Technically, we can move all traffic and search engine juice from one domain to another. But in long run, domain acts like your brand name so choosing a good domain early is always wise even if you need spend some time for it.
As we started our blog-network recently, one mammoth task I am facing these days is finding good domain names for more than 20 blogs scheduled to launch over next few months!
So listing below are some points we consider here at rtCamp. Not all points can be argued, but I will try to be reasonable as much as possible. Also do not forget to read summary at the end of this post.
1. Top-Level domain name must be .COM
I said must because in-general people confuse internet with .COM. Number of people who knows CTRL+ENTER shortcut key to add .COM automatically are much more than number of people who knows shortcut for .ORG and .NET domains.
We in our brainstorming session here at rtCamp, mercilessly discard all non .COM domain suggestions. Just for clarification, search engines don’t care which domain name you are using.
2. It must not contain any hyphen (-) character or numbers
Domain name must not contain any hyphen or digits as you need to convey their presence explicitly to other people.
There are some exceptions though. Like blog about wordpress often start with “wp-” in their domain name. Similarly, some numbers like 16, 69, 007 can be counted towards exceptions.
Still, its good bet to avoid these hyphen and numbers.
3. Length of domain name
Shorter is better without a doubt. But sometime few extra characters can make things better.
Still, if you want to put a limit on length, try not to exceed 15 character. Longer domains will make – (a) your user type more (b) permalinks getting chopped off in Google search results and elsewhere. Second point may act slightly negatively for you.
4. Do not abuse natural spelling of words
Most people, can not resist generic words like tech, tips, trick. As these are quite common words, chances of finding any good domain which fits in above mentioned criteria are very less.
So what people usually do they often come with innovative spelling like tek, trix, tipz and so on. Only problem is you have to explain everytime how to spell your domain name.
So avoid such innovative spellings and SMS lingos.
5. Make sure your domain covers topic of website
Blogs and websites, targeting a niche audience takes this point seriously. Others can ignore this completely.
We have OrkutFeeds (a service) and OrkutDiary (a blog), both dedicated for Orkut audience. So naturally it makes sense to have keyword Orkut in their domain name. Next, for OrkutDiary, which is a blog, having Orkut in domain name gives slight benefit on search engines’ side. Please note my highlighting of word slight.
Coming back to this domain DevilsWorkshop only, it neither represent devil nor it run any workshop! And I do not regret my choice as it help this domain stand out from large crowd of tech-something kind of domains.
6. Importance of domain’s history
When I brought this domain in 2007, I had no clue about archive.org or any knowledge regarding history of domain names. First time I checked DevilsWorkshop.org’s history, I was shocked to see someone was planning to use this domain to host porn between year 2002-2004.
I guess I was lucky because there were 2 years time when this domain was down, before I purchased it. 2 years of downtime is enough to get wiped out from search engines’ index completely .
Still, to be sure on search engines side, I suggest you to Google for queries like “site:domain.com” and “link:domain.com” where domain.com is domain you are planning to purchase. Ideally, both queries should return no results. (More about special Google queries)
In any case, if domain was used but remained unknown, there is no harm to use it. There is no full-proof way to know if a domain is really blocked or blacklisted. Moreover, you can file reinclusion request to Google if your domain gets banned using Google’s webmaster tools. You can also use Google’s webmaster tools to request removal of particular URL’s from Google’s index.
As far as archive.org is concerned, you can request them to remove old copies of your domain. Process requires some legal paperwork but its not that hard. I am just too lazy to do that.
7. Use right tools to speed up your search
Its good to have right tools which can help you search more domains. Ability to search many domains at once save your time. Such tools also help you try more alternatives.
My favorite one is GoDaddy’s bulk domain checker. There are many advanced tools but I use GoDaddy and I am mostly looking for .COM domains so GoDaddy’s tool is good for me. If you want more options and control, try bustaname.
8. Do not think much about a domain before registering it
Unless you have lots of money to waste in buying highly priced parked domains, its better not to think more about a domain name which you haven’t yet registered. Register first and then start thinking about how to shape it!
GoDaddy’s bulk order tool help me here. I just paste all domain suggestion I get in it blindly. I add some more from my side to it. Then I hit search button and finally I look after those domain names are available for registration.
If you think too much about a domain which you haven’t yet registered, you not only waste your time but also weaken your chances to find a good domain. So stop your brain form thinking in direction which already met dead-end!
Above covers points and tools I use myself and always recommend. They all together may sound too much of work and some points may seem contradictory too.
So to make things simple for yourself, first finalize purpose of your website. Point #5 above explains how purpose can dictate your choice!
In the end above are mere conventions. Its good idea to think twice before choosing a domain name. But don’t keep thinking forever.
As time passes, content and uniqueness of site take over domain names and all SEO tactics.
If you have any nice input, feel free to share. I hope this answer you quesion Gagan. 🙂