How to Thoroughly Research a Domain Name Before You Buy It
Okay, you’ve finally done it. You’ve made the decision that now is the time to start your blog.
However, you’ll find out later that was actually the easy part, as now you have a couple of decisions to make before you’re really up and running.
One of these is deciding which domain name you’re going to use. Don’t be scared. It’s actually all really fun stuff, but we just want to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
As a blog, your domain name is in many ways everything. It gives people an idea as to what you are about, and it’s going to be the way that you make yourself known as you begin to spread your influence and market your content. Because of this, it’s important you do proper research about a domain name before you buy it.
To give you a hand in getting started with your blog, consider these steps for fully researching a domain name before you buy it.
Start by brainstorming
The trick to finding the right domain name is to cast a wide net. There are hundreds of millions, if not more, domain names already registered, so there is a chance the one you’ve had in your mind forever is already taken. But don’t be discouraged. If you spend some time coming up with a list of quality domain names, you’ll make it easier to find something you like and that is available.
Typically, in a brainstorming session, there are no bad answers. So, the first time you go through this process, write down everything that comes to mind. However, as you begin to refine, consider the following:
- keep it to two to three words (6-14 characters) as anything longer will be hard for people to remember and to type into their search bars
- avoid anything with overly clever spelling. You may think it’s the wittiest thing ever, but others may find it confusing and this will hurt you.
- Avoid using hyphens or punctuation whenever you can
- If you’re starting a blog with the hopes of doing affiliate marketing, try to find a domain name that includes some of your key search terms or that is clearly relevant to your niche
- Pick something that will be brandable, not something generic.
- Choose something that is somewhat universal. You may want to do “yourname.com”, but if you were to want to try and sell your website down the road, this would only be valuable to someone with the exact same name as you.
Run some tests
You’ll learn quickly that in marketing, the best way to tell if something will be a success is to bring it to the market and study how it performs. However, this isn’t always possible, either because it’s too expensive or regulations prohibit releasing an unfinished product.
While you don’t want to buy a domain name until you are certain you are buying the right one, you can still do some market research to figure out which one is best. After you’ve brainstormed and then narrowed the list down to a few potentials, consider running some surveys or focus groups to see how people react to the name.
If you don’t have a lot of reach, you can do this simply with people in your immediate circle, such as family or friends. The results won’t be as scientific, but they will certainly help you get an idea about how the domain name will play out in the public eye.
Sometimes we can get tunnel vision about certain things, and the opinions of others can help break this and make sure we make the right choice.
Do some double checking
In a perfect world, after you’ve come up with a few great names, and then ran some tests to choose the best one, all you’ll need to do is log into a domain registrar and purchase it. However, there is a decent chance it’s already taken. But if this is the case, you have two options: go for another, or try to buy the domain name off the current owner.
Should you decide to buy it off the current owner, just be prepared for it to be expensive. Typically, websites are valued at two and a half times their yearly revenues, so if the domain name is attached to a relatively successful business, you might have trouble getting it. However, you’ll likely find most domain names can be acquired for reasonable prices.
Before you buy, though, make sure to do a little homework. Use tools such as DomainTools.com, ReverseInternet.com and WhoRush.com. These allow you to figure out if the owner of the site is the true owner, or if he or she owns any other sites that may be in direct competition with yours.
One thing you’ll also want to do is to make sure there are no domain names that could easily be confused with yours.
Names including common misspellings, domain names that are one letter off or other similar issue exist, but just make sure they don’t lead to any sites with which you wouldn’t want to be associated.
Buying a domain name is a critical first step to starting your blog. It will be how people identify and remember you, and it will serve as a key tool for building your personal brand. Follow the steps outlined here to help you do proper research and make sure you are making the best choice.
About the author: Jock is an entrepreneur who has spent his career buying, building and selling websites. He began as a blogger when he was a teenager, and over the years has become deeply involved with the world of online marketing. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC and Entrepreneur.