4.2 The Anatomy of a Perfect Domain Name

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Helpful links from this video:

In this video I discuss:

  • How long it takes to find a good domain name
  • Exact match domains (EMDs) vs. non-EMDs
  • What makes a good domain?
  • Helpful free tools for picking a domain name

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4.2 Transcript Below

Okay! Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, let’s talk about your domain name. I think a lot of people will get tied up on this (again, just like everything else we’ve covered) and it can actually be broken down into a really simple set kind of rules so that’s what we’re going to talk about in this section and how to find a domain name, et cetera.

So the anatomy of a perfect domain name.

This process is more time-consuming than most people think. I think a lot of people jump into this and they can’t find a domain name within 30 minutes or an hour and they think it’s peculiar; they think it’s a bad sign and they’re alarmed by it. That’s perfectly normal. It’s perfectly normal for the process of finding a really good domain name to take one to four hours or more. You may end up doing it for six or eight hours over the course of two or three days. That’s perfectly normal.

So don’t feel like this is something you might just like hop on and be done in 10 minutes. I guess it’s possible, but there are some check boxes that we’re going to talk about in this video that you really want to make sure you check for a domain name and it takes time – especially in somewhat saturated niches – to find a really good domain name. But we’re going to look at some tools that helps with that, too. A lot. That help a lot.

So an important thing to note because I get this question sometimes: you cannot change a domain name later. You could build a different website on a different domain or you could transfer your website, have a… it’s kind of a technical thing so unless you’re technically inclined, you probably have a developer transfer your website from one domain to another. But it’s really not something you want to do. There’s a very particular way to do it correctly and it’s a difficult and technically challenging thing. So if at all possible, you want to get it right the first time.

So another thing worth noting – just like picking a niche – is not to fall into that ‘analysis paralysis’. It can be easy to fall into that, because you know again, we’re talking about a lot of different kind of things you really want to see in the ideal domain name. But at the end of the day, you’re not going to find one absolutely perfect; you’re going to do the best you can and hopefully you get something really, really good. You should get something really, really good if you follow the training and use the free tools that I’m going to point you to in this training.

So hey, I think it’s important… I can see a lot of people going, “Hey Ian, ‘to find good’ – what does that mean?” So let’s talk about some really clear and tangible guidelines for what makes a domain good, okay?

Old-school training is what’s referred to as an EMD which stands for ‘exact match domain’. If you search Google… like if you search the term ‘Google exact match domain’… like four words ‘Google exact match domain’ on Google, you will find articles where Google de-emphasized the importance of an exact match domain.

I want to pause here really quickly because if you’re more technically-inclined and very advanced – which I know the majority of the people watching these videos won’t be and that’s perfectly fine – someone might say, “Oh…” well someone I saw even recently in training said exact match domains are really good. And they can be. There’s a technical advantage that would be way, way, way too overwhelming to explain at this point because it has to do with off-page search engine optimization and search engine algorithms and what’s referred to as ‘anchor text’ which is the links or the text that is used in a link. Like if you see someone put ‘Click Here’ and that’s what they used to link to a site, the anchor text is ‘Click Here’.

So technically speaking, exact match domains are likely to get more links that contain their search phrase that they’re trying to rank for because it’s the name of their domain. And that can also insulate you, give you a little bit more cushion to not be penalized by Google. And right now I bet 90% of people watching this video are going… like your eyes are just glazing over… and that’s why I say don’t even worry about that because when Google de-emphasized the importance of an exact match domain, it definitely helped level the playing field some. And at the end of the day, if you create value, it doesn’t matter what keywords are or are not in your domain name. It doesn’t matter what your domain name is. It’s going to get ranked with or without the keyword in the domain name. So that’s the important thing to remember.

But the old-school training in internet marketing… if you see anything even from a couple of years ago… maybe even as early as a year ago and especially five years ago plus… you know, three to five years back… everyone was saying, “Okay, you want to find your main keyword that you want to target and you want to buy the exact domain that matches that.” And that’s why you see a lot of things like MensSupplements.com or MyMensSupplementsHelp.com, like these really crappy domain names because they were just trying to get their keyword into the domain name and you don’t have to worry about that stuff as much anymore.

So if that’s what you’ve been taught in the past, I give you total permission to just kind of chuck that in the trash and move on because there’s better more up-to-date training and that’s what you’re going to learn here.

As I mentioned, new-school present day, there’s a lot more flexibility for branding based on the more level playing field due to exact match domains being de-emphasized by Google. So let’s talk about the anatomy of a perfect domain or as perfect of a domain as you can possibly get.

Absolutely hands-down, .com if you can get it. .net and .org technically are also okay – they rank just as well. My problem with .net and .org are if I go to a website once and I pay attention to the brand name and I catch the brand name… say for example, StoppingScams.com… if I want to go back to that site I’m like, “Oh yeah, I saw this thing on Stopping Scams the other day…” and I’m going to put in Stoppingscams.com first. So if I had the domain StoppingScams.net or StoppingScams.org, that visitor would have trouble finding me. Maybe they can find me in Google if they search, but the top of mind as far as domains go is always – world-wide – .com. Flat out. And that’s why personally, I never register domain names that are not .com – at least, domain names that I’m trying to rank and make money with.

There’s some more advance training that I’d like to get into teaching at some point. I’ve dabbled with things like PBNs and private blog networks to make sure I’m up to date in the community so I’ve experimented with some things… you know, some properties I do not touch with PBNs because I don’t want to get them penalized… but other things I think it’s important to keep yourself up to date with all the skills in internet marketing.

So in that case, I have purchased .orgs and .nets but those aren’t to rank and make money with. Those are to use… you know, to leverage and to build ranking for other sites, which again, is so far beyond the level we’re at right now that is PBNs. To do them correctly are so technically demanding they require so much knowledge. So don’t even worry about that right now. If you’ve heard PBNs and you’re like, “I want to get into that!” If you’re still learning to build a website and you’ve never had a profitable internet business and you don’t even know the basics of on-page/off-page SEO, I would not venture into PBNs right off the bat because there’s so much foundational knowledge you need to build between here and there.

And I hope to teach PBNs at some point as well, but for now, just again taking us back to the present moment… .com if you can get it and just know .org and .net are okay if you’re okay with them. But also, I want to share my personal standard: I keep searching until I find a .com always. If I’m trying to make money with a site, if I’m trying to build a brand through a website, I am going to find a .com even if it’s not the most desirable brands because that .com was taken and I have to come up with another brand, I will sacrifice that for a .com rather than going .net or .org. So keep that in mind.

A really important note here is I just very specifically mentioned .com, .net, .org intentionally. Do not use other domains. Do not use other what are referred to as TLDs (top-level domains) even… .com, .net, .org are the ones you should use.

Particularly, do not use like .co, .nz, or .com.uk, .co.uk – anything like that. Regionally-specific is going to severely inhibit your ability to rank worldwide and one of the beauties of an internet business is that you can rank and talk to people all around the world and make money from people all around the world as website traffic. And if you choose a regionally-specific domain, you limit that ability.

So again, if you’re going to venture out of .com, only venture into .net and .org. Don’t consider anything else, okay?

And you may be going, “Oh, but I’ve seen .infos rank!” It’s true, they rank just like… again, as a general rule of thumb, you can find contradictions to some of the things I’m saying but I’m absolutely giving you the best practices and I strongly recommend staying within those.

So the second component of a perfect – again, as close as you can get to perfect domain – is for it to be memorable, brandable (those typically go hand-in-hand) and easy to spell.

A lot of the times, you’ll see these days someone like drop a letter and sometimes you sacrifice one for the other. For example, Tumblr is a huge website and they’re not spelled correctly. It’s T-U-M-B-L-R. So they dropped the E. And it became a huge website. So that’s totally possible; but at the same time, is that level of success likely for everyone that launches a website? Definitely not. So you have to factor those things in.

So the more memorable and brandable it is and the easier to spell it is, the better. And also, the shorter, the better. I wouldn’t say there’s any hard rule… you know, I run the website PinTurningTexan.com, I have a VirtualRealityGinger.com – are both niche sites that I’ve profited from in the past and those are both pretty long domains all things considered. I’ve even had longer ones in the past way back in the day. So I would say priority over shorter. If you can find something that’s more brandable and memorable and it’s easy to spell but it’s a little bit longer, I say personally, go for it.

But you want to keep it as short as possible. You don’t want it to get out of hand. Just use your best judgment. There are no hard and fast rules like “Don’t exceed 15 characters”. It just doesn’t work that way. Just use your best judgment, be smart about it, and just know the shorter you can keep it, the better. I really would not try to make it more than two or three words if at all possible.

And the other thing to note is if you can include a root key word in your domain or brand, go for it. Do it. So an example of a root keyword would be… it’s a spin-off of an exact match domain so if your niche was ‘men’s supplements’, you may try to get ‘supplements’ and you may not need to get all of ‘men’s supplements’ in your domain name but you may try to get ‘men’s’ or ‘supplements’… you know, kind of root chunks of your keyword that are going to apply across a lot of the keywords and a lot of the articles you write over time. That’s awesome.

And if this just kinds of confuses you, you can just throw it out the window because these are kind of – again – in order of importance so .com is the most important. Memorable, brandable, and easy to spell is the next most important. The shorter the better is the next most important. And then if you can’t get a root keyword in it then fine. Like Stopping Scams ranks for a ton of keywords that have nothing to do with scams and they don’t have the word ‘scam’ in them. So you can absolutely rank for keywords either way – for search terms either way – so I wouldn’t emphasize this too much but if you find it kind of convenient, you can kind of stick it in there and sneak it in there. Perfect. Like that’s awesome.

It may help you with a little bit more of ranking power, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to do your business in just because you didn’t get a root keyword in there.

So I want to mention and then I want to show you really quickly a handful of really helpful tools. My absolute favorite is LeanDomainSearch.com. I’ll show you what that looks like. There are also a couple of potentially helpful tools that I’ll take a look at from time to time if I’m not finding what I need from Lean Domain Search. NameMesh is really good and so is Nameboy.com.

Typically, what I’m doing with these tools… occasionally I’ll find something that’s really good. I’m like I’m going to register that domain name. End of story. And it works out really well that way but it doesn’t always play out that way. I would say more often, what happens is looking at all of these ideas make me think, “Oh! I wonder about this. I like this one. It’s similar to that but not quite. But I like it. I think it’s really brandable.”

So you can use any domain registrar to check other ideas that rattle loose. A domain registrar is like GoDaddy.com, Namecheap.com – Google even has a service where you can register domains. And so you don’t have to obviously… you don’t have to buy everything you search.

And I’ve heard people have this ‘conspiracy theory’ that the moment you search on GoDaddy, a timer starts running and it’s only going to be available for so long. That’s not true at all. I’ve searched stuff on GoDaddy like years… like a year or months before I’ve registered it and then I finally get around registering and it’s still available.

So don’t feel like just because you’re putting it into a system, now some magical timer starts and someone can see and they’re going to register it before you. It doesn’t work that way, okay?

So as you go through these tools, you can pull up any other registrar. We’ll talk about which one is best to use in a coming lesson, but for now, you can use any of them – GoDaddy, NameCheap, anybody – to check those extra ideas that rattle loose. Because for me personally, those are typically the best ideas. Even though I’m using these tools to kind of stir up ideas, the best ones aren’t listed on these tools themselves.

An important thing to keep in mind, again, to aid with avoiding analysis paralysis is that there is no 100% perfect domain. There are going to be sacrifices one way or another: you may not get a root keyword in there; it may be kind of long. It may even… for some of you… if you’re okay making that sacrifice not be a .com. Again, that’s not something that I do but plenty of people do it with great success. So just keep that in mind. Like you want to get the stars aligned as closely as you can but you may not line them all up perfectly and it’s okay. That’s okay. It’s good. You need to be okay with that if that’s what happens.

So we’re going to talk about registration options in the next video and specifically talk about where you should register your domains because it’s not as straightforward as ‘Register Your Domains Here’. There are different advantages and disadvantages to each one (I’m going to talk about three different paths specifically) and that’s going to be in the next video. There’s more to it than a lot of people think. But for now, we’re going to hop into a couple of these tools and take a look at them and what they look like in person… right? Live.

So let’s hop over here and let’s take a look at this. So I’m going to go to Lean Domain Search… also like change my… (Oop! There’s the top of my green screen! Spoiler alert! Okay. So I’ll just sit further back from my computer so I’m not just like here the whole time because probably like that was a way too close. Sorry about that.)

So Lean Domain Search is my personal favorite. I really like it and I’ll show you why.

So let’s say for example… I think I’m still trying to decide between tattoo removal and dachshund discectomy – which of those niches I’m going to build out. I probably won’t build out fully; most of this is just for training purposes. But those are both niches I’ve thought about pursuing in the past and I think I might pursue. We’ll see. But at the end of the day, let’s just run with one.

So let’s just say, ‘tattoo’. You can also include ‘multiple’ here. I think you can include ‘removal’ as well. And you have all of these different ways to sort. This is why I love Lean Domain Search. You know, you can sort by Popularity; you can sort by Length (so if you sort by length now you’re going to see all of the shorter ones first); you can sort by Alphabetical; and you can also sort by Starts with Search Term or Ends with Search Term.

So I searched this specifically as a tattoo removal niche site. I can’t remember if Lean Domain Search does both… Yeah, so they do. They definitely do. So you can see they just kind of merge them together but you still have them adding prefixes and adding suffixes to kind of give you a mix and you can just like… this list just runs and runs and runs and I just see here and I go through some of these and I go, “Okay which one?” Like, “Okay.”

The domain that came to mind… One day I was thinking about… I was like, “I’m going to register that if it’s available – even if I don’t build the site out yet, I’m going to register that,” was ThinkBeforeYouInk.com. Just really brandable in my opinion. I think it would’ve been fun to build. It’s not available. And BeforeYouInk even was not available so it’s like okay, I’m going to have to find something else.

So you can see… like you go through and there are just all these great suggestions. A lot of them. Like I just saw one it was TattooRemovalResearch. And all these ones that are lit up green? These are all available. And I believe they are all available as .coms. So pretty handy, right?

And I could also just like put in plain ‘dachshund’ and so… you know, all kinds of… I wouldn’t make anything as a domain name DachshundDiscectomy whatever. Because again, that would not be easy for most people to spell. And even if they’re like, “Oh yeah, I can spell that.” Most people can spell it. Like how memorable is it, right? I’d rather be brandable than be an exact match domain in today’s search climate.

Interesting… DachshundMagazine.com is available… I find that kind of funny. So you just get all of these great suggestions and these are all available. And yeah, they’re all .coms. DachshundMagazine.com… that’s crazy that’s available. It probably won’t be after people watch it up in this video.

So I want to pull you over into another one. Let’s get in here to NameMesh. Go to page.

Alright. So again, this one I don’t find quite as helpful but it does have its uses. You can put in one word; you can put in two words. I also typed in ‘removal’.

Okay, so now… you know, if you have all different kinds of categories like none of these are going to be… again, a lot of these aren’t going to be .com, .net, .org… so we just wouldn’t consider any of these.

And same thing with these. Like they’re just playing around with the words I input and using top-level domains or domain endings to play into that keyword – and I just wouldn’t look at them.

In fun, you see they’ve kind of cut out characters. Again for me, personally, nobody’s going to remember this crap. Tttrmvl.com. Like yeah, oh I’m sure.

And even I think what’s most likely to happen with a domain like this is someone misreads it, they think it says TattooRemoval.com and the next time they try to come back to your site, they end up going to one of your competitors. So I wouldn’t even look at those.

And you see an SEO category. So you can play around with this one, too. It can be helpful to stir up ideas. I have found it helpful in the past but not always – I’ll just emphasize ‘not always’. But by far, Lean Domain Search is my favorite of these two.

So let’s get back in here… the keynote… and we’ll go to Nameboy.com. So Nameboy, you can actually enter them in different spaces and you can see that this kind of allow hyphens. I think I may have skipped that over in my training. I thought I mentioned it somewhere. I did not.

So another side note is I personally would recommend not using hyphens in your domain name. Maybe using one, but even that… like again, for me it’s a hard rule. Personally, I’m only going to use .coms. I am not going to put hyphens in my domain name. A lot of the times they’re just associated with lower quality websites. So I won’t click ‘Allow hyphens’ here and I’ll hit ‘go nameboy go’. And kind of like Lean Domain Search, it’s going to pop up a bunch of different combinations. This is an interesting mix between Lean Domain Search and NameMesh. Kind of some middle ground.

I think they even have a tool on Nameboy… No. There are tools out there too, where you can put in your own custom prefixes and your own custom suffixes and kind of just throw in the root keyword you want to work around and they’ll make suggestions. But I can’t remember which one that is. You can just also – in addition to these – Google free domain research tools or domain suggestion tools and you’ll find all kinds of other stuff.

I’ve just found personally over time… especially Lean Domain Search has been a go-to for me especially for stirring up ideas. And like I said, there have been times I’ve just been like, “Oh! DachshundMagazine… I’m buying that!”

So that’s the end of this lesson, we’re going to tie it up here. In the next lesson – like I said – we’re going to talk about the kind of differences between the major registrar options, what the pros and cons are, and basically it all comes down to cost and what your tolerance is there. And so I’ll talk to you about the cheapest option, the most convenient option, et cetera.

So that’s in the next lesson. I’m going to play around here for a little bit and find a domain that I can kind of use as an example as we continue throughout this section and I will see you all in the next video.