It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.
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A lot of online business owners have asked me this question..
“How do you choose a domain for a new blog or project you're working on?
What factors do you take into consideration?
What's a deal-breaker for you?
Any examples of bad domains you've bought in the past?”
Here are our expert replies.
Connie Ragen Green of ConnieGreen.com says:
I've got 561 domains, so choosing them has become something I am comfortable with.
For me, choosing the right domains is like choosing the right name for one of your children or pets.The name must be catchy, not too long, and let people know what to expect.
You also absolutely must have your own name as a domain. Someone else had my name when I was first online and wanted to sell it to me. By then I was already using my middle name – Ragen – so I was not interested in purchasing ConnieGreen.com at a premium price. The next year she let it go and I bought it for ten dollars!
I like to use a verb at the beginning of my domains, so it will seem like I am requesting you to take some type of action – write, start, click, live, market, sell, reinvent. It all begins with a keyword search for the phrase that will describe what I am doing, over at Google's free site – Keyword Tool External.
Keep your domains as short as possible. I've seen ones that are so long – ThisIsMyBusinessNameAndIAmGoingToSqueezeInEveryPossibleKeyword.com – and those will not serve you well.
No matter what anyone tells you, there are still plenty of excellent domains out there, and you'll find the ones that will describe your business in just the right way. Think of it as your virtual real estate and enjoy the investing process.
Shannon Cherry of S.A.L.E.S. System Formula says:
My name is Shannon Cherry. And I am a domain junkie.
Yup, I admit I love buying domains. So much so I have 83 right now. (And no, not all of them are in use!) Part of the reason I have so many is that I buy them through CherryPickedDomains.com, a reseller site I own. (Yes, I own the domain too. But that one is cute and turns a pretty little profit!)
Usually, I try to buy domains with one or more keywords in it that I know are ranked high. I also look for ways to incorporate the product or service I am selling into the title. For example, my S.A.L.E.S. System Formula program also works as a great domain because Sales and Sales System are well ranked.
Looking back, there are a few I shouldn't have purchased. And two of them I blame Bob The Teacher for. He suggested I buy ExplosiveExposure.com and ExposureExplosion.com Honestly they could have been good for me, especially since Bob knows I like alliteration. However, there was one thing that ended up hurting these… (and truly, I am certain Bob would have NEVER thought of this): the words Explosive, Explosion, and Exposure, paired with my last name, Cherry, brings on some… shall we say… interesting search results.
So now I have another criteria to my list. All keywords, including ones in my domains, have to be rated PG.
Susanne Myers of AffiliateTreasureChest.com says:
I like to start with a little bit of keyword research before I buy a domain name. I try to figure out what one of the main keywords is for the topic the site will be about. Then I play with those keywords and other words around it until I find something I’m happy with that’s still available.
I stick to only .com domain names. I have bought .info and .net in the past, but not for important sites where I eventually want people to remember the domain name. No one ever remembers to add a .info or .net and will go to the .com version of the site instead.
I stay away from names with dashes or numbers in them for the same reason.
Now, let’s look at some bad examples:
My first mistake was to go with a .info extension. If I remember correctly, the only reason I did it was because the .info was cheaper at the time. The second reason I don’t like it is because it is a little hard to spell and misspellings are pretty common. I made that mistake with a few of my domain names.
When this domain was registered there was some talk in the SEO community that it might help to have dashes between keywords. It doesn’t and just makes it almost impossible for people to type the domain name and get it right.
I haven’t put nearly the time and effort into either one of these sites that I should have and part of the reason is because I ended up not being very happy about the domain name.
Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:
The advice we've gotten so far has been awesome.
My favorite domain names are usually two to three words max. Although I've got a few really good four word domains like this one (NicoleOntheNet.com).
Why didn't I just put this blog on NicoleDean.com? Well, when I started this blog, NicoleDean.com was not available. It was owned by a lingerie model. (NOT me.) Plus, I didn't have to worry about people thinking my name is “Nicole Bean” instead of “Nicole Dean” which happens more than one would think. (Although I do own NicoleDean.com, now.)
My unbreakable rules for choosing a domain are:
- No hypens. Been there. Done that. Regret it to this day.
- No numbers. Do I spell it out “four” or is it the number “4”?
- Nothing difficult to spell. Although I once was really excited about using a domain with the word “catalyst” in it — I find that no one could spell the darned thing.
- Domain must end in .com. I don't mess with other endings.
- Domain must NOT have any copyright names in it. I would not recommend using “Google”, “Disney”, or any other company name in your URL or prepared to be “ceased and desisted”.
- If I'm looking to sell the site down the road, it must be generic enough. For instance, I wouldn't buy “NicoleKnowsTomatoes.com” to teach about growing tomatoes if I planned to sell the site ever, because I'd have to find someone named Nicole – or who wanted to call themselves that — to buy it.
And my big, bad unbreakable rule.
- It must pass the Oprah test.
What exactly is the Oprah test? Well, I picture Oprah saying it out loud. “Today I have with me, Nicole Dean, author of Blah blah blah and owner of NicoleontheNet.com”. Is it memorable? Easy to spell?
It's not just the Oprah test, though. It's the Willie Crawford test, too. If I'm in an interview with Willie Crawford and he introduces me – I want people typing or writing down my URL easily – and remembering it long after the fact.
You can't do that with MyNumber1-BestHome-Remedy-Treatments4New-Mothers.net.
Why is this Important?
A difficult domain is actually wasted opportunity and wasted traffic slipping through your fingers. If you're promoting via audio or video (in webinars, iTunes interviews, on BlogTalkRadio, live radio, TV, or even your own podcast) – you need a domain that is EASY to remember. It has to make it into the person's ears and to his brain and stick.
Plus, honestly, it's a credibility issue. Would you really buy something from MyNumber1-BestHome-Remedy-Treatments4New-Mothers.net? I hope you wouldn't even think of getting out your credit card for a site like that. SCARY. And would you feel comfortable referring it to your friends? Not a chance.
What impression is your domain giving of you?
How to Avoid the REALLY Bad “Oh My GOSH I CAN'T BELIEVE I DID THAT” Ones?
I'll also touch on avoiding really bad ones.
BAD ones that I've run across in the past include:
Yes, strategic capitalization was intentional. lol.
In fact, I, myself, was nearly guilty of a doozy. My degree, as you may or may not know, is in Psychology. And, I believe that a HUGE part of business success is what's in your mind – just as much as your marketing & business skills. You have to overcome your personal obstacles – and Lordie, did I ever have a lot of them.
Anyway, awhile back, I was trying to brand myself (I was reaaaaally struggling and focusing on branding for awhile until I gave up on it all together) – and I thought Marketing Therapist had some potential. I came up with a bunch of cool tag lines and headed to buy the domain.
I searched it in Go Daddy and amazingly it was available. So, I was about to buy it when my husband walked into the room and said …
“Uhhh… Nik. Sweetie? What in the HELL are you doing?”
Well, after some confusion, I realized he was reading MarketingTheRapist.com rather than MarketingTherapist.com – because it was in all caps on the screen. Yeah. Marketing for rapists is not even close to what I'd planned to do. I'm hoping no such thing exists.
So, I'll give you the same advice as I give my friends who are expecting a baby. Run the name by your most juvenile, dirty-minded friends – before signing on the dotted line. You'd be amazed at how something totally innocent can go bad in a big hurry.
It’s Your Turn.
So, now, I’ll pose this question to you. What are your best tips for choosing the right domain name for your blog? I’d love to hear your comments!
PS. I have created brandable reports from several of the previous Expert Brief columns that you can use to earn commissions by giving them away.
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