Domain names consist of three elements: top-level domain, domain, and subdomain(s). If we, for example, look at the following URL: dcommunicationblog.blogspot.com, dcommunicationblog is the subdomain, blogspot is the domain, and .com is the top-level domain.
Nowadays there are quite a lot of top-level domains to choose among and new ones are being released all the time as internet is getting so populated with websites that the demand for domain names is too big to be met by the “classic” top-level domains.
Together with the arrival of new options, the use of classic top-level domains is getting more or less blurred. It is though important to understand what the different ones stand for in order to choose an appropriate one:
- .com – used by companies
- .org – used by non-profit organizations
- .edu – used by educational institutions
- .gov – reserved for governmental institutions
- .pro – used by professionals as attorneys, doctors, etc.
- .name – used for personal blogs/sites
- .net – used by network service providers
- .biz – used by businesses
Very popular are also top-level domains signaling a geographic targeting, such as .eu, .uk, .dk, etc., and the new ones signaling exactly what your website or blog is about, such as .movie, for example.
When choosing a top-level domain, you’re not restricted to use the one fitting your blog’s purpose. It’s, however, a very good idea to choose one that tells potential visitors what they can expect of visiting your blog. Thus, you might want to use a business one, if you are a business, or you might want to consider a country-targeting one, if you want to achieve maximal impact in a certain country.
In fact, it is more than recommended for local businesses and blogs to use such a top-level domain in order to be optimized for local search.
The domain name itself is also quite important. To get the most value out of it, there are a few rules you have to follow:
- It has to clearly indicate what the blog is about. It should either contain a brand name, if you want to establish a brand, or it should be as descriptive as possible – as for example stampsforcollectors.com. Naming a URL after a brand is a good idea if you plan to seriously invest in it. Unknown brand as a domain name won’t help you get traffic on your blog. It might also be an idea to start by including your brand name and a description of your service – as ninatravel.com, for example. If you don’t plan to establish a brand and invest in it, it’s best for you to go with a descriptive title driving traffic to your blog via SEO and by helping people understand what to expect.
- It has to be short and easy to remember/write. This is important because long URLs lead to mistakes when being typed or get forgotten. If people can’t find your blog, they won’t try too hard. They’ll just move on to the next one – that is easiest to find.
- If not focusing on your brand name, it has to contain the main keywords you want your blog to be optimized for. When search engines assess the relevance of a search result, they inspect every element – including your blog’s title and URL – for keywords matching the query. The closer you are to it, the higher your blog will rank.
- A domain name should be precise but not limiting. Consider carefully what your blog is about today and how it could develop in the future. If you write about expats in England, including both keywords in the domain is a good idea. If you, though, plan to expand and start providing content for expats in other countries as well, you might not want to include England in the title – or use a .uk top-level domain, for that matter.
- As a domain is evaluated as more reliable by search engines as it ages, you should consider such a name which won’t need alterations as your ideas develop.
- Before choosing a domain name, check whether the one you have in mind isn’t used by others – often one domain is available in combination with many top-level domains even though the name itself is in use with one or more top-level domains. Check what kind of blogs you’ll be competing with and be especially careful if some of those turn out to be spammy – the value of your domain name risks to suffer as a result of people mixing up the two blogs. You should also check whether the domain isn’t blacklisted – when it was active before you got it. You can do that by using an online tool as this one.
Subdomains are only relevant for those who either use free hosting on blogging platforms, as WordPress.org, WordPress.com, and Blogger.com, or create their blogs as a subdomain of an existing blog/website.
In theory, you can chain multiple subdomains to a domain but this isn’t a good idea as long URLs aren’t user friendly or optimized for search engines. Also, you have to remember that while you still can use your keywords or brand as a subdomain, search engines rank subdomains on the same level as regular pages on a website. Thus, your blog will be searchable in Google, but will rank lower than competition having the same keywords in the domain name of their blogs.
Subdomains can be relevant and useful in other cases, as to branch your blog – if you’d like to write about different things. You could for example have the domain name expats and then add subdomains for the different countries you’d like to target.
Remember that with subdomains you don’t get real ranking for your blog. Subdomains get automatically the rank and the traffic data of the main domain. Thus, if you don’t own the domain, you’ll never really know how good you’re performing. You can still see data about this in different analytics tools but your blog’s ranking in search will always be dependent on factors out of your control.
For this reason it’s not recommended to use subdomains for blogs, if you want to be a serious blogger.