A domain, as you may already know, is a set of characters that maps a website to a particular Internet address. The domain for Google is Google.com. The domain for the New York Times is NYTimes.com. Having a great domain name is very important for any website or blog, but it is not completely necessary for success.
There are several websites out there that are very successful, even with less than perfect domain names. On the flip side, there are countless websites with fantastic domains that are anything but successful. A domain name is only one part of the equation, but it can be a very important part.
Choosing the Domain Extension
You have a lot of different choices when it comes to creating a domain name for your blog. You can get varations of .com, .net and .org domains, as well as domain extensions (also known as TLDs or top-level domains) that are based on your country or specific type of business. Canadian sites, for example, can end in a .ca extension.
While it is perfectly possible to include dashes and numbers in your domain name, these are usually less desirable. You will also likely want to stick to the main .com, .net or .org models whenever possible, as other domain extensions can be less than optimal for a myriad of reasons. Unless your site is country-specific, you may not want a country-specific TLD.
A Simple and Descriptive Domain Name
A great domain name is something that describes your blog without having to go into much explanation. If you had dictionary.com as your domain name, for example, it would be pretty obvious that your blog was based on the concept of a dictionary. Keep this concept in mind when choosing your domain name.
This doesn’t mean that you need to necessarily stick with real words that someone could find in a dictionary, but it helps when the name is as descriptive as possible. Groupon, for instance, is a portmanteau of group and coupon. Engadget, as an another exmaple, has the word “gadget” in it. These relate to the core subject matter on both sites, even though both domains by themselves are not real words.
If you are going to create a personal blog and just wated to write about your own interests and what is going on in your life, you may want to try and secure yourname.com.
I’m sure you are not going to be the only person in the world with exactly your name, so if it’s available, I would grab your name as a .com domain. If that is not available (or even if it is), it could be a good idea to try for the .net or .org version of your name. This helps to secure your online identity and it’s easy enough to set up links to other online profiles through this domain.
For instance, ZacJohnson.com/Facebook redirects to Zac’s Facebook page and MichaelKwan.com/Flickr redirects to Michael’s Flickr photostream. This can be very useful for branding and ease of access purposes. If you don’t buy your name as a domain, someone else who shares the same name might snatch it out from under you.
Do You Want to Sell Your Site?
When you are first starting out with your blog, perhaps the furthest thought from your mind is the possibility of selling your blog. However, this is something that you will want to think about when selecting your domain name.
For this reason, having the domain name for your blog as your real name is that you should then never try and build your blog into a business that you might want to sell one day. If you have the slightest inclination that you will want to grow out your blog into a sellable business, stay away from using your personal name.
A Blog as a Business
If this is the case, it helps if you can have a relevant keyword as part of the domain instead. Let’s say that you are personally interested in science fiction movies. If you may want to sell the blog one day, you may not want to call it JoeAnybody.com. It may be more appropriate to get SciFiMovies.com if you can.
Finding the right domain name for your business-based blog is just as important, if not more important, than your personal blog. The way you select your domain name for your blog can have a dramatic effect on your search engine rankings. It should be related to your topic and it is better if it is shorter.
If you stick to domains that are no more than three words, ideally with no numbers or dashes, you lend yourself to the greatest possibility at success. For search engine optimization purposes, the more generic (but targeted) domain name is best. BloggingTips.com, for example, ranks first for the search term “blogging tips.”
Where Can I Buy Domain Names?
I current purchase most of my domain names through GoDaddy.com and NameCheap.com. You can register your domain name through either of these companies. Alternatively, web hosting providers, which we will discuss in the next article, mostly also offer domain registration as one of their services.