Your domain name is the single most valuable virtual property you own next to your site’s actual content. It’s important to choose the right domain and to purchase it from a reputable registrar. Plus, there are other important factors to consider about how to protect your domain name, how to point it to a site, and how to transfer it. Read on to discover what you need to know about how to choose, purchase, and manage your domain name.
What is a Domain Name?
There is a little bit of industry lingo that you will want to become familiar with to properly manage your domain name.
Don’t skip this section because it affects your SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
A domain name is an easy-to-remember address of your site, often referred to as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The real IP address of your site is a string of numbers, like 184.108.40.206 for BlogAid.net. The text version is much easier for folks to remember. A DNS (Domain Name Server) translates the text domain name into an IP address and delivers the requested file from that address.
There are three parts to a domain name, which are: protocol :// host / location. When all elements are present, it is considered an absolute URL. The protocol is usually http, but can be https for a secured site, or ftp.
SEO and Absolute vs Relative Domains
The other two parts of the domain can be manipulated from an absolute to a relative URL and still deliver the same file.
This is very important. In other words, http://www.BlogAid.net and http://BlogAid.net will both take you to the home page of this site. However, they are not considered the same domain by search engines like Google.
When you purchase your domain choose either to use www or not and stick with it.
This will be the canonical address of your site.
There are plugins that will route all other relative addresses to this one, and search engines will count all of them as a single domain for analytics purposes. Meaning that if you don’t advertise just one domain and don’t use a plugin to tell search engines they are all the same, you are diluting your page rank.
Research Your Desired Domain
Domain names are virtual real estate and they are big business. Hot domains can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. On the other hand, what was once a hot domain could have been trashed because it was previously owned by a spammy/scammy website.
Research your desired domain and its history before you purchase.
Here’s what to look for:
- See if it’s taken and if so, is the owner doing anything with it.
- See if there is a viable variant.
- Was it ever used by a spammy site?
- Does it contain keywords that have a high search volume?
There are loads of free and premium domain research services available online. Each has a prominent feature and focus. Simply do a search for domain research tools and you’ll find them. Plus, you’ll learn a lot about your industry and how viable your business is.
How Not to Choose a Domain
Following are general aspects of domain purchase that you want to avoid. As with any general rule, there will be successful exceptions, so use your own discernment to determine what combo best suits your needs.
Avoid extension variants. If your preferred domain is already taken as a .com and there is a .net or other extension available, check out the company that has the .com first. You don’t want to go head to head with a domain that is already dominating the market. If they are not doing anything with it, you may want to approach them to see if you can buy it. Or, go ahead and use the other available extension. Keep in mind that as you build up your site’s popularity, you’re making that other domain more valuable too. So, purchase it early in the process if you can.
Don’t use hyphens. If your domain consists of two or more words, simply putting hyphens between those words will not distinguish your domain significantly from one that is taken. In fact, it will likely land your visitors on your competitors page because no one will remember to include the hyphens.
Be careful of spelling variants. I once had the domain JustTheFAQs.net. How many folks do you think typed justthefacts.com into their browser? And now you know one of the reasons you’re reading this on BlogAid instead.
Avoid long domains if possible. Shorter is better. It’s easier to remember, and that’s the point. You want a domain that is descriptive of what you do and sticks with folks. However, a catchy phrase may be just the ticket for keyword density. You’ll get loads of ideas on this during your domain research.
There are a lot of domain registrars where you can purchase and manage a domain. Following are some of the top registrars listed in my order of preference: GoDaddy, NameCheap, Tucows, and 1and1. Avoid getting your domain from popular registrars not listed here. They are a hassle to deal with if you ever need to point or transfer your domain elsewhere.
Most hosting companies also serve as the gateway for other registrars. In other words, they allow you to purchase your domain when you purchase your hosting, and offer you a single interface for managing it, but they are not listed as the registrar. (Several top hosting companies use Tucows.)
If you can afford it, get a multi-year term on your domain. Google, in particular, considers it a ranking factor for new domains. Anything that is a year or less may be considered a spammy site, or a site that is used to test the market. A multi-year domain tells Google that you’re in it for the long haul.
If you’ve had your domain for at least a year and then chose to renew for a single year after that, you’re okay. Google sees that the domain as having been around for a while. The multi-year term only affects the SEO on new domains.
Protect Your Privacy
When you purchase a domain all of the registration information you enter becomes a public record. That includes your name, street address, phone number, and email address. It will cost you an extra $10/yr to hide that information. If you don’t, I hope you like spam of all varieties.
For more information on domains, hosting, and website ownership be sure to get your copy of What Every Site Owner Should Know. It’s free with your subscription to BlogAid News. This one ebook could save you hundreds of dollars and months of frustration.