July 3, 2017 Creating the Perfect Domain Name and Hosting it Online
One of the biggest decision you’ll make with your website is the name of your domain. The domain is where your site will live on the internet and how it will be found by people searching on Google. When you first come up with that “perfect” name you’ll most likely find that it has already been taken by someone else. Sometimes you can buy the name you desperately want through a third party service, but you’ll pay hundreds or even thousands more than if you pick an original name. To help you come up with an available name you’ll love for your website, here’s a few tips!
.Com is Still King
You’ll see when searching for names that there are now countless extensions, everything from the traditional .com and .net to newer ones like .store and .life. However, you should really do everything you can to find a name with the .com available. This will rank higher in search results and also looks more legitimate to customers. Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable handing my credit card over to a shady website that ends with .lol or .shopping. There are of course exceptions, as some tech startups are using different domain extensions like .io to get the name they want, but as a general rule it is always preferable to get the .com extension.
Online Tools to Help Your Search
Almost every common one word domain is taken, but there are several tools to help you be creative in generating similar names that are available. One of my favorite links is Name Mesh, where you can type in a type of name you are looking for and it will search the internet for alternatives that are available. For example, searching for “Salty Collective” will show that the .com is taken, but Name Mesh shows other available similar options. I would focus on domains ending in .com that are easy to spell instead of variations of words, so check the “Similar” and “SEO” results from Name Mesh first. Other good online domain name generators include Panabee and Dot-o-mator.
Keep It Simple
For a new company, word of mouth will be one of the biggest ways your new website will get around. However, it doesn’t help if people can’t spell the name of your website, either because it is too long or has a weird variation. While changing letters around may look unique, such as switching “i” and “y” for “slyde” instead of “slide”, it will make it much harder for people to find your website when searching for it. As a general rule you want a person to be able to type in the correct domain in a couple tries, so it’s best to keep the original spelling of the words in your name.
Target your Audience
Depending on your audience, another way to boost your keyword rankings is to be as descriptive as possible in your domain name. While WebDesign.com is obviously taken, LAWebDesigns.com might not be if you want to focus on customers in Los Angeles. Having the title of what you do in your name will help it rank higher on search results and can be an easy way to generate traffic.
Remember Other Social Channels
Even if you get the perfect domain name, it doesn’t mean you should jump on it right away. Your website is only one of your outlets to attract customers, as you will most likely want to secure your name on other social media channels as well, particularly Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. A great resource to check all the major social media channels for name available with a single search is Name Checkr. You can type in your ideal name and it searches all the social media channels, quickly showing where the name is available and where it is taken. It is not the end of the world if your name is already taken on one or two major sites, as you can get creative by adding a “the” or an underscore, but if it’s taken almost everywhere it might be worth coming up with a different name that is more readily available.
Buying and Hosting Your New Domain
Once you have finally settled on your name, it’s time to buy the domain and get it ready for your website! There are two parts to this process, which is 1) Buying the domain and 2) Hosting the domain. Buying the domain simply reserves your website name so no one else can use it, while hosting is where you pay for a company to “host” your website and where you website will live online so other people can visit. You can buy the domain and hosting through the same provider, or you can buy your domain with one company and use another to host it. I recommend purchasing the domain and hosting together, since it makes managing your website easier when everything is in one place.
I’ve use a few different hosting providers and have had consistently the best results with SiteGround. They are very competitively priced, have had great reliability, and the customer support is extremely helpful and fast. For a new website I recommend their GrowBig package, which is only $5.95/month for the first year. You can also buy your domain through SiteGround when signing up for hosting for an additional $14.95/year, which is a similar price as other domain name providers. If you do want to buy your domain name separately from your hosting provider, I have used NameCheap which has worked well. In short, you can buy your domain name from pretty much anywhere, but I would strongly recommend using a top notch hosting provider like SiteGround to avoid issues later on. Believe me, you do NOT want to have to move hosting providers once your website is large and popular!
Finding a domain name is one of the most important and frustrating parts of the entire website process. It’s beyond annoying to have a perfect name in your head only to see that it has been taken by someone else. However, it gives you the chance to get creative and come up with other names you might not have initially considered. I didn’t come up with the “Salty Collective” for a couple weeks, but once I found the name I knew it was right. Don’t rush the process by forcing a domain name that you aren’t crazy about, and keep playing with the various tools online to help you get a unique name that you love. For more help coming up with a great domain name or understanding hosting packages, please feel free to get in touch!