How to Choose a Domain Name in 3 Steps

Are you wondering how to choose a domain name for your website? Choosing the name of your site’s domain is an important branding decision for your business or blog — it might even feel a bit like house hunting. No pressure, right?

Here’s a quick guide to getting started with domains, addressing the technology specifics, and deciding how you’ll approach the large — and growing — selection of what are known as “top-level domains” (TLDs).

Domain names 101

What is a domain name and how do you choose one? Let’s start with the basics. Your business or blog’s domain name is the unique web address that you choose for your website. Every website has a domain name, from major social networks (www.facebook.com) and government organizations (www.loc.gov), to more creatively named sites from Google (abc.xyz). Typing a domain name into your browser bar will whisk you off to the specific website it points to.

There are three parts to a domain name. I’ll use my personal one as an example:

  1. The subdomain (third-level domain): www.
  2. The domain (second-level domain): ashlynwrites.
  3. The top-level domain (TLD): .com.

So together, my full domain name is http://www.ashlynwrites.com. According to Verisign, there were about 396.4 million domain names being used worldwide as of early 2016. With so many website addresses already in use, what should you know about choosing your own domain? After all, your online address could have a major impact on your search engine optimization (SEO) success.

Let’s break down the process of how to choose a domain name into three steps.

One choice, 3 steps

First, brainstorm possible domain names for your site. You may simply want to use the name of your business or blog. Your domain name should be easy to remember and to spell so that potential shoppers can effortlessly find your website. User experience is important, so you’ll want your site to have a trustworthy and reputable-sounding domain name. For example, does http://www.bossladies.biz sound less legitimate than http://www.bossladiesmag.com? It’s important to consider the tone that your site’s domain gives off, as many users form their initial impressions about your business from your website’s web address.

Next, find a domain name registrar (an organization that manages the reservation of domain names). Registrars are great resources to have in your back pocket, as many offer a one-stop shop for domain registration, website hosting, and custom email addresses. If you’re going to create a website for your new domain name immediately, go ahead and host your site in the same place where you’ve registered the domain. WordPress.com offers this option, allowing you to keep everything organized and in one place.

When it comes to picking your TLD (the part of the domain name located to the right of the dot, with the most common being “.com,” “.net,” and “.org”), it’s worth considering that most of us intuitively type “.com” at the end of any website — so this might be the easiest direction to go in. WordPress.com offers many different TLDs to choose from; they can serve as an additional way to customize your business or blog.

The final step in the domain-naming process is to make your purchase! If you’re planning to keep your domain name for more than one year, you’ll want to sign up for auto-renew, to ensure that your registration is renewed automatically and that it won’t be snatched up by another user. Some registrars allow you to purchase naming rights for multiple years at a time. It’s also a good idea to purchase any domain names that are similar to yours. This will prevent your shoppers from accidentally visiting a website that is owned by someone else, but sounds very similar to yours. If you do purchase domain names that are similar to your own, you can redirect shoppers to the correct website if they accidentally visit the wrong one. For example, http://www.fedex.com and http://www.federalexpress.com both lead site visitors to http://www.fedex.com.

The sky is the limit when it comes to choosing a domain name. Finding the right name for your website will help you foster brand identity, which will ultimately help establish relationships with your shoppers and fans.