How to Choose a Domain Name

As a beginning website builder, when you choose a domain name there are certain characteristics you want it to have. If you are trying to choose a domain name for the purpose of search engine optimization, remember a domain name is only 1 out of the 100+ factors that get taken into account when determining your rank in the search engine results pages.

Related article: Build Your Own Website.

More importantly, the domain name you choose should let people know what the site is about.

For example, say you are searching for "website building" on The top two pages returned from the search seem to be about website building. You look at the domain names of these two pages. One is the other is Which page will you choose? of course! Because it is more closely related to what you are searching for. The more closely related the domain name is to the search the more chance it has of being chosen.

Be sure to plan your site before you choose your domain name. For more information please see: How to Plan a Website. Related article: How to Build Your Own Website.

A domain name should have certain characteristics. Try to get as many of these characteristics into your domain name as possible. A domain name should:

  • Be short
  • Contain your website's niche concept
  • Be a clear message
  • Be easy to remember
  • Represent you in some way or it should mean something special to you
  • Be easy to spell
  • Be classy not hokey
  • End in ".com", ".net" or ".org"
  • Be attractive to people

If you are choosing a domain for your off-line business you might want to use your business name as your domain name.

If your chosen domain name is 3 or more words use dashes between the words. On the web it is much easier to see and makes the individual words stand out. See the difference in 'readability' between a domain name with and without dashes:

Additionally, search engines usually treat a dash as a space. So it may be possible for them to actually "see" the individual words and therefore give you some minor edge in the search engine's results pages.

If your domain has 2 words the dashes are less important. It's much easier to identify the individual words when there are only two. Compare:

Dashes do have a downside… they take longer to say and type. They are harder to remember. On-line this is not a problem. People just click links or use copy and paste.

It's a good idea to get an additional domain name for off-line use. Get one that's short, easy to remember, easy to spell and without dashes. You use this other domain when you are talking to people. Put it on your business stationary too. You "point" this other domain to your website, so that whenever people type it into their browser they will find your site.

When you choose a domain name, remember that it's not a life or death situation. A domain name is only one out of many factors that get taken into account when determining your rank in the search engine results pages. Keep in mind the above points and you will choose an effective and useful domain name. For more on how to choose a domain name see: Choose a Domain Name.

Website Building Tip

It's best to have the main keywords associated with your website's niche in your domain name.

But, if you can't get the exact keywords you want don't sweat it.

Keywords in domain names account for only a small percentage of the criteria that search engines use to rank your site.