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Choosing Your Domain Name


Part 1 of 2 of Choosing Your Domain Name

A domain name is an important part of your website's online presence. It's how potential visitors will remember you.

What is a Domain Name?

The internet is a network connection capable of communicating with each other using a network protocol called TCP/IP. For the machines to identify themselves, they are assigned a numeric value called an IP address (ex: As it is impossible to remember all those numbers for all the different sites, domain names were introduced. A domain name is a human-readable and memorable representation of an IP address. When someone types in a domain name like HostGator.com, the browser communicates with a root domain name server that acts as a dictionary and provides the appropriate IP.

What Do You See in a Domain Name?

A domain name consists of a top-level domain (TLD) and a second-level domain (SLD). In the domain name HostGator.com, the TLD is ".com," and the SLD is "HostGator." The "HTTP" and "www" are not part of the domain name; rather, they are part of the entire web address, called a URL. So, when you choose your domain name, you are only concerned with the TLD and SLD.

.com is just one of many TLDs from which you can choose. Your choices include variations such as .net, .org, .biz, .us, and many more you may have never seen. The major deciding factor when selecting a TLD is availability. For example, mystore.com may be taken while mystore.net may still be available. The second factor affecting your TLD choice may be price. A .cc domain is typically more expensive than a .com domain.

The SLD is where your creativity and originality come in. You may choose any name you like, as long as it does not infringe upon someone else's trademark. You may only use alphanumeric characters and hyphens, though hyphens can not be used adjacently. Symbols and blank spaces are also not permitted in domain names.

Acceptable Domain Names:
  • mystore.com
  • my-store-4-u.com
  • MY-STORE.com
  • m-y-s-t-o-r-e.com
Unacceptable Domain Names:
  • my_store.com
  • my--store.com
  • my store.com
  • www.mystore.com

Note: One of the domains contains capital letters in the list of acceptable domain names; this is still acceptable since domain names are not case sensitive. In other words, when you register "mystore.com," you also get "MYSTORE.COM," "MyStore.Com," "mySTore.com," and any other variation where lowercase and uppercase letters are interchanged.

How To Choose a Domain Name

When selecting your domain name, you should ask yourself:

What is the purpose of my website?
  • If this is a hobby site or a special interest site, you probably want your domain name related to the hobby or interest.
  • If your answer is "to make money," then the subsequent question is "doing what exactly?" You might consider including the name of the service or product you are selling in your domain name; this will help you get better traffic, especially from search engines. Although you may like mystore.com, it doesn't tell a potential visitor what you're selling. A name like rare-electronics-and-lamps.com is identifiable and contains keywords visitors will Google to find you.

What should I consider when choosing my domain?

The Domain is your Brand

Do you know that a good domain name defines your website's branding? Yes, choosing a domain is a branding opportunity! Your domain gives your website an edge to the vast online community and makes it stand out from the competition. For example, "hostgator.com" sounds more catchy than "iamyourwebhost.com," doesn't it? It is because "hostgator.com" stands for what we offer - web hosting - without using generic terms like "web host," which may only increase the competition when visitors are looking for the term "web hosting" online. Branding is business, you see. The more you stand out, the more visitors you attract! Hey, HostGator even gave birth to Snappy!


The "First Impression"

The first thing your visitors will see on their browsers is your domain name. If they notice that your domain name "radiates" with a good impression, they will likely click that and browse through your website. If the domain name "sounds off," they just might scroll away.


Your Domains Affects SEO

It may sound too technical but don't fret. Simply put, SEO helps your website's ranking on the world wide web. It makes your site "more searchable" and if it has a good domain name, it may even look and sound "more likable." SEO improves your site's visibility, thus garnering more attention and attracting potential customers.

It Says I Can't have the Domain!

Getting the domain name you want can be frustrating if you realize what you want is already taken. If this happens, you may want to try submitting the same name with a different TLD. For example, if mystore.com is taken, you may want to check if mystore.biz is available.

You can also try changing the name slightly by altering your spelling or arrangement of words or by finding synonyms. For example, if mystoreforyou.com is taken, you might try yourstorebyme.com, mystore4you.com, or myshopforyou.com.

Exciting, isn't it?

Good luck! Hopefully, you'll create a name your visitors won't forget!

Ready to register a domain name now? Please check out the article Registering a Domain Name with HostGator to guide you with the process. You may also go directly to HostGator Domains and get started right away!


Want more tips? Please read Advanced Tips for Choosing a Domain Name and How To Choose The Perfect Domain Name For Your Business (Blog) to learn more.