“Everything”, we say.
Your blog name is the first thing visitors will notice when they hear about your blog.
And as they say, the first impression is the last impression.
The rules of naming blogs are decidedly different from the rules of naming business websites. Blogs rely heavily on the strength of their brand identity to draw visitors. Which is why following the rules below is essential to finding a high quality blog name:
1. Blogs are Not Websites
This may sound obvious, but far too few people realize the difference between naming a blog and naming a website.
Blogging was, and still is, largely the domain of amateurs. Although Mashable might be valued in the tens of millions of dollars, and AOL may have bought HuffPo for $315 million, the majority of bloggers are still amateurs plugging away on Blogspot and WordPress.com.
Bloggers work outside the cultural-code mainstream publications have to conform to. Given a blank canvas, they are free to create their own identities, which are invariably in opposition to the majority culture. This is true even for multi-million dollar media companies like Gawker and VICE Magazine, which are defined by their pirate-like gleeful irreverence for the mainstream.
Keep this cultural code in mind when finding a name for your blog. What may be offensive or flippant for a magazine or website is completely acceptable for a blog. Cliché as it may be, you are limited only by your imagination (and the domain availability, of course!).
When naming blogs, keep these three things in mind:
- Keywords are Irrelevant: Using a keyword rich domain can actively sabotage your chances of success as a blogger. Readers tend to associate keyword rich domain names (‘CarInsuranceRates.com’) with business websites and old-school article repositories, which goes completely against what blogging stands for. This is one of the reason why almost none of the top 100 Techorati blogs have strong keyword profiles. This also frees you from the burden of finding keyword rich domain names, virtually all of which have been taken.
- Look for Thematic Relevance: Instead of keywords, search for thematic relevance in your blog name. “Mashable.com” was originally about the ‘mashup’ of technology and social media. “TheVerge.com” is about the leading edge of technology. “TechCrunch” originally ‘crunched’ the numbers associated with tech startups. “Gawker” is about ‘gawking’ at celebrities, and so on.
- Length is Important, But Not So Much: Old-school domain name guides usually stress the importance of domain length. With modern browsers and Google Instant, length isn’t that much of a constraint. Try to stick to a maximum of two words (and in a rare case, three words) that don’t extend beyond 20-25 characters.
2. Two Words is Good, One Word is Better
An unfortunate reality of finding a name for your blog is that most half-decent one word domains are already registered. Purchasing them might set you back anywhere from a few hundred dollars (for “Mixedly.com”) to several hundred thousand dollars (for “Phones.com”). Unless you come up with a strikingly original one word, you will most likely have to settle for a two word domain name.
Two word domains are relatively scarce, but you can still find good blog names with a little bit of creativity(think ‘LaughingSquid.com’, ‘BoingBoing.net’, ‘ArsTechnica.com’, etc.). You have a lot of freedom since you are not bound by keyword requirements. Domain squatters are quick to pounce upon most lucrative keyword combinations (‘AutoInsurance.com’, ‘InsuranceRates.com’, etc.), but made-up, brandable word-combinations are typically freely available.
3. Does it Pass the Phone Test?
Before you pick a blog name, make sure that it passes the ‘phone test’. Simply pick up the phone, call a friend and tell him about your new blog name. If your friend has to ask twice to understand the blog name, you should head back to the drawing room.
There are a few characteristics of strong, pronounceable names:
- Drop the ‘The’: Follow Sean Parker’s advice and drop the ‘The’ before your blog name. Web surfers are typically unaccustomed to including a ‘The’ before website names and will invariably land up on the non-The web address (‘Blog.com’ instead of ‘TheBlog.com’). You will need an extremely strong brand profile (like TheVerge.com) to overcome this loss in traffic.
- Use Misspellings Carefully: One of the things Web 2.0 gave us was the intentionally misspelled domain name (Digg.com, Flickr.com). Most such ‘missing vowel’ domain names have already been taken. The few that are left are completely unpronounceable and will leak a lot of traffic to the correct spelling. If you’re going to use intentional misspellings, make sure to take the most pronounceable version possible.
- Consider Phonetics: There is a reason why Z, Q, X and J carry some of the highest letter values in Scrabble – very few words in the English language start with these letters. Keep this in mind when picking a blog name. Names with common letters like D, M, N, P, B, S, etc. are usually easier to pronounce. It’s also a good practice to stay clear of names starting with confusing letters such as ‘C’ (which can often be confused with ‘K’).
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4. Do Look Beyond .Com
After hours of brainstorming, you’ve finally narrowed down your search to a handful of blog names.
Unfortunately, none of these are available in .com.
Instead of going back to the drawing board, you can consider other extensions. New extensions like .co and .me enable brands to create unique identities. You can even use these new extensions as ‘domain hacks’ (i.e. when the extension and domain come together to form one or two words,such as About.me, Bit.ly, Who.is, etc.).
Naming your blog can be challenging, especially given the lack of easily available, high quality domain names. But if you understand the rules (or rather, the lack of rules), you can easily find high quality, low priced domain names for your blog.
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