1. Own yourname.com if it’s available.
If yourname.com has not been scooped up yet, stop reading this and go buy it right away. (Well, skip down to rule #5 to see where you should buy it from, then go buy it…)
Even if you think you have no need for a domain name, go buy it.
Seriously, I’ll wait.
Fine, I get it, you’re one of those people who needs a compelling reason to take action on something and doesn’t blindly trust some guy behind the internet curtain. Well here’s some further reading for you. (Just remember that while you’re reading these someone might snatch that sweet domain name right out from under your skeptical, untrusting nose.)
Why it’s Worth it to Purchase Your Own Domain Name (Lifehacker.com)
Why Everyone Should Register a Domain Name
I bought jamesyardley.com back in 2005 and I’m so thankful that I did. I’ve since learned that there is a James (Jim) Yardley that works as a writer for the New York Times and a Web Analyst that works for AOL/Huffington Post Media Group.
2. Keep it short.
If you’re looking to buy a domain for your business or blog – apart from yourname.com – keep it as short as possible. This makes it easier to type and easier to print on things such as business cards and other offline media.
Volkswagen owns vw.com
Coca-Cola owns coke.com
They get it.
3. Make it easy to say out loud.
Once you have your website setup on your spiffy new domain, you’ll want to tell people about it out there in the real world. A domain name that rolls of the tongue effortlessly is much more likely to be remembered, and later visited, than a name that is hard to spit out. (Note to self – effortlessly.com is not a good domain name.)
reddelicious.com (bad) vs. apple.com (good)
4. Buy a .COM
Even though there are countless other top-level domains (such as .org, .net, and .me), you always want to own the .COM version. The reason being that when you tell someone about your website, they will most likely assume it’s a .COM when they type it in their browser later that night and if they happen across a different website they will be confused and frustrated. If they’re really tenacious maybe they’ll go to Facebook and look you up to find a link to your site, but we both know the chances of them getting distracted by some cat video in their newsfeed is pretty high.
Wikipedia.org owns wikipedia.com
Craigslist.org owns craigslist.com
They get it.
5. Register your domain at Hover.com.
I’ve purchased domains for both myself and clients from registrars such as GoDaddy.com and Namecheap.com and I will never go back. The reason is because they complicate it beyond belief and try to up-sell and confuse you during the process. It’s time-consuming, annoying, and does not serve you, the customer.
Instead, I recommend Hover.com (aff link). They make it easy, fast, and include everything you need, such as Whois Privacy.
6. Keep it hyphen & number free (see Rule #3).
Imagine that you’re trying to tell someone about your site at the bar and you have to explain to them that there’s a “dash” in the address. They’ll undoubtedly forget and try to type it in without the dash, or worse yet, just not even bother because it wasn’t easy for them to remember. And if you do need that hyphen, chances are that your domain name is too long to begin with.
Numbers are bad too, because your potential visitor won’t remember if it’s 1and1.com or oneandone.com (which is why that company owns both). Twoplustwo.com or 2plus2.com?
Need some help?
If you’ve already purchased a domain that breaks one of these rules or if yourname.com is already taken, fear not. I can help. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask your question in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to help.