Successful Site Setup Series: Choosing Brandable Domain

Last Update: March 24, 2014

“I don’t know what domain to choose.”

Said every person who has ever started a website.

Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say “I woke up this morning with a really great domain name idea, now I just need to come up with a business I can build around it”... If I’m wrong and there’s someone out there, please let me know in the comments.

Before I start I want to explain what a domain is. I know, some of you may be saying, “come on, we know what a domain is.” And yes most of you will; however, I bring it up because I have had questions about it; specifically, not understanding that a domain and a server are different things.

Now I could tell you that a domain name represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource, bla bla bla and that a web server is a program that uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol… even more bla bla bla. I don’t like technical jargon, I don’t think it helps anyone out except for making the person talking sound smart. I don’t care about sounding smart I just care that you have a basic understanding of the subject.

So the simplest way I like to look at it is this way, a server is like your cell phone and a domain is like your phone number. All the files used to create and control your web site are stored on the server just like all your contacts, photos, videos, etc… are stored on your phone. When your domain is typed into the address bar of a browser you are telling it to call your server just like someone dialing your phone number to call your phone.

If you continue to look at it this way other matters discussed will make more sense. LIke, a domain name can be registered in one place and your server can be hosted at a completely different place. You can change your server/hosting provider and keep the same domain or you can change your domain and keep your server.

Now that we have that out of the way…

Brandable Domains versus Keyword-Rich Domains

“When choosing a domain name should I get a keyword rich or brandable name?”

What is the difference you may be asking, let me explain.

A Brandable Domain is generally something simple and catchy. While the name might have some relation to the topic, product, or service in how it feels and sounds it’s much more about creating a memorable name that an identity or brand can be built on.

A Keyword-Rich Domain incorporates keywords in the name that can define or communicate what the site is about, service it’s providing, and/or product it’s selling.

“Which Should I Choose”

Well the title of this article is “Choosing Brandable Domain” so…

OK seriously, a couple years back there were debates about which was better. It was even said that search engines like Google valued domain names that were keyword-rich over brandable domain names; I even read somewhere that Google gave sites with keyword-rich domains a higher ranking. Now this was a couple years ago and I’m not sure if this is still a debate or not but I don’t see why Google would care what your domain name is if your content is relevant and accurate to what your site is about.

Of course a keyword-rich domain will come up first in a Google search if you search for the exact keywords in the name, that’s why it’s called a keyword-rich domain; however, it really just comes down to opinion, preference, and your needs.

This article is titled “Successful Site Setup Series: Choosing Brandable Domain” because I prefer using brandable domains even for affiliate sites. I think it’s a better choice and I would recommend it to anyone who asked my opinion. With a brandable domain you can create a brand and identity for your business that your readers, customers, and followers can connect with.

A good example of a Brandable Domain comes from one of our very own Wealthy Affiliate members @nathaniell. His site One More Cup Of-Coffee is a perfect example of a brandable domain. On his site he helps others with their own online business by offering tips, tutorials, and product reviews. The domain name is creative, memorable, and it has a meaning his readers can connect with.

Don’t get me wrong though, a keyword-rich domain is not a bad thing and may be the right choice for you. Like I said, many people will probably argue that it’s the best way for SEO purposes.

Just to be fair and for educational purposes, a good example of a keyword-rich domain is How 2 create websites. This is of course a site that has tutorials and tips on creating websites. The benefit to having this as a domain name is if someone's looking for this info and they type “How to create a website” they will most likely see this site at the top of the list.

Now Lets Choose A Brandable Domain Name

When choosing your brandable domain name the first thing you want to remember is to pick something you really like. Sure you can try and incorporate some feeling or sound that relates to your service, product, or theme but it comes second to picking something you really like. If you truly like the name of your site or blog it will be easier to market it and tell people about it. I like to follow these simple guidelines when choosing a brandable domain name:

  1. Keep it as short as possible, down to three words or less
    (There are exceptions of course but they are rare)

  2. Use simple words that are easy to spell, you don’t want to choose a domain name like chiaroscurist because you are an artist that specializes in chiaroscuro
    (I had to look that up)

  3. Make it memorable

  4. Use the .com extension as it’s more memorable as well.

Well that’s It for now, I hope this helps anyone having trouble deciding on a domain name. If you have questions or you just want to share your opinion on the subject please leave a comment.

Thanks!

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urtimelyal Premium
Thanks for your reply, Buck. I'll make both lists and PM them to you.with a few resultant URLs.
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lanni Premium
Thanks! Buck. This blog is so informative. Enjoyed it so much.
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BuckTaylor Premium
Thanks Ianni, very glad you think so. Please keep an eye out for the next post in the series.
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urtimelyal Premium
Thanks for this blog, Buck. As soon as I saw "Brandable" I knew this guy had been around marketing.

Question: Do you think it's possible to get the best of two worlds by combining brandable with key words? Here are a few weak examples for a site offering soft skills training: 1. powertrainings.com, 2. developpersonalskills.com, 3, beyourself.com, 4. toolboxdreams.com.

Any suggestions? Thanks.
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BuckTaylor Premium
That"s a tough one, a whole other blog post, lol.

Yes it can be done, a good example is FreeCreditScore.com. It's keyword based but they turned it into a popular brand. Now the question is did they always intended for that or did it just work out that way?

I think a lot of Keyword based domains can be brandable if they follow the guidelines of a brandable domain... short, catchy, memorable. You also need to be willing to put the work into making it a brand rather then just a website.

For your example, I think you should first write down any word or phrase someone might type into a search field that could lead them to your site. When doing this, try not to think about names you like for a website or a company, just brainstorm anything someone might type to find the info you have.

After that, brainstorm and make a list of names you personal like and would consider using as an actual company/business name. Try to do this without looking or considering the first list.

Compare the two lists and see if anything matches or if you can combine certain words or phrases to make a company name that is also keyword rich.

If you PM me the list that you come up with, I will be happy to help if you'd like.
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nathaniell Premium Plus
Thanks for the mention Buck. My biggest mistake with One More Cup of Coffee was not researching it beforehand. I found out a few months later that it's a Bob Dylan song! So ranking for my own brand name is difficult...
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BuckTaylor Premium
ouch! Well I completely understand, my name is the same as a "semi-famous" actor who was in Gunsmoke and Cowboys vs Aliens. I've been trying to get my personal portfolio site ranked for years without any real progress.
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nathaniell Premium Plus
LOL. OK, so you know my struggles!.
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crp2511 Premium
Good article, well written, I can see you will be able to offer a lot to us all here at WA and do well with your own niche sites. Craig
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BuckTaylor Premium
Thanks Craig, I appreciate the compliment, that's all I'm hoping for.
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