In this article, we are going to show you how to choose and register a domain name for your blog or website.
In simple terms, a domain name is the name of the website, blog or any other web property on the internet. It is a unique name that you register with an authorized domain registrar.
Once you register a domain name it is yours to keep unless you sell it to someone else or don’t renew it the next time.
Here are some examples of domain names.
Google.com is the domain name of Google LLC, FaceBook.com is the domain name for Facebook, Inc, and so on. Similarly, the domain name of this website is smartwebpreneur.com.
By entering the domain name in the web browser people can visit that particular website or web property and access the content.
By the way, domain names can also be used to create professional email accounts. For example, our business email address is email@example.com [Notice the domain name at the end of the email address].
So we are pretty sure by now you are convinced that to start any kind of website or blog online, you will need to register a domain name.
Parts of a Domain Name
In the domain name, smartwebpreneur.com, .com is the domain extension, which is also called the Top Level Domain. There are a number of Top Level Domains available to choose from, but .com happens to be the most popular one.
The part of the domain name that is on the left side of the dot is called the second-level domain. This is unique to your business or identity. In the above example, smartwebpreneur is the Second-Level Domain name and the .com is the Top Level Domain.
As mentioned above, while .com is a popular Top-Level Domain, it isn’t the only Top Level Domain. There are other TLDs like .org, .net, .co and so on. Top Level Domains are divided into many categories according to their use and significance. Here are the popular ones.
Generic Top Level Domains
These are some of the most commonly used TLDs
- .xyz etc.
These are the types of Top Level Domains that are city specific, like, .tokyo ,.london, .nyc, .berlin, .amsterdam, .hamburg, .boston, .paris, .kiwi, .vegas, .moscow,.miami etc.
Country Code TLDs (Cc TLDs)
As the name suggests, these are country-specific TLDs. You can use these TLDs when your target audience is in a specific country and when you are not planning to target the audience worldwide.
Here are a few examples.
- .us (USA)
- .uk (UK)
- .in (India)
- .il (Israel)
- .fr (France)
- .de (Germany)
Other TLDs that may not be very important for beginner bloggers are Infrastructure top-level domain and Sponsored top-level domains. For the time being, to start a blog as a beginner we suggest you go with a .com TLD.
How to Choose a Domain Name?
Let’s see how to choose the right domain name for your blog or website. We have given a bunch of guidelines below to follow when you are in the process of choosing a domain name. These aren’t must follow guidelines, but if you follow them you will be happy you did.
Choose a .com
We agree that there are a lot of TLDs available for you to choose from and frankly speaking, there isn’t any evidence to prove that one TLD is better than the other.
But we strongly suggest that you choose a .com domain extension for your upcoming project. The .com TLD refers to a commercial domain name and is also one of the oldest and the most popular Top-Level Domain.
This is a very familiar domain extension and people tend to use a .com in front of any website name they come across, without even inquiring about the actual domain extension.
For example, if someone randomly tells you to check out the LeadPages (famous landing page builder software) website, you would automatically type LeadPages.com in your browser without even trying to know the extension name.
But the actual URL for the website for LeadPages is the Leadpages.net. And that’s how most people behave online. So it is always better to choose a .com domain extension for your blog.
Pick Brandable Domain Names
It is always better to pick brandable domain names that are unique to your business. Don’t stuff your domain name with keywords. Remember that your domain name is your identity.
Easier the domain name to remember, more the chances of it being shared. Try to make your domain name a memorable one, while also being brandable.
Shorter Domain Names
Don’t choose a longer domain name for your website. Keep it short and sweet. Use the following domain search tool to check the availability of your domain name.
Think Long Term
Right now you may have an idea to start a blog about the keto diet. You register a domain name with the keyword ‘keto diet’ in it. But what happens if you gradually lose interest in ‘Keto diet’ and want to expand into other diet forms as well?
Sometimes it happens that the author suddenly runs out of content ideas because he or she chose a narrow niche. What if that happens to you?
And because your domain name involves the term ‘keto diet’, you may not be able to write about and branch out into other forms of diet plans.
What if, you would have chosen only the keyword ‘diet’ in your domain name instead of ‘keto diet’? You could have easily covered topics from other diet plans as well.
That was just an example.
All we are trying to say is to think long term. Don’t choose a domain name that may end up limiting your growth in the future.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Creative
It is time to be creative when the domain name of your choice isn’t available. Yes, most of the popular .com domain names are already taken. The oldest domain name which was a .com was registered in 1985. So if you want to register a .com today, you will have to let your creative juices flow and come up with something unique.
Here is a tip. If your keyword.com is taken try registering keywordblog.com or keywordwebsite.com.
For example, if weightlossdiet.com is taken try myweightlossdiet.com or theweightlossdietblog.com [BTW, all of these names are for example purposes only and they may have already been taken].
Availability On Social Websites
Preferably choose domain names that are also available on various popular social media accounts. This way branding will be easier for your website and business.
One way to ensure that your domain name is available on popular social media sites is by using this website.
Be careful not to choose a domain name which may resemble a trademark or may create confusion about the same. Also, refrain from using any company/brand name in your domains. For example, AmazonReviews.com or AppleTvInfo.com. Such domain owners may eventually face legal problems from the company/brand owners.
Is It Better To Have Keywords In Your Domain Name?
This is a controversial topic. Earlier people used to register exact match domains and get top rankings on search engines like Google. Exact match domains are the domains which match exactly with the primary keyword of your site or blog.
For example, in those days if your niche was ‘weight loss for women under 40’ you would have registered a domain name with the same keyword which would have read as weightlossforwomenunder40.com
If your primary keyword was ‘how to make money online’ you would have registered howtomakemoneyonline.com.
This worked well for many years. But soon search engines got smarter and started taking down spammy websites with exact match domains.
But some people still feel that exact match domains can help you get higher rankings if your domain name is backed up with solid content.
We personally feel that content is the king. Exact match domains or no exact match domains, if your blog has good content it will rank.
How To Register a Domain Name?
We use NameCheap to register all our domains. You can also use the following domain checker tool to check the availability of your domain name. This tool is powered by BlueHost which offers free domain names with the new web hosting accounts. So if you want a free domain name this can be a good option.
Using NameCheap to Register Domain Name
Although there are many domain name registrars, NameCheap is our first choice, because they offer low-cost domain names along with added features like free privacy protection for life.
To register a domain name first visit NameCheap’s website from here.
You will be greeted with a web page as shown in the image below.
Enter your desired domain name in the search box. If it is available the result will be shown as below, along with the cost of that particular domain name.
Once you are happy with the price and the domain name click the add to cart button. Now you will be shown a few add-ons by NameCheap most of which are not really necessary for registering a domain name except the Positive SSL addon.
Positive SSL Certificate is a domain validation certificate. This is one of the most affordable SSL certificates available on the net and is the best choice for beginners. This certificate is provided by the CA (Certificate Authority) Comodo. It is perfect for all those who are looking for simple security certificates for their website without needing a lot of technical work or paying higher costs.
The positive SSL makes your site secure and shows the ‘https’ prefix instead of the usual ‘Http’ prefix before your website’s domain name.
At this stage of domain purchase on NameCheap, the positive SSL is available for just 3.88/year which if you decide to buy later can cost around $10-$15 per year. So it is better to add this to your shopping cart at this stage if you want one.
But if you are using a web hosting company like Siteground for your websites you won’t need this Positive SSL certificate as they provide you with unlimited free Let’s Encrypt certificates.
Now once you have finished these steps, your total cost for the domain registration and addons if any, will be shown on the right side.
Now click on the ‘view cart’ button.
Now choose the number of years for which you want to register your domain name. Also, keep the WhoIs protection on (It is a free service offered by NameCheap). This allows you to hide your identity and other personal details from cyberstalkers.
Once everything is fine click on the ‘confirm order’ button.
On the next page, you will need to create an account. Enter the basic details like username, password, your first and last name, and the email address and click the ‘create account and continue button’.
On the next page add your card details and make the payment. You can also use PayPal to pay the domain registration fee.
And that’s it.
Once the payment is processed successfully the domain is yours. You will be sent all the details to the given email address almost instantly.
And that is how to choose a domain name and register it on NameCheap.
If interested you can also have a look at the other ICANN-Accredited Registrars list from here.