How to Pick the Right Domain Name: 12 Steps for Success

Today, I want to share some of my best tips on how to pick the right domain name.

During the past 10+ years of making money online, I have owned nearly 50 domain names. Some were good, most were bad. When I first started online, I had no idea about what I should or shouldn’t do when it came to picking a domain.

Through the years, I learned some valuable lessons about how to pick the right domain name. I hope you can learn from my successes and mistakes, so you can choose the perfect domain name for your website.

What you will see below are my steps to success. Just follow these suggestions in order and you can’t go wrong.

how to pick the right domain name

How to Pick the Right Domain Name

# 1 Pick Your Niche & Site Keyword

The first thing you want to do is pick your niche and site keyword. Who do you want to serve? Who is your target market? What is the primary purpose of your website going to be? Do not skip this step. Ideally, you want a niche that isn’t too big and isn’t too small. An example niche might be “weight loss” and an example keyword might be “natural weight loss.”

# 2 Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition

What do you want your website to be known for? What makes your website different from all of the other websites in your niche? What do you have to offer people? WHY should people visit your website as compared to someone else? Try to write down your Unique Selling Proposition in a short and simple sentence. An example might be “we help people over 40 lose weight.”

# 3 Use the Keyword in Your Domain

Whenever possible, you want to use the site keyword you chose in your domain name. For example, if your keyword is “roller skating” you want a domain such as rollerskatingtips.com. In my opinion, this gives you more credibility, informs your visitors about your niche and purpose, and might even help you with your search engine optimization.

# 4 No Hyphens or Dashes

I was once told that hyphens or dashes were good things. After more than 10 years of making money online, I no longer agree with that statement. I believe there is no reason to ever use a dash or hyphen in your domain name. For example, rather than doing roller-skating-tips.com I think it would be much better to do rollerskatingtips.com.

# 5 Keep it to Two to Four Words

Less is more. I’ve visited some websites that had more than 100 characters or letters in the domain name. That is not a good thing. I believe that three words or less is ideal. It would probably be hard to find an available one-word domain name, but two or three words is very doable. Four words max and you will be good to go.

# 6 Make it Memorable & Easy to Remember

Ideally, you want your website to be like a good jingle. It should be catchy and easy to remember. Short and sweet is good. If it rhymes, even better.

# 7 Pick a Dot Com Website

While .net and .biz websites aren’t bad, you really want to look for a .com domain name whenever possible. It’s just my opinion, but I believe the .com websites have more credibility to your audience than a .net or .biz website does.

# 8 Brainstorm 20-50 Potential Domain Names

The next thing you want to do is get a notepad and brainstorm potential ideas for domain names. Write down as many potential domain names as you can think of. Ask your friends and family for ideas. The more ideas you come up with the better. Take 48 to 72 hours to do this step. Once you have at least 20 to 50 potential domain names, you can move to the next step.

take your time when choosing a domain name

# 9 See Which Options Are Still Available

Your next step is to visit a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy.com and see if any of your potential domain names are stil available for purchase. You will quickly discover that many of the domain names that you like have already been taken. Any domain name that is not available, just cross it off your list. Once you’ve researched your entire list, make a new list containing the domains that are still available. You should have at least five to ten options left.

# 10 Check for Trademarked Terms

The next thing you want to do is check your potential domain name against trademarked terms. The last thing you want to do is pick a domain name, only to receive a cease and desist letter a few months or few years later.

You don’t want to include a trademarked name IN your domain either. For example, if you write about Ford cars, don’t put the word FORD in your domain name, because that could be seen as a trademark violation.

# 11 Don’t Rush It

Before you make a decision on your final domain name, sleep on it for a day or two. Do not rush it. One of my biggest mistakes is not putting enough thought into my domain name. What sounded like a good idea at the time turned out to not be not so good. Had I put a little more thought into it, I would have done more due diligence and been 100% sure before I made a decision. Once you are set on a top choice and a second choice, you can move to the next step.

# 12 Register Your Domain

The final step in the process is to register your domain. On most registrars, this will cost you between $10 and $20 per year. After you register your domain you can purchase hosting and start building your website.

Final Thoughts

In summary, these are my best tips on how to pick the right domain name. While most of this should be common sense, it’s still pretty easy to make these common mistakes.

On a side note, I would love to hear your thoughts about how to pick the right domain name. What do you suggest? Please leave a comment below to tell me what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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48 thoughts on “How to Pick the Right Domain Name: 12 Steps for Success

  1. Excellent article about picking the right domain name, Chuck. These tips are awesome. I wish I have read some of it before picking my domain name. I’m bothered about the hyphen I put in between my domain name, but I am happy because I did other things right, and my website was indexed within 2-weeks after creating it. I think newbies are going to benefit greatly from this post. Good work putting this up. 

    • It’s not the end of the world using a hyphen in your domain name. I just don’t suggest it. If you followed the other advice in this article, I know you will succeed. 

  2. These are some great tips on how to pick the right domain name for your website. I know when I first started trying to make money online I rushed my decision when picking my domain name. Looking back, I should have spent more time coming up with something even better. When I start more blogs in the future, I will follow the advice you outlined in your article so I get it right the first time around. 

    • We all make mistakes when we are brand new to something. Just learn from your experience so the next time you do it, you will do even better. 

  3. This is an insightful article filled with tons of value on how to pick the right domain. This will be very useful for me because I am about to select a domain for my blog and I found more than enough tips and tricks from this blog post. I have heard that a prospective blogger must be very selective when choosing their domain and niche. Thanks for sharing. 

    • Yes, it’s much wiser to get the right domain name the first time around, rather than do it wrong and have to start over a few months down the road. 

  4. In my experience online, I’ve seen some really terrible domain names that don’t relate to anything the website talks about. 

    I know definitely, picking a domain name that ranks with your niche’s keyword is a plus. It has to be kept as short as possible, to encourage users to remember it. It’s true that people view .com domains are being more credible, however do you think it’s wise to use a country specific domain when operating a local business? 

    For example, if my blog is based in Italy, and I want Italian audience, is it compulsory I used .it domain? Is there any benefit to doing this?

    I know I asked too much questions, please I really want to hear what you think.

    Regards

    • I think for a local business, like in your example, using the country domain works great. 

  5. This is a really good and comprehensive list about choosing a domain name. I totally agree with so many points in this post, especially the first step. Choosing the right keyword AND having it as part of your domain name is crucial. I remember when I purchased my first domain name, it was terrible. I didn’t have my keyword in the domain name and there were just too many words. It was hard to remember and not catchy.

    • We’ve all made mistakes when picking a domain name. Hopefully, others can learn from my mistakes.

  6. Thanks for writing this article covering the steps on how to pick the right domain name. This is something that many of us overlook as we are in a rush to get our new website started. Taking your time, and getting the right domain the first time around is definitely the way to go. That’s a lot better than having to change your domain name a few years down the road. 

    • Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you liked the article. 

  7. Oh.. Thanks for sharing this article.

    It is indeed a comprehensive and quite understandable guide on how to choose a  right domain name for our website. You are very right that .com websites have more credibility to audience than a .net  or .web domain does. I wish I had read this article before I purchased my first domain. 

    • Glad I could be of help. Thanks for the comment. 

  8. I find your article very easy to read and the information provided is useful. The 12 steps on how to pick your domain name are very straightforward and easy to follow. I agree that a domain name should be easy to remember.

    I like step #8; actually, the brainstorming is a great idea. I will note this for future work.

    Which domain registrar do you recommend?

    • All of my domains, except the one for this website, are registered through GoDaddy. Not sure if they are the best or not, but I have been using them for more than 10-years now. 

  9. This is how I chose my domain name…

    1. I chose a niche

    2. I wrote down my keywords 

    3. Based on my niche and the choice of keywords, I coined out  a simple three word dot com domain that can be remembered easily. I made sure it was 3 words with no dashes or hyphens. 

    • Sounds like you know what you are doing when it comes to picking a domain name. Thanks for the comment. 

  10. Thanks for sharing this article on choosing the right domain name. I can see how easy it would be to be rushed into a decision and you end up selecting a domain name that you will later regret. I’m going to take my time and follow the advice you listed in this article. 

    • Glad to help. Taking your time is definitely the smart move when picking a domain name. 

  11. Thanks for sharing this great information, Chuck. 

    I’m new to Wealthy Affiliate and still going through the getting started training. When it’s time to register a domain I’m going to follow the advice you shared in this article so I can get it right the first time around. I’d rather learn from your mistakes than make them myself. 

    • Good points. Take your time and get your domain right, the first time around. 

  12. You’re right in that it’s best to try and put your target keywords in your domain name. I’ve heard that the search engines tend to prefer a domain name that contains the target keywords over one that doesn’t. I also agree that it’s best to avoid dashes in the domain name. If you want to tell someone the name of your website, it’s easier to say a domain name that doesn’t include dashes as opposed to one that does.

    • You are spot on. No dashes and keep it short and sweet with your domain name. 

  13. Thank you for sharing this great information on how to pick the right domain name. I have been struggling to pick my domain name for quite some time now, mostly because I come up with a great idea and forget to write it down. As a result, I forget the name and am still stuck brainstorming ideas. 

    And now I know that  dot com is better than your other options. I always had my doubts.  

    Excellent tips my friend. They are very helpful to me and now I think I’m ready to buy a domain.

    • Glad to help. I suggest you keep a notepad with you at all times so when you get ideas for domain names (or anything else), you can write it down. One of the simplest things to do is use the “to do” list in your cell phone. Or, you can text it to yourself or just type it in. That works for a lot of people, since most people have their phone with them 24/7.

  14. Thank you for giving me ideas on how to pick a domain name. I’ve been struggling between picking a dot com or dot net website. I want to make sure I get things right so I don’t mess up the SEO for my website, before I even get started.

    Do you think it’s really important to have your site keyword in your domain name? Or, is it better to use your own name?

    • If you’re building a site you might want to sell one day, I would NEVER use your own name. If possible, get a dot com and use your keyword in the domain name. Follow the advice in this post and you can’t go wrong. 

  15. I have created 3 websites and I now realize from your recommendations that the names I selected, although only 4 words each ,did not tell my visitor what was my unique selling proposition was.

    Your example of “rollerskatingtips” is ideal. It tells the visitor exactly what to expect. The same is with your own website “GetTrafficLeadsandSales”. 

    Is it possible to change the name of an existing website or should I start a new one with the better name? I noticed that in your website you capitalized the first letter of each word.

    Are domain names case sensitive or are the caps only for your website display? I will follow your advice and spend time selecting a better name for at least one of my websites.

    • Domain names are not case sensitive. I just made the first letter capital in my website header so it really sands out. 

      If you already have an established website, I would not change the name. Just learn from it for future websites you create. 

  16. I am in the early stages of starting a website and struggling to choose a domain name. Thank you for writing elaborately about choosing the right domain name by breaking down into 12 steps. It’s not an easy task to choose the right word for a name, even though it soundsd easy to do. I found your article at just the right time. Thank you.

    • Glad my advice could help. Picking a domain name is something a lot of people struggle with. Just keep it simple, have a game-plan, make a decision and move forward. Do not get stuck in analysis by paralysis. 

  17. What do you think about having acronyms in your domain name? I know the average person might not understand that acronym, but most people in my niche will. It is a fairly popular acronym, and there are plenty of people in my niche to make it worthwhile. I just don’t want to make any mistakes when picking my domain name. Any advice would be appreciated. 

    • I would say having an acronym in your domain name is perfectly fine, as long as the people in your nice knows what it means. 

  18. I’ve had lots of domain names myself and it’s really good advice not to use hyphens or abbreviations in a website name. Having your keywords in your title is also important. Plus, make sure you have a dot com URL if at all possible. If someone follows your advice from this post, there is no doubt in my mind they will pick the right domain name. 

    • I’m glad you found the post helpful. 

  19. You nailed it. I can’t think of anything you missed when it comes to picking a domain name. I would tell people to take your time, put some serious thought into it, share your potential ideas with a few trusted friends and then pick your domain name. Get it right the first time around so you don’t need to rebrand yourself later on down the road. 

    • Yes, you definitely want to get it right the first time around. 

  20. Great list on how to choose a domain name! I chose mine based on a Facebook page I had been running for 2-years. Unfortunately I had to add “the” in front of it, so hopefully I don’t have issues down the road, because I didn’t know this information a few weeks ago. But you live and learn!! Thanks very much for sharing this info.

    • It’s all good. I think you are good to go and moving in the right direction. I’m glad you put some thought into your domain name. Most people just register the first thing that comes to mind. 

  21. When I first started my blog, Michael and I had a whole list of names for it. I think it took us several days to decide on one. But, it fits our niche and that’s all that matters. I do understand that sometimes it’s hard to find a domain name that fits. You just have to put some thought into it, be patient, and you will come up with your winning idea.

    • Yes, patience is key when picking a domain name. Brainstorm lots of ideas, research for your favorites, sleep on it, and then make a decision. 

  22. This article came at the perfect time. I’ve just decided to launch my own website and I’m going through the process right now of choosing a domain name. I’m going to follow each tip that you shared with us so I get it right. I can tell you have a lot of  experience with this and know what you are doing. 

    • Thanks for the kind words. The only reason I am qualified to write this article is because I have made every mistake on this list at some point or another in time. 

  23. Though I’m really not the commenting type, I must say that this piece got me to comment. It’s such an enlightening article because it addressed exactly the issue I’m having right now concerning my website. I find it very difficult to come up with a perfect domain name. I’m kind of a perfectionist. I don’t want to mess up and choose the wrong domain name. However, you make everything so simple. I’m just going to follow your tips and I know it will all work out. 

    • Nothing wrong with being a perfectionist. If you follow my tips to choosing the right domain name, I know you will come up with something you are happy with. 

  24. Excellent article about picking the right domain name. What kind of website do you want to create? A personal website might have a cleaner, simpler design, while an online store requires a different set of strategies and resources. I’m bothered about my website name. I should have picked a name that was easy to remember and catchy. 

    • Yes, most of us regret the name we picked for our website at some point. Unless it is beyond horrible, I would just leave it alone and focus on building a great website. 

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