One of the first things you need to do when you are starting your blog is to choose a blog domain name. For example, BlogFromScratch.com is a domain name. Let’s review a few research tips before you start spending money.
It’s always annoying when you come up with an amazing blog domain name only to find out there are a bunch of problems with it. Maybe it’s too similar to another blog or trademark. Or maybe the social media usernames are not available. And the best of all, the domain was previously used on an “adult” website. Who wants that headache?
Before you buy your domain name, consider these tips and steps to help you reduce the risk of some of these problems. One quick note, I can’t 100% guaranty that there won’t be problems, but this will take you through a due diligence process to minimize the risk. Or if you decide to buy the domain anyway, you’re an “informed consumer” in your choice.
4 things to do before you buy your blog domain name
The following steps will help you confirm if your chosen domain name is available while limiting the risk of problems. You can do these steps in any order, but at a minimum I would start with making sure the domain name is even available.
Confirm the domain name is available.
As part of your blog planning and research, you may come up with an amazing, clever domain name that’s perfect for your blog. It’s a lovely feeling until you realize that someone has already purchased that domain name. It may have an active website on it, or someone bought it but it’s not active.
I like to use Namechk.com to check if the domain name is available along with the social media usernames. Ideally you’re looking for an available domain name ends in .com. I have bought domains that end in other extensions (.net, .org, .co). There are strong opinions on what you should or should not do in the case where the .com is not available.
Confirm the social media usernames (handles) are available
Ideally you want to synchronize your domain name and social media handles so that you build a stronger blog brand. This makes it easier for people to find you on different social media platforms. Depending on where your target audience spends their time, you can prioritize which usernames must be available to proceed
For example, I primarily aim for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook (pages), and Twitter to be available. And sometimes I also sign up for the Gmail account just in case. Based on your research, you’ll decide which platforms you need accounts with.
This is where Namechk is useful for both confirming the domain name availability along with the social media names. It searches both the domain names across multiple extensions along with many social media platforms. One note: Namechk does not confirm if the Gmail name is available. Youtube can be available, while Gmail is not.
Tip: Sometimes a social media domain name will show as not available when all of the other accounts look to be available. That may be a hiccup in the checking process. Try clicking the platform square to confirm if it’s a hiccup or if the account is actually not available.
Twitter may or may not help bring traffic to your blog. It’s going to depend on the topics you focus on. Twitter is also the most challenging of the group to synchronize your domain name to the username because Twitter limits usernames to 15 characters. Depending on the length of your blog domain name, you may need to be creative in choosing a shortened version for the Twitter domain name.
Search your domain name on Google in multiple different ways
Ok so now that you determined that your preferred domain name is available, let’s make sure it’s sufficiently unique.
When I Google a potential domain name, I try searching in a few different ways to look for potential problems. Try googling the following:
- The full domain name in quotes: “domainname.com”
- And without quotes: domainname.com
- Just the main part part of the name with quotes and no spaces: “domainname”
- Your name with spaces and quotes: “domain name”
- And without quotes: domain name
Depending on what you find, you’ll need to decide if you’re comfortable proceeding forward with the name. In some cases you’ll find that there are very similar blog (or website) names out there. While you could make the actual blog domain name unique, it may still be too close to something already active.
And don’t forget, NEVER put someone else’s brand into your domain name. You may receive a lovely letter from their legal department about trademark infringement. Also, even it is allowed by the company in question, you’re potentially limiting your future to that company. What if you want to expand beyond that product?
And one last thing, check the domain on Archive.org (the Wayback machine)
And one last thing to check as you’re looking for potential domain name baggage is looking for old versions of the website. It’s possible that you came up with a clever domain name that someone also came up with in the past (but has since let the domain expire). A domain that is currently available doesn’t mean it was not owned in the past.
Search the domain on Archive.org, also known as the Wayback Machine. This can be a fun blast-from the past experiment. Not all websites have archived versions captured. Checking it here is at least an attempt to see if there’s older versions of the website that you’d prefer your new brand not be associated with, particularly if it was previously an “adult” website.
If the domain was previously owned, you’ll need to decide if it makes sense to proceed forward with building a new blog on it. Previously owned domains that were never actively have a lower risk of being a problem.
Over to you. What else do you do before you buy a blog domain name? What other concerns do you have?
The tips above help you do some due diligence before staking your new blog on a domain name. You may not catch all of the headaches in the process. Maybe Google is no longer actively listing content or Archive.org didn’t capture snapshot of an old site.
You do the best you can or make a purchase as an “informed consumer”.