How To Pick a Domain for Your Website

Picking a domain name for your blog is the second most important decision you’ll make when starting a blog (what to blog about is the most important). Most people who are buying a domain for the first time make the same mistakes, so I thought I would write up a crash course for buying a domain name.

Here are some brainstorming tools that I use frequently to find great available domain names:

They all work really well but are quite different so try them both to get two different points of view when thinking up domain name ideas for your blog.

Here are my guidelines for purchasing a domain name:

The Basics for Domains

  • get a .com if you can, .net only if you can’t find a good .com
  • no hyphens or dashes
  • no numbers
  • avoid having any of these words: my, the, your
  • as short as possible, ideally 3 words or less, four at a maximum

If you follow those guidelines you’ll avoid most of the common domain name mistakes.

Then you want to move to more advanced considerations like:

How easy is it to tell someone the name, in a conversation, like over the phone and have them find your site?

A great domain name works even when someone can’t read it. Watch out for expressions that are said out loud one way and written down in another.

For example:

Your name: South by Southwest
You register: (most users will type in instead)

This is the best reason not to use numbers in a domain name.

If you tell someone your site is:

2 by 4 dot com

Do they go to: or

How does it look when it is written down?

Some site names look better when written down. This is a reason to keep it short.

would be much better as:

Watch out for unintentional or hidden words in a domain name.

I recommend showing your potential name to a couple people before you purchase it. You may have a slang, or common swear word in your name without even realizing it.

Here’s an example from a top tech site on the web:

Experts Exchange.

Can you figure out why they should have chosen a different name?

The Last Thing to Remember

Unless you are really really trying to jump on a fast moving trend, the best tip I can offer when buying a domain name is not to rush.

You do risk having a name you love taken by someone else, while you sleep on it, but in my experience this risk is very low, especially when compared to the idea of naming your blog and then realizing 2 days later that the name just doesn’t fit and you aren’t comfortable with it.

Find a domain name that you love and you really feel gives your blog wings. It’s worth a little extra effort up front to set a great tone for you blog.

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