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Your online journey begins today! Here at DreamHost, we want you to have all the information you need to make critical decisions for your business and web projects. That’s why we’ve compiled this series of helpful tutorials to help you get your big idea off the ground.

How to Choose the Best Domain Name (11 Key Tips)

Picking the right domain name can make or break a website. If you choose the wrong one, you run the risk of losing out on traffic, as well as confusing the visitors you do manage to attract.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to ensure you choose a domain that works for your business or website. By sticking with familiar Top-Level Domains (TLDs), making your domain memorable, and using a generator for clever ideas, you’ll be starting your site off on the right foot.

In this article, we’ll go over 11 easy tips for registering the best domain name for your website. Let’s get going!

1. Use a Trustworthy TLD

The Top-Level Domain (TLD) is the domain extension at the end of your site’s domain name, such as .com, .org, or .net. Having a trustworthy TLD is beneficial, especially for building a strong brand identity.

After all, common TLDs like .com are typically seen as the most reliable. That doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with some of the newer TLDs if it makes sense for your site. These offer creative alternatives but should be used with care.

For many sites, .com is still the best domain extension. It’s safe, well-established, and can be used across different countries, opening up your potential market. Plus, it will be easy for your audience to remember.

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2. Choose Your Keywords Wisely

While you can change your domain name after your site is up and running, it’s better to pick something you’ll be happy with long-term. That means making sure your domain is a strong match to your site’s focus and audience.

For instance, your domain is a great place to include some keywords that are associated with your niche or industry. Doing so can inform your audience of what your website is about and improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

To find the best keywords for your business, you may want to use a keyword research tool such as Keyword Tool. This is a great way to do some preliminary research.

A keyword research tool.

To start, simply enter a word or phrase associated with your website’s niche and pick your selected country and language. Selecting Research will show you the most-searched-for keywords related to your site’s content.

Researching potential domain name keywords.

Just remember not to use these keywords as-is, since that will likely result in a very generic domain. Instead, you can take a popular term and incorporate it organically into your domain name.

3. Ensure That Your Domain Name Is Short

A short domain name is easier to remember. When people can remember your domain, they’re often more likely to return to your site or share it with others.

In particular, having a URL that’s easy to share is vital. Whether through word of mouth or social media, the more exposure your site gets, the more chances you have to attract audiences you could never reach on your own. 

So when choosing your domain name, remember that the sweet spot is between 50 and 75 characters. As with all advice, “shorter is better” can be taken too far. A domain that’s only a few letters long risks being confusing and doesn’t give users (or search engines!) any clue as to what your website is about. 

Consider our own URL as an example. DreamHost.com is short, sweet, and gets the point across.

The DreamHost website.

Of course, there’s more to keeping your domain name memorable than just making it short. You also need to make sure it’s not confusing, which we’ll look at next.

4. Keep Your Domain Name Easy to Pronounce and Spell

A smart way to ensure that your audience remembers your domain name is to keep it easy to pronounce and spell. When things are easy to process, people are more likely to have positive feelings towards them — an effect known as cognitive fluency.

This concept can be applied to your website’s domain name in several ways. At the least, it’s best to avoid any cute branding tricks that you think could help to distinguish your site, such as deliberately misspelling your name.

While that approach can work for physical stores, it may make your site’s URL harder to remember and type out. That can frustrate visitors, and even make it more likely that they’ll end up in the wrong place. 

By keeping your domain name short and sweet, on the other hand, you can encourage repeat visits and drive traffic.

5. Stay Unique and Brandable

There are nearly 2 billion websites online. That’s a lot of competition. It also means your domain name can be crucial for helping you stand out.

To do that, your domain has to be unique and brandable. Otherwise, your website could quickly become a pebble in an endless online ocean, and you might have to invest more into your marketing campaigns.

Staying on-brand is mostly a matter of choosing a memorable domain name that is catchy and also accurately reflects your business. Think along the lines of tripadvisor.com, investopedia.com, and techradar.com.

The TechRadar website.

In each case, these domains stay on brand while serving to descriptively demonstrate the site’s purpose. Through following this principle, you can encourage a strong first impression and encourage click-throughs.

6. Don’t Add Hyphens to Your Domain Name

Adding hyphens to your domain name isn’t a great idea. This is because it can hurt the name’s readability and memorability. Some people may forget where the hyphens go in the URL and struggle to find your website again. For the same reason, they might not be able to pass it along on social media or even by word of mouth. 

Plus, when a word or phrase is harder to say, our recall for it is negatively impacted. Let’s look at liverpoolecho.co.uk as an example.

The Liverpool Echo newspaper website.

Instead of putting in a hyphen between “Liverpool” and “echo,” this newspaper website’s developers omitted it. It’s much easier to say and remember the existing domain than “Liverpool hyphen echo.”

7. Avoid Using Double Letters When Possible

Just like deliberately misspelled domain names, URLs that feature extra letters can be harder to say, and equally difficult to remember. Remember that domain names aren’t capitalized. So if one word ends with a letter, and the next starts with the same letter, it may look strange at first glance (i.e., “thebesttea.com”).

This could make people rethink what they’re typing, and lead to confusion (and thereby frustration). Therefore, it’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to double letters, unless your business’ name makes that impractical.

8. Leave Yourself Room to Grow

Obviously, you’ll want your website’s name to be relevant to its purpose. However, it’s important to leave room for growth, so you don’t trap yourself into a single niche. 

Your online store may start out selling only artisanal teas. Yet over time, you might begin to stock coffee, books, or even flowers.

Ultimately, you don’t want to force yourself to transfer your site to a new domain if you don’t have to. So even if you’re starting out small, consider where you might like to take your website or business over time and consider aiming for a market that’s a little broader than a single product or topic.

9. Research Your Domain Name Carefully

Along with considering your own needs, it’s wise to research your domain name before finalizing your choice. For example, you may find that another business is already using a very similar domain name. This could create confusion for your audience or even cause legal trouble if that business decides that you’re engaging in copyright infringement.

By doing some research to see what similar websites are out there and what they’re called, even if it’s only through Google or a domain search, you can protect yourself and your brand. Moreover, you can improve your chances of finding a domain name that you can grow into a unique and memorable brand.

10. Use a Domain Name Generator

Choosing a domain name can feel like walking on a tightrope. You want it to be simple yet memorable, all while standing out from the crowd. Again, there are millions of websites floating around, acting as potential competition.

This means you’ll need something unique. Of course, it can be hard to come up with out-of-the-box ideas on your own. To kickstart the brainstorming process, you can use a domain name generator.

You’ll enter a few words related to your website or business to get a long list of potential names in multiple categories. You probably won’t want to use any of these as-is, but the list of options can provide you with ideas and get you thinking about unique domains.

11. Grab Your Favorite Domain Quickly

According to DN Pedia, 130,360 .coms and 8,500 .nets were added to the web on March 26, 2020. That’s a lot of new domain names in a single day.

New domain names added in a single day.

These numbers equate to a lot of competition. 

So, if you find a name you like, it’s a good idea to grab it as fast as you can. Otherwise, you might get stuck with something less than desirable when you finally do decide to make a purchase. 

Don’t forget that domains aren’t permanent fixtures. If you end up not needing one, you can always let it expire or sell it for a potential profit. Plus, most domains are pretty cheap, so it’s better to act decisively than to regret your hesitation later on.

Choosing the Right Domain Registrar to Purchase Your Domain Name

Once you’ve made up your mind about which domain name you want, it’s time to buy it. To do so, you’ll need to visit a domain registrar. 

There are plenty of popular registrars that simply sell domains. However, web hosting companies also offer domain registration services, which can simplify things for you. You’ll be able to pick up a domain name and a hosting plan at the same time, and keep tabs on both using the same user portal or dashboard.

For example, our annual Shared Hosting and DreamPress plans come with a free domain. That’s on top of everything else we offer — the data and bandwidth you need to handle your site’s traffic, a secure certificate (SSL/TLS) for increased security, varying backup options to protect your content, and much more.

You CAN Build a Website

Whether you want to start a blog or run a small business, DreamHost makes it easy to start your online journey. Our shared hosting plans give you everything you need to thrive online — including a great domain.

Ready to Buy a Domain?

When you choose a domain name, you need to be careful. The wrong one can set you up for difficulties down the line, while the right one can make it easier to grow your website and audience.

Fortunately, choosing a domain that will stand the test of time (and represent your brand) isn’t hard! Just make sure it’s short and simple, easy to remember, and reflective of your site’s niche. If you get stuck, you can use a domain name generator or a TLD search to get ideas.

Are you ready to register your domain name? You can do that while signing up for one of our top-notch shared hosting plans!

We’re Here to Help

If you have questions or just could use some help figuring some thing out, get in touch. Our team of web experts has been in the business for over 20 years and knows how to help you figure out the right next steps.