The next part of our Building a Blog Guide will focus on naming.
A lot of people think choosing your site’s name and brand is the most important part of their blog. That is why people spend hours trying to find the perfect name. I have a thought experiment for you. What names come to mind when thinking about the popular businesses? Google? Best Buy? IBM? Nike? Yahoo? eBay? Pepsi? PayPal?
How did those people come up with a great name and brand that has become a part of our daily lives? Well… they didn’t. All of those companies started out with a different name and changed it later. Here are their original names:
I’m not saying choosing your blog’s name and brand isn’t important. You want a strong brand that will attract readers and help grow your blog. But, it is OK if your first option isn’t the perfect option. Most people change their blog’s name (or domain) at some point in the future so don’t get too caught up in making it perfect.
For personal blogs, I always recommend people use their name. I know when I am looking through the top search results for a topic I prefer a blog with someone’s name in it because I feel an instant connection and know that the person will be genuine. Would you put your name in the domain if you were going to write crappy content?
Using your name is also a great way to keep yourself motivated. By putting yourself out there as the brand and name of your website, you are setting a high bar for your content and will feel a connection with your readers that you might not get with a more business-like name. When people are reading your content they know it is coming directly from you and that is a big deal.
Your domain name is the first experience that your visitors will have with your blog. It will be the text that shows up in search results and in the address bar of their website. In a lot of cases, it will also appear in the logo and any marketing material you create.
So, make it memorable and don’t focus too much on stuffing it with keywords. As an example, consider Sally who is looking to start a blog about her rock climbing adventures in Utah. Creating a domain like RockClimbingInUtah.com is descriptive, but it seems a tad generic. Compare that to something like SallyClimbsUtah.com. Doesn’t that stick out more? Is it easier to remember?
When you read a domain like TheAngryFarmer.com, you jump to the conclusion that the blogger is probably upset and the blog entries will be more serious and critical.
On the other hand, something like LovingAndLivingInPortland.com comes across as more fun and whimsical. You expect the blog posts to be more personal and happy.
So, figure out what you want people to feel when they read your name. Don’t come up with something goofy if you are going to focus on serious topics and don’t be too serious if you want to have some fun with your readers.
Go to your favorite search engine and start searching for some of the topics that you will be blogging about. If you use ‘blog’ in your search you will find other blogs that may be similar to the blog you are going to create. What sort of strategy are they using for their name? Humor, alliteration, just their name?
Looking at others is a great way to get ideas and may help you decide. For example, if most of the blogs on a topic are using their author’s name, that might be a good sign that their visitors are looking to connect with a real person and it might be a good idea for you to use your name as well.
Large companies own the rights to their words and brands.
Do a quick Google search after you come up with a name and make sure there isn’t already a company or product that matches your brand.
You don’t want to have a legal challenge on your hands after your blog becomes successful.
If you still can't think of a perfect name, it probably means you need to blog for a while, connect with your visitors, and see what makes sense later.
Quality is the most important factor in your blog, not the name it is given.
Spend your time focused on finding great topics to write about, quality research, and providing your visitors something they can’t get anywhere else and they will come back regardless of your name.
Since domain names don’t have spaces in them there are quite a few examples of unintentional domain names that were instantly regretted:
So, do yourself a favor and write down your domain name and make sure you don’t make the same mistake as these guys...
Prioritize getting a .com (or your country extension .co.uk, .com.au) extension if you can, but more unique extensions will work just fine.
The domain extension is the letters that come at the end of your domain name. (.com, .net, .org, .me, etc). We recommend the .com extension because it is the oldest and most popular. Because of that, people still expect websites to end with .com.
But, because they are the most common, they are often unavailable. Luckily, the extension is becoming less and less important. Search engines no longer prioritize the older domain extensions and people are getting more comfortable with websites that end in newer extensions such as .io or .me.
You may have seen a bunch of brand new domain extensions such as .me, .blog, or .io. These can be a great way to get a more unique blog name without having to find one that is available with a .com. Be sure to check the price tag though. Some of the newer extensions cost more per year to purchase.
We don’t recommend using domain names that have hyphens in them.
Associated With Scammers: A few years ago, this was a great way to get the domain you wanted when your first choice was unavailable, but unfortunately, it caused a lot of low-quality websites to pop up that were trying to trick people.
As an example, BritneySpears.com goes to the personal website for Britney Spears as you would expect. But, britney-spears.com went to a scam site that was trying to sell you something. A lot of people who were looking for the original version were scammed into thinking the hyphen-domain was the original. It’s unfortunate but stay away from them so you aren’t confused with a low-quality site.
Hard to talk about: Try saying John-Doe.com: John-Dash-Doe.com? Or, John-Hyphen-Doe.com? Make sure your domain name is easy to say out loud. Ideally, your visitors will share their experience with the friends and you will get more visitors if it isn’t hard to talk about.
Using numbers (1, 2, 3) in your domain is usually not a good idea.
Similar to hyphens, this was a tactic used by scammers to try and increase their search engine position for particular keywords. If using a number makes sense for you, consider using the long-form of it instead (one, two, three).
No more than 3-5 words and 2-3 is ideal.
While MyAdventuresTravelingTheWorldOver100Days.com will tell your readers exactly what your blog is about, it is unreasonably long and specific.
Remember, a name that is easy to say and remember will be easier to share and will attract more readers. Something like MyWorldTravels.me still gives others an idea of what your blog is about. And it makes sure it is general enough that you can expand your topic without having to find another domain name.
Gaebler, an online company that tracks popular website, found that the average domain name length of the top 1,000,000 websites was around 10 characters. So, something around that length will be perfect for your blog.
Use a specific location if it makes sense.
Are you writing about your adventures in a particular country or city? Putting, it in the name is a great way to increase the relevance of your site.
If you are looking for a foodie blog that talks about restaurants in Portland are you more likely to go to EatingInPortland.com or Eating.com?
At this point, you should have a good idea of the niche (also called a topic) of your blog and you have even brainstormed your first few blog posts. If not, make sure to check out the first part of this course on selecting your niche. Now, let’s find a name that is easy-to-remember and relates to the topic of your blog.
Spend some time looking through those words and see what pops out at you.
Do you see a certain word that is catchy? Circle it!
See one that doesn’t make sense or you don’t want to include? Cross it out!
The goal here is to narrow the words you want to include to around 10. This is small enough that you can make a decision but large enough to give you enough options.
Next, we want to put a few words together and see if we find any magic. Don’t be afraid to insert words like ‘a’, ‘the’, or ‘and’ as you piece them together.
I found that the best way to find something great was to write a bunch of combination down (even the horrible ones) to get my creativity started.
After a while, the right name jumps out.
There are two parts to your blog’s name. First is the Brand. This will be the name of your blog and will show up at the top of your site and in social media. The second is the Domain Name. This is the address that someone will put into their internet browser (www.<domain name>.com) to go to your site or the link they will click on through search results.
Your brand can be whatever you want, but your domain name needs to be unique since there can only be one website for every domain name on the internet.
How do you find out if a domain name is available?
We like NameMesh, it is an online tool that will search through available domains when you give it a few keywords. If a domain name is available, it will tell you. If not, the tool will give you some similar options to see if those will work for you. Here is an example when we put in ‘start’ ‘a’ ‘blog’ into the tool.
All of the domain names that show up are available and you can use them for your site.
Wow, that was a lot of information. At this point, you have chosen your blog's niche AND your blog's domain name and brand. You are now ready to get your blog launched!