How to Choose a Domain Name in 8 Easy Steps
So you're ready to start a website... good for you!
If you're like most people, you're already thinking of domain names.
It's easy right??? Just pick a domain and if it's available, buy it before someone else buys your great domain name.
Hold on there sparky.... let's do this right from the beginning.
What???? You mean to tell me that there's a right and wrong way to select a domain name?
Yup! Absolutely! Yes! You betcha!
So how to choose a domain name for a website the right way, you ask???
I'm going to show you the steps that I take.
Here's the deal...
They're easy and simple to follow. But miss one step and you could have a horror story like I had.
Why Selecting a Domain Name the Right Way is Important: My Horror Story
I was all excited. I had picked an awesome niche to build my future million dollar website two years ago.
I went to GoDaddy and entered my perfect domain name to see if it's available.
Oh my god!!! It's available and for only $7.99.
I just have to have it. I hurry to buy it before someone else does in the next few minutes.
After hurrying through the ordering process, I let out a loud roar of happiness when it's mine. All mine!!!
Over the next few months, the site is built to perfection. I'm talking about the best WordPress theme available, I pay over $200 for it.
I buy over $1,000 worth of articles. I spend countless hours editing the articles.
Then I spend another $500 on the perfect photos for the site.
I even get some awesome opt-in software.
This site is gonna earn me some MONEY!!!!
It's up and running. Links are built to it. And not just any links, I'm talking about some awesome quality contextual guest posts and PBN's baby!
But alas, my rankings are not improving. Hardly any visitors too. And you guessed it, no money either! 🙁
So what's going on, it's been about 10 months and nothing.
All of my hard work, and a ton of money on the best of the best tools and links and nothing. NOTHING!!!!
After reading some articles on why websites loose their rankings, I come to a revelation.
Websites can loose their rankings and even be blacklisted by Google for unfair SEO practices and email practices.
Is it possible that the perfect domain I bought was spammed? Or even blacklisted?
I'm afraid to research my million dollar domain, but I gotta do it. Why can't my perfect site rank and show me the money????
This is crazy....
I do some digging and to my astonishment, someone had my domain before me. Actually, quite a few people had my perfect domain name before me.
And they spammed it!!! They not only spammed it, it changed niches all the way to some x-rated stuff!!! It even changed languages from English to Chinese (at least that's what I think it is 😉 )!!!
My perfect domain name was ruined by people before me. How dare they!?!?!?!
I tried disavowing the links, but to no avail.
I bought services to 'clean' my backlink profile. A total waste of more money.
Coming to realization that my million dollar website dream is dead, actually that it was never alive with that so called 'perfect domain name' that I picked was devastating.
And to think back and remember that I was so excited to get it. Worst decision I made with that website, I rushed into it just because it was available to buy.
I've since changed the way I buy domain names. It's all to prevent this catastrophe from happening again.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been deep-diving into building a niche website that will be monetized primarily through the Amazon Associates affiliate program. I’ve been pretty excited, as this is my first attempt at a site that will be monetized primarily by promoting Amazon products. What had me even more excited is that the particular set of keywords that I am working with for this site are collectively some of the lowest in competition that I’ve ever found! I knew before I even started this site that I would be able to rank on the first page of Google pretty easily for many of the secondary keywords – and without building any backlinks! To give you an idea of how ridiculously low the competition is for these keywords, I’ve shared the stats for some of my top keywords in a chart below… So, imagine my dismay when I figured out that my site wasn’t ranking because I had chosen a bad domain!
How to Choose a Domain Name for a Website
You just don't want to jump in a get a domain without thinking things through.
Following a methodical process will help propel you towards achieving your goals than just throwing mud at the wall to see what sticks.
Although this may seem trivial, it does set up a solid foundation that your website (and future income) will be built upon.
Setting a bad or faulty foundation will lead to continuous structural problems with your site and decrease your earning potential.
So take the little bit of time and do it right the first time instead of having to go back and fix the little mistakes that cost you big time.
So here's the 8 easy steps to pick a domain name.
And if you're totally new to building websites, here's a great resource to learn what domain names are and what they do...
A domain name is how your website will be known online, no matter what type of website you'll have. It is the unique address of your site on the internet and it will be yours as long as you continue paying the annual fee ($10 - $15 for .com domain). Users who know your domain, technically referred to as a URL (uniform resource locator) can simply type it in their browser's address bar, and be taken there. Others will be able to discover your blog through search engines such as Google and Bing.
1. Have a Niche Selected
Selecting a domain domain for a blog before you've selected a niche is like putting the cart before the horse.
It just doesn't work.
Having a niche will help you generate ideas of names.
Picking a name like www.maclearning.org for a travel site may not be a good fit.
However, it may be a good fit for teaching people how to use apple products.
See the connection there?
The domain name should relate somehow to your niche.
Another aspect you can take with the name is to name it after yourself.
Tony Robbins is a prime example of the use of your personal name for your domain name - tonyrobbins.com . But its gotta fit the purpose of the website.
I really don't think I need to beat this step to death, it's pretty straightforward.
Once you know what niche your website is going to be in, you can then start going to the next step.
The guys over at Authority Hacker have an in depth podcast on how to choose the perfect domain name. Click the image below to hear it, highly recommended!
2. Brainstorm Domain Name Ideas
So now that you've got your niche selected, it's time to start brainstorming domain name ideas.
But how do you do this step?
You can have some fun with the words and the meaning of them. Then ensure that it relates to your niche or goal of your site.
Take for example, this site: AuthorityGrinder.com
The first word in the domain means that I work on authority sites and not the old style micro niche sites.
Grinder, the second word, implies that I grind (or work hard at) building my sites.
Hence... AuthorityGrinder was born.
If you're having problems brainstorming of ideas, you can try some of these sites that help in this process.
Name Boy is a domain name generator that combines your primary word with an optional secondary word.
You can allow hyphens or not (I don't like using them personally).
You can even make the words rhyme if you want, kinda cool and different.
Bust A Name is another site that can help.
If you're still having trouble coming up with some names, HostingFacts.com came up with a list of the 15 best domain name generators.
Sometimes I'll just jot down some ideas with the main word on a piece of paper. Then I ask my wife and daughter to come up with some names from it.
My daughter has come up with quite a few good names that I actually use and they work believe it or not! I guess because of her young age it relates to her generation.
On the other hand, my wife comes up with some very unusual names. I haven't used any except for one. It's a spin off of the company Apple. Something you wouldn't think of but you can't forget.
Have some fun with a name. Make it unique where people can remember it if that's needed for your niche.
Make it short so it's easy to type in as well as remember.
Exact Match Domains (EMD) used to be the rage several years ago. Google used to give preference for the exact keyword match in the domain url, but not any more.
Others say it can make a good impact for an affiliate site. But Google can penalize you for over optimization, or so I heard.
Either way, an exact name URL can be trouble. If you're going to build a site for the long term (which is what I recommend), then go for an authority name and not an EMD.
Once you've come up with a list of some potential domain names, time to move on to step 3.
I no longer even care if an exact match domain is available. And starting last year, I no longer even try to have my keywords in my domain.
You may have heard of the exact match domain algorithm update back in October 2012. This was essentially a change by Google to remove some of that bonus/boost the EMDs used to get. In my opinion, it wasn’t a penalty, but simply making it more of an even playing field for all domains.
I had already been using partial match domains long before the EMD update anyway.
3. Is the Domain Available or Not?
If you're using the domain name generators to find a website name, most of them will only generate names that are available making this step complete.
If not, I usually go to GoDaddy (or any other domain name registrar) and enter them in to see if a domain name is avaiable.
Let's try MacBook.com.
Nope, taken already. Let's try another one.
Lets go with MacLearning.org...
Yup, it's available and it's actually in an auction stage. This means it goes to the highest bidder. We'll keep this one on our list to check further for now.
Let's try another website name - MacAmbition.com
Yup, it's available and not through an auction. We could buy it right now for only $2.99. But we're going to add it to our list to check further, remember my horror story?
Let's try another one... AragonFire.com
Yup, it's available too and for the same cost. We'll add it to our list.
Okay, we've tried four website domain names and got three to work with. Remember one was already taken.
4. How to Research a Domain Name History Before Buying a Dud!
We're on to the next step ladies and gentlemen.
This one you can use free tools or you can use your paid tools. Whoo Hoo!!!
Learning how to research a domain name history before buying is crucial. And it can be done pretty effectively with these free tools that I mention. Of course you don't have to use these tools, just use something before buying.
But for the common website builder out there, we like to do stuff like this with little or no cost. We're limited on funds...
You don't have to do this portion in any particular order, but I'll show you the order I like to do them in.
Starting with WhoIsRequest.com, I like to check the domain names history.
All you have to do is enter the domain you're interested in and it'll do the rest. It lets you do 5 free searches a day, or you can upgrade to the paid version. I like FREE, so five a day is what I get.
We'll start with MacLearning.org.
Okay... According to the domain history checker, MacLearning.org was first created in 2003 and since then has had only 5 changes in the last 12 years. And not a single drop, not too bad at all!
Let's now try MacAmbition.com...
Wow... no recordings at all. This usually means that this website domain name hasn't been used at all.
Let's try our last one... AragonFire.com
Oh boy.... 13 changes and 4 drops over the past 12 years starting in 2004. This is throwing up red flags for me.
Typically a drop means that the owner let the domain expire. We'll have to keep a close eye on this one.
5. How to Determine a Domain Names Power and Not Get a Flame Out!
Now let's go over to Moz and see what they metrics are for each. This will be part one of the the step on how to determine a domain name power.
And yes, this is FREE from moz... but they let you search for 5 a day and then your timed out. Unless you have the paid version, which I don't. (Can't afford it).
Click on the upper right link that says "Free Tools."
Then click on "Open Site Explorer."
To keep everyone on the same page, I'll continue to use the same domain names and in the same order. So let's go to MacLearning.org. Simply enter it into the URL and click 'search.'
And this is the report we get.
Domain authority of 40 and page authority of 37, very good metrics!
Now let's take a look at MacAmbition.com...
Domain authority of 1 and page authority of 1. Just realize that Moz doesn't give ratings of 0, so the minimum is a 1 rating.
And lastly let's look at AragonFire.com...
Domain authority of 11 and page authority of 1. Not bad but not great either.
However, with some domain authority already built, starting a website with this domain name with the limited research so far may help bypass or shorten the amount of time in Google's Sandbox.
But, we must go on to the next portion of researching a domain name before we jump to any conclusion.
6. How to Research a Domain Name Backlink Profile and Not Get Shafted!
The next FREE tool we're going to use is Majestic. You're going to learn how to research a domain name backlink profile. This ties into the previous step, the power of the domain.
They let you use up to 5 searches for free, or you can upgrade to the paid version. I use the free version (Can't afford it).
We'll start with MacLearning.org again....
Trust flow of 23 and citation flow of 14, very good metrics.
In the free report, it'll also show some more stuff.
Here's the number of links and referring domain data.
Some people get excited over the number of external backlinks (1,734 for MacLearning.org). Google used to give power to the amount of backlinks, but they now prefer the number of referring domains.
And this one has 75, pretty darn good if I say so myself. And look, they have 17 .edu backlinks from 7 educational referring domains. Very good links!
Next is the backlink breakdown chart. A few links deleted recently, but not too concerning. Some decent amount of NoFollow links too. A lot of TextLinks as well.
Here's the Anchor Text chart. A good percentage of Other Anchor Text and nothing that really stands out as red flags. A good backlink profile.
You can also see the Pages report, although limited to 5. You can see that the main URL of http://maclearning.org/ has a Trust Flow of 37 and a Citation Flow of 32. I'd use this as the main domain name and not the www. due to the lower metrics.
Moving on to MacAmbition.com....
There's no data for MacAmbition.com. Not that it's a bad thing....
It just means your starting at the bottom of the Majestic metrics with this domain.
Now let's move on to AragonFire.com...
Trust flow is 6 and citation flow is 10. Not too bad, it's definitely better than starting at zero for each.
The Backlink Breakdown doesn't look to bad either. A few deleted recently, looks like all Follow links, and all TextLinks too.
A good high percentage of mixes Anchor Text. But wait....
Take a look at some of the anchor text. Is this what you'd want in your backlink profile??? I don't. Serious red flags raised with this information, because Google doesn't care for it.
Looking at the Pages breakdown, if (A BIG IF) I were to use this domain, I'd go with the www. prefix because of the metrics for it. You'd rank quicker.
Whenever purchasing a website or an expired domain there are a lot of risks that need to be considered. One of the biggest is the exposure to a Google Penalty based on the sites backlink profile (penguin or manual un-natural link penalty).
In this article I will show you the 9 common kinds of backlink SPAM and how to quickly spot them.
7. How to Find Out a Domain Names Old Content and Not Get Caught With Your Pants Down!
I always recommend using at least two tools to check out a domain names content. One might miss something and it only takes a few minutes to use another tool. Well worth the time and effort.
So let's discover how to find out a domain names old content. If only we could go back in time like in Back to the Future movie.... But we can!!!!
The next FREE tool that I like to use is Screenshots.com.
You can see the previous site's pages even though the domain is not being used. Pretty cool research tool 🙂
Simply enter the domain name and off you go.
Let's see what MacLearning looked like...
Looks pretty good... a legit website. This is good because if you were to use this domain, Google would actually let you rank pretty quickly. Especially if you were to use it in an educational niche.
Okay, let's move on to MacAmbition.com and see if there's any previous screen shots...
No results. Looks like my initial assumption that this is a brand new domain is holding true.
I wonder what AragonFire.com looks like with those previous dubious backlinks that we found....
I just don't depend on Screenshots alone. I've learned that it doesn't capture or have capabilities to retrieve old versions of the sites.
ALWAYS double check with another FREE tool called the WayBack Machine.
Just enter the domain that you're considering getting and it does all the work.
Keeping with MacLearning, let's take a look shall we?
That's the initial page that will be generated if they got any history.
You can click on any of the dates that are highlighted with grey circles to see what a page looked like on that particular date.
You can also use the timeline above the calendar to select a date as well. Here's a screen shot of MacLearning.org on May 4, 2012:
Looks like a 'clean' history. I just don't look at one page, I'll look at various pages throughout the lifespan of the domain.
Moving on to MacAmbition.com, here's what it looks like...
And lastly, AragonFire.com...
This page looks good... it appears to have been a site for a Fire Department. But lets look at some more pages with that backlink profile we found with Majestic because it's a serious concern.
A HUGE RED FLAG....
And it's the nail in the coffin for this domain name for me. Seeing the change from a Fire Department site in English to a foreign language (possibly Chinese as I do not read this language), tells me it's been used for black hat purposes.
And because of it, Google won't let this out of any Sandbox or anything else for the matter. This domain is just like my horror story I told you about.
8. How to Decide on a Domain Name to Pick that's NOT a Total Failure
We're left with two domain to choose from. So how to decide on which domain name to pick? Let's discuss the two options we have to give some more insight.
One is the MacLearning.org which already has some 'domain power.'
The other is MacAmbition.com which is a brand new domain.
If you can win the auction and probably pay around $150 for MacLearning.org, it'll give you a huge advantage in ranking quicker than starting with MacAmbition.com. In other words, you'd avoid the dreaded Google Sandbox.
This is because the domain is older, has some good metrics from Moz, the link profile from Majestic is clean, and there's no obvious black hat use.
If money is very limited and you don't mind taking some time to build up a domain name from the starting point, MacAmbition.com is good to go.
I would NOT consider AragonFire.com no matter the circumstances. Totally out of the question.
So it really comes down to the amount of money and how fast you want to start ranking.
Just keep in mind that if you go with MacLearning.org, there's no guarantee that those links will remain. Besides, someone may be already mining it for Broken Back Links! 😉
Here's some highly recommended resources on finding expired domain names. These guys can explain it better than me, so I won't even attempt to try to. ;)
When you purchase a fresh new domain, you have to go through the usual process of waiting to be indexed, building a few links, and all the other stuff that comes along with it. And it makes sense. There's no history at all on your fresh domain.
The way to bypass Google’s sandbox for new sites is simply to NOT use a new domain. This idea is actually not new. People have been putting up new sites on expired domains for awhile now with mixed results.
Are you taking full advantage of expired domains at the moment?
Imagine being able to buy a domain that already has an awesome backlink profile and existing targeted traffic for the same price as a brand new domain.
You can use expired domains to build out a new authority site to slingshot past the competition easily or use them to build out a power private blog network.
In this, the very first video on Cloud Income, I show how to find expired domains using ExpiredDomains.net (free), and reveal 3 domains I recently picked up using this very technique.
Using this process, I have managed to find some nice domains to build into niche sites and/or PBN sites.
Okay, this post is getting somewhat long and it's time to wrap it up.
You can use paid tools, like Moz and Majestic, to get more information. I just wanted to show an inexpensive way to check a domain names complete history before spending any money on it.
Well, I hope you enjoyed learning the method that I use on how to choose a domain name for a website to make money.
There's a lot of options on choosing a domain name and the process that goes into it. Free and paid tools, new and expired domains, and sandbox vs. not. Whichever method you choose, just make sure you're comfortable with it.
So what do you think???? Did I miss anything or do you use any other FREE tools to check domain names before buying? Let me know in the comments.
Here's some additional resources to help you choose a domain name for your website that I highly recommend checking out...
Put some thought into choosing a domain name. The goal of the tips below is not to meet every criteria (that would be impossible), but to give you some guidelines to consider in the process. And then I’ll tell you where to register your domain.
When you're choosing a domain name for your niche site, or any website, it seems like a pretty permanent decision. I mean, you pay for the domain by the year and you can even pay years in advance.
You want to have a name that:
- Embodies your brand
- Overall message
- And so on
That’s a LOT of pressure! Here are some tips to help you find a great domain name for your niche site.
I get so happy when I find a good domain, but man, I can get so stressed and frustrated if I don't find anything good within a few hours.
Over time I have learned a few tricks which I use every time I need to find a perfect domain for my new websites. Today I am sharing all of those tricks with you.