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What’s in a domain name? Well, if you care about the perception of your brand, a lot more than you might think. However much your website changes — and however drastically you develop your presentation as a person and a professional —the domain will linger, having a not-insignificant impact on how you’re viewed.
For a blogger, online reputation is everything, so the domain name you use is of even greater importance. In fact, a bad domain name can completely sabotage your efforts to become established in your niche. Here’s why:
First impressions are everything
Blogging is a slow, steady process of picking up followers until they reach critical mass and start to prove valuable through funding your efforts or helping you find work. Because you’re offering not products or services but blogs, people are less incentivized to pay attention to you, and you need to take advantage of any attention you get to show what you can do.
But first impressions are very tricky, and can easily be damaged by simple things. Imagine that you had a blog specifically about reviewing types of chocolate but just had your name for your domain name — visitors would wonder if you were truly dedicated to that topic if you were unwilling to make it part of your domain name.
They should hint at what you do
Taking the previous example, imagine that you instead had your name plus “chocolate” as the domain name: for instance, stevesmithchocolate.com. This would be a strong improvement because it would make clear the subject matter of the blog, but consider whether the name is worth including at all.
What about something like chocolatereviews.com? That particular combination is unlikely to be available (here’s some info on domain names to explain why), but something along those lines would work better for clarity. Anyone who happened upon a link to your site would immediately understand what you intended it to be and be able to gauge their interest in visiting it.
Their terms matter for SEO
There’s another big reason why your domain name should allude to what you do: SEO (search engine optimization). When search engines crawl websites, they look at various factors — including domain name — to determine what topics they cover. All else being equal, which blog would seem a better choice as a result for “chocolate tasting blog”: “stevesmith” or “chocolatereviews”?
Think about the most popular keywords for the topic of your blog, and try to work one or two into your domain name (along with any brand names or other identifiers you want to include). This will help with SEO and make your site clearer to searchers (just don’t add in too many keywords or it will become counterproductive through making the link too clumsy, as we’ll see next).
Links must be easy to share
More often than not, links are shared online — over email, through messaging apps, or in social media posts. And in most instances, the length or nature of a URL doesn’t matter that much. As long as you can access it with a single tap, it’s perfectly sufficient.
But imagine that someone sends you a link out of nowhere and tells you to check out the site. You’ll immediately look at the domain name to hazard a guess about what you can expect. If the domain name seems like gibberish, you’ll want further context which you might not get — but if it has a crystal-clear premise that can immediately recognize, you might visit it.
And you should also a factor in that links are still occasionally exchanged through conversation. Having a six-word domain name will cause major problems if you try to tell someone what it is during a networking event — but a snappy address with two or three simple words will be much easier to remember (and much more likely to get a click).
In summary, the domain name you choose at the very beginning of your blogging adventure is going to have consequences for years to come, so take the time to think things through and find the best possible domain name to support you in the future.