Choosing a domain name is an important and strategically important decision for your business.
Once you have selected the name and hosted your website it is very difficult to change it.
And you run the added risk of losing traffic and customers if you do decide, at a later stage, to make changes to the name.
So it makes sense to get it right in the beginning and spend some time doing a little research that will hopefully pay well in the future.
What is a Domain Name?
A Domain Name is an identity tag that is used by the Domain Name System (DNS).
It means that anyone can find your website once you have registered the name with the DNS and also with the search engines.
How Does The DNS Work?
The DNS system works by your computer being linked to an Internet Provider (ISP).
Once you start asking questions and need information about other websites, then your server starts talking to other DNS servers until that information can be found.
In the example shown here taken from a slideshare presentation, you can see how this looks when a searcher is looking for the Google address.
Common Questions Asked About Domain Names
There are a number of questions that most people ask in relation to domain names and in this article so I will try and cover the most common questions.
- How to Choose a Domain Name
- How Long Should A Domain Name Be?
- Where Do I Find Domain Names?
- Is There A Difference Between A Sub Domain and A Domain, For SEO Purposes?
- Can I Convert An Existing Website Onto A New Domain Name?
If you have any further queries though, on this topic please feel free to add them into the comments section below and I can answer them there.
How to Choose a Domain Name
Perhaps the hardest part of choosing a domain name is thinking up the name in the first place. The second part is finding that name and it being available for purchase.
Three of the most basic things to consider when choosing a name are to see whether;
- It is easy to remember
- It will be typed correctly into the search bar
- It can’t be mistyped and lead to a competitors site
It should also link to your business in some way or be associated with your product so that even if people don’t know your website address they could make a guess.
Or as I have shown here in the screenshot, if I mistyped a website name and for example put Google.net, then the search engine will try and show me the mistake.
How Long Should A Domain Name Be?
Domain names need to be remembered and typed correctly, and most people access the internet through mobile phones so predictive text can also become an issue.
Keep it short but effective.
The shortest domain names are one letter long such as g.cn (Google in China) and z.com is owned by GMO Internet Group. Most one letter domain names on .com are not actually available for purchase and are owned by IANA.
The average domain name length is between 6-17 characters long on .com (according to data genetics.com in 2012)
This graphs illustrates the total domain length for all .com addresses in 2012. The average is 11/12 characters.
Where Do I Find Domain Names?
Domain names can be purchased through a number of different companies such as GoDaddy.com, Namecheap.com or as I have shown here in this example through Site Domains at Siterubix.com
I can type in the name of any domain name and see what is available.
Here I have chosen ‘I need a domain name’ and the options available are shown, along with the prices for a year’s subscription.
You can read more about Site Domains and the Wealthy Affiliate platform on their own website.
Is There A Difference Between A Sub Domain and A Domain, For SEO Purposes?
A sub domain is often free to use because it belongs to another company.
For example blogpress.com or siterubix.com. These are the top level domain (TLD) names but if you build a free website with them then your domain name would be lower
This is different to having a paid and owned domain name such as
Does a sub-domain make a difference in search engine rankings?
The screenshot shown here is the first page of Google for the search term ‘Global Chocolate Blog’.
I was actually looking for an example of a sub domain and after failing I decided to see if an old subdomain site I used to have was still appearing.
It wasn’t (I had transferred it to its own domain name) but in the red box you can see a well established subdomain site ranking on the first page.
In green (and the one above) you see my site, which was only made in March of this year and has 7 posts in total, but it is ranking higher.
This will be due to a number of factors including that my domain name is also the search term, but it is an indication that higher level domain names will probably rank better with all other things being equal.
Can I Convert An Existing Website Onto A New Domain Name?
The short answer is yes – the more realistic answer is yes but it can be problematic.
The only real reason to want to do this is because you have got a better domain name.
The simplest way to do this is:
- you will need to backup the website content
- you will need to set up the new domain name on a website host
- then in WordPress you will need to upload the old site content onto the new website and domain name.
There are other more complex ways to redirect your old urls to their new location, especially if you have lots of traffic and don’t want to run the risk of losing them.
There is a more in-depth article here by Neil Patel that looks at some of the issues, but this really needs a technical understanding of redirects to be completed successfully (and needs a full post in its own right)
Choosing Domain Names – Summary
There are a number of factors to look at when considering when or if to purchase a domain name. The main things are ‘why am I doing this?’ and ‘will this improve my traffic?’
The other things to think about are;
- which name to use
- where to purchase your domain name
- whether to use a sub domain or a higher domain level
A domain name is an important marketing tool and one that you will have to live with for quite a while, so it is worth taking the time and doing some research beforehand.
Further Reading on Site Domains
There are also some other articles on this site that you may be interested in.
If you are interested in purchasing a domain name or checking their availability you can do so at this link Site Domains
I hope you enjoyed the article and please feel free to share this content on all your preferred social media pages.