Figuring out how to choose a domain name for your blog is never an easy task at the best of times.
According to Business Wire, there are some 366.8 million domain names already in existence. And it makes it somewhat tricky to find a domain that’s not only suitable but, most importantly, actually available.
Even if you come up with a completely unique name that nobody has ever thought of before, with a reported 1,500+ Top Level Domains (TLDs) currently in existence and almost 2,000 more being considered as of January 2022, picking which, extension to use can turn what should be a straightforward process into something of a major headache.
If that’s a problem you’re currently facing, this guide is the one for you.
Over the last several years, I’ve successfully built up a multi-million-dollar content website portfolio. And I found that having the right domain name for my blogs plays a significant factor in how well each of my new sites does.
Below, I’m going to share with you exactly what I’ve learned about how to choose a domain name that offers you the best chance of succeeding when starting a new blog.
First, though, there’s one fundamental question that we need to clear up:
What is a Domain Name?
In the most basic sense, your domain name is the name that people type into their web browsers to visit your blog or website.
For example, typeForrestWebber.com into your browser – it tells the browser to come to this website.
Type Amazon.ca into your browser, and you get the Canadian version of Amazon.
Type whitehouse.gov and, yes, you guessed it, your browser will direct you to the Whitehouse website.
ForrestWebber.com, Amazon.ca, and Whitehouse.gov are all examples of different domain names comprised of two key components:
1. The Second-Level Domain
Your Second-Level Domain (SLD) is the part that makes your website unique.
To use the examples above, ForrestWebber is my SLD, which separates my website from the millions of others out there. It’s the part that ensures when you type in my domain name, your web browser sends you here rather than Amazon or the White House.
With a few exceptions, which I’ll get to shortly, you can use pretty much any word or combination of words you like for your SLD as long as somebody hasn’t already used the exact same words with the exact same Top-Level Domain that you want.
Speaking of which…
2. The Top-Level Domain
The second part of a standard domain name is the Top-Level Domain, often shortened to just TLD or simply known as an extension.
The TLD is the characters that come at the end of your domain name.
To refer back to the examples I gave you above, .com, .ca, and .gov are all examples of Top-Level Domains, though as I’ve already mentioned, there are well over a thousand that you could potentially choose from.
Other popular TLDs that you might be familiar with include .org, .net, and .edu, though .com is by far the most popular, accounting for a whopping 54% of all registered domain names currently on the Internet.
You might also encounter a three-part domain name such as
forrestwebber.wordpress.com or blog.wpx.net, the blog part of WPX Hosting’s website.
Reading these domains from right to left, you’ve got your TLDs (.com, .net), your SLDs (ForrestWebber, WPX), and then at the front, another domain known as the sub-domain.
Although using a subdomain will make your overall domain name longer. It becomes difficult to remember and, therefore, not always advisable. However, there may be two occasions when you do want to use them:
- When you’re integrating a blog into an existing website (see the blog.wpx.net example above).
- When you’re running your blog on a free service (forrestwebber.wordpress.com, for example, or john.wix.com).
With that being said, I’m going to focus on the two-part domain names (website.com, etc.). The two-part domain is not only the most popular but, thanks to the ability to keep them quite short, much better for creating a memorable, recognizable name and brand for your new blog.
How to Choose a Domain Name For Your Blog?
Now that we’re clear about exactly what a domain name is, it’s time to choose one and get it registered, a process that may require a little more thought and attention than it might seem at first.
To successfully choose a domain name that’s going to help you achieve success with your blog, you may find it helpful to carry out the following six-step process.
1. Remember Your Niche
Unless you’re opting to use your own name as your blog domain, the niche you’re in is going to heavily influence the domain name that you choose.
After all, choosing bookloversworld.com for your domain name when your blog is all about growing your own vegetables is only going to confuse people to the point that they leave your website and never return.
If you haven’t reached this part of the process yet, I wrote a guide on how to choose a blog niche to help you out.
2. Chose a Blog Name
It might sound fairly obvious to some, but you can’t choose a domain name if you don’t know what your actual blog is going to be called, as it’s this name that will typically become your second-level domain.
At this stage, it’s important to point out that I don’t want you to actually come up with that SLD just yet, as there are still a few things we need to talk about in that regard. So instead, I just want you to focus on the name by which most people will know your blog, the name they’ll ultimately use when talking about your website.
For example, you’ll find that when talking about the popular satirical news website, people will say The Onion rather than TheOnion.com, or how they’ll talk about having read a cool article on Mashable rather than Mashable.com
Choosing a name for your blog is an important process in its own right and one that deserves a lot more attention than I can give it in today’s guide. Don’t worry, though if you don’t already know what to call your blog. I wrote this guide on choosing a blog name and even included 110 blog name ideas you can use.
3. Chose a Second-Level Domain
Now that you’ve got a name for your blog, it’s time to turn that name into your SLD.
At this point, you need to know what you can and can’t include.
Your second-level domain can only include letters, numbers, hyphens, and acute accent characters such as á, é, í, ó, and ú.
You can’t start your domain with a hyphen, and you can’t use spaces, the latter rule creating an interesting conundrum for bloggers whose blog name consists of more than one word.
Do you combine all of your words together to make one word in the same way that long-standing tech blog How-To Geek makes their SLD HowToGeek, or do you opt for a hyphen in the way that www.merriam-webster.com.
In the majority of cases, it’s usually better to take the How-To-Geek approach and combine all of your words into one single word for your SLD. And it’s much easier for people to remember when it comes to typing your domain into their web browser.
Think about it, if a user forgets to type in the hyphen or puts it in the wrong place, they’re going to end up in a completely different destination than your website.
There is, of course, one big exception to this rule, and it’s about putting the words of your blog name together. Without anything separating them would make them read like something else entirely.
Think about some of the famously unfortunate domain names we’ve seen in the past, such as penisland.com, speedofart.com, and powergenitalia.com, all of whom could have benefited from adding a few hyphens to create pen-island.com, speed-of-art.com, and Powergen-Italia.com.
4. SLD Character Lengths
If you’re curious, the minimum number of characters you can have in an SLD domain name is 2.
OK, so it’s technically 1, but since all 1 character domain names have already been reserved, you shall have to start at 2.
The maximum number of characters you can have in an SLD is 63, though I really wouldn’t advise you to go that long.
Again, the whole point here is that your domain is easy for people to remember so that they’ll have no problems when it comes to visiting your website.
Let’s be honest:
If somebody has to remember a 63 character name just to visit you, they’re probably not going to bother, unless they’re really desperate for what you have to offer.
To sum up, this section then keeps your domain name short, simple, and easy to remember, while also paying attention to exactly how your blog name reads as a second-level domain.
If you’re not sure, share your SLD idea with a few friends and ask them what they read when they see it to ensure that your new blog isn’t going to become the next speedofart.com.
5. Make a Reserves / Alternatives List
So, you’ve come up with what you’re convinced is the perfect SLD for your domain name. But, that doesn’t mean you should necessarily disregard any other ideas you’ve ever had.
As I’ll discuss in more detail later, there’s always the chance that the exact domain name you want isn’t available.
Should that happen (and hopefully it won’t), having a list of alternative second-level domains you could potentially use will save you from having to go back to the drawing board; and start the whole process over again.
6. Choose Your Top-Level Domain
So, that’s the first part of your domain name taken care of; now it’s time to tackle the second part, the TLD.
Wherever possible, it normally always makes sense to opt for a dot com domain first.
As I’ve said many times before, .com is the most popular and widely-known TLD out there.
Indeed, these days, companies like Amazon.com, Google.com, and Facebook.com are so prevalent that for most general Internet users, dot com is the first -and possibly only- domain extension they know.
As such, you shouldn’t be too surprised if someone who knows your blog name automatically types yourblogname.com without even thinking about it or checking it’s right first. ‘Dot coms’ are simply so prevalent that they assume your website address is going to end in one.
Even if you decide to use a different type of domain, snapping up the dot com first is generally a good idea. It stops someone else’s website from picking up traffic that was meant for your blog, all because somebody assumed yours ended in .com.
That’s not to say that .coms are the only TLDs worth considering.
Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) such as .co.uk, .ca, .au etc. are exactly what they sound like:
Domain names that tell a user a website informs search engines and users the country or region your blog is based in and therefore, in which part of the world users will find your content most relevant.
7. Check Your Domain is Available
OK, so now it’s crunch time – is your domain name actually available?
To find that out, you can go to any domain name registrar (a company that sells domain names) or a web hosting company that also offers domains such as Bluehost. And type in both parts of your preferred domain (the SLD and TLD).
If that domain name is free, you’re good to go and can snap it up. If it isn’t, your registrar is likely to recommend alternatives by suggesting that you make minor tweaks to the SLD, the TLD, or both.
For example, you might find that gardeningclub.com is taken, but your registrar tells you that books.co.uk is available or that you could buy gardeningleague.com or gardeningclub.info.
If this happens, you can use one of those, or, of course, you’ll have your own reserve/alternative list to fall back on.
Keep in mind that if a .com is taken, but another extension is available; it’s rarely such a good idea to register that alternative extension and use it exclusively for your blog. Especially if the .com website already has a well-established reputation. As once again, this means that some users who want to get to your site will probably find themselves elsewhere instead.
With those six steps complete, you’ll have successfully come up with a blog domain name that’s memorable, effective, and helps you to build a strong identity for your brand.
Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing a Domain Name
Q1. Domain name vs. URL: What’s the difference?
Ans. A domain name is the name of your website that people remember, such as yourname.com, whereas a URL is a complete web address that includes your domain name plus other essentials such as protocols (HTTP, HTTPS), and the file path of a specific file or folder on your website (yourname.com/blog/post-1, etc.)
Q2. Can I use swear words in a domain name?
Ans. Technically you can, but that doesn’t mean you should. Think about it – who will want to share your content with their family if your domain has a great big F-Bomb right in the middle of it?
Q3. Should I use my own name for my blog?
Ans. If you already have an established reputation in your industry and know that people will want to read the content you create because it comes from an authoritative voice, then, by all means, use your own name. If you’re not already a voice of authority in your industry, you might find it harder to develop a brand reputation than if you went with a unique name.
Choosing a Domain Name for Your Blog: A Final Piece of Advice
By now, I hope I’ve told you everything you could need to know to choose the perfect domain name for your blog, but if I could leave you with one final piece of advice today, it would be to simply reiterate what I’ve been saying all along in this guide:
Keep it simple.
Wherever you can, avoid anything that’s going to cause confusion or create a hurdle that your visitors will have to jump through to remember your website.
Text speak is one thing you should avoid where possible. Can you imagine how frustrating it’s going to be if every time you tell people to check out doggroomtips4u.com, you have to tell them that it’s the number 4 and the letter U rather than the words “for you.”
Likewise, steer away from using SLDs where the end of one word and the beginning of the next have the same letter.
If you wanted to call your website Press Shop, your domain name might be pressshop.com. All it takes is for a user to accidentally omit one of those three S characters in the middle for them to end up anywhere other than your site.
Follow these tips, and by the time you’re done, you’ll have an effective website domain that’s going to serve you well in setting you up for long-term blogging success.