Top 5 Basic Domain Name Elements

Friday, June 24, 2016
by Karen Cioffi

As an online marketing instructor and ghostwriter, I get students and clients who are just starting out. Just beginning their marketing journey. And, they don’t know the very basics of an effective website or what actions to take to get started.

The very first thing to do, when you’re first thinking about creating your own website or having one created for you, is get a domain name.

The domain name is your online address. It’s where people can find you online.

For example, my content writing site is Article Writing Doctor – that’s the domain name and the website title. The URL (actual online address) is

The Key Elements of a Domain Name

1. You want your domain name to be reflective of what your site is about.

Still using my Article Writing Doctor site, the reason I chose that name is because it’s highly relevant to my site’s niche.

If your site is about cooking, you'll want a domain name that reflects that. If I had a cooking site, I might use something like Cooking with Karen. Or, maybe zoom in closer on the niche, Karen Cooks Italian or Italian Cooking with Karen.

Make it as specific and keyword effective as possible. The reason I added "with Karen" is because "Cooking" and "Italian Cooking" are very popular keywords. Chances are the domain name wouldn't be available.

2. You want it to be keyword optimized.

The keywords for my domain name are: article / article writing / writing.

3. Keep it short and clear.

Keep your domain name short and to the point. This is best for both readers, search engines, and your marketing efforts. Shorter works better.

4. Think unique.

Try to make your name unique. Make a list of 5-10 names, possibly using variations. Find one that works and that’s available to use.

5. Choose the most popular ‘ending’ if possible.

There are a number of name extensions or endings for URLs: .com / .net / .org, and so on.

You might think of the URL endings as the same as using Street / Avenue / Drive / Road, and so on. Your home address might be:

123 Smith Street
123 Smith Avenue
123 Smith Drive

Get the idea? And, the most popular domain name extension is .com.

Summing It Up

So, there you have it, five of the basic elements to creating an optimized domain name. If you’re getting ready to take the website plunge, use these tips to create a search engine and reader friendly name.


Karen Cioffi is a former accountant who is now a multi-award-winning author, ghostwriter, freelance writer, editor, and author-writer online platform marketing instructor. She founded and manages Writers on the Move (a marketing group), and presents online writing and marketing workshops and webinars.

Karen has published 12 writing and marketing eBooks, the most recent, Article Marketing: Increase Website Traffic with Properly Formatted and Search Engine Optimized Content.

In addition to this, Karen’s website, Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing, was named Writer’s Digest Website of the Week, June 25, 2012.

>>>Do you have a writer's website? Check out Karen's 5-day online class: CREATE YOUR WORDPRESS WEBSITE TODAY: No Code, No Technical Stuff, No Fuss .  Visit our classroom page for details and enrollment.


Karen Cioffi said...

It's great to be back, WOW! Just wanted to add a bit more on #1 and #2. Domanin names are one of the first elements that search engines look at to determine what your website is about. That's why it must be relevant to your website's niche.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great tips, Karen! What do you think about using your full name (like: for a portfolio website or freelance website? Or do you suggest creating a brand name based on your niche?

Karen Cioffi said...

Angela, ultimately, you can go either way.

I think it's a good idea to have your name as a domain name. While your name won't do much for the search engines, it will be a place you can bring editors, potential clients, and others to. Or, it can be a place where people searching for you online by name can find you.

It’s also important just in case there's another person with your name who decides she wants that domain name. Your possible traffic (from people who might be looking for you online by your name) will go to the other person. This actually happens.

Another reason I like the ‘name’ domain name is it can grow with you. You can add to your services, change niches, and so on. It becomes whatever you become. If you branch in a number of directions, it can become your hub site.

If you want to play it safe, you can add "freelancewriter" in the domain name. The domain name is one of the first places search engines check to find out what your site is about.

I did this with my freelance site (karencioffifreelancewriter). But, I also have just my name as a domain name as a hub site (karencioffi). I probably have too many sites. 

If you go the ‘your name’ route, to give the search engines the bits of info they need, you would include your keywords in your website title and subtitle, as well as your meta tags.

As far as creating a brand domain name, that would depend on your niche and what you want to be known as. And, if that name is available for use. ‘Freelance writer’ is pretty generic.

For my Article Writing Doctor site, it’s highly focused on a specific niche – content writing. I tried a couple of different names, but my first choices were taken.

For my Writers on the Move site, it originated using virtual blog tours and morphed into what it is today, but the name is still highly relevant to the site and valid as a brand.

So, if you have a brand name you’re thinking of, it’s available, and you’re pretty sure you’ll be sticking with that niche, then brand yourself.

Just realized I kind of ranted on. I hope this helps.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Thanks, Karen! That's super helpful. I will probably just go with my name if it's available because I mostly work in graphic design and occasionally freelance write, but I also work in film, display, and have brick-and-mortar businesses, and of course, WOW. It would be hard to nail down one thing to apply to the end of my name--even the generic "freelance writer" or "graphic designer" option. I have a company called Mackintosh Multimedia, which is a full-service design firm, and don't have an official site, so I was waffling on either going with my name or the agency name, but we're thinking about changing the agency name, so perhaps the home base of my personal name would be the best option for now. Thanks so much for your advice! :)

Karen Cioffi said...

You're welcome, Angela. And, under the circumstances, using your name is a good idea. You have a lot going on for one focused brand.

Even if you end up creating a new firm name and create a website, you can always link the sites.

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