How to choose a domain

Best Blog Names: How to Choose a Domain

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It’s natural AND sensible to become fixated on brainstorming the best blog names before you launch a new website project.

If you’re starting a new blog, you presumably hope that you’ll still be making a success of it in years to come. That means the likelihood is you’ll be stuck with the name you choose – for good or ill! With that in mind, and as a result of many people asking me related questions, I decided to put an article together on how to come up with the best blog names, with a focus on how to choose a domain.

After reading this article, you’ll be well-positioned to both research and choose a domain – and grab it before somebody else does…

A Word of Warning

I’m going to start with a sad reality: Many of the best domain names have already gone, purchased by either genuine webmasters or domain squatters.

This doesn’t mean you won’t find anything good, but finding the best blog names can be a slow and frustrating process. You will almost always find that several of your best ideas are off-limits because the domains have already gone. This is especially the case with desirable two-word domain names.

The best advice is to use a tool to search for inspiration, and try not to lose heart. It’s a very pleasing feeling when you finally find a domain available that you like.

Best blog names - find a domain

Does your Domain Name Need to Match your Business Name?

Ideally you should ensure your domain name matches the name of your business. As such, if you’re starting a blog, it’s best to search for a domain as part of choosing a name for the blog itself.

The “Holy Grail” is to come up with something where the domain and blog name match perfectly, AND the name reflects exactly what the site is about. Brands like Entrepreneur.com and WhatHiFi.com are clear and have “perfect” domains. (I like to think that WriteBlogEarn is rather well-focussed too!)

However, don’t be too fixated by this. Websites like ArsTechnica and The Verge have still enjoyed huge success without directly revealing what they do as part of their name. Having a clear, focussed niche is arguably more important than the name itself.

How to Choose a Domain: The Key Steps

1. Avoid Words with Ambiguous Spellings

You don’t want to miss out on traffic because people are uncertain of how to spell your domain name. Furthermore, the chances are you’ll be reading it out to MANY people over the years, so you don’t want to be continually having to spell it out.

Also, be careful to look at what your domain name looks like when it’s written out. Plenty of companies have failed to do this, including expertsexchange (Experts Exchange), penisland (Pen Island), and itscrap (IT Scrap).

2. Avoid Hyphens

There’s nothing to stop you using hyphens in a domain name, and it can sometimes feel tempting to do so if it means you can choose a name that is otherwise unavailable to you. However, it can get very tiresome explaining about the hyphen or the “dash” when sharing the address. It’s usually best to avoid this.

3. Check Trademarks

There’s no point in thinking you’ve chosen one of the best blog names in the world if all you’ve done is purchased somebody else’s trademark.

There are various ways to verify if trademarks and brand names are already in use, such as the global brand database or the UK’s trademark checker.

Doing this checking is key to how to choose a domain. Don’t skip this step, as you don’t want to do a load of work on branding and then find out you have to start again.

Registered trademark

4. Think About “Exact Match” Domains

As discussed above, it’s great if you can find a domain name that matches the kind of thing people are searching for online. This can give you a great head start with your Search Engine Optimisation. However, if you start searching for things like “best drones” or “best speakers,” you’ll soon realise how quickly these domains get snapped up.

Even so, it’s worth a try. If, for example, you’re moving into a “cutting edge” niche, you MAY find you get to the perfect-match domain first – if you’re extremely lucky.

5. Don’t WORRY About “Exact Match” Domains

If you can’t find a keyword match domain, don’t lose heart. There are plenty of sites that do perfectly well without it. It’s far better to go for “snappy and memorable” than something that clumsily squeezes in your keywords.

6. Research Other Sites

Have a good look at other sites in your niche, and at other sites with similar names. It’s generally a bad idea to choose something that’s too close to the name of a site that’s already established. All you will end up doing is confusing potential readers AND search engines.

7. Look at Other Domain Extensions

One thing that often happens when you do a domain search is that you’ll find the exact domain name you want, but with a .biz or .info extension instead of the .com.

There’s no reason NOT to use different domain extensions. Most bloggers and companies prefer to grab the .com, but increasingly webmasters are intentionally choosing alternatives like .co or .io.

The problem occurs when you grab one of these new extensions but there’s already an established company using the .com address. At best, you’ll cause confusion; At worst, you’ll end up trampling on a trademark and getting a “cease and desist” letter. Proceed with caution and check for existing domains. 

8. If you Really Want a Domain that’s Sold, Do Some Research

Just because a web hosting company tells you a domain is unavailable, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy it. If there’s no active site on the domain, you may well find it is for sale. The easiest way to find out is to visit the domain directly.

An example premium domain
An example “premium domain” for sale

Do be careful, however. Do some research into who is selling the domain. Resale companies range from “perfectly reputable” to “predatory scammers.”

9. Never Over-pay for a Domain

If you do decide to buy a resale domain, give some really serious thought to how much “premium” you are willing to pay for it. The costs of setting up a new blog are minimal, but you can quickly spend a small fortune if you get your heart set on a particular domain name.

Ask yourself how much difference that domain name will really make to the success of your site. Sometimes that “perfect” name is more of a “nice to have” than a “must have.”

10. Brainstorm with Friends and Family

One hugely important part of how to choose a domain is asking friends and family for inspiration. Some of the best blog names come out of discussions and brainstorming sessions, and you never know who might come out with something inspired and perfect for your new brand.

What Next?

Now you know how to choose a domain, here are some more useful resources.