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In my last post, I showed you that it’s absolutely possible to make well over $100,000/year with a simple niche site. One of the first steps in in achieving that goal is to pick a good domain name.
Choosing a domain name for your niche site is so simple on the surface, but it’s a step that many people get wrong. And getting this step wrong can deter your visitors and even significantly limit the growth potential of your site.
While other mistakes along the way can easily be undone, you really don’t want to change your domain name down the road. That’s why it’s important to take your time and really think about the long term goals of your site and pick a name that can grow as you grow.
In this post, I am going outline the factors that I always consider when choosing a domain name for one of my new sites. This is one of those crucial steps that can have a big impact on your business, so be patient, do your research, and don’t move forward until you’ve come up with something you’re really happy with.
Let’s dive in.
Why Your Domain Name Is So Important
Before we jump into the various factors you need to consider when choosing a domain name, let’s first look at why it’s so important to get this step right in the first place.
Depending on your goals, branding may not be a big deal to you. However, if you approach building niche websites the way I do, the potential for creating a brandable site is huge.
If you can come up with a great domain name that fits your niche, as your site grows, you’ll have a stronger asset that can be sold for a greater return down the road. It’ll also be easier to promote your site via your social channels.
Your domain name is often the first thing people see before deciding to visit your site, whether it’s through a search engine or a social channel. That first impression can be the difference between a click or a scroll, and obviously, you’d rather have someone click through to your site than to move on to a competitor’s site.
With a simple domain name, it’s much easier for visitors to find their way back by simply typing in the domain name. I’ve definitely had times in the past where I couldn’t remember a site that I had visited, so I had to go looking through my search history.
Another benefit of a good, simple domain name is that it’s easier to share, whether through word of mouth, text message, email, or a social channel. If someone wants to tell their friend about a great site they visited, you want it to be easy for them to remember the name of your site.
What Factors to Consider When Selecting a Domain Name
Next, let’s take a look at some of the factors you need to consider before purchasing a domain name for your new niche site.
Keep It Short and Simple
The first factor to consider when choosing a domain name is to keep it short and simple. Short names are easier to read and look more trustable. When you use a long name with a lot of words, it can be hard to distinguish what the domain name actually represents.
Make It Memorable
Along the same lines, you want to make sure your domain name is memorable. By memorable, I mean something that someone can easily remember and type back into a browser if they want to find your site again a few days later.
Short and memorable domain names are the best when it comes to branding, because they’re easy to remember, which means they’re easy to share with others.
Make Sure It’s Easy to Spell and Type
When choosing your domain name, you also want to make sure you use words that are easy to spell and type. If you came up with something that fit the first two factors above, you’re probably already set.
If you use words that are typically difficult to spell or words that have multiple spellings (like there, they’re, and their), it can be difficult for people to remember, which can lead to people going to the wrong domains.
You can somewhat alleviate this issue by buying all the misspelled versions of your domain and redirecting them, but why bother when you can avoid it?
Keep It Broad
When it comes to my method of building niche sites, this is one of the most important factors. While many people successfully build small niche sites with a narrow focus, I always think long term and go with broad domain names.
For example, if you’re in the dieting niche (which I definitely don’t recommend), instead of using keto or paleo in your domain, use the word diet. This way, as your site grows, you have plenty of room to grow into other areas.
Stick with .com
When you go to a domain registrar and enter a domain name to see if it’s available, one of the first things you’ll likely be presented with is a list of top level domains that aren’t .com. For example, you might see .net, .org, etc.
Unless you have a specific reason to use one of these alternate top level domains, just stick with .com. The .com extension is used by over 50% of all websites. As a result, it is highly trusted, which means you’re likely to get more clicks when your site ends in .com.
Avoid Hyphens and Numbers
Just because something is allowed doesn’t mean you should do it. That is the case with hyphens and numbers in domain names.
While both are allowed, it’s become standard practice to avoid them at all costs. While numbers sometimes make sense for a domain (like 1800flowers.com), this is the exception and not the rule.
Just do yourself a favor and take hyphens and numbers off the table.
Don’t Localize It
If you build niche websites using the methods I promote on this site, ever decision you make should be made with a long term focus. If you create a domain name with a local focus, don’t expect to get much traction in other parts of the world.
With that being said, if your site’s focus in tied to a specific geographical area, then by all means, localize your domain name.
Check for Trademarks
Before you move forward with that perfect domain name that you found, absolutely do a quick trademark check. The last thing you want is to grow your site, only to run into legal issues because you used a trademarked phrase in your domain name.
Include a Keyword
While this one definitely isn’t crucial by any means, adding keywords to your domain is definitely a good idea if you can make it work. Having a keyword in your domain can help the clickthrough and trust factor of your site.
Check for Account Availability
You might think you’ve found the perfect domain name that’s available, but before you move forward, I recommend checking to see if the various related accounts are available as well. By this I mean, make sure someone’s not already running social channels using your domain name.
Be Creative (To an Extent)
As mentioned above, you want your domain name to be short and simple. At the same time, if you can find a way to do those things and come up with something unique, you might come up with a name that can really help you stand out.
Don’t go crazy and invent your own word or anything, but if you can come up with a simple play on a word that strongly relates to your niche, it can be a great way to create a strong brand.
Don’t Overthink It
Last, but not least, don’t overthink it. With every day that passes, more and more domain names are taken. Some people even buy domain names simply to turn around and sell them for an inflated price.
If you can’t come up with the perfect name, don’t sweat it. Pick something close to it that has the same meaning and is available.
How to Find Domain Name Ideas
Now that you know what factors to consider, it’s time to actually create the domain name. The first step I always take in this process is to make a huge list of keywords related to my niche. You can do this by visiting other blogs and writing down any keywords you come across.
Once you’ve made your list, you can use the methods below to generate a unique domain name idea.
The first place I always visit when trying to come up with a domain name is thesaurus.com. Once there, enter a seed word in the search box at the top, then you’ll be presented with several synonyms.
What I typically do is enter various keywords related to my niche, then start adding the synonyms that I like to a spreadsheet. Once done, I look through the spreadsheet to see if I can come up with any unique pairings that work well with my niche.
Another tool that I love to use when coming up with a new domain name is relatedwords.org. This site produces results similar to thesaurus.com, but from my experience, you’ll get more unique words and you’ll get a lot more of them.
The words are presented graphically in a way that allows you to click on each one to learn more about its meaning. This is definitely a nice tool that I’ve used a ton in the past.
Use a Domain Name Generator
If you’re really struggling to come up with a good domain name, you can always try a domain name generator. These generators come up with various word combinations based on the keyword that you enter.
Honestly, I’ve never resorted to this. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Typically, if I can’t come up with something good using one of the first couple of tools mentioned above, I either sit on it for a day or I move on to my last recommendation…
Ask for Help
If all else fails, don’t be afraid to ask someone else for help. My wife is great at coming up with short, catchy, domain names, so we always bounce ideas off of each other when starting up a new site. She usually comes up with the final name, by the way.
Where to Buy a Domain Name
There are plenty of places where you can get a domain name these days. Personally, I always go through Bluehost. I do this because it’s quick and easy to bundle a domain name with hosting when firing up a new site.
Once a site has grown, I move the hosting over to Rocket.net, but I’ll get to that in another post. When just getting started with a new site though, I definitely recommend keeping it cheap and simple by just going through Bluehost and bundling your domain and hosting.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when choosing a domain name for your new niche website. As I’ve already pointed out, this step is one of those crucial steps that you just don’t want to get wrong.
While you can make a subpar domain work, it definitely makes growing your site much more challenging than it needs to be.
Follow the steps above, and your website will be off to a fantastic start.