Choosing a domain name for your author website is pretty straightforward compared to choosing a domain name for a typical business.
Most of the traffic to your website will come from referral traffic or direct traffic. In other words, most people don’t discover authors from searching Google – that would be organic search engine traffic. Most likely, people will visit your author website after they click on a Facebook advertisement or when they click on a link in one of your books.
Since organic search engine traffic doesn’t matter as much for fiction authors, it’s OK to bend the rules a little bit when it comes to your domain name.
However, there are a couple things you’ll probably want to look out for. If you’re using a pen name, do a search on Amazon and Google to find out if the name you want to use is available. You definitely want to avoid any confusion between another author or popular figure.
You will probably want to keep your domain name short, too. Don’t forget that your domain name might also become your email address. If you choose AbrahamSpringfieldLincolnFictionAuthor.com for your domain, that’s too long. Everyone will hate you. Keep it short. Keep it simple.
I always recommend that people stick with the .com Top Level Domain (TLDs). Even though there are a ton of available TLDs now, .com is the most popular, the most common, and the first one that people think of. Again, keep it simple, unless there’s a very good reason to go against the grain.
If you can’t get YourName.com, then you can go with something similar – like YourNameWrites, YourNameAuthor, YourNameBooks, or anything like that. Just make sure that YourName.com isn’t an author too, or you will have a lot of confused readers.
If you’re ready to get a domain name, I recommend Namecheap. I personally use Namecheap for all of my domains. Avoid 1and1 and GoDaddy – they both suck. OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh, but I’ve had bad experiences with both of them and I know plenty of people that have had the same experience. Plus, Namecheap is less expensive.
Click the image below to find your domain at Namecheap (affiliate link).
If you need a domain name and hosting, then check out Siteground. If you sign up for hosting, you will get a free domain name. Click the image below to check out the current deals at Siteground (affiliate link).
If you’re looking for a domain name for your publishing company or another type of online business, you might want to read some of the tips below on choosing a domain name.
Choosing a Domain for Your Business
Is it okay to use a hyphen to get the domain you want?
Is it better to use a brand name?
Let’s look at domain names from 4 different perspectives:
2. Search Engine Optimization
4. The Real World
Hyphens in Your Domain Name
A lot of people want keyword rich domains to improve their rankings in the search engine results.
Since a lot of short domains are already snatched up, people will throw a hyphen, or two, or three into the domain so they can get the keywords they want.
Don’t do that.
I wouldn’t recommend it to my clients and I wouldn’t do it myself.
Here are 4 reasons not to use dashes in your domain name.
1. You will lose traffic to the non-hyphenated version of your domain.
If you don’t own the non-hyphenated version of your domain name, then you will likely lose visitors to the domain without hyphens.
One of the most successful domains with dashes, that I’m aware of, is digital-photography-school.com. It’s a great website with good information on photography and ranks very well for major keywords.
However, I’ve typed digitalphotographyschool.com into the address bar before, when trying to visit his website. I don’t visit very often, and my memory ain’t so good.
If you have a domain with hyphens, it can happen to you too.
If you actually own both, the hyphenated and non-hyphenated version, then why would you want to make things more difficult than they have to be. Use the one without hyphens.
2. It’s confusing and people forget the dash.
People forget about dashes in domain names. Especially if it’s just a bunch of random keywords stuffed together and you have more than one hyphen.
It’s inevitable that people will forget and visit the non-hyphenated version. I’ve done it myself.
This is especially true in real world situations. If you tell someone to visit your website, which has dashes in it, by the time they get home, they will not remember the dashes.
Your email will also have the dash in it so people might end up sending mail to the wrong address. I have a friend that owns a domain with dashes and I always forget where the dashes are in his email address.
This problem might not happen a lot, but why let it happen at all?
3. Hyphenated domains are commonly associated with SPAM.
Typically, dashes in domain names have been associated with spammy websites.
The primary reason to get a domain with dashes is to get one rich with keywords, either an exact-match domain, or a partial-match domain.
There’s a lot more to SEO than keywords in the root domain. If you feel like you need keywords in your domain to rank well, you may be doing something wrong.
I understand that people building niche sites might want to get every SEO benefit they can, but that doesn’t change the fact that many people view dashes in domains as an indication of a low-quality site.
To take it a step further, Google launched an algorithm update in 2012 that devalued exact match domain names. Keyword domains don’t have the punch they once had, so there’s less incentive to get a keyword rich domain using hyphens.
You can read more about that update here – Exact Match Domain Update and here.
4. Is there an SEO penalty for dashes in domain names?
It’s one thing to say that a dash in the domain name won’t give you an SEO advantage. It’s another thing to say that it can actually hurt you.
Well, that’s exactly what Ben Milleare of High Position is suggesting.
Ben ran some tests, looked at the data and found that domains with dashes had dropped significantly after the EMD update.
Check out the details here – dashes in domains.
I’m sure there are plenty of hyphen-filled websites doing just fine. And, they will probably continue to do well.
However, in most cases, a domain without hyphens will be a much better choice.
Here’s some more food for thought regarding exact match domains.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search for something on Google. Anything. Preferably in your market.
Now, look at the search results. How many of the first page results include hyphens in the root domain?
Now search again. In a different market. How many results have hyphens in the root domain?
I just did 8 random searches in different markets and did not see one root domain with hyphens.
That’s not conclusive proof, of course. Correlation does not imply causation, right?
There are a lot of different factors that determine what pages show up in search results. The lack of domains with hyphens doesn’t mean that the hyphen is what caused the absence from first page search results.
But, it is evidence that suggests there is no SEO benefit to having a domain with dashes. Clearly Google doesn’t favor domains with dashes. Ultimately, there does not appear to be an SEO benefit to having a hyphenated domain and most SEO’s have come to the same conclusion.
Branding is essentially using a mark or design features to distinguish your product or service from others.
But, it’s more than that. It’s also about conveying emotion. An attitude. A feeling. It’s a personality for your company.
Just think of a major brand, like Nike. They promote their brand by trying to be different and tapping into people’s emotions.
Nike doesn’t want you to buy tennis shoes, they want you to buy Nike tennis shoes, and they spend a lot of money to get their brand name everywhere they can.
Because of the strength of their brand, they can sell you t-shirts, shorts, hats, sports gear, watches, and just about anything else. People trust the brand.
If you’re trying to build a significant online presence from scratch, consider how a brand name can help you stand out from the competition. Dashes in your domain might just get in the way of that.
The Real World
Sometimes, when you run an internet business, you forget that there is an actual, real world out there. In other words, you can go places and tell people about your company and your website.
Lots of people go to conferences, Christmas parties, networking events and more. Don’t forget about the real world when you start your business, especially if it’s an online only business.
The real world presents different factors to take into consideration.
People don’t care about keywords and optimization. They care about what you have to offer. They also care about simplicity.
If you tell someone at a conference to go to your website, “buy dash john dash doe dash widgets dash and dash company.com,” you will be very lonely at this conference.
Depending on what type of business you’re in, you might want a website domain that’s simple and easy to remember.
“Doe dash widgets.com.” Not as simple.
Many short domain names aren’t available. The simple, short ones get snatched up pretty quick. If you can’t find the domain you want, you might be tempted to go with a name that includes a lot of dashes. Think before you do that.
Domain names with too many dashes have a bad reputation. They look like spam. They look like phishing websites. They look like trouble.
From a real-world, practical perspective, life is easier with a domain without dashes.
Choosing a Domain Name
Before you decide on a domain name, take a look at the factors listed above. Think about your customers. Where will they come from? How will they find you?
You can have the greatest product in the world, but if no one goes to your website, it doesn’t matter.
Ultimately, choose a domain name that will help you grow your business and attract new customers. And, remember that a domain name is just one small part of a good marketing plan (affiliate link).
If you’re looking for hosting as well as a domain name, check out Siteground. They usually offer a free domain name when you sign up for hosting.
I also wrote a legitimate review of why I think Siteground is a great choice for shared hosting. You can check out the article here – best web hosting.
Below is an affiliate link to Siteground if you want to check out their current offers.
If you’re still not sure what domain you should get for your business, contact me and I’ll be happy to help.