You've decided to make your own website, and hopefully, we've been able to convince you not to go for Free Web Hosting. The next step in the process is selecting your very own domain name. A domain name is important, as it will be the address for your website on the internet. The choosing of a domain name is a vital step that will have long-term consequences for you and your web site.
Your first decision is going for either a keyword domain or a branded domain. A good example of a keyword domain is "carinsurancecompaniesreviewed.com", a site that (what's in a name?) offers reviews of various car insurance companies. An example of a branded domain is "medisan.com". Medisan basically means nothing, but the domain name is easy to remember and creates a brand name for the site. Depending on your goals and ambitions, either option can be the best. In general, keyword domains are less ambitious, but can offer advantages when it comes to Search Engine Optimization.
In general, experienced webmasters are known to prefer short domain names for various reasons. Even though domain names can be of any length up to 67 characters, longer domain names are much harder to remember, and offer no real advantages other than being able to stuff them with keywords. Ten years ago, that may have been a good technique, but today - it no longer is. We at dom4j.org are big fans of short, to-the-point domain names, and are convinced they offer a lot of advantages.
There are quite a few advantages to using hyphenated names, and the two most important ones are: a lot less of them are registered, search engines can distinguish between various keywords you're using in between the hyphens.
One of the biggest disadvantages of using hyphens is that people are very likely to forget to use them. When you tell your friend to visit a popular lingerie blog called The Lingerie Post, would you go to www.thelingeriepost.com or www.the-lingerie-post.com first? The owners of the-lingerie-post.com made a huge mistake going for the hyphenated version, but who knows: maybe the non-hyphenated domain was long gone before they even started?
A lot of the time, the domain name you want is long gone, but derivative names are still available. If you want to make a poker info blog, you'd obviously try to register pokerblog.info. However, as that kind of domain is hardly ever unregistered, you can go for a derivative name. My friend who actually had this issue decided to go for mypokerblog.info. Even though it is very close to what he wanted, the domain name was available, and he's been very happy with the choice. Just like using hyphens, going for a derivative name allows you to get a domain very close to what you actually wanted.
Choosing the extension for your domain name is not the toughest part of getting a domain. First of all, if you're aiming your site at a specific country: go for that country's extension. If you want a fashion blog aimed at a Belgian audience for example, you go for the .be name (fashionista.be, for example). If you're aiming for a Dutch audience, you go for the .nl (like schoenenmeisje.nl did). A full list of Country Code TLD's can be found right here.
If you're not aiming at a specific country, gor for a .com, .net, .info, .org or .biz. There are no real advantages in any of these, but obviously .com and .net domains are more easy to remember. The extension you use in your nameservers doesn't really matter.
Aim at a domain name that is easy to remember, is relatively short, has the right extension and if needed is a good derivative or hyphenated version of the domain you'd want in a perfect world.
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