Choosing the right domain name is one of the most important decisions when starting a niche website. Your domain name is often the first impression you make on potential visitors, so you want it to effectively communicate your brand and topic. An effective domain name should be short, memorable, easy to spell, and contain keywords related to your niche.
When brainstorming domain names, you first need to identify your target niche and keywords. Make a list of terms and phrases that are relevant to your site’s focus. You can use keyword research tools to find popular and low competition terms people are searching for.
Next, consider the different domain name elements – the domain extension, subdomain, and main keyword domain. Each part provides opportunities to make your domain targeted and brandable.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore proven strategies and tips for choosing the ideal domain name for your niche site.
Check Domain Availability
The first step in choosing a domain name is checking availability. There are a few ways to quickly see if your desired domain is already registered:
- Use a domain registrar’s search tool – All registrars like GoDaddy and Namecheap allow you to search for available domain extensions and keywords. This is the fastest way to generate ideas and see pricing.
- Try a bulk domain search tool – Tools like LeanDomainSearch allow you to check availability of multiple domains at once. Paste in a list of keywords and instantly see available options.
- WHOIS domain lookup – Look up the WHOIS record for a domain to see if it’s registered and owned by someone. If the record comes back empty, it’s likely available.
- Visit the domain – Simply go to the domain name in your browser. If it’s registered, you’ll see the site. If not, you’ll get an error page.
Always double check availability across a few sources. Domain squatters sometimes park pages on domains to make them appear taken. And new expiring domains become available daily. Being thorough in your search sets you up for success.
Focus on the Domain Keyword
The most important part of your niche site domain is the primary keyword. This is the main term that communicates your site’s focus.
For example, a site about coffee may want the domain CoffeeEssentials.com. “Coffee” is the head keyword that instantly tells visitors the topic.
Here are some tips for optimizing your primary domain keyword:
- Use your target niche’s main keyword – This helps your domain naturally rank for searches related to your site’s focus. But avoid overused generic terms like “reviews”, “tips”, etc. unless combined with a niche keyword.
- Make it short and memorable – A shorter domain with one main keyword is easier for people to remember.
- Use keywords near the beginning – Having your head keyword early in the domain signals relevancy to search engines.
- Consider misspellings – If common, register misspellings of your keyword domain as well. For example, “cofee”, “kofee”, etc.
- Use hyphens to separate words – Hyphens can make long phrases more readable in a domain. For example, Coffee-News.com.
Your head keyword sets the tone for your entire niche site. Take the time to find one that communicates your brand and focus clearly.
Research Keyword Variations
Beyond your primary keyword, research closely related long tail variations and synonyms. Finding available domains with relevant alternative terms can provide more options.
Consider both single word and multi-word keyword options. For example:
- Coffee Guide
- Gourmet Coffee Zone
- Coffee Connoisseur
Look for keyword variations that are highly relevant to your site’s theme. These signal to search engines what your content focuses on.
You can use Google’s keyword planner or other tools to research related keywords. Sort them by search volume and competition to identify good options.
Aim for longer, more specific phrases when possible. These are easier to rank for and describe your niche accurately.
Make it Brandable
Beyond keywords, you want a domain name that works as an effective brand. Even if it clearly communicates your topic, it should still be unique and memorable.
Here are some tips for making your domain more brandable:
- Use alliteration – Alliteration makes domains catchy and easy to recall. For example, CoffeeCraving.com.
- Rhyme words – Rhyming also boosts memorability. Like CoffeeBeanScene.com.
- Make up new words – Combining prefix/suffixes with keywords can create invented but logical names. Such as CoffeeTopia.com.
- Use your name – Your personal name or initials can make it stand out. For example, TomsCoffeeStop.com.
- Be consistent – Match your domain style with your overall brand image and tone.
- Avoid numbers/symbols – Generally best to use only letters to keep it clean.
With some creative thinking, you can come up with a domain name that works both for SEO and branding. Test out ideas with friends to see which are most memorable.
Consider the Domain Extension
The domain extension – like .com, .net, .org – also plays a role in your domain strategy.
Here are some tips for selecting the best extension:
- .com – This is the most common and trusted. If available, .com is likely the best option.
- .net -.net is the second best option if .com is taken. Still widely recognized.
- .org – Makes sense for niche hobby/interest sites or non-commercial organizations.
- Newer options – Newer domain extensions like .blog, .coffee, etc. can work for very targeted niche sites.
- Location TLDs – Using your local country TLD (.ca, .nz, .in, etc) builds geographical trust.
- Match your brand – For example, .shop for an ecommerce store or .news for a news site.
In most cases, .com remains ideal from an SEO and credibility standpoint. But alternative options open up more domain name possibilities.
Use extensions strategically to support your brand identity when a .com isn’t available.
Consider a Subdomain
Using a subdomain of an established domain can be an effective option for a niche site. For example:
The benefits of using a subdomain include:
- Instant authority – Leverage the existing domain authority of the root domain.
- Quick to set up – Much faster than acquiring a whole new domain.
- Low risk – Easy to experiment with a niche subdomain.
The downside is that subdomains are seen as less authoritative in search engines. It may be harder to rank a subdomain site.
However, pairing a niche keyword subdomain with an authoritative brand domain can give you a headstart. Just forward the subdomain to your niche site’s hosting.
This can be an easy way to quickly launch a niche site concept while benefiting from an existing domain’s metrics.
Use Domain Hacks
Domain hacking strategies use words combined with extensions to form natural phrases. For example:
This works well when you find a domain extension that matches your niche keyword semantically. The meaning is immediately clear.
Domain hacks are also easier to remember. And they often come across as more creative and memorable brands.
The downside is needing to rely on newer or less common extensions. But search engines are getting better at valuing these, especially if the content is high quality.
Keep domain hacking in mind as a way to find creative, semantic domain options for your niche site.
Avoid Numbers and Dashes
In general, all-word domain names work best for branding and memorability. But sometimes you need to get creative if your ideal domain is taken.
Here are some tips for using numbers and dashes without hurting your domain:
- Only use dashes to separate words, not numbers or letters like a57d9. Dashes improve readability.
- Keep numbers at the end like CoffeeBest10.com, not the beginning or middle.
- Only use numbers 2-3 digits long. Long numbers look spammy.
- Use numbers sparingly – they can appear less professional.
- Avoid random strings of letters/numbers as they will be impossible to remember.
- Make sure words separated by dashes or numbers still flow together smoothly.
With careful use, dashes and numbers can help you find available domains. But rely on them as an absolute last resort and only if the domain still makes coherent semantic sense.
Perform Keyword Research
The best niche site domains optimize for keywords people are actually searching for. That means doing thorough keyword research before deciding on your domain name.
Here is a process for researching domains based on keyword demand:
- Brainstorm a large list of keyword ideas around your niche. Use tools like Google’s keyword planner.
- Organize keywords by search volume and competition. Look for decent volume with low competition.
- Look for keywords appearing in multiple keyword tools to confirm demand.
- Search for available exact match domains based on the best keywords.
- Check Google results to see if those keywords are ranking well with authority sites.
- Prioritize keywords that are extremely relevant to your niche with decent search volume.
Basing your domain around researched keywords with real search demand provides the best chance of ranking and driving targeted traffic. Don’t just guess – let data guide your domain decision.
Check for Trademarks
It’s important to verify your domain name doesn’t use trademarked terms belonging to major brands. This can get you in legal trouble.
Here are some tips for trademark checks:
- Search the USPTO TESS database for registered trademarks containing your keywords. Stay away from any trademarked terms.
- Look up brands that are leaders in your niche and avoid using any of their trademark language.
- If your brand name is unique but contains common dictionary words, you’re less likely to have conflicts.
- Using a trademarked brand name in your domain is one of the biggest legal risks. So do your homework.
Confirm no existing brands have rights to the niche terms you want for a domain. It takes some due diligence but avoids expensive situations later.
Test for Spam
Unfortunately, many domain keywords have been overused by spammers in the past. You want to avoid choosing a domain name that raises red flags.
Here are some tips for checking if a domain could be seen as spammy:
- Search it in Google and see if unnatural sites come up.
- Check the Web Archive for any low quality history associated with the domain.
- Look it up in domain blacklists like Spamhaus or SURBL to see if flagged.
- Avoid keyword stuffing – domains packed with keywords look manipulative.
- Do not use trademarked names or celebrity names.
- Avoid overly promotional or sensational words like “best” “free” “hot”, etc.
- Check if the TLD has been abused like .xyz, .pw, etc. which are higher risk.
Take time to verify there are no historical signals that your domain keyword has been used for spam. This prevents your site from being unfairly labeled as low quality.
How easy your domain name is to say out loud should also be considered. If people have trouble pronouncing it, they are less likely to remember it or share it with others.
Tips for picking domains that pronounce well:
- Say it out loud and notice any tongue twisters or difficult sounds.
- Avoid overly complex letter combinations and unintuitive words.
- Have friends and family try pronouncing it and look for any stumbling points.
- Shorter and simpler domains tend to pronounce easier.
- Use familiar dictionary words instead of invented terms.
- Domain hacks into natural phrases pronounce well.
Listen carefully to how your top domain candidates sound when spoken. Smooth pronunciation makes for an easy to share and remember brand name.
Be Consistent Across Sites
If your niche website is part of a brand with multiple sites, it helps to be consistent in your domain naming strategies.
Some tips for consistent domain naming include:
- Use the same parent brand name in all domains like YourBrandCoffee.com.
- Follow a similar structure for all sites – brandnameNiche.com.
- Use comparable domain extensions across sites.
- Keep keywords and phrasing consistent from one domain to the next.
- Mirror the same tone and image for all brand domains.
Keeping domains cohesive makes it clear all the sites are part of the same overarching brand. It builds recognition and trust in your authority. Just be sure each site domain still targets its unique niche keywords.
Include Your Location
For local niche sites, including your location in the domain can help drive geo-targeted traffic. For example:
Some tips for local niche domains:
- Only use your exact city or region name – not generics like “Texas”.
- Use official city names, not nicknames (so BostonCoffee.com not BeantownCoffee.com).
- Consider adding zip codes for hyperlocal sites to signal neighborhood relevance.
- Use country TLDs like .ca, .nz when relevant.
Location keywords help searchers instantly recognize your local expertise and focus. Just be sure to pair them with niche keywords.
Buy Multiple Domains
One domain strategy is to buy multiple options that all redirect to your main site. This allows you to control closely related domains.
Some reasons to buy alternative domains:
- Get misspellings of your primary domain.
- Acquire domain hacks using other extensions.
- Buy variant keyword domains.
- Own hyphenated versions.
- Get plurals and singular versions.
Owning related domains prevents competitors from grabbing them. Just be sure to properly 301 redirect them to your main URL.
Multiple domains can also allow testing of alternative names. You can change your primary domain if needed.
Keep Domains Short
Shorter domains have a number of advantages:
- Increased memorability – People are more likely to remember them.
- Improved shareability – Easier to say out loud and type.
- Higher engagement – Gets more clicks, shares, links.
- Enhanced credibility – Long domains seem less professional.
- Cleaner aesthetically – Short domains look better in ads, posts, etc.
- Less prone to typos – Minimizes misspellings.
Ideally keep niche site domains under 3 words and 20 characters total. Be concise yet still descriptive.
If needed, abbreviate words like using “roast” instead of “roasters” or “brews” rather than “brewmasters”. Just keep it pronounceable.
Use Words Over Abbreviations
While abbreviations help shorten domains, all-word domains tend to perform better. For example:
CoffeeLvrsAuth.com (Not as good)
Some reasons all-word domains work better:
- Improved semantics – Words are more easily understood.
- Natural phrasing – Flows better linguistically.
- Higher trust – Abbreviations can seem spammy.
- Brand clarity -Words make your focus obvious.
So while your domain should be short, don’t overdo abbreviations. Lean towards words people can quickly parse and understand.
Avoid Trendy Domain Endings
Some domain extensions become trendy for a period of time before losing appeal. For example, domains ending in “-ify”, “-ville”, “-r”, etc.
While initially clever, trendy domain endings often decline in appeal over time. They end up sounding dated.
For long term brands, it’s smarter to avoid these types of cutesy domain conventions and remain timeless.
Think twice before going with domain endings just because others are using them. They can limit your brand’s lasting power.
Use Domain Name Generators
Domain name generator tools can help spark ideas and instantly check availability. Just enter your keyword concepts and settings to create hundreds of domains to consider.
Some of the top domain generators include:
- LeanDomainSearch – Very fast bulk domain search.
- DomainWheel – Spin for creative domain name ideas.
- Domain Generators – Generates categorized domain suggestions.
- GoDaddy Domain Generator – Integrates directly with registrar.
- Shopify Domain Generator – Optimized for ecommerce stores.
- Wordoid – Creates invented but logical domain names.
Take the names generated as starting points only. You still need to carefully evaluate each suggestion using the strategies in this guide.
But name generators help kickstart your brainstorming in new directions.
Choosing a niche website domain is an exciting part of launching your new project. Your domain sends a message about your brand and focus, so getting it right matters.
By researching keywords, checking availability, evaluating extensions, pronunciations, length and more – you can strategically select the best domain possible.
The ideal niche site domain should clearly convey your topic while being short, memorable and brandable. Take the time do it right. Your domain sets the tone for the long term success of your niche community.