried about privacy, many registrars offer privacy protection packages for a small fee.
To complete the domain name registration process, you’ll be asked to sign a contract. It’s important to review the registrar’s contract carefully since it generally contains provisions about things like transferring your domain from one registrar to another, or limits on the length of time a domain can remain parked without being deleted. These time limits allow other users to register domain names that have lapsed into inactivity.
You’ll also need to select a term when it comes time to renew your domain name, typically one, three, or five years, and then pay the required fees for your chosen term. Although people speak about “buying” a domain name, in reality, users are simply paying for its use for a particular period of time. If a domain name isn’t renewed at the appropriate time, it could lapse and become available again. Unused and lapsed domains are often bought and sold at online auctions and domain marketplaces.
Claim your domain name in all possible ways
Make sure your domain name represents you everywhere. It would be a shame if you found a great name, but it was unavailable as a Twitter handle. You want your brand to be consistently represented, so check if your name is available on all the platforms you wish to use.
Another option to consider are possible alternatives to your desired name, including potential misspellings. If possible, purchase those domains too. This will decrease the chance of another company choosing a similar name. You can imagine how confusing that might be for visitors! A (pro) tip: use the other domain names to redirect to your website. This will ensure visitors always land on your website. Even if they misspell your domain name.
Consider creating a subdomain
Another option to consider when you are selecting a domain is creating a subdomain. A subdomain is an additional part or prefix that is added to your main domain name. Subdomains are used to organize and navigate to different sections of a website which can make it more accessible for users. You can create multiple subdomains for such as: blog.yourwebsite.com, mail.yourwebsite.com, store.yourwebsite.com. “Yourwebsite,” would be your primary domain name and then the subdomain would be the “store, blog, mail, etc.”
Conclusion: do your research
The Internet is home to more than 1.3 billion websites. There’s a good chance that your domain name, however unique and creative it may sound, has already been taken. That’s why it’s important to research your domain name carefully. By using domain name generators, keyword searches, and trademark searches, you can make sure your domain name doesn’t infringe on other existing uses. Because that could lead to legal action and the need to start over with a different name.
Choosing the right domain name to be the online face of your brand or company can be a challenging task. With planning and careful consideration, however, you can create an unforgettable domain name that stands the test of time.
Are you ready to choose your domain? Use our Bluehost domain finder and select the perfect website name to start you on your online journey!