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How to Choose The Perfect Domain Name For Your Blog or Online Business

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Updated April 26, 2024

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Choosing the perfect domain name is an exciting first step in starting your blog or business!

However, it can be a bit tricky, as you need to find a unique, memorable name that fits your brand, resonates with your audience, and is not already taken or restricted—that’s a tall order. 

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to pick a domain that will not only stand out to your ideal customers but also lay a foundation for a solid brand identity. Let’s get started…

Tips for Picking the Right Domain Name

Before I tell you how to decide on a website name and choose a great domain name for your blog or online business, there are a few things I want you to keep in mind:

Choose the Proper Domain Name Extension

.com, .org, and .net are the most trusted domain names to purchase. I would aim to find a web address with one of these extensions. A .com domain name is usually the goal. However, another .com extension, such as .org or .net, would be just as reputable.

Sites with more obscure extensions like .biz, .us, etc. tend to be less trustworthy. People are more suspicious of sharing them, and email spam filters often warn the user that the email address shouldn’t be trusted. It’s just a best practice to stay away from them. If you have to go with a domain with an alternate extension, .co would be the only one I’d seriously entertain. 

Avoid Special Characters & Hyphens

Special characters don’t look great in the URL itself and could lead to a less memorable domain name. Hyphens are a Google spam indicator. If you want to find online success, you want to make sure you are in good standing with search engines from the start.

Keep It Under 15 Characters

This is a good domain name length that is easy for most people to remember and spell correctly. A short domain name is the most ideal domain name. Avoid longer domain names and avoid using unique words that would be hard to spell. Keep it simple.

Ensure it’s appropriate when the words are smushed together

Look at how the name looks when it’s all smushed together in a URL—make sure it still looks good and is easy to read. 

Bored Panda has a great list of unintentionally inappropriate domain names if you want to see some examples. My two favorite is “Speed Of Art.” Squished together it spells “speedofart” which looks like “Speedo Fart” (#embarrassing)

Your main goal will be to make sure your target audience can easily find you. Do not make it harder on them. The best choice is the simple one. 

Ok now that you know what to look for, let’s talk about…

How to Decide on a Website Name

There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on your website address:

1. Personal name vs business name – decide which name you want to use.

You’ll need to decide whether to use a company or brand name (such as DIY Dream Site, KadenceWP, or Mom Managing Chaos) or name your blog or business after yourself and create a personal brand (like Martha Stewart or Neil Patel). 

This is a pretty big decision because it can have a lasting impact on your personal lifestyle as a business owner for the next 5, 10, or even 50 years. You should think through whether you want the business to be closely associated with you indefinitely or whether you want to build an asset that you can potentially sell in the future. 

Many successful public figures like Vera Wang, Chalene Johnson, and Walt Disney have built thriving personal brands, but it isn’t always the right choice for everyone. If you’re debating whether or not to build your blog or business with your own name, read this post: Personal Brand Vs Business Brand Name – Which Should You Choose?

Once you’ve determined whether to use your personal name or a business name, you’ll want to…

2. Define Your Brand’s Core Values, Audience & Goals

Before you buy a domain name, it’s worthwhile to define what your brand is all about. 

  • What are your core values? Core values are the fundamental beliefs and principles that guide every action and decision you make in your blog or business. Defining these early on can help you stand out from your competitors! 
  • Who are you trying to attract to your online blog/ business? Knowing your target audience is essential to reaching the right customer online. If you need some guidance on this, we wrote a post called, How To Identify Your Ideal Client in 4 Easy Steps + FREE Worksheet. This is a great resource if you’re starting a new blog or business from scratch.
  • What problems are you committed to solving? Your blog or business should exist to help people research or buy solutions to their problems. You need to define which problems are most important to your brand.
  • Who are your competitors (or niche neighbors)? It’s important to know the key players in your industry or niche. What separates you from those who offer similar solutions to your client’s problems? What gaps in the market can your blog or business fill? 

If you strategically define your brand from the start, you’ll be able to make an educated decision about the domain name you purchase.

3. Brainstorm Possible Names

After you complete the first two steps, you should be ready to start brainstorming possible domain names! You can do this yourself on paper or with the help of an AI tool, such as ChatGPT.

Word association games & mind mapping

Start with words related to your business or niche and play word association games to discover new, connected ideas. This can lead to unexpected and unique combinations.

One of my favorite ways to organize my ideas is to create a visual mind map where you write down a central concept, such as your niche topic, and branch out with associated ideas, synonyms, and phrases.

 Here’s an example to show you how you could mind map your domain name ideas:

  • Start with a core keyword. For this example, we’ll use “finance”
  • Round 1: Find direct associations, such as “Money”, “Invest”, “Budget”, “Savings”, and “Debt”
  • Round 2: Take each word from the previous step and build further associations.
  • Round 3: Try combining words from different associations to create exciting and meaningful phrases. Examples might include WealthNest, CashForecast, BondBudget, CreditPlan, etc.
  • Round 4: Alter the combined phrases by adding prefixes, suffixes, or playful twists to make them more unique and catchy. For example, WealthNestHub, CashFlowCrafter, BondBudgeter, PropertyPennyPinch, CreditClimber, etc.
  • Round 5: Lastly, I would go to a domain name generator tool and see if your name ideas are available. If the exact combination of words you want isn’t available, you may have to keep playing with the tool.

🔥TIP: Now’s a good opportunity to think about adding other relevant keywords in your domain that can aid in search engine optimization (SEO). If you do, just be cautious of over-optimization as it might look spammy.

Using AI to search for a domain name

You could also utilize AI tools, like ChatGPT, to brainstorm ideas. ChatGPT is great for exercises like this because it’s like having your own highly knowledgeable virtual assistant at your fingertips. 

Fun fact: I actually used ChatGPT to come up with the name for the website you are currently on, and I’ve used AI to help me come up with a few other domain names I own! 

ChatGPT Domain Name Generator Prompts

If you want to use ChatGPT, try these prompts. Note: Replace the brackets with details related to your business wherever you see them.

PROMPT #1

“I’m starting a new business. I will be creating a [life coaching] business that works with [female entrepreneurs]. This is a [online] business servicing clients [virtually from all over the USA]. I do [not] want to use my personal name, [I’d rather use a company or branded name].  I need help finding a business and domain name that is unique, catchy and memorable. 

  • Here are the keywords or themes I’d like my domain to reflect: [growth, empowerment, success, life balance]
  • I want my business tone and style to be: [approachable yet powerful]
  • Domain extension preference: I am [not] open to non-traditional domain names like .coach, .life, or .biz. [I only want to use domains with .com, .net, or .org.]
  • Length preference: [I prefer a shorter name, using 15 characters or less.]  
  • Here are the names or keywords I dislike and want to avoid: [femme, girl boss]
  • I need to stand out among my top competitors which are named [Made with Lemons, The Uncommon Way, Business Confidence Coaching]

Here’s another prompt that I used to purchase one of my other domains:

PROMPT #2

“I need to come up with a [cute] domain name for [an e-commerce shop] that sells [digital downloads and printables] to [women]. The site will sell [digital planners, stickers, Canva templates, and more]. The target audience is [productive women who are creative at heart and love everything to be organized]. 

  • Avoid words that are too feminine, such as [chic, femme, lady, princess, dame, oomph, artsy, posh, queen, darling, chic, and glamour. Also, avoid the word printable.] 
  • I like the name [“creative at heart”], but it’s too expensive. If possible, what domain names can we come up with that have the words [“heart-centered” “creative” or “create”]?

If you type either of these into a regular chat conversation with ChatGPT, it should generate 10 different domain name ideas. Mine tried to check the availability of each of the domain names, but it failed and told me to check a domain registrar to see if these are available. 

If you go to explore GPTs and then type “domain” into the search bar, a boatload of domain name generators and availability checker tools will appear. Click on one of these, and then paste the prompt in with your customized business information.

This should return the same results and show you whether or not the domain is available and its price. 

📌 NOTE: I don’t recommend purchasing the domain through the hyperlink provided in these AI tools. Instead, I would go to NameCheap and see if the domain is actually available. (Keep reading for a step-by-step tutorial.)

If you don’t like the suggested domains they give you, continue to talk to ChatGPT to refine your domain name ideas until you find one you really like. 

4. Check For Availability

Next, use a domain registration site (like NameCheap) to check that the domain is available for purchase at a price you’re willing to pay. 

If the exact name is taken or is way too expensive, these sites often suggest variations, so feel free to explore those additional ideas or go back to one of the previous steps to explore other name ideas.

Once you find a domain that you want to purchase, add it to your cart, but don’t complete your purchase just yet! You need to do your due diligence and make sure that you can legally use the brandable domain without infringing on someone else’s business. We’ll outline those steps next…

5. Research: Ensure The Name Isn’t In Use

You don’t want to build a brand or website that is too similar to other blogs or companies online. If you choose a name that someone else is using, you could face legal troubles, and we want to avoid this at all costs! Here are key steps to take:

Check Trademarks

This is not legal advice, but if I were you, I’d make sure your business or domain isn’t already protected under trademark law. 

A past client of mine built her business (and even operated it for a few years), and then one day, she received a cease-and-desist letter telling her she had to change her company name and domain name immediately to avoid legal action. The process was lengthy, expensive, and painful for her team and existing customers. I don’t want this to happen to you!

Start by checking your desired name against the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) in the U.S., or similar databases internationally like WIPO or EUIPO for a comprehensive look at registered trademarks. 

Search for exact matches and similar names, assessing any potential conflicts based on the similarity of the goods or services offered. If you find close matches or have doubts, consulting with a trademark attorney can offer clarity and guide your next steps. 

Additionally, don’t forget to check for unregistered common law uses by searching internet domains and social media platforms, as these can also pose risks. (We’ll talk about that in just a second.) Keeping a record of your searches will be handy for future reference and in making informed decisions about your brand’s uniqueness and legal standing.

Quick Google Search

Doing a quick Google search will also give you details about the searcher’s intent. Even if a domain name is cute or available, you may realize you don’t want your brand name showing up alongside some of the other search results.

Also, consider if the name might trigger spam filters when you’re emailing people. If you’re using a foreign word, check if it might offend anyone. 

When you do a Google search, try using variations in your keywords. For example: 

  • If your brand name is “WealthNest” and the domain is available (which it’s not by the way), you need to search “WealthNest”, and “Wealth Nest” to see what businesses use this name.
  • If you want to name your blog “Protein and Coffee” and someone else already has a brand called “Protein, Coffee, and Squats”, consider another name as this is too similar.

If you think you’ve found a winner even after searching on Google, check social media next…

Social Media Availability

I also recommend checking to see if the brand name is available on social media channels. 

Many people will own an Instagram account with a similar brand name even though they have not purchased the domain. If some usernames are taken, you can also try and find variations of the name that are easy to spell and remember..

Domain History

Investigate the history of the domain using tools like the Wayback Machine to see past website iterations. Also, check for any previous blacklisting issues (due to spamming or malware) that might affect search engine rankings.

Where to Buy Your Domain

Once you have chosen your domain name, it is time to make a purchase. 

You can purchase your domain from various domain name registrars, but I recommend buying your domain from NameCheap. 

Namecheap is a domain registrar that makes registering, hosting, and managing domains for yourself really easy. Plus, their domains are secure, affordable, easy to use, and paired with really great support. You can purchase your domain from your hosting company directly as well, but I strongly advise against that because of security concerns and future transferring headaches.

Why do I have to buy a domain? Can’t I use a free domain name instead?

Opting for a free domain name might seem appealing due to the lack of initial costs, but it’s important to consider the long-term implications for your online presence. 

Typically offered as subdomains (like yoursite.provider.com), they can significantly undermine the professionalism of your site compared to having a custom domain (yoursite.com). This could affect the credibility of your business or blog, especially if you aim to build a strong, lasting brand.

Free domains usually come with numerous restrictions that can hinder your growth and visibility online. These limitations include potential SEO challenges, as search engines might not prioritize subdomains and mandatory ads that can detract from your site’s user experience. 

For anyone serious about their online venture, investing in a custom domain is a strategic move. It not only elevates your professional image but also grants you complete control over your domain, helping you tailor your site to your needs without any compromises.

Is it ok to just purchase my domain through my website host?

I typically advise against that for safety and security reasons. If a hacker gains access to your Hosting account and your domain is on that same account, you risk losing control of both accounts. Separating your hosting and your domains, assuming that you aren’t using the same login and password for both accounts, is a great way to safeguard your company’s assets in the event of a hack. 

Another reason I like to keep these separated is to avoid transfer headaches. If you buy your domain name from your current hosting company and then decide to switch hosts, you’ll later have to transfer both the domain and the full website. If you are not tech-savvy, I’m telling you it can be very inconvenient, time-consuming, and confusing to transfer that domain name. 

If you register the domain with a separate company and decide to move host one day, you can avoid this headache altogether instead. All you would have to do is change your DNS settings to point to this new host. 

So again, my recommendation is to go with Namecheap to purchase your domain. However, if you have already purchased domains from other places, like GoDaddy in the past, and you want to make another purchase, those are acceptable.

P.S. –  If you’re curious about which hosting, read this post: How To Choose The Best WordPress Web Host 

How to Purchase Your Domain Name from NameCheap

It is pretty simple to purchase your domain name from Namecheap. Here are ten easy steps that will get you there:

  1. Start by visiting Namecheap.com and entering your desired domain name in the search bar. For example, if you want to secure “DIY Dream website,” type it in and click search to see available options.
  2. Review the search results and select the desired domain extension (e.g., .com, .net, .org). Avoid selecting variations like “DIY Dream web Dot site” unless desired.
  3. Once you’ve chosen your domain, click “Add to Cart.” Avoid selecting additional options unless necessary. Namecheap will automatically secure your SSL, and you don’t need WordPress hosting from them if you plan to choose a different host later.
  4. Consider adding other domain extensions, such as .net and .org, to your cart to prevent others from using similar names in the future.
  5. Proceed to checkout. Choose your desired renewal duration (e.g., one year) and toggle on auto-renew to ensure your domain doesn’t expire.
  6. Consider enabling domain privacy to hide personal information from the public WHOIS database. This prevents your address and phone number from being visible.
  7. Review any upsell options, then click “Confirm Order” to proceed.
  8. Log in to your Namecheap account or create one if you haven’t already. Review your order details and ensure your payment method is connected.
  9. Click “Pay Now” to process your order. Once confirmed, you’ll receive a summary of your purchase, including payment details.
  10. You’ve successfully purchased your domain from Namecheap! Next, you’ll need to set up your DNS, but for now, you’ve completed the domain purchase process.

Wrapping It Up

We hope this guide helps you confidently select the ideal domain name; it’s a crucial step in establishing your online presence. Your domain name sets the tone for your brand’s identity and impact online. Take your time, apply the tips we’ve discussed, and explore creatively. Remember, the perfect domain name is out there, ready to enhance your brand’s success. If you need further guidance, feel free to revisit this guide or reach out. Happy domain hunting!

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About the Author

Katy Boykin is a WordPress website designer, marketing strategist and CEO of DIY Dream Site. She and her team have helped hundreds of business owners launch scroll-stopping websites, rank on the first page of Google for targeted keywords, grow engaged email lists on autopilot, create digital products that sell like hotcakes, and book dream clients! Want to create these same results? Shop now or hire us.