Before you can build out a website and start growing it, you’ll need to choose a domain name for your website. This domain will come to identify your website, and play a role in all your future marketing and advertising strategies, so choosing a “good” domain name is important.
In this guide, we’ll explore the anatomy of a domain name, why your domain name is important, vital tips to choosing the right domain name for your brand, and of course, how to register a domain name.
The Anatomy of a Domain Name
First, it’s helpful to understand the terminology surrounding domain names. The domain name itself is a segment of a URL containing the name of the site and the top-level domain (TLD), or domain extension, which is the “.com”, “.org”, or similar component. For example, “relevance.com” is the domain name.
You may also need to consider the protocol, the “https://” at the beginning of the URL; you’ll get an “S” if you have SSL encryption enabled.
The subdomain, if applicable, is a segment of the URL before the domain—like “subdomain.relevance.com.” Everything after the TLD, like “/blog/blogpost1,” is the path of the URL.
You won’t need to register subdomains, paths, or anything other than your domain name; you can create and customize these at your leisure.
Why Your Domain Name Is Important
Why does it matter what your domain name is?
- Traffic. If you have a memorable or concise domain name, it could generate traffic on its own. For example, the Cars.com domain was once valued at $872 million, due in part to its ability to collect traffic from people typing it in without forethought.
- Marketing. Some domains are easier to market than others; shorter, catchier domain names don’t require much explanation, and are better suited for advertising.
- Memorability. Memorable domains are preferable to forgettable ones, for obvious reasons. If your domain is hard to spell, unoriginal, or convoluted, people will forget about it, rendering it practically useless.
- Search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is a strategy designed to help your site rank higher in search engines for queries relevant to your brand. Choosing a domain that fits with your keyword strategy can help you rank higher for the right terms.
- Competition. Your domain strategy can help you differentiate yourself from your competitors, or in some cases, take advantage of your competitors’ existing authority.
Tips for Choosing the Best Domain Name
There are a few tips you’ll need to keep in mind when choosing your domain:
- Prioritize .com. The gold standard for URLs is .com because it’s simple and memorable. Aim for it whenever you can. Only choose a .net, .tv, or other extension if necessary.
- Make it brandable. Overall, brand names do better than long, descriptive domains. Something like “Cyclotek.com” gives you more potential than, say, “WeSellUsedBicycles.com.” It’s also more concise, which brings us to our next point.
- Keep it short. Shorter domains are always more valuable, all other factors being equal. They take less time to write and type. They’re easier to remember. They also have more visibility overall. If your domain is several words long, try to find a way to shorten it.
- Keep it predictable. Your domain should, for the most part, be straightforward and predictable. Don’t pull tricks like substituting a “1” for an “I” or try to come up with a cute misspelling. People will have a hard time remembering it.
- Avoid high-cost “perfect” domains. You may have a perfect domain in mind, but good domains tend to be taken, and they tend to be expensive. Know where to draw the line.
How to Register a Domain Name
Once you have an idea for a domain name, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow:
- Find a domain registrar. First, you’ll need to find a domain registrar that you trust (and preferably, one that’s easy to use).
- Search for available names. Most registrar websites work similarly. You’ll need to conduct a search for your desired domain to see if it’s available, and possibly look for alternatives.
- Make the purchase. When you have a firm selection, make the purchase, and provide a few personal details to register the domain to your name.
- Point the domain. Next, you’ll need to set the domain to point at your current website; this should be easy to do through the domain registrar.
- Set up auto-renew or a reminder. Domains expire after a period of time, so set yours to auto-renew, or set a reminder so you don’t forget about it.
A good domain name will instantly imbue your website with more power, authority, and memorability. From there, it’s up to you to make it worth the investment. Support your domain name with onsite SEO, strong marketing, and consistent branding, and you’ll easily grow to new heights.