How To Choose The Right Domain Name For Niche Site?
The last guideline you need to select right domain name for #NicheSite #AmazonAffiliate
When building a niche site, your domain name is one of the first things you will have to settle.
What domains are available will help you determine your exact site name and help steer your branding, so the earlier you get the right domain name secured, the better.
But how can you pick the right domain name for niche site?
Here is my ultimate guide on this topic. I’ve analyzed several factors and have come up with a detailed plan on how to go about it. Without beating around the bush, let us get to the topic.
Table of Contents
- 1 Expired Domain vs. Brand New Domains
- 1.1 Expired Domains
- 1.2 How To Choose An Expired Domain For Your Niche Site?
- 1.3 Where To Find Expired Domains?
- 1.4 What To Look For In An Expired Domain?
- 1.5 Check The Content History With Archive.org
- 1.6 How To Decide About Expired Domain?
- 2 Brand New Domains
- 3 Factors To Consider While Choosing A Domain
- 4 Domain Name Generator Tools To Use
- 5 Domain Name Suffix You Can Use
- 6 Where To Register?
- 7 Your Turn
Expired Domain vs. Brand New Domains
When picking a domain name, you have two basic options.
Either you can think of an entirely new, never before used domain, or you can buy and use an expired domain name that is no longer in use by its original site owner.
Here are a few of my thoughts on the pros and cons of each approach.
The biggest “Positive” of buying an expired domain name is that a lot of backlinking may already be done for you.
Backlinking in the SEO world is one of the most important things you will need to pursue to get your site to rank, but it’s also one of the most challenging.
So the more work that have already been done for you in this area, the better.
Some other positive metrics we get in a high-quality expired domains:
- Domain Age
- High Domain Authority
- High Page Authority
- High Trust flow
- Page Rank
However, that existing link profile can be a significant “Negative” too.
If backlinks are made to a domain that differs from your new niche, your site will be dinged heavily for irrelevancy. Low-quality backlinks or spammy backlink profile is also harmful to any domain.
Also, previously penalized domains may cause harm your future Google rank.
In my experience, picking the wrong expired domain name can do a lot of harms, and sink a project before it gets off the ground.
How To Choose An Expired Domain For Your Niche Site?
When a domain expires, usually it is put on the table for registration again or goes listed to any of the auction websites.
If you are in a hurry, see how Jon Haver from AuthorityWebsiteIncome.com chose an expired domain, check the video below.
If you have some time on your hands, and want to learn the metrics in details, keep reading the article.
Where To Find Expired Domains?
The best tool to find an expired domain is, ExpiredDomains.net. You need a free account with them to get your expired domain searching started.
Just type your niche or relevant keyword into the search box. You will be delivered with hundreds of domain names that go well with your niche.
You can also set a lot of filters from “Show Filters” option right on top.
You need to look into certain metrics before registering a domain. I’ll explain them to you one by one.
What To Look For In An Expired Domain?
I rarely used any expired domain for my niche site. So far I can remember it happened 2/3 times thus far.
The sites are performing great. They ranked faster than brand new domains.
What makes the domains a success? It is because I followed the exact process when finding an expired domain and never dwindled from the blueprint.
Domain Authority [Hint: 15+, Better If You Can Get 30+]
Domain authority (DA) is a metrics developed by Moz, it calculates some factors and score every single domain based on the findings. It represents how a particular domain will perform in Google ranking.
I would like to set the limit at least 15 when it comes to registering an expired domain. It’s always better if you can get a domain with DA 30+.
You can check domain authority (and other Moz metrics) from OpenSiteExplorers.org
Page Authority [Hint: 20+ is good, Better If You Can Get 30+]
Similar to DA, Page Authority (PA) a metrics developed by the same company. Instead of representing a domain, PA represents every single web page available on the Internet.
I would go for an expired domain if it has at least DA 20, but getting a domain with DA 30+ is awesome!
Moz Spam Score
Spam Score is a metrics developed by Moz that helps determining about a domain’s legitimacy. This score will help you understand the potentiality of a domain for your niche site.
You should never go for a domain name that has 4+ spam score.
OpenSiteExplorers allows you to see the spam score of any particular domain. However, to see the details of the type of spam score, you need to join MozPro.
Sometimes, the metrics mentioned previously can be manipulated. You can’t completely depend on them.
So the most important task after getting a domain is following the metrics to check the backlink profile of the domain.
If you see the backlinks received by the domain is of high quality, the domain is a go.
If the backlinks are spammy or low quality like hundreds of blog comments or thousands of forum profile or non-English links, you must avoid.
You can use the following tools to check backlink profile:
What to look for in the backlink profile?
- Number of links
- Number of linking domains
- Anchor Text Variation
How To Decide?
Number of Links: The more the number of high-quality links, the better. I repeat, I said, high-quality links (I covered the details of high-quality links on this post, check now)
Quality Domain Links: Google cares more about how many domains are linking to you rather than caring how many links pointed to your site. If you see the domain has hundreds of links, but those are from only a few domains, then there is something unnatural.
Natural Anchor Text: If you notice the anchor text is heavy ‘keyword rich’ and doesn’t look natural, means someone tried to manipulate Google in the past. And the possibility is the domain got a penalty. So always look for natural anchor text distribution in a domain.
Trust Flow [Hint: 15+ TF Required]
Majestic is another great company working on the SEO space and they have developed metrics like Trust Flow to measure how much trustworthy a domain in Google’s eye.
When investigating for an expired domain, go with the one that has at least 15+ in Trust Flow (TF) metrics.
Citation Flow [Hint: 15+ CF Required]
Similar to Trust Flow, Citation Flow (CF) is developed by the same company.
This metrics is a prediction of how influential a particular URL to Google calculating how many sites linked to it.
Again, look for 15+
Old domains are prioritized by Google when ranking!
However, Matt Cutts officially confirmed the factor isn’t important ‘That Much’
There are some other reasons why you need an old aged domain (e.g. Sandbox effect).
I would prefer to go with a domain that is at least 2 years old. You need to put some effort into finding one. Especially for a niche website, it is tough. If you can get a domain following all the metrics mentioned above, the possibility is you have got yourself a gem of a domain!
Google Page Rank
Page Rank (PR) is the major SEO metrics Google one officially used to release.
But that’s the past. PR is officially dead now.
Whenever choosing an expired domain, it’s better to check if the domain has any page rank. Better if you can at least secure a domain with PR 2. But this is not mandatory.
As PR has no value, officially, you should better focus on other metrics mentioned till now.
Check The Content History With Archive.org
Archive.org is a website that saves almost every website that has ever been created and indexed. Many people use it for various purposes like I use it to get unlimited free contents for my niche site.
For now, we need to check the history of the domain we find that meets almost every metric mentioned above.
Now put your domain name in the box, and click ‘Go’
This will show you a calendar. Now click one of the dates and this will show the achieve of that particular date.
Check every highlighted date available on the calendar and measure if the site has solid past or someone just spoiled the domain name with spammy, low quality contents.
Signs That Shows As Spammy Sites
- Spun Content that doesn’t make any sense
How To Decide About Expired Domain?
If you see the metrics mentioned above is fulfilled by any particular domain, and there is a great scope of brandability and long term working scope (more details below), you can go for the particular domain.
Brand New Domains
Reaching for a brand new domain name has the big “pro” of starting with a clean slate.
Yes, you will have to do more work:
But all of the links you build will be relevant to your site, as you can control where to get the links.
The biggest “con” of going with a brand new domain name is that it will take more work.
Google doesn’t trust new domains, so they impose a penalty called Google sandbox so that the site can’t rank higher on targeted keywords.
The goal of this penalty is to prevent spammers from manipulating search result without following all the quality guideline.
Google trust matters in ranking.
You can’t really rank for competitive keywords without gaining the trust from the search giant.
You need to go through the pain of authoritative and natural building quality links after waiting for the sandbox period to be over.
I recommend going for brand new domains for niche site.
Especially for beginners, this is something I strongly recommend, as choosing wrong expired domain can completely drain your project.
Think of that extra work as a learning opportunity that you won’t get with an expired domain. Plus, you won’t have the chance of getting dragged down by irrelevant and spammy backlinks.
Do You Really Need an EMD For Niche Site?
In short? No.
Exact Match Domain names (or EMDs) are out in the SEO world.
I’ve seen this practice become totally obsolete in niche building in the past few years, and it won’t be coming back anytime soon.
Exact Match Domain names were once thought to help your site rank higher, but nowadays they are just seen as clunky and can even be a net negative in the SEO game.
A study conducted by High Position indicated that the “average EMD ranking went from #13.4 down to #26.6,” and the “average top 10 EMD went from #3.2 down to #11.9.
Moz data shows that EMD correlation with ranking has dropped from 0.34 in 2010 to 0.18 in 2012.
These data clearly show that we need to move from the idea of getting exact match domain.
So if you shouldn’t base your domain name on keyword matches, what should domains be based on?
Brandability Matters… Why?
When picking a new domain name, it’s ALL about branding ability.
There are a few big reasons for this, some of which have to do with straight up SEO practices and some of which do not.
These days, Google strongly favors sites that are based around brands.
Because sites that are based around brands are considered to be better providers of high-quality information, mighty Google thinks so.
Check out this infographic by SEOBook. You will understand that you need a brand signal to get greater SEO result.
If you want to rank in Google, You need to build brand signal:
The best way to create brand signals is to build a brand necessarily.
Great brands start with a brandable domain name.
Outside of SEO, you want people to be able to remember your site name. Branded domains make it easier for your site’s name to link up to your social media profiles, and all of the other places that you live on the web.
And branded domains are just easier for people to remember, as they sound more natural and tend to “roll off of the tongue” better than keyword based domains.
So, start with a brand when building domain names and you will have the opportunity to get more success and potential of working with it for a long time.
Factors To Consider While Choosing A Domain
Besides brandability, here are a few factors that I recommend you keep in mind when thinking of your new domain name.
Thinking of the Future
When you launch a site, ask yourself:
Do you hope your site will grow and continue to create revenue in the future, or is your niche site just a fun project for today?
Of course, the answer will usually be obvious.
For being a project for future, your name should sound that you can publish a lot more contents in the future.
You wouldn’t put so much work into your niche sites if you didn’t think they had any chance of taking off. So when considering a domain name, you want to think about how that domain name will affect your site in the future.
The biggest thing I caution against is making your domain name too specific. You do want your domain to have something to do with your niche, but it shouldn’t be so sub-niche specific that you can’t expand in the future.
Some example are given below.
Domain length can be only 1 character to maximum 63 characters, without the extension.
This factor is pretty straightforward, and I don’t need to explain it too much.
Off course, shorter is better.
The longer your domain, the harder it will be to remember. Keep it short, or it won’t be brandable.
Domain Extension [Hint: Go For .com]
If you are creating a niche site that sells specifically to a region outside of the U.S., region specific domains can be a good idea. I’ve found for example that .ca extensions place slightly higher in Canadian search results.
But if you are marketing your niche site globally or within the US (What we exactly do with Amazon niche site), I would strongly recommend choosing a .com extension.
For one, “.com” is the most widely recognized and considered the “default” domain suffix.
Everyone will be able to remember it.
Secondly, “.com” links itself to branding a lot better than some other extensions.
Although other domain extensions will work in most cases (and work in the same manner when it comes to ranking on search engine), the .com extension is the easiest to remember, and the most easily recognized by visitors.
If all the domain extensions get the same value in ranking, why am I suggesting you to go for a “.com” domain?
Google prefers brands when ranking websites, so you need to build a brand to be on the top.
(Google’s recent Alphabet branding is complete exception, and exceptions don’t count)
NB: If you are anyway unable to get a .com domain, you can also go for .net or .org extension.
Hyphens – To Include or Avoid Completely?
Don’t include the hyphen in the domain.
In just about every case, there’s a better domain name out there that doesn’t use a hyphen. Using hyphens make your domain name look clunky and make it harder to remember.
I strongly recommend avoiding them.
Numbers In The Domain Name?
Again, avoid them.
Unless you are using a number in a mnemonic sense, they will make your domain name harder to remember. Plus, think about how many big name branded domains have numbers in their titles.
Not many, right?
They just don’t look very professional, and will make your niche site domain name more forgettable and less brandable.
Keep It Simple
I’ve touched on this throughout the factors to consider, but it bears repeating. Your domain name should be very easy to remember, and shouldn’t force your potential visitors to think too much to recall who you are and what you do.
To determine what is and isn’t memorable, do a bit of market research if you can on your friends and family. Ask them which sounds “catchier,” or don’t preface the research at all and just ask a friend to remember your domain.
Then, ask your friends later to see how well they recall it, and repeat for other domain options.
If your domain isn’t memorable, it won’t be of much use in branding, so this is an important thing to strive for.
You think this is stressful for you?
Then I have a shortcut for you at the end that will hit the nail on the head.
Keep The Meaning Broad
I mentioned this in “think to the future” above, but again, it’s so important that it bears repeating. While your domain name will, of course, be tied to a niche since we are talking about niche site building here, don’t limit yourself by getting too specific in that niche.
If you are writing a lot about ‘handheld Polaroid cameras’, think about a domain name that encompasses all handheld film cameras or all cameras instead of just Polaroid, so that you can broaden the scope of discussion without changing your domain.
Let’s take a look at another example:
Your keyword is ‘Best Baby Jumper’, and now you want to register a domain name for the keyword. As I see, BestBabyJumper.com is available now, will you just go for that?
Yes, you can. But you can’t expand your vertical and this domain doesn’t have the option to expand it to other verticals as well.
In this case, I will go for a domain name like BabyPlayable.com, or BabyPlayGears.com. So that once I’m done with targeting my main products, I can expand my niche site with related baby play gears.
The more products you can cover within a niche, the better, so keep your domain interest or meaning sufficiently broad enough to expand later on.
Choose a Name That Sounds Authoritative
Your domain name should sound like a trustworthy authority.
To make the name authoritative, I added ‘Lab’ kind of suffix after my topic name for some of my niche sites. You can also look for biggest authoritative domain names around, and lend some ideas from them to brainstorm for your next niche site domain name.
Domain Name Generator Tools To Use
If all of those tips seem overwhelming, and you still have no idea what to do to pick the right domain for your niche site, don’t worry.
I can recommend a few tools that will make the process easier for you, and give you some options to whittle down what your domain name should be.
Domainr, a powerful tool that searches thousands of databases with one click, to give you a good idea of what domains are available related to any keyword. It will show you what domains are available for sale as well, though remember that I usually suggest thinking up a brand new one.
BustAName, This tool will help you brainstorm domain names if you have keyword ideas, but doesn’t know where to go from there.
Name Mesh, This tool helps you think of synonyms and antonyms of any search word, which is useful in thinking of branded domain names in a niche.
Domain Name Suffix You Can Use
If you don’t want to go through the brainstorming part of generating domain your ideas, but still want a brandable and acceptable domain, there is a shortcut.
You can also use the following suffix with your niche and see if the domain name is available for registration.
Example of Good and Bad Selection of Domain Name
Where To Register?
Or you can simply go for Bluehost, if you buy a hosting package from them, they will give you a free domain name.
Your domain name is incredibly important to the success of your niche site.
But right domain names don’t happen by accident.
As a rule of thumb, you want your domain names to be short, catchy, brandable, and related to your domain. To get more ideas on how to achieve those results, re-read the guide I’ve provided above.
What’s your number # 1 preference while registering your domain?