New bloggers often get stuck on how to choose a domain name.
There’s a lot to think about, such as which extension to use, whether or not the domain is available, and how you want your blog to be perceived by your readers.
But that’s not all.
Picking domain names for blogs is more than just a matter of aesthetics.
You should also keep in mind the domain’s potential to help your SEO, plus what your choice of domain might mean if you plan to sell your blog in the future.
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How To Choose A Domain Name That’s Perfect For Your Blog
#1. Start with a brainstorm
The most straightforward domain name option is probably the personal brand option.
If you can get your first name last name dot com as a domain, then I encourage you to do so. Even if you don’t use it for your first blog, it’s always good to secure your own name.
But what if your own name isn’t the right fit for your planned blog? Perhaps you’ve done your planning and already have a topic area in mind. In that case, your next best option is a branded domain.
For example: DigitalEmigre.com. I chose this name for a very specific reason.
First, I knew I wanted to write a blog targeting remote workers (hence “Digital”). Second, I knew I wanted to target people wanting to move abroad for political reasons (hence “Émigré“).
To choose a branded domain, start by brainstorming as many words as you can that relate to your topic.
They don’t even have to relate to it directly, but instead can be a play on words or a combination of several words. Try to keep it short.
Once you’ve got a couple of ideas that you like, check out a domain name marketplace like Namecheap to see what’s available.
#2. Always choose a dot com
Domain name extensions these days are getting pretty crazy.
It used to be just the good old-fashioned .org, .net, or .biz. Or country level extensions, such as .co.uk (UK) or .au (Australia).
But now, you can get extensions like .video, .XYZ,. ai, or even .blog.
It may be tempting to devise a clever domain name for your blog using one of these newfangled domain name extensions.
Sorry to spoil the party, but I strongly advise against it. These extensions risk making your blog appear spammy.
Do whatever you can to get hold of a .com domain.
It’s still the best regarded domain name on the Internet.
#3. Avoid hyphens and numbers
Hyphens in domain names are one of my pet hates. Please don’t do it.
Not only do they make your blog look spammy, they also add an extra layer of friction for people typing in or remembering your domain.
Numbers in a domain name can also be confusing. Think about how it sounds when you speak the domain name out loud.
Is your domain name fourredapples[.]]com or 4redapples[.]com? It won’t be clear just from saying it out loud.
Instead, you need something that’s unmistakable and easy to remember.
#4. Avoid double letters
Check out the made up domain name: fourredapples[.]com.
Don’t you think the double r looks kinda ugly? I do.
Having double letters in your domain name also increases the risk of typos when people are searching for your domain – leading to lost traffic.
#5. Keep it short
Shorter is better when it comes to domain names.
Short names are easier to remember, easier to type, and easier to spell.
The main downside is: they’re not always easier to purchase. Short, brandable domain names tend to get snapped up quickly and sold for big money.
#6. Leave room to pivot
In the beginning stages of growing your blog, it’s important to leave yourself room to pivot.
Perhaps you’ll get bored of your original topic. Or find it’s not ranking well in Google. Or perhaps you’ll discover too late (after writing a bunch of articles) that your niche lacks monetization potential.
That’s why I prefer using either a branded domain or a personal brand domain. Both of them (but especially your own name) give a lot of room to pivot. (Jump to the next section for a comparison of the different types of domain names for blogs).
#7. Think about your long-term goals
I know it’s difficult to do this at the beginning. All you want to do is get started and gain some traction.
But thinking carefully about your long-term blogging goals will help you choose the right domain name.
If you plan to sell your blog in the future, it’s usually best to choose a branded domain name. This gives maximum scope for pivots and expansion.
#8. Differentiate yourself
If another website has the same name, don’t just go ahead and buy a domain name with a different extension.
For example, RedApples[.]com and RedApples[.]net are two different domains. But they’re way too similar, leaving far too much room for confusion among your audience.
You might also risk opening yourself up to trademark issues, whether that’s with the similarly named website, or later down the line if you decide to trademark your own blog name.
#9. Make sure it’s easy to spell and pronounce
This one’s a no brainer.
Domains that are easy to spell and pronounce tend to get more social shares, more accurate clicks, and more word-of-mouth sharing.
#10. Get your domain name first
Some people make the mistake of registering a limited company with a certain name, before checking whether that name is actually available as a dot com domain.
Don’t make this mistake. If you plan to set up a limited company for your blogging business, make sure you secure the right domain name first. Doing it that way round will make your life much easier.
#11. Don’t obsess too much
Choosing the right domain name is important, of course. After all, it’s your brand on the Internet.
But these days it’s becoming harder and harder to secure the perfect domain name. So you might not get the one you want. You may have to settle for a compromise.
Don’t waste too much time obsessing over the perfect domain name for your blog. Just use these tips to find one you’re reasonably happy with, then jump in and get started.
4 Types of Domain Names For Blogs
#1. The Branded Domain
A branded domain consists of any of the following: made up words, words not directly related to the topic of your website, a unique word sequence, or a play on words.
Examples: LonelyPlanet[.]com, Google[.]com, Apple[.]com
Pros of branded domains:
– Builds credibility and trust over time
– Helps you stand out from the crowd
– Evokes emotional response in the user
– Gives you enough space to pivot
– Easy to sell or flip
Cons of branded domains:
– You meed to spend time and effort building the brand
– You’re likely to get lower click through rates compared to exact or partial match domains (see below)
– May be difficult for users to remember
#2. The Personal Brand Domain
This is a domain name that’s modelled on your own name.
For best results, use “first name last name dot com”. Other combinations can also work, if your name isn’t available.
But I could have gone with SamNorth, BySamanthaNorth, HelloSamanthaNorth, etc.
These aren’t quite as good as the original one, but they would be ok.
Pros of personal brand domains:
– Establish yourself as a brand – perfect for personal branding
– Helps you manage and protect your online reputation
– Promotes trust among your audience
– Easy to pivot if you change your area of focus
– You can use it to test out several topics while building Google knowledge graph
– Often cheap to buy
Cons of personal brand domains:
– Your full name might already be taken
– You won’t benefit from keywords in the domain
– The domain name doesn’t explain your blog topic
– Difficult to sell or flip
#3. The Exact Match Domain
An exact match domain contains the main keyword you want your blog to rank on Google for, e.g. “dog food”, or “tennis”.
Examples: DogFood[.]com, Tennis[.]com
Pros of exact match:
– Easy to remember
– People are more likely to click if they’re searching for that keyword
– Easy to sell or flip
Cons of exact match:
– May end up being too generic (depending on the keyword)
– Usually more expensive than other kinds of domain names
– Doesn’t usually help you build a brand
– Hard to pivot if you change your mind
– Confines you to a narrow topic
– Puts you at greater risk of keyword stuffing (as the main keyword is already in your domain)
– Google could penalize you if your content doesn’t match the domain topic
#4. The Partial Match Domain
A partial match domain contains part (but not all) of the main keyword you want to rank for, e.g. “dog food”.
Examples: DogAdvisor[.]com, DogLovers[.]com
Pros of partial match:
– Often cheaper and easier to buy than exact-match domains
– Easy to remember
– People are more likely to click if they’re searching for dog-related terms
– Less narrow than exact match
– Easy to sell or flip
Cons of partial match:
– Similar cons to exact-match domains (although partial match domains may be more brandable and more likely to be available on your domain name registrar)
Before you go…
I hope this post has demystified the process of choosing a domain name for your blog.
Don’t forget, many hosting providers, such as Bluehost, include a free domain name alongside your hosting plan.
Once you’ve got your perfect domain name, why not check out my guide on how to start a blog.