Choosing the domain name for your new business venture can be a hang-up for many people. There’s a feeling of finality with choosing your domain name.
A domain name is your web address. It’s what people type into the address bar at the top of their browser to find you. In this website’s case, the domain is JoeDaniel.com.
Get a domain in a good neighborhood, your friends will stop by. The neighbors will welcome you. Everyone loves ‘Welcome to the Neighborhood’ Fudge.
Get the wrong domain name? It could be purgatory for your business. You still exist. But no one’s stopping by.
Alright it’s not like that. Switching domains is actually pretty easy. More about that later.
3 Types of Domain Names
You have 3 basic options when you choose your domain name. We’re talking primarily about a new online business, by the way. If you have a brick & mortar business, you’ll probably want the domain to match.
I don’t think any of these are better than the other. There’s not a right answer. In fact, the only wrong answer, is to not pick one.
Decide which option appeals most to you, then make your move.
Keyword Domain Names
Buying a domain based on keyword research is a strong option. It’s what I did with my first successful site, Football-Defense.com.
In 2009, that was a key factor. I jumped to the top of the search rankings. Notice that the hyphen had no effect. I’ve since purchased the domain without the hyphen, but all I have it do is redirect
(by the way, if I knew what I know now, I would have redirected the hyphenated domain to the one without a hyphen, but today the hyphen has become a part of the branding)
Since then, I’ve done the keyword domain for multiple sites. It does not get the same Google juice that it used to. I have domains for a lot of my football products. Some ranked highly for competitive keywords as late as 2012, despite being nothing but a sales page. Most of those have dropped in rankings significantly since then.
Pat Flynn’s SmartPassiveIncome.com is a great example of a keyword rich domain name. Passive Income is huge. Today, Pat’s name is as famous as his website. But that domain name no doubt helped establish him in the early days.
You can still get some assistance by using keyword based domains. But they are not the sure-fire lock for google search rankings they used to be.
Since it can be really hard to buy a domain for high search traffic keywords these days, you might end up with an awkward domain name with lots of hyphens or a really long tail keyword. I’m not a fan of that for your primary domain.
But if a good, clean keyword domain is available… go for it!
Branded Domain Names
Branded domain names are pretty cool. If anyone knows the brand, that is.
The problem with most branded names is no one knows what the site is about. In a keyword rich domain, everyone will know what you’re selling.
Of course, we see big brand names like Google, Yahoo or Zoosk. Perfect! They’re famous! You should do that!
Wait a minute. There’s thousands (millions) of cutesy names that did not make it. No one ever figured out what they were or no one cared. A quirky domain name is great, once it gets into people’s heads.
Getting it there can be extra tough, though. You’ll have to put some work in getting the brand name on the tip of your audience’s tongue. And your site needs to make it clear just who you really are between that catchy name.
Fizzle.co is a good example fo a recent branded domain. The guys there are all experts at building a brand and have been able to launch this one despite not having the .com extension. (they have a really fun podcast, too
One other tip on branded names: avoid hard-to-spell brands. Lets say you bought a domain like “Candiland.com”. I don’t know what that is and it could very well be a porn site, so I’m not linking it.
You’d pretty much need to make your tag line, “Candiland with an ‘I’!” to get people to type it in correctly. Everyone would expect you to be affiliated with a board game, too. Make sense? I hope so, that was a very belabored analogy.
The Personal Brand Domain Name
Personal brand domains are all the rage now. A large number of the most successful ‘brands’ in the make-money-online space are personal brands, after all.
Take AmyPorterfield.com as an example. Her brand is built entirely around her name. And her picture (which is on most if not all of her promotional materials).
Of course, there’s an example right here – my personally branded site is JoeDaniel.com (and presumably, you are on it).
Everyone should position themselves for a personal brand at some point. You may not buy the domain right now. But put your name out there and buy the domain if it’s $10.
A quick story… in 2011 I considered starting my own personal brand site. I looked up JoeDaniel.com and it was about $400. That’s the thing with personal brand domains – if you have a common name, it won’t be cheap.
That was a lot of money for me in 2011. My business didn’t really hit the afterburners til that summer. I passed on it.
Fast forward a few years, and I decide that I need to have my own personal brand. Thankfully, it’s still for sale. And the price… had gone WAY UP. I don’t know if it’s because someone knew I was into internet business, but they definitely jacked the price up.
Incidentally, the same thing happened with FootballOffense.com and FootballDefense.com. I passed on the domain names without the hyphen when I first started those sites.
Each was about $100 without the hyphen and I picked the one with the hyphen for $10. Once the hyphenated domains took off, the price of the non-hyphenated domain skyrocketed.
Domains and Price
You can get good deals on domain names with extensions like .info or .net sometimes. And .org might sound official.
I am still of the opinion that you should go for the .com if at all possible. And if no one else has it, the $10 – $12 price tag for a year is worth it.
But if there’s a domain you really want, or think your business needs, shelling out for it can be a tough decision. If you are just starting out, it’s fine to put a dash into the name, or an HQ on the end (really popular after it was in a book, I think) and get the .com domain.
I’ve never had anyone steal my domain names or do anything fishy. It happens, but you can’t stop it. Don’t bother buying the .org, .net, .info, .me, .co and everything else for your domain. Just get one.
All You Need To Do Is Decide
Choosing your domain name is a key first step to entering the world of online business. But it is not going to make or break your business. Hard work creating great content and taking care of people in an area you are passionate about will make your business.
If no one comes to your website at first, it won’t matter anyway. Because no one ever knew you existed. You just move.
There’s no absolute finality to the domain name you choose. Until recently, this site was hosted at Webinational.com. A branded name that did not take off.
I moved the entire site over the course of a couple of days. It was not particularly painful.
So get your domain name! My favorite go-to option for buying domains is NameCheap.com. Head over there, type in some ideas to the search box. Pick one out, and get going!
What has been your experience with choosing domain names? Do keyword domains still work? Have you had a branded domain fail? Is your personal brand out of the question because you share a name with a celebrity? I really want to hear your story. Post in the comments!