A lot of time can be wasted trying to decide on the perfect name for your site, but I do have a quite a few tips for how to pick a good domain name.
Tips for How to Name a Niche Site
Use a .com
Try to use a .com as your domain extension if possible. The only exception should be if you live in a country where your domain is also strong like .co.uk or .com.au and you’re targeting non-US traffic.
You will see plenty of niche websites use .net and .org extensions, but I would advise against this.
From an SEO perspective, there is no difference. You can rank any extension with ease. It’s not an SEO thing, it’s a resale market/trust thing.
If you decide to eventually sell or flip your site, you will get a higher valuation for having the .com extension.
Also, in my opinion, people are more likely to click on the search result of a site with a .com extension (I don’t have any hard data to back this up, it’s just my experience from working with various sites over the years).
So just stick to a .com domain when starting your niche sites.
No Hyphens or Numbers
There isn’t really any explanation needed.
Stay away from using a domain with hyphens or numbers.
They look bad, and they’re bad for your site’s resale value.
Broad and Brandable
When building a niche site you want to make sure the domain name doesn’t pigeonhole you into a more narrow niche.
For example, if you chose topgrillreviews.com as your domain name, it’s going to be tougher to add content about brick pizza ovens or kegerators if later you decide to expand to a broad niche site about outdoor kitchens.
Also, if you ever decide to sell your website, the valuation will almost always be lower if you use a name that won’t allow a new buyer the opportunity to expand the niche.
It’s more profitable to expand the niche broadness of a site that is already doing well, rather than building a new site in a similar niche, and buyers know this.
Aim for Alliteration
I’m also a big fan of alliteration when branding a domain. This means using the first letter to start both words.
An example in the grilling niche would be: SeriouslySmoked.com
Alliteration isn’t necessary, but I usually like to start off my search with it in mind.
Keep it short (2-3 words max)
Two to three-word domains are just more memorable than a longer name.
I prefer to start my search with two-word domains, but I’m not against a three-word domain if it’s catchy and makes sense in the niche.
Basically, I like to keep my domain names short and sweet.
Check it on Archive.org
The Archive.org Wayback Machine is a recorded history of all websites (hence the name).
Before you pull the trigger on buying a domain name, plug it into the Wayback Machine to see if it has ever been used for a spammy site or a site that is not topically relevant to the content you will be producing.
If either of these is the case, just move on to a different domain name.
See if it’s Already Indexed with Google
If you happen to pick up a domain name that was recently dropped it may still be indexed with Google.
You can check to see what pages (if any) are still in Google’s index.
In the Google search bar type:
If there are any pages indexed you will see them in the results.
Checking indexation is just a foolproof way to make sure your domain wasn’t recently used for anything spammy, illegal, or completely off-topic to your niche.
Run a Trademark Search
The last thing you want to happen is to start a niche site, make it profitable, and then get a letter telling you that you have been infringing on a company’s trademark.
It’s never personally happened to me, but I’ve heard a couple of horror stories.
So make sure to check every domain name in your jurisdiction’s trademark database.
In the USA it’s as easy as running a query on the US Patent and Trademark Office website.
If the words in your domain name show up as trademarked, you should scrap it and move on to a different option.
A Note on Expired/Aged Domains
Many site builders will advocate for using expired domains that already have age and/or relevant backlinks pointing at them.
Using expired domains has merit as they can often speed up the process of ranking your site, but if you don’t know how to choose them properly they can sink your site before it starts.
When just starting out, I advise that you build your site on a hand registered domain, using the criteria outlined above.
Time to Purchase a Domain Name
NameSilo has been my preferred domain registrar for years.
They offer the cheapest domain name registrations in the industry.
But the main reason I love NameSilo is they include free WHOIS Protection with every domain.
Most other registrars or hosting companies that give you a complimentary domain name charge between $9-15 per year for WHOIS Protection.
If you own a lot of domains, those additional fees can really add up come re-registration time.
With NameSilo, WHOIS protection stays FREE FOREVER.
The reason you want WHOIS protection is that if you are building multiple sites you don’t want people to be able to piece together your entire site portfolio through your WHOIS data.
Trust me, when you get successful, there will be people trying to take shortcuts to figure out exactly what you are doing.
Plus NameSilo’s domain management interface is super clean and easy to use.
The best advice I can give you is not to get hung up on the actual name of your new site.
However, you should make sure that you do take the time to complete due diligence on each potential domain name. This will allow you to have peace of mind in knowing that your niche website is beginning its existence without any potential issues or strikes against it.