If you’re getting started with your business in 2021, you’re probably already thinking about how to choose a domain name. There is so much advice out there and this decision is a crucial one, since you won’t want to deal with the hassle that comes from changing your domain later down the road. (And trust me, that’s a lot of work you don’t want to have to do).

So how do you get it right the first time?

In this article, we’ll share what a domain name is and why it’s important. We’ll explain what a TLD is, which TLDs you should consider. You’ll also learn the four key questions you must answer in order to choose a great domain name

Different domain extensions stacked on top of each other

Now, if you’re thinking about making your domain name SEO friendly, there’s something you should consider first, and I’m going to share that a little further down the page. (Believe me when I tell you, do not skip reading that part!).

Lastly, I’m going to talk about which Registrar to use and offer a few suggestions for domain name generators in case you need a little extra help.


And of course, I’ve also included a list of frequently asked questions to help you decide what domain name you should use for your business, blog, personal website, or any other online business you may be considering.

If something’s missing or you’ve got a question I didn’t answer, shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

What is a Domain Name and Why is it Important?

Think of your website as your virtual business location–and your domain name as your address. When a customer enters your domain name in their web browser, your website information is displayed.

Domain names are comprised of:

  1. Subdomain (optional)
  2. The domain name (points to an IP address)
  3. A top-level domain (extension)

Top Level Domain (TLD)

You’re probably familiar with the .com TLD. This is what most domains end in. For example, cars.com, shoes.com, loans.com.  Most people recognize the .com TLD and it is therefore one of the most sought after extensions for domain names.

However, as fewer .com domains are available, other TLDs have become options. These may include .net, .org, or others. For a full list, click here.

Does TLD Matter?

Google has stated that TLDs do not affect ranking, however, the TLD you choose may affect how potential customers perceive your brand. Choosing a recognizable TLD will certainly help with your brand’s appearance and potential click-through rate in search engine results.

What Extension Should I Use?

The answer to this question depends on what is available. If you can find a strong alternative TLD that matches your brand, why not select it? However, if the .com version is available, this may be the best choice.

What Makes a Great Domain Name

When you’re choosing a domain name, you want it to be more than just good, you want it to be great!

But how do you know what makes a great domain name?

Here are four questions to ask yourself to help take your domain name from good to great.

  1. Short – is your domain name long or short? A short domain makes it easier to remember and easier to share. In general, use one or two words at most.
    1. Good Example: MortgageLoans.com 
    2. Bad Example: mortgageloansdirecttoyou.com
  2. Memorable – is your domain name something customers can easily recognize and remember?
    1. Good Example: Zillow.com
    2. Bad Example: realestatedirecttoyou.com
  3. Keywords – does your domain name contain potential keywords related to your primary niche while not appearing too spammy?
    1. Good Example: QuickenLoans.com, LendingTree.com, MoneySoure.com, QuickenLoans.com 
    2. Bad Example: loansmortgagescreditcards.com
  4. Hyphens – does my domain name require hyphens? If so, is there a way to avoid using hyphens?
    1. Good Example: LendingTree.com
    2. Bad Example: Lending-Tree.com

How to Make Your Domain Name SEO Friendly

Of course, you want your website to have higher ranking in the search engines. This means your domain name needs to be optimized for SEO, right?

Maybe…

There are two approaches I consider when it comes to this question.

At the time of this writing, AirBNB gets over 9 million searches each month, while keywords like “hotels” get over 800k, and “bed and breakfast” gets just over 22k.

Clearly having the ability to brand your business can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on your business, which may far exceed any small gains you get from being “SEO friendly.”

Choosing a Domain Name

When choosing a domain name, I write down all the keywords associated with the business. I also write down all the peripheral words which may have meaning within the context of those keywords. Then, I look at how I can combine those words to make interesting combinations for domain names.

For a Blog

The .blog TLD could be a good choice if you are simply blogging. 

For a Business

Whether you’re a real estate agent, church, or affiliate marketer, you’ll need to choose  domain name for your business that helps represent what you offer.

Churches

For churches, using the .church TLD makes sense.

Real Estate

For real estate professionals, using the .realestate TLD makes a lot of sense.

Affiliate Marketing

As an affiliate marketer, you have a lot of choices and decisions to make. Having a URL that explicitly states what you are selling may be a good choice, or you might choose to brand your affiliate business and choose a more branded domain. 

For Personal Brands or Sites

I like using names for personal sites. Full names can be branded, and branded search can help with search engine ranking. Using a TLD like .us if you are in the United States often opens up name possibilities that may not exist for .com or .net domains. Of course, if those are available, get them.

What Registrar Should I Use?

The registrar you use doesn’t really matter. Here are the top 10 domain name registrars you might consider using:

  1. Dream Host
  2. Google Domains
  3. GoDaddy
  4. BlueHost
  5. NameCheap
  6. HostGator
  7. Hover

Domain Name Generators

Here are three domain name generators to help you pick the perfect domain name. 

  1. GoDaddy domain name generator
  2. Business Name Generator (has a filter for industry)
  3. Shopify’s Business Name Generator

FAQ

Where can I get a free domain name?

Some hosting companies, like Bluehost, offer a free domain name when you purchase hosting through them.

Are domain names with a hyphen bad?

Yes, domain names using a hyphen are very bad and should be avoided at all costs.

Can my domain name have numbers?

Yes, but couldn’t that be confusing?

Do domain names matter in 2021?

Your domain name defines your online business and directs potential customers to your website. Damn straight it matters in 2021!

Does my domain name expire?

Yes, you must renew your domain name every year (and pay for it!)

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