Why It Pays To Put Some Thought Into Your Domain Name
Your domain name is your websites home address on the Internet. And while its not the only thing that affects your sites success, there are tons of reasons its important to choose a domain name carefully:
- A unique, memorable name is more likely to stick with visitors and encourage them to return.
- Your domain name can immediately give new visitors an idea of what your site is all about.
- Domain names have an impact on Search Engine Optimization .
- Changing your domain name after creating your site can lead to time-consuming complications.
Names have power this is as true for a website as for anything else. Picking the right domain name should therefore be a careful process, and youll want to consider all of your options before settling on a winner.
Always Register Your Domain Name Yourself
Its a good idea to not let anyone else register a domain name for you. Even though its slightly less hassle that way , it can lead to trouble later on.
If someone else registers the domain, youre giving them a hold over you and your website. If you ever want to move away from their services, you can encounter trouble in terms of them not being too eager to transfer the domain over to you and give you full control of it.
Just to name a few bad things that can happen: They may take an awfully long time to complete the transfer, they may try to extort some fees from you to do that, or they may decline completely .
Plus, perhaps most importantly, if the agency/person goes bankrupt or loses access to the domain registrar for whatever reason, you could lose your domain name entirely.
Long story short, always register your domains on your own. Its not that difficult anyway. Heres our step-by-step guide.
Check The Domain History Via Wayback Machine
Note: This one is worth checking even if youre getting a new domain name. In some cases, the domain name youre trying to register may have been registered in the past but then abandoned by the owner. Its still good to have a look at what was on it.
There are a couple of ways in which you can look up a domain names history. One of the more popular ones, and one thats also within anyones reach , involves Wayback Machine.
This is one of the first tools of its kind. Quite simply, it lets you enter a time machine, so to speak, and have a look at how any website used to look in the past.
When I say any website, its not actually any website. But you can expect to find most websites that had any noticeable traffic at any point in time. In our case, doing a check via Wayback Machine allows us to see whether the domain were interested in has ever been used for anything significant, and, if so, whether it was all kosher or not.
For example, if you look up this site, youll get records dating back to 2013:
Its safe to assume that this site didnt exist before then . When you click on any of the records, you get a snapshot of the site back then. Quite handy, isnt it?
If youre buying an existing domain name, it would be a good idea to go to Wayback Machine and browse through every month of the domains history, just to make sure there wasnt anything shady going on at any point.
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Help Yourself To Some Domain Name Generators
This is another kind of helper that you can use if youre finding it hard to come up with a cool domain name, and thus, by extension, your business name as well.
These tools are very simple to use, but also surprisingly helpful. All they need is one keyword from you a seed keyword and, in return, they give you tens or even hundreds of suggestions, full of valid and available domain names that you can register right away.
The best such tools include:
- LeanDomainSearch, created by the guys at Automattic . For example, this is what you get when looking up coffee:
- Business name generator by Shopify works similarly to the above, and also helps you build a Shopify store with the domain name of your choice.
- Nameboy is a bit more old-school especially in its design but its still useful. This one needs more specific input, and does a better job once you have a general direction you want to follow with your name.
Domain Reputation Lookup Tools #
Itd be great to know exactly what everyone thinks of your domain, but the more a receiver shares about how they determine whos good, the more spammers and other nefarious senders will take advantage of that data to beat the system. As a result, most receivers keep their judgements about reputation private. There are, however, a few free services that can aggregate multiple receivers data to give you some general insight into your domains health overall.
First check out Talos Intelligence provided by Cisco that associates your web reputation with messages sent over various IPs. If there are significant problems that pose a deliverability risk, youll likely spot them here. A neutral reputation there, however, typically means theres little data available for your domain .
Theres also third-party filtering software some use in their corporate or university mail servers. You can run a quick search in these public databases to determine if your domain is blacklisted or considered risky. Two of the most popular are Barracuda and McAfee. Beyond that, tools using open source SpamAssassin filtering can help identify any domains in your content and email headers that could hinder delivery.
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Use A Thesaurus For Domain Name Ideas
Okay, so no matter what I say about picking a domain name thats brandable, simple, has a good ring to it, is easy to memorize, and so on and so forth, the fact of the matter is that coming up with a truly good name is hard.
Sometimes, youll easily go through tens of different terms before you settle on that perfect one, while other times nothing will seem good enough. In that case, Thesaurus.com can be the secret weapon in your arsenal.
The site will help you find synonyms and also provide quick definitions to help you not to make a silly mistake by building your domain name around a word with a meaning youve misunderstood.
Note: As I mentioned above, its not advisable to just go with a standard, dictionary word as your domain name, even if it comes from a thesaurus. Always add some modifiers to it, or turn it into something original by changing a few letters here and there.
Make Your Domain Name Memorable
Strive for domain names that are short, easy to remember, easy to type, and easy to say. This is valuable for word-of-mouth advertising because those visitors will need to visit your domain directly, but it also matters for processing fluency. An implicit cognitive bias, processing fluency is the concept that we remember and have more positive associations with things that we can easily say and easily think about, and that includes pronounceability in our own minds. So, stay away from domain names that include numbers or other non-standard characters, use unusual spelling, or are longer than about 15 characters or so.
Because of search engine’s growing reliance on accessibility and usability as a ranking factor, the easier a domain is to read for humans, the better it is for search engines.
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But First Some Valuable Information
There are a few things to consider when securing a domain name. Typically, domain names are not yours to keep indefinitely. They’re usually free for a year or two, after which the registrar will bill you for the renewal. You may also lose the domain if you use it for what the provider deems an illegal activity . In addition, nearly all registrars reserve the right to make changes to the registration agreement whenever they wish, and without notifying you. Be sure to check any prospective registrar carefully before committing.
Domain names rarely come with privacy protection. This means that your information as the domain owner is publicly available to anyone snooping around the Whois database. If youre a brick-and-mortar business and your info is already publicly available, privacy likely wont be a major concern. However, if you’re a blogger who doesn’t want your personal address available for all the internet to see, privacy protection is an important security step. Depending on the registrar you use, this can be as low as $2 per year or as high as $20 per year.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s explore the three methods for obtaining a free domain name.
Keep Your Domain Name Short
There are several reasons short domain names work better. First, shorter names are easier to remember and type. Therefore, they are beneficial for branding purposes.
Also, an overly long domain name is yet another way to look suspicious. If you dont use too many keywords and make your name easy to pronounce, on the other hand, your domain will probably be short naturally.
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Choose One Or More Keywords That Represent Your Site
There are a lot of ways to start generating ideas for a domain name. You can simply base your sites domain on your own name, or on your existing business. However, a key ingredient of a truly effective domain name is a strong keyword.
Using keywords in your domain name is smart for the same reasons using them in your content is. The SEO benefits can bring in more traffic by helping your site rank more highly in search engine results. Plus, keywords can help potential visitors better understand your sites focus and niche.
Fortunately, the process of researching keywords for your domain name is the same as finding effective keywords for other uses. You can use tools like and KWFinder to search for terms that have both a high search volume and low competition. Just remember that in this case, youre looking for a keyword that represents your website and content as a whole.
Make Sure Its Easy To Type And Memorable
Finding a domain name thats easy to remember is very important to success online.
If you have a complex domain name such as jjkmysitee.com it is very hard for users to type. Its also very hard to remember for them.
Now think, if your users want to revisit your website, your domain name will confuse them, and if they mistype your domain name, they will end up visiting another website. Not to mention, this way you will lose your visitors as well as revenue.
Just think how successful sites or companies choose their domain name. For example, Google, Facebook, BBC, Twitter, Yahoo, etc.
One thing they have in common is that theyre all simple to spell.
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Acquire Existing Or Expired Domain To Jump Ahead
Last but not least, you might want to think about acquiring an existing domain. Why? Because an existing domain might already have some of the following:
- Authority backlinks. Use a tool like Ahrefs to check existing backlinks.
- High domain authority and domain rating .
- High PageRank. internally.
- Existing traffic and brand.
However, you should also be very careful when going with this strategy. First off, make sure to check for any existing trademarks.
Second, if the domain is currently being used by an existing brand that you are trying to acquire, make sure to check out its traffic patterns. A constant downwards trend could possibly mean it was hit by a Google penalty at some point. Or it could simply mean that they stopped working on the domain.
Third, check out the domains current backlinks with Ahrefs Site Explorer tool. If a lot of the backlinks are from spammy sites this is not a good indicator. It could mean that the domain/website owner at some point paid for backlinks or even had a negative SEO attack against it.
Again, when it comes to acquiring an existing domain, make sure to check all aspects of it. If you dont know how, there are plenty of great SEO experts in the community you can hire.
Check If Domain Is Registered Or Not Without Whois
To PROGRAMMATICALLY verify if a domain exists I do the following:
Well, whois is not really meant for bulk checking. Not to mention that the RFC has only 4 pages and there’s no clear specifications as to the format or even the encoding of the data. So you pretty much have to train the parser for each specific answer format .
Is there a way to circumvent the whois query and check if the domain is registered in another standardized way? And not by downloading the TLD zone file or using third-party APIs . 🙂
I know registrars have their own protocol but I’m not sure if it’s open to public use.
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Priced as $35.40 for an annual shared hosting package Bluehost is one of the cheapest web hosting services that offer a free domain name. This package does not include domain privacy, which is billed separately at $15 per domain per year. Domain renewal pricing depends on the extension type, but a .com renewal costs $17.99.
Hostgator includes free domain hosting with its annual-or-longer Hatchling plan . After the free period ends domain renewal averages about $18.99 per year for a .com extension, with privacy protection billed at $14.95 annually.
Hostinger is another option to consider, with reasonable domain renewal rates. Its premium shared hosting plan costs $2.59 per month with an annual commitment, which includes a free domain during that period. Domain renewal with Hostinger costs $11 annually, and Whois protection costs an additional $5 per year.