Ah, the domain name… It's one of the biggest contributors to people's first impression of your website. That short little URL can make or break your brand and determine whether people will remember you after they leave your site.

In marketing, we know that first impressions, besides offering the highest quality content and products, are everything for your brand. Whether the first impression is a true reflection of your brand, does not matter.

If people view you favorably, you will see success. If people see your brand in a negative light, it can be almost impossible to earn their trust. Your domain name is a huge part of this.

Your website can be changed. Your content can be improved. But, when it comes to your domain, you need to get it right the first time. It can be too risky and complicated to change it later.

That's why you need to follow these 11 rules for picking the best domain name for your website:


1. Only use .com domains

Think of all the top websites you go to on a regular basis. Chances are they are all .com domains. Anytime you are starting a professional website, blog, etc., you want to get a .com domain.

Don't bother with .net, .org, .us, or anything like that because it will be harder for people to remember and they don't look professional.

When you use a .net, .org or other domain besides .com, it looks like you are an amateur or just don't have the money to afford a good domain. That is never a good first impression.

On top of that, you'll notice that most sites ranking at the top of search results have .com domains as well.


2. Make it as short as possible

Go to Alexa and view the list of the top websites in the world. You will notice that most of them are only a few syllables long and are made up of 3 words or less.

It's important that your domain isn't long because you want it to be easy to remember and not have negative effects on your blog post slug (blog post links).

If you write blog posts on your website and expect to rank them, you don't want the post URLs to be so long that Google and other search engines can't even display the whole thing.

As you probably know, when you publish a post, keywords from the title are added to the end of the URL (called a slug).

SEO experts teach us to make sure the whole slug is visible in results, but if you have a root domain that is already 4 or 5 words long, that will make very hard to do so.

Avoid these headaches and just pick a shorter domain. It will make your life easier.

Plus, the top websites like Facebook, Google and Youtube all have short domains, so why not take a page from their playbook?


3. Make it easy to spell

Your domain needs to be easy to type and remember for people. You clearly don't want people to need a dictionary just to figure out how to spell your URL.

If you have a long, foreign name, don't use that as your domain. Use something else. If you have a brand that has been around a long time and isn't easy to spell, try an abbreviation.

For instance, Entrepreneur On Fire changed their URL to EOFire.com. If you like Marvel movies, S.H.I.E.L.D. is an example of how a long corporate name can be simplified.

Just because you may be able to spell your brand name, doesn't mean it's easy for anyone else.


Related: 55 Best Internet Business Ideas For 2016


4. Make your domain describe your site well

Let's go back to first impressions… When you go to a site for the first time and haven't already heard of it, usually the name of the site gives you a clue about what is offered there.

For instance, Youtube is made up of ‘You' and ‘Tube'. ‘Tube' is a word people used to use to refer to a TV and ‘You' kind of brings a social, personal aspect to the name.

So, if you haven't already heard of Youtube and you go to their site, you would not be surprised to find that it is a sort of a combination of social media and videos. This is because their name describes the service.

Your domain should have a similar effect. One quick way to run your company into the ground is to build expectations for one thing and then deliver something else entirely when people actually go to your website.


5. Make sure you can afford it

Sites like Godaddy make a lot of money by fluctuating prices based on what domains they think would be in the highest demand.

Domains that use .com are typically a little more expensive than .org or .net versions with the same exact URL name.

Domains that are short and have competitive keywords tend to be known as ‘premium domains' and are therefore more expensive.

There is a good chance you will have to pay a few hundred dollars upfront at the very least if you want a premium domain. Sometimes it can even cost a few thousand dollars.

So, make sure you can afford your domain name before spending your entire marketing budget just on that.

It may be in your best interest to come up with something similar to keywords, but unique or spelled differently to cut costs.

For example, Reddit is spelled the way it is instead of the proper ‘Readit' spelling that they could have had. This probably helped keep some startup costs down.



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6. Make sure it won't cause copyright problems

Once brands get big, they do anything they can to trademark and copyright everything. They do this to protect their company and also to keep a lid on potential competition that could rise up.

Make sure, when you are brainstorming domain names, that you search ideas and look at other sites before buying one. Don't have the same general brand name as someone else.

Also, avoid having other brand names within yours that could hint at an association with the bigger brand.

Failing to do these things could result in you spending some quality time in the courtroom listening to a boring trial that could end up costing you lots of money and forcing you to change your brand name.

Try to prevent these types of situations.


7. Don't use hyphens or numbers

If you want to really make your site look like it is owned by an amateur, slap a hyphen in the middle of it or a number at the end. No serious brands use these in their domains.

Of course, there are exceptions to including a number. 99designs does pretty well with it and spelling out '99' would be a much worse alternative to the current URL.

Other than a situation like that, you want to avoid using anything but letters in your domain name. Otherwise people will have a hard time remembering it, they won't take you seriously and search engines might not rank you as well.


8. Make sure your domain is available

My bad. I probably should have made this #1 on the list, because half of the things I've covered shouldn't be done until after you know the URL is even available.

Nevertheless, don't put too much time into considering a domain name until searching it first. If there is a website that comes up when you search it, you're probably out of luck.

If it is a page that says the domain is available or at auction, you're in luck. Just don't come up with a bunch of ideas and do a lot of research on any domain without first making sure it is even available.


9. Consider including a keyword for better SEO

I've heard that Google is shying away more and more from giving search juice to sites with exact match domains, but I've noticed that it still does work.

You shouldn't ever completely depend on exact match domains for ranking, but it never hurts as a compliment to your other SEO strategies. For this reason, you may include a keyword in your URL.

Doing this not only helps for rankings, but it can help make the purpose of your brand clear to visitors. For instance, including ‘Chicago' in your domain name will tell people in that area that you have a local business.

Brainstorm and write down the 5 ideal keyword phrases your potential customers would type the most to find you and try to use a keyword or two from those phrases in your domain name.


10. Make it memorable, unique and catchy

You don't just want new visitors to your website all the time, you want people to keep coming back. One of the best ways to do that is make your domain memorable.

Our brains work in interesting ways. Many people can remember a funny line from a movie they watched 10 years ago, but can't remember what they had for breakfast yesterday.

Why is this? It's because that funny line in the movie created an emotional connection. It was probably a line you've never heard before, it caught you off guard and you laughed till you cried when you heard it.

For breakfast you probably just had a waffle or something that is exactly like the ones you've had every week for a long time. There was nothing memorable or unique about it.

People remember your brand because of a unique emotion connection you created for them. WIth your domain, you can do this by making it catchy and unique.

Maybe it has two words that rhyme or have a funny implication. Maybe it sounds somewhat similar to another famous phrase or just sounds flat out interesting.

Either way, make your domain stick out and create an emotional connection, so it will be remembered the first time people see it.


11. Make it sound professional

If your domain gets a good laugh out of people or is quite memorable, but doesn't sound professional, you failed. People still need to know that you mean business.

I always mention to people how Tony Robbins would say that success leaves clues. I invite you to return to Alexa and look at the top websites again. Find a trend in how they sound.

What makes them seem professional? How can you add that to yours? A professional domain includes many of the things I've already mentioned:

  • Short and sweet
  • Easy to spell
  • .com at the end
  • Unique and catchy
  • Includes a keyword
  • Avoids hyphens and numbers

You should take all these things into account. Plus, should say it aloud and think what the first thought is that pops in your mind. Don't just take your word for it though, ask others what they think.

Go to friends, family, colleagues, mentors, etc., and ask them what the first thing is that comes to mind when they hear your domain name. This will tell you a lot about how good it is.


Related: 30 Ways To Make More Money Blogging Online



If you can create a domain name that is short, easy to spell, uses .com, won't cause trademark issues, has a keyword, is memorable, catchy and professional, you will have the perfect domain.

Including all of these factors when making your choice will also help keep the cost down to an affordable rate and make it more likely to be available.

Once you have that perfect domain name for your website, you're on your way to getting great first impressions and repeat visitors to your brand.


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What do you think makes the best domain name for a website?

Justin Bryant
Justin Bryant

I'm an entrepreneur, fitness freak, artist, car enthusiast, sports fan and self improvement addict. My goal is to help people be their best and create incredible businesses that change the world.

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