A domain name is made up of two parts, the unique name you choose, made up of letters and or numbers (in my case sueblimely) and a top level domain (TLD) - eg com, net, au, ca. A complete list of TLD's can be found on Wikipedia. (As from next year you will be able to get a .me TLD when Montenegro's domain name becomes available - imagine the rush to get that suffix e.g. buy.me, love.me, bookmark.me...)
Think carefully about your domain name considering these points:
- If your hosted blog name is already well known then think about reusing this.
- If you want a new name, try to choose one that is easy to remember and easy to spell. Shorter names are generally better and less prone to spelling errors. Remember that your domain name and blog title do not need to be the same so a long title does not have to translate into a long domain name.
- It is good to have a name that descriptive and relevant to your blog topic, using keywords that will bring in readers from search engines.
- You can be descriptive and creative at the same time e.g. treehugger.com
- You may wish to create an identity for yourself at the same time e.g. joelonsoftware.com (this is what I am aiming to do because of my other web activities which are distinct from blogging)
- If you already have a well known identity/nickname consider using this e.g.: snoskred.org.
- Many blogs do not have a particular topic. You can be creative in this case but try to choose a memorable name.
All of this comes with the proviso that the name you choose is actually available. You may not be able to buy your chosen name and a rethink or compromise may have to be settled on.There are many other domain naming tools available online although I have not been too impressed by them. I found the following of the most use:
- Instant Domain Checker - nice and quick
- Create a list of words associated with your site and check them on Google Trends gives you an idea of how much search traffic words get:
- bustaname.com - allows instant live searching and helps you find domains sounding similar to the one of your choice.
- namedroppers.com - perform searches for domain names using multiple keywords
- MakeWords.com - search via keyword and get alternatives to the resultant names.
- JustDropped.com - lets you search for domain names that have recently expired.
- If you need a little inspiration the weblog name generator may help. If not you can get a giggle from some of the names it comes up with. (e.g. bug-eyed dreams, happy noodle)
Once your domain name is decided on and you are sure it is available, you need to actually buy the name. Most hosting companies provide domain registration services but, although buying this way is the simplest option, it may not be the cheapest option.
You can find reviews of domain registrars on NamePros.com. Namecheap and Dynadot seem to have good reputations. I have used WebPageDomainNames.com, which is associated with GoDaddy, for a few years now and have had no problems. I have not had to test out their customer support so cannot comment on how efficient this is.