Registering a domain name is quick and easy; the problem is a domain names can be chosen on a whim and be totally inappropriate for what you are promoting on your site. You may choose a nifty play on words for your domain name that to you looks really clever, but to the search engines and human visitors it may not portray exactly what your site is about. Google bots and humans will have no idea what you are promoting and it could be detrimental to your business.
If you have a huge marketing budget and want a snappy name like Zappos or Zazzle you are probably not reading this article! Neither name gives us a clue to what either of these sites is about so some heavy marketing will be involved to get “brand recognition”. For normal folks starting a small affiliate niche site, or building a site promoting their network marketing business, your budget will undoubtedly be much smaller.
The best way to start finding the best domain name for your business is by spending some time doing keyword research. If you are promoting Mary Kay products for example, a quick look at the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) after punching the name into Google tells me that you are probably not allowed to use the Mark Kay brand name in the title of your website. Each company has its rules, be sure to check first – you don’t want to get a successful site going, only to be told that you are violating their rules, you will be asked to take the site down. Just in case you are not aware of this Mary Kay Cosmetics also does business as Mark Kay Cosmetics.
For the sake of argument let’s say you are starting a site promoting your network marketing business and the main product is gardening tools. You know that GardeningTools.com was probably taken years ago, as was Gardening-Tools.com, and Best-Gardening-Tools.com, with or without dashes.
You always want to aim for a dot com name, with dot net being second choice, Google gives more credence to those extensions, although personally I think this is somewhat unfair, as Google knows all the “good” .com names were grabbed years ago.
So what now? Well, you have to be creative. By using the Google Keyword tool and sorting it on local search volume, and by checking the box that says “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms” you can work down the list of keywords returned, checking to see if the most popular search terms have been taken as domain names. Nothing comes up, we have to keep using our imagination. GardeningTools101.com is available, so is GardeningTools365.com, hence you can get your keywords!
If you use GoDaddy to register domain names, they will give you suggestions of what names are available and that may save you some time. Remember your domain name is going to be on everything you do, think about it carefully. MikesGardenTools.com has a friendly appeal, you could add your first name or initials for a little extra branding. Be sure to build a good About Me page and explain that your name is Mike – it is the beginning of building a relationship with your readers.
If you desperately want a certain name and it isn’t available, and you can invest some money, you may be lucky and find that although the name is registered, it is for sale. Just punch the name into your address bar and see what comes up. If it has a site attached to it then you may be able to save yourself a lot of time and effort for a price, depending on how desirable that name is.
If you can purchase the domain name you want, with a site already attached it can save you months of work. If the site has DMOZ listing (often takes years to get) and a Yahoo Directory listing (which costs $299) then along with backlinks and perhaps a good page rank, it may be a great deal.
Always check the history of the site to make sure it is what it says it is, and check the page rank too, unscrupulous sellers may say the site is a PR5 when in fact it isn’t. The quickest way to check is by putting the exact domain name into your address bar. The domain should be at the top of the list, if something else is there then that domain is only being redirected to a site that is a PR5. You can do most of the checking by using wayback.archive.org, SEO Quake (a plugin), and certain techniques using Google – these are all free tools.
Your domain name will be your email address, your business and your livelihood hopefully, so choose wisely, there’s no going back.
Have you ever had a bad experience with a domain name where you have chosen the wrong name? Please let us know so others can learn.