How to Choose & Buy a Domain Name for your Affiliate Site
Choosing a domain name for your affiliate site is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
A dynamic and memorable domain name can help you stand out from your competitors and build an audience.
A bland or overcomplicated domain can do the opposite, putting you on the back foot from the get-go.
In this article, we’re going to cover the do’s and don’ts of domain names and walk you through the process of purchasing a domain for your affiliate site.
We'll also show you some useful tools to help you choose a brandable name for your affiliate website.
This decision is pivotal to your affiliate site’s success, so you want to get it right.
- What is a Domain Name?
- How to Register a Domain?
- Tips on Choosing a Good Domain Name
- Using Domain Name Generators
- Top 10 Domain Name Generators
- Instant Domain Search
- Bust A Name
- Domain Wheel
- Name Station
- Domain Puzzler
- Lean Domain Search
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the web address of your site.
It’s what people type into the URL bar to find you online.
Computers and smartphones use IP addresses to access websites on the internet.
They look something like this:
Nobody wants to remember and type in a bunch of digits like this every time they want to access a website.
That’s where domain names come in.
Instead of typing in a bunch of numbers, internet users can use easy to remember domain names to access websites.
If your affiliate website were a brick and mortar store, your domain name would be your business name and address.
How to Register a Domain?
There are a bunch of companies that can register a domain for you.
These companies are called domain registrars.
Some hosting companies also offer free domain registration when you buy a hosting plan.
Domain registrars typically charge an annual fee that works out less than a couple of dollars per month.
We don’t have time to go through every domain registrar out there, so we’re going to cover three of the biggest.
Founded in 2000, Domain.com is one of the most established domain registrars.
The sign-up process is hassle-free and straightforward, and you can have your domain registered in a matter of minutes.
GoDaddy is one of the biggest names in hosting and domain registration.
Over 18 million people have registered domains at GoDaddy, with over 77 million domain names registered.
Namecheap is a domain registrar with an excellent reputation among webmasters.
They offer everything you need to register your domain and provide a year’s free privacy protection with every domain purchase.
How to Register a Domain Name with Domain
Step 1: Go to Domain.com, enter your chosen domain name into the search bar, and click on the search magnifying glass.
Step 2: If your chosen domain name is available, it will be automatically added to your cart.
Step 3: Domain Privacy + Protection will automatically be added to your cart as an add-on.
If you don’t want this add-on, click on the cross next to Privacy + Protection in the shopping cart.
Step 4: Choose the length of domain registration and click on “Continue.”
There’s a bunch of optional add-ons, but you can always purchase these later if you need them.
Click on the “Proceed to Billing” button.
Step 5: Enter your payment details and click on “Purchase Now” to register your domain name.
How to Register a Domain Name with GoDaddy.com
Step 1: Head to GoDaddy.com, enter your chosen domain name into the search bar, and click on “Search Domain.”
Step 2: If your domain is available, click on “Add to Cart.”
Step 3: Select your domain package and click on “Continue to Cart.”
You can add privacy protection now or purchase it later if you want to hide your details online.
Step 4: Choose the length of the domain registration and click on “Proceed to Checkout.”
Step 5: Create your account and enter your payment details.
Once your payment is processed, your new domain name will be registered.
How to Register a Domain with Namecheap.com
Step 1: Go to NameCheap.com, type in your chosen domain name, and press enter.
Step 2: Select your chosen domain name from the page of results and click on “Add to Cart.”
Step 3: Once your domain is added to your cart, you’ll see a notification bar at the bottom of the screen.
Click on “Checkout.”
Step 4: Choose the length of your domain registration from the dropdown menu.
You’ll receive Whois privacy protection as a free add-on with your domain registration.
Click on “Confirm Order” to proceed to the sign-up page.
Step 5: Create your account and enter your payment details to complete your domain registration.
Tips on Choosing a Good Domain Name
Your domain name is the first impression people will have of your website.
The right domain name can make a positive and memorable impression that encourages people to visit your site.
A poor quality domain name is instantly forgettable, and can even put people off visiting your site.
We'll go into more detail below, but here's a quick checklist of domain name best practices:
- No longer than 20 characters in length
- A maximum of three words
- A .com domain extension
- Not hyphenated
- Related to your niche
Shorter Domain Names are Better
Shorter domain names are easier to remember and more comfortable to type into address bars.
They also look more professional.
Long domain names also increase the chances of a spelling mistake when people type your domain name.
According to research from Gaebler, the most popular websites on the internet have an average of 6 characters in their domain name:
A good short domain name has two qualities:
No longer than 20 characters in length
A maximum of three words
A domain name like www.iliketosniffpits.com doesn't have so many characters (letters) in the name, but it has a lot of words.
A domain name like www.armpitinvestigators.com has many characters (letters), but it's only two words.
A short domain name on the same topic would be www.pitsniffer.com.
Few words, few letters, and quite memorable!
Choose a .com Domain Extension
There are a bunch of top-level domains (TLDs) these days.
You can find .marketing, .guru, .tips, and many more different extensions available.
There’s a good chance that a brandable domain name using one of these extensions is more likely to be available than a traditional .com, .org, and .net TLD…
...But that doesn’t mean you should jump on a .guru domain.
These new TLDs are just as appealing to search engines, and you won’t suffer from a lower ranking if you choose one, but internet users are more trusting of a .com domain.
When a searcher sees a .guru and a .com website in the search results, they’re more likely to click on the .com result.
That’s not the only reason.
According to DomainNameStat, 41% of domains use a .com extension:
People are more likely to remember a .com domain.
For example, let’s say you register the domain pitsniffer.guru.
People will remember pitsniffer, but they’re likely to type in pitsniffer.com when they try and find your site.
You’ll lose a bunch of your traffic to a competitor website with the .com domain.
Don’t Use a Hyphenated Domain Name
You won’t be penalized by search engines for choosing a hyphenated domain…
...But this type of domain shares the same problems as an unusual TLD.
If you choose the domain name best-furniture-reviews.com, you will lose visitors to bestfurniturereviews.com.
When people link to your site, there’s a good chance they’ll forget the hyphens and link to your competitor site.
A hyphen domain also looks less trustworthy.
It can even give the impression that you are trying to deceive visitors and mimic another website.
You want a brandable domain name that is easy to type and say out loud.
A hyphenated domain name doesn’t fit that criterion.
Related to Your Niche
You want to give people a good idea of your site from the domain name, but there’s limited SEO value in an exact match domain these days.
When people see your website in the search engine results, they’re more likely to click if they think your domain is likely to contain the information they are looking for.
You shouldn’t force keywords into a long domain name…
...But if you can fit a keyword into a short and memorable domain name that differentiates you from your competitors, that’s a winning combination.
Make It Easy To Spell and Type
The best domain names are both easy to type and easy to spell.
You want people to be able to share your website with friends, family, and other people interested in your niche.
If your domain name is hard to pronounce or spell, you create a barrier to that social sharing.
The same goes for typing.
You don't want to stop people in their tracks and force them to think about the spelling of your domain name or add any unusual characters.
Take a look at the most visited websites in the world:
What common factors do all these domain names share?
They're all easy to spell and type.
If people have to think before they type, your domain name is too complicated.
Keep it simple.
Choose a Brandable Domain Name
Brandable domain names are better.
But what makes a name brandable?
A brandable domain name is unique and memorable.
You want a domain name that differentiates your site from your competitors.
If you have lots of competitors in your niche with long keyword stuffed domains, a short, punchy domain can set you apart and make you memorable.
A brandable domain can even include words with no specific meaning.
For example, "Google," "Yahoo," and "Twitter" are brandable names, but the words don't actually mean anything other than the sites and brands they represent.
At its base level, a brandable domain is a name that is easy to say out loud and instantly memorable.
Keep it short and sweet.
If you need some help coming up with a brandable domain, there are many tools to help.
Using Domain Name Generators
Coming up with a unique, brandable domain name isn't an easy task.
There are currently 366.8 million TLD domains registered across the internet.
You can spend hours coming up with an awesome name, only to find out it's unavailable when you try and register the domain.
You can save time by using a domain name generator.
These tools help you to filter out all the taken domain names and find creative names that you might not have thought of before.
Top 10 Domain Name Generators
In no particular order, here's a rundown of the top 10 domain name generators.
1. Instant Domain Search
Instant Domain Search is a handy tool for quickly finding out if your chosen domain name is available.
Type in your domain, and the tool will tell you if it's already taken.
You'll also see a page of suggested alternative domains that are available and related to your keywords.
If you see a domain that you like, you can click on the link to go through to GoDaddy and purchase your domain.
Instant Domain Search also shows you related domain names that are up for auction.
Nameboy helps you to find available domains that are related to your niche.
It's a more extensive tool than Instant Domain Search.
When you enter your domain name idea or keywords related to your niche, Nameboy returns a page of suggested domains.
You can also see charts to help you understand which domains and extensions are available and which are taken.
There are also hyphenated and rhyming domain suggestions.
We’ve already covered why hyphenated domains aren’t a good idea, but rhyming keywords can throw up some brandable and catchy suggestions for your domain.
3. Bust A Name
Bust a Name has some great filter options to refine your search for a domain name.
You can search for keywords related to your niche to find variations, but you can also choose where your keyword is positioned in the domain.
Select "starts" to place your keyword at the beginning of the suggested domains, or "ends" to place it at the end.
You can also filter your result according to character limit, an easy way to keep your domain suggestions shorter and more memorable.
Taken domains and unusual extensions like .guru and .tips can be filtered out…
...And you can also see suggested related keywords at the bottom of the results page.
4. Domain Wheel
Domain Wheel is an intuitive domain generator with a clean and easy to interface.
Enter your keyword or topic, and Domain Wheel will return a page of related available domain names.
You can filter out .guru, .net, .us, and other extensions you don't want to use.
When you find a suitable domain, click on the link, and you'll be directed to Bluehost to complete the registration.
If you don't see anything you like in the suggested domains, you can scroll down to the random ideas section below…
...And the related keyword domain names at the bottom of the page.
There's also a bunch of rhyming domain names related to your keywords that are worth checking out.
5. Name Station
Name Station is a well-respected domain generator, with mentions on high profile authority sites like Mashable and TechCrunch.
It's free to use, but you'll need to create an account before you can access the tool.
Once you've signed up using your email address or Facebook account, you can use the domain name generator and create public name contests to see your chosen domain name's popularity.
You can filter your results according to length, extensions, availability, and more.
If you don't have any keywords in mind, you can use the industry search to find random domain names within your niche.
6. Domain Puzzler
Domain Puzzler is an easy to use domain generator tool with some powerful features to help you find a brandable domain name.
You can choose from three different search options.
The "Easy" search performs a simple availability search if you have a domain name in mind.
The "Advanced" mode provides suggestions related to your keywords.
And the "Magic" mode combines different keyword combinations and suggestions to create a page of random results.
Many of the "Magic" results are unusable, but there’s usually a few hidden gems if you scan through the results page.
NameStall is a versatile domain generator tool with some unique search features.
You can choose to place your keyword at the start or the end of your domain, filter out unusual TDLs, and use advanced search options to narrow your search.
You can also include popular word groupings and numbers in your search, including 500 popular first words, 100 popular numbers, popular four-letter words, popular adjectives, and more.
NameStall also enables you to search for popular domain names within your niche by utilizing the business filters, including health, food & drink, home & garden, etc.
It’s a handy tool, but you're limited to a set number of searches per day as a free user.
Wordoid is one of the more creative domain generator tools on the list.
It helps you to come up with short and quirky domain names.
You can select the number of characters for your domain and where you want your keyword to be positioned.
There is also a quality rating option which enables you to select how closely you want your domain name to match real words.
A high rating will use English language dictionary words, while a low score will incorporate random creative words into the domain suggestions.
You can filter results according to availability, and even by hosting provider.
9. Lean Domain Search
Lean Domain Search is a domain generator tool that focuses on speed and simplicity.
It does away with any fancy filters, providing you with hundreds of domain name suggestions related to your keyword.
All of the domain suggestions are available to register and can be purchased by clicking on the Bluehost link.
You get hundreds of potential domain name results, but you'll need to wade through a lot of weak suggestions to find suitable options for your affiliate site.
Results can be sorted according to length, alphabetical order, and popularity.
You can also choose to place your keyword at the start or the end of your domain name suggestions.
iwantmyname is a good option if you already have a domain name in mind.
It will show you if your chosen domain name is available, and offer related suggestions if it's already taken.
The interface is intuitive and user-friendly, with a green smiley face icon to show which domain names are available.
There's also a price estimate to show you how much each domain name might cost.
You can use the search filter to remove unavailable domains for your page of results.
Domain Name FAQs
What is a Domain Registrar?
A domain registrar is a company that facilitates the purchasing and registration of domain names.
Domain registrars are accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names (ICANN), an organization that manages domain name registrations.
All domain names are recorded on a central registry database.
Accredited domain registrars can access and make changes to the central database to register a domain on your behalf.
What to Look for a Domain Registrar?
Here’s what you should look for when deciding on a domain registrar for your affiliate website:
Pricing and Registration Duration
Pricing is always a key consideration when choosing a domain registrar.
The majority of domain registrars offer promotions and discounts to new customers.
You can usually register a domain for a discounted price for the first year, but you want to check out the renewal price as this usually costs significantly more.
Domain registration runs for a minimum one year contract, but it’s possible to register a domain for up to 10 years at a time.
You can usually move after a year, but some domain registrars require a minimum two-year registration.
Transferring a Domain
You want to have the option to move to a different company if you find a cheaper deal or encounter any issues with a registrar.
If you choose a reputable domain registrar, this won’t be an issue…
...But you should check the terms and conditions to ensure your registrar doesn’t charge any additional fees before you purchase your domain.
Domain Expiration Grace Period
As we mentioned above, domain registration lasts for a set duration.
The majority of companies offer an automatic renewal policy, but you should check the domain expiration policy.
Because you don’t want to dedicate your time and effort establishing your domain name as an authority in your niche only to let someone pounce on your expired domain due to an expired credit or debit card.
You’ll find that some domain registrars offer a grace period at the end of a domain registration period.
If there’s an issue with your renewal, a grace period will allow you time to renew before you lose your domain.
Whois protection keeps your identity protected online.
The whois register is a public record that lists the names, addresses, and phone numbers of domain name owners.
If you purchase whois protection, your details are replaced with the details of your domain registrar.
This keeps your details protected online and makes it more difficult for people to link your identity to your domain name.
Some domain registrars offer whois protection when you purchase a domain.
A control panel makes it easy for you to make changes and updates to your domain without contacting customer support.
The only reason you’ll usually need to login to your control panel is to update your DNS records.
The majority of domain registrars have this feature, but you’ll need to contact customer support whenever you need to make a change if they don’t.
Just like with web hosting, you want a reliable domain registrar who can respond quickly to any concerns or complaints you may have.
Choosing a registrar with a good reputation and several customer service channels is always recommended.
If you have a problem, you want to get in touch with the support team quickly.
The majority of registrars offer email support and live chat, but some still run on an archaic ticket support system through their website.
Domain registrars generally offer a bunch of additional services and add ons.
When you select your domain name, pay close attention to any additional services added to your purchase.
When you make it to the checkout, make sure that you uncheck any add-ons that you don’t need.
A domain name generally shouldn’t cost more than $15 a year.
If your quoted price jumps up when you reach the checkout, additional services are usually the reason.
Should I Buy My Domain and Hosting from the Same Company?
Lots of domain registrars offer hosting, and plenty of hosting providers offer domain registration.
Packaged hosting and domain deals can often be cheaper than purchasing separately, but you should know the advantages and disadvantages before making a purchase.
The essential advantage of purchasing from the same company is that your domain will usually be automatically connected to your hosting.
For a beginner, this means you can start creating your site without having to log in to your control panel and connecting your hosting.
Another advantage is that you can sort out any issues or problems through a single support team.
When you purchase separately, you need to work out if a problem is caused by your hosting or your domain name.
Customer support will usually help, but you might need to go back and forth between each company before you find a solution.
Hosting is more expensive than domain registration, and companies make more money from hosting your site than they do registering your domain.
If you want to move to a cheaper hosting provider, you might find that the company makes it difficult to switch your domain.
This isn’t true of all providers.
But some do have a reputation for making life difficult if your domain is still registered to them.
The same goes for companies that offer a free domain when you purchase hosting.
You need to make sure that you own the domain name, and that you can switch to a new domain registrar at the end of the contract.
Some companies effectively loan you a domain name for the length of your hosting contract.
When your hosting contract is up, the domain belongs to the company, and you can’t transfer to a new registrar.
Choosing a domain name is the first step towards a profitable affiliate website.
It’s an important step, but don’t let indecision stop you from starting your affiliate marketing journey.
The majority of successful affiliate marketers have multiple sites, and some purchase a bunch of domain names for future niche website projects.
If you purchase a brandable domain in a growing niche market, you can sometimes sell it for a profit without ever creating a site.
Once you’ve purchased your domain, you can focus your efforts on creating your site and start to build momentum in your affiliate career.