NOTE: I want to warn you, before I start, to NOT CHECK IF A DOMAIN IS AVAILABLE ON A WEBSITE THAT SELL DOMAINS! Don’t go to GoDaddy and check if a name is available, as they might “park” it for you, and you’ll be stuck having to buy from them. The BEST way to check in a domain is available is to simply type it in your URL bar! If it returns a page saying ‘This Web Page is Not Available’, then you know it might be available. The next step is to check on WhoIs. If it says the domain is available, then it’s all yours to buy!
Why are you blogging? This is the first question to ask yourself before considering buying a domain name. If it’s simply a hobby and you don’t want to invest too much money, maybe you don’t need a domain name. But if you want to take your blog to the next level and have a professional look, you’ll want to get rid of that .wordpress or .blogspot in your URL.
Why Should You Buy Your Own Domain Name?
There are plenty of reasons. The first one is because you’ll look more professional. People that come to your website will see that you invested the money and that you’re serious about what you’re doing, so they’ll be more willing to work with you or come back to your website.
Second, if you want a chance to get more traffic from search engines, having your own domain helps a lot. You have a better chance at ranking for the keywords you’re using.
Third, if you don’t buy it, someone else might. And then you’ll be stuck having to re-brand, which something you don’t want to have to do.
Four, it’s pretty cheap. You’ll only have to pay around $12 a year, which is less than two coffees at Starbucks. You can spare two coffees a year, right?
How To Choose The Best Domain Name?
There are a few things you want to consider before buying a domain name. What is the niche of your blog? Do you want to use keywords in your URL, or have a more personal name that is easier to brand?
Let me explain.
Domain Name With Keywords
When I started my blog, I knew it was going to be in the travel niche. I didn’t know much other than that. I could have went with a URL like ginnietravels.com or something similar that either had the word ‘Travel’ or ‘World’ or ‘Traveler’ or ‘Wanderlust’ in it. These are all keywords that make it clear my blog is about travel. It could be a good idea for you, but it’s usually a bit harder to find an available domain. If you want to use a generic URL like worldtravelers.com, which combines two travel keywords, you’re either going to have to pay a lot or search for hours. Those domain names are mostly taken by now.
Original Domain Name
The other option is to mix and match words or to create new ones to get the URL you want. Websites like Trello and Moz and Twitter did a good job at inventing names that are easy to remember and to brand. It is recommended to keep your name short and sweet, easy to spell and to remember. I went with farmboyandcitygirl.com for my travel blog, as it represented my boyfriend and I very well, and I wanted the blog to be about us first, and travel second.
You can also decide to include your name, or not, in your URL. It’s a good idea if your blog is about you and your life. If you plan to make money from your blog and sell it in the future, it’s better to have a general branding compared to something that is focused on you only.
If you’re running out of ideas for your domain name, check out Shopify’s Business Name Generator! It won’t give you a unique name, but can inspire you!
Which Top-Level Domain Should You Use?
The top-level domain is the end of your URL, the .com or .org or .net. There are so many of them out there by now, but you don’t want to pick just any. There is a hierarchy that you should follow first.
If the .com is available, always choose the .com
Your website will always have more weight in terms of SEO if you go with the .com top-level domain. If it’s not available, then the second best is .net
If you’re a local business, you can also choose the top-level domain of your country (.co.uk or .ca or .au, etc.), but a .com will always be more powerful.
Mistakes to Avoid
Here are a few things you won’t want to do:
- Have a domain name that is too long and hard to remember (ilovemygrandmaandshelovesmeback.com)
- Use hyphens or number. People forget about them when they type your URL (i-love-granny.com or granny4ever.com)
- Have a “double-meaning” name even when you don’t want to (choosespain.com for Choose Spain)
- Use words that have different spellings (thetipsytraveler.com vs thetipsytraveller.com)
- Choose a name close to one that is already popular. You’ll have a hard time ranking in search results (cheapnames.com vs namecheap.com)
Where Should You Buy Your Domain Name
There are plenty of options when it comes to buying a domain name. If you’re also going to buy hosting for your website, you might get a free domain name. That means that for the first year (or more), you’ll have to stay with this hosting company if you want to keep that domain name. You won’t be able to transfer to another hosting until they have made enough money from you.
The second option, in case you don’t want your domain name to be tied to your hosting or if you’re buying for a second website, is to go through websites like NameCheap or you can buy it from your web hosting company. I transferred all of mine to Namecheap and don’t regret it one second!
Also, when you buy your domain name, make sure to check the privacy option (which keeps your info off of Whois). Otherwise, people can find your name, your address, email, phone number, etc. On most websites, they’ll charge you an extra for that, but it’s well worth it. (Namecheap offers it for free!)