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If you are thinking about starting your own website, one of the first things you must do is to buy a domain name. So, how do you choose a good domain name? Where is the best place to buy? Also, how do you actually buy a domain name?
Here’s EVERYTHING you need to know before you commit to buying a domain name.
How To Choose A Good Domain Name
First of all, what is a good domain name?
A good domain name should meet the following criteria:
- It’s short and easy to remember
- It’s brandable
- Go with .com instead of other newer and fancier domain extensions (because people still perceive websites that ends with .com more trustworthy)
- Include keywords in your domain if possible (because it allows search engine to know what your website is all about)
- Avoid using hyphen or words that are easily misspelled
Now, how do you come up with a good domain name?
I remember I had a hard time trying to come up with a domain name for my own blog.
And here is what I found useful when it comes to picking a domain name.
Whether it is a domain name for a corporate website, an e-commerce website or a professional blog, it helps to ask yourself the following questions:
Question #1: Do you want to include keywords in your domain name?
First, what do I mean by keywords?
Keywords are words that your website’s target audience use to search for answers or solutions in your niche.
By including keywords in your domain name, it tells search engines (i.e. Google) what your website is all about. As a result, Google will probably send more free organic search traffic to you.
Another benefit is that your website visitors can easily guess what kind of content they can expect to read on your website.
If they are searching for information in your niche on Google, it could help get more people to click and go to your blog.
Now, let’s look at some examples.
Let’s say your new blog is about fitness, some of the main keywords that your audience use will be ” fitness”, “gym”, “workouts “, “muscle”, and “exercise”.
One successful fitness website is called “MuscleAndFitness”.
It is short and memorable.
On top of that, it includes two of the biggest keywords ” Muscles” and “Fitness” in the fitness niche.
If you are searching on Google for fitness tips and advice online, would you be more likely to click and read this website compared with websites such as ” GQ.com” and ” TheModestMan.com” which both appear on the same page?
Now, let’s look at another example.
Let’s say you are thinking about getting a domain name for your online store that sells workout clothes.
One very successful e-commerce store is called “GymShark”.
From the domain name itself, you can easily tell that it’s related to fitness.
It’s also short and easy to remember.
So, if you are looking to buy workout clothes on Google and this website shows up as one of the search results, my guess is that you would most likely want to check it out because it looks like a specialty store rather than a general fashion store or sports store.
Question #2: Do you want to specify your target audience in your domain name?
So, what do I mean by that?
For example, if you are starting a website that targets mothers as its main audience, do you want to include words such as “mom” or “mummy” in your domain name?
Or if your new website is about helping men become more confident, do you include words such as “men” or “guy” or “manliness” in your domain name?
Now, let’s look at some real-life examples.
There’s one popular blog about men’s interest and lifestyle with content focused on helping men become better men in all aspects of a man’s life.
And this blog is called “ArtOfManliness”.
From its domain name, you can easily tell that its target audience is men.
Now, here’s another example.
This blog that I am going to share with you is a blog that targets moms.
So, what’s its domain name?
It’s called ” The Shopping Mama”.
From its name, you can know two things about it straight away:
- It’s for moms
- It is mostly product reviews for things that mom normally buy
I actually quite like this name because it’s very easy to remember as well.
Question #3: Are you planning to build a brand for your website and your business?
Branding is important for all businesses (both online and offline).
A good brand sets you apart from your competitors and also allows you to build a big audience and a loyal fan base.
As your domain name will also be your brand name, you have to give more thoughts to the choice of your domain name.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most recognizable brands in the world right now:
What do they have in common?
- It’s very short (mostly one-word brand names)
- It’s very easy to remember by anyone
- It’s easy to pronounce
- It’s very unique
So, if you are thinking about building a brand, then it might not be a good idea to include keywords or audience-specific words in your domain name.
Is It Worth It To Buy A Domain Name?
If you are just using your website to write about your personal life and thoughts and are not planning to make money from it, then it doesn’t matter that you get a free domain name and hosting with free blogging platforms.
BUT, if you think that you might want to turn your website into a (side/full-time) business and monetize it later on, it’s best to register your own domain name and get a paid web hosting.
You own your website and have total control of it.
The last thing you want is that all the content you write on your website are gone because they decide to shut down the platform.
Also, with free blog hosting, you can only create a sub-domain name which goes something like this XYZ.WORDPRESS.COM or XYZ.BLOGGER.COM.
Does this look professional and unique to you?
Of course not.
So, to run your website like a business, you should have your own domain name and your unique identity.
This way, you can build your own brand and establish your name in your niche.
Where To Buy A Domain Name
So, you know how to choose a good domain name for your website and it’s also important to get a paid domain name.
Now, where is the best place to buy a domain name? And how much does it cost to buy a domain name?
The good news is that it’s NOT going to cost you a lot to get a domain name.
Also, it’s best that you get your domain name and web hosting from the same service provider to avoid the trouble of having to transfer your domain name from one service provider to another.
Before you buy your domain name, you must first check if the domain name is still available.
Step 1: Check Domain Name Availability
There are quite a number of domain name registrars out there, but I can only recommend based on my personal experience.
So, here are the two service providers that I’ve used and I am quite happy with both their price and also their customer service:
Step 2: Set Up Web hosting
Once you have chosen and purchased your domain name, your next step is to buy a web hosting for your domain name.
What’s web hosting?
Let me give you an analogy.
If your domain name were your home address, then your web hosting would be like your house built on the empty land at your home address.
Without web hosting, nothing will come out when you type your domain name in the address bar of your browser.
So, for your website to go online, you need to purchase web hosting.
If you are just starting out, I would recommend an affordable but reliable web hosting at first.
At the start, you won’t have a lot of traffic to your website, and won’t have a lot of content on your website.
Most importantly, you won’t be making money right from the start.
Because of these reasons, you don’t need to get the most expensive hosting plan in your first year of blogging.
An affordable yet good annual plan should suffice for your blogging needs at the beginning.
When you are choosing your web hosting, here are a few things you should consider:
- How good is their customer support? Is it fast and 24/7?
- What is the size of SSD storage being offered in their basic package? (50GB is good enough for a new blog)
- How easy is it to install WordPress theme?
- Do they offer free SSL (this is a security certificate that tells your web visitors that your website is secure) or you need to purchase it every year?
- Do they have a money-back guarantee?
I recommend two web hosting plans that I have personally used:
Bluehost is slightly more expensive because it offers FREE domain name and also FREE SSL for your websites while NameCheap will charge you for both separately.
Now, how do you set up your web hosting with Bluehost?
To get started, go to Bluehost’s home page.
Under” Hosting” at the top menu, select the “Shared Hosting”.
Then, choose “Basic” annual plan which is only $3.95/month then click “Sign Up Now.”
Next, you need to choose a domain name for your site.
If you don’t have a domain name, you can get your domain name for FREE right there in the signup process.
Then, you’ll choose which hosting package you want.
Generally, shared hosting plans are priced at 12, 24 and 36-month terms.
The longer term you get, the cheaper your monthly rate will be.
But, I recommend that you go with the 36 month Basic plan because it gives you the cheapest rate.
And later on, you have the option to upgrade to a better hosting plan if your website takes off and receives tons of traffic.
For the package extras, they are completely optional.
My website has worked pretty well without all these extras.
After you’ve chosen your hosting package, click the “Next” button to complete your purchase.
After that, you’ll be asked to create a password for your account.
Now that you are all signed up and are able to log into your account, you can get started installing WordPress and get your website live.
How Long Do You Own Your Domain Name?
Okay, you don’t permanently own your domain name.
It’s sort of like leasehold properties.
If your lease is up and you don’t renew it, then it is free for sale in the marketplace.
For your domain name, you can buy domain names in year-long increments, up to a maximum of 10 years.
If you’ve purchased your domain name for one year, you can continue to own your domain name as long as you renew it every year on time.
But, if you are going to keep the domain name for a long time, you can choose to purchase your domain name for a few years up to 10 years to avoid having to renew it every year.