Choosing a Domain Name

This could well be the hardest part of the whole process! It can also be frustrating because after a lot of thought you might settle on your perfect domain name and then find it is either already in use or has been registered by someone trying to sell it for silly money.

There are actually two factors to consider, the domain name itself and the top level domain. I will look at each in turn.

Top Level Domain

The top level domain is the bit at the end of the domain name after the dot, for example .com, .org or .co.uk. By far the best known is .com and that would probably be your default choice for a programming blog. However, there are many other options which I will examine by group.

  • .com - as I mentioned this is the one you will most likely want although there are a few reasonable alternatives. A big problem is that it will probably be difficult to find your ideal choice of name but if you do go with .com they are cheap.

  • Country specific TLDs such as .ca and .co.uk. These are ideal if your target audience is entirely or mostly in a certain country but this is not going to be the case for a programming blog. In fact it could put off many people from other countries who would assume the site is not relevant for them.

  • Other established and "sensible" TLDs such as .org, .net. These are fine but .org implies an organisation such as a society or institution rather than a company or individual. Similarly .net implies a very internet-specific site such as that of a hosting company.

  • Other TLDs. In my opinion these could be arranged on a scale from "sensible" such as .blog and .info down to "frivolous" or "novelty". If you want one of these be honest with yourself about how far down the scale to frivolous or novelty it really is. Also, they can be surprisingly expensive considering the low demand for many of them

Your Domain Name Choice

Here are a few things to think about:

  • You could use your name but unless it is very unusual someone else probably got there first.

  • Try combining your name with something programming-related, eg [yourname][programming].com

  • If you intend to specialize on a particular topic area such as a programming language or technology try to incorporate it in the name. This is also good for SEO as search engines will recognise that your entire site is about, for example, Python programming and give more credence to Python programming searches.

  • Remember that if you do choose a language or technology specific domain name you cannot really branch out into other areas. If you want to start writing about C++ or SQL for example you would need to start from scratch with a different domain name.

  • Try to keep the name short. (I know! theprogrammingblogger.com is too long!)

  • Your domain names is your brand name. It doesn't just exist in a small box at the top of a browser, you will need to use it on your site banner, social media accounts and elsewhere. Make sure it is something you are comfortable with.

  • Hyphens and numbers might seem like a good idea but while my-programming-blog.com might be easier to read it is more difficult to type and say. The same goes for numbers: look at top10programmingtips.com. Is the fourth character a number 1 or a lower case letter L? And is the fifth a number 0 or an upper case letter O?

Spend some time making lists of words you would like in your domain name and rearranging them. Bear in mind that the name you choose is also your brand name and one you are committing to long-term so don't rush into anything. Just let the ideas bubble around in your mind for a day or two.

When you have a shortlist of maybe three or four names you can think about registering or buying the domain name, a topic which deserves a post of its own.

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