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Do You Make These 6 Domain Name Mistakes?

Posted By Darren Rowse 2nd of May 2013 Other Income Streams 0 Comments

I’m regularly asked about the mistakes I made when starting out with blogging and the first two words that usually spring to mind are  ‘Domain Names’.

Most of the early mistakes I made (and some of the more recent ones) have revolved around domain names. Let me run through a few:

1. Not Getting My Own Domain Name

The first mistake I made was not to get my own domain name at all.

The year was 2002 and a couple of hours after reading my first blog, I was ready to start my own. After looking at how everyone else was doing it, I decided to use Blogspot (Blogger) as my platform because it promised me that I’d have my own blog up and running in minutes. At the time I’m not sure Blogspot allowed me to use my own domain (you can today) but within a few months of starting that blog I was already regretting not using one of the other hosted blogging services.

I felt trapped on the Blogspot domain and realised how little control I had, especially in terms of design. So began to research switching. I initially switched over to MovableType and later to WordPress and at that point I registered my first ever domain.

Having your own domain name is beneficial in many ways. It shows readers you’re serious about what you’re doing, it helps build your brand and credibility, enables you to have an email address with that same branding and can also help with SEO.

Lastly, having your own domain name gives you more control, which means you’re not going to be switched off for breaking the terms of service of whatever host you’re on.

Switching my blog to a hosted blogging platform and getting my own domain name was a big part in my blog’s growth in the early years. At the time of switching, I was nervous that I’d lose all my readers and any search rankings I achieved but I need not have worried – it only grew my readership!

2. Getting an Aussie Domain

OK – so I’d made my first big decision to switch my blog to my own domain. This helped my blog a lot, however in doing so I inadvertently made another mistake (in fact, two mistakes).

The first one was registering the .au extension for my domain name. Now this may not be a mistake for everyone but for me it was.

I’m an Aussie but at the time of choosing my domain most of my readers were in the US. I didn’t realise it but by choosing an Australian (.au) domain name I was making my blog more findable in search engines to Australians – but not to a global audience.

This was both a blessing and a curse. It meant I got some nice traffic from Google.com.au as there were fewer Aussie sites competing for that traffic however, the overall number of people searching the web in Australia is much smaller than the global number of people searching the web.

If you’re looking to build a localized audience by all means consider a local domain. If you’re looking for a global audience I’ve found .com domains to be much better.

3. Not getting a .com domain

The other mistake was choosing the .org domain. At the time legally entitled to use the .org domain as I was involved with a church and a leader of that community. It seemed appropriate as part of what I was doing with my first blog was related to that church but in time, my goals with the blog changed to become more commercial.

Using the .org.au domain and running a commercial blog wasn’t really a good idea. It probably didn’t comply with the rules but it also wasn’t very good for my branding either.

4. Conflicting Brands

By this point I’d only been blogging for 18 months but I saw a real evolution of my blog. I started blogging about church, spirituality, almost as a personal blogger. As I developed my voice and began to experiment with different topics and with making money from my blogging, I made the mistake of keeping all my blogs on the one domain.

My domain name was livingroom.org.au (it’s still live today if you want to take a look) but on it I hosted a number of blogs that didn’t sit well together as an overarching brand.

I had a church information site, my personal blog, a camera review blog, a camera phone blog, an olympic games blog and more – all sharing the ‘livingroom’ brand.

It was messy, particularly when I began to try to grow my readership and start talking with potential advertisers for my main blog – the camera review blog.

Having said all of that and having made all of those mistakes – the blogs did grow to a point where I was able to make a decent living from blogging. This should hopefully serve as an encouragement to those of you who might have made similar mistakes – you can still have success!

5. Not Getting the .com for ProBlogger When I Could Have

In 2004, I decided I wanted to start a blog about blogging where I’d share tips on blogging and how to make money from blogs (something I’d been doing for almost a year). I’d previously been writing on the topic of blogging in a category on my personal blog but wanted to bring all those posts over onto a domain specifically for bloggers.

I decided upon the name of ProBlogger but someone had already registered the domain ProBlogger.com (they were originally developing a tool for bloggers) – so I got ProBlogger.net.

At the time, I didn’t reach out to the owner of that domain because they looked to be building something and what they were building was quite different to my intentions for ProBlogger so I thought we could co-exist.

In time, the owner of that domain stopped developing their tool and ‘parked’ the domain. At this point I reached out to see if they’d sell it to me. I don’t remember exactly what they asked for but it seemed steep (it was somewhere around $1000 from memory).

I reached out to the owner numerous times after that initially approach but the numbers they asked for got higher and higher (mainly because I was growing demand by having success with my blog and the word ‘ProBlogger’ began to be commonly used to describe people making money with blogs).

It was important for me to get the .com domain, mainly because I wanted to defend the brand. Having ProBlogger.net was ok, but .com was more common and I knew everyday readers were ending up on someone else’s site looking for me (note: ProBlogger.com is coming up for a big overhaul in the coming months).

Eventually, they put the domain up for auction and after a roller coaster of a ride I purchased it (for quite a bit more than they’d originally asked).

The lesson I learned was that if I am serious about a brand, back myself and buy the domain early.

6. Hyphens

The last mistake I made with domains was when I started Digital Photography School in 2006.

The site was started as something of an impulsive experiment so I didn’t put a lot of thought into the domain – but I wish I had.

While having hyphens isn’t a terrible thing in terms of search engines (although lately I’m wondering if that is changing) it is a real mouthful to communicate to people when you’re telling them the domain of your site.

As with most of the above mistakes – this wasn’t a mistake big enough to sink my sites development, dPS is my biggest site today, however it is/was a regret of sorts!

What ‘Mistakes’ have you Made with Domains?

I know I’m not the only one who has made mistakes with domain names – help me feel better about mine by sharing yours below!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. just one mistake i did and still price for it; i put the abbreviation of the name of my company with niche word of my blog by combining the two with hyphen. Now I have to repeat and articulate domain name of my blog to let people remember it. While doing so sometimes I have to raise my voice and almost to shout to put the exact words into the minds of listeners. I am thinking for swtich over of my domain name but everyone knows how foolish it is to replace a two year domain name with the new one.

    • May be you are better of changing it now than 2 years later. Dont you think?

    • If all you’re worrying about is readers finding your site, that’s easily resolved by retaining ownership of the old domain and setting up a redirect. That way everyone will find you no matter which url they use.

      If you’re concerned about stats and ad revenue however, I wouldn’t advise it as I learned the hard way how much it affects both.

      • You wouldn’t advise what exactly?

        • [I am thinking for swtich over of my domain name but everyone knows how foolish it is to replace a two year domain name with the new one.]

          This was in response to Edson Hale and Sudheer. I wouldn’t advise changing urls at this point if he’s at all concerned about rankings.

      • Hi Christine. Could you please elaborate on the stats and the revenue comment? Are you saying that by having two URLs – one of which is directed to another – there is a detrimental impact on stats and revenue?

        The reason I ask : I plan to do something similar

        • Yes. The only ‘stat’ that remained the same was Google pagerank. My alexa ranking, which has a huge impact on advertising revenue, paid post revenue, etc. was essentially starting over with the new url. I had read that the stats from the old and new url would eventually equalize, but that never occurred. The only way I could reap the benefit of my old, better alexa ranking was to have the new url redirect to the old subdomain url and only use the subdomain url for advertising and directory submissions, etc. in order to maintain the rank. I finally decided it was best to ‘yank the bandaid off’ quickly and start from scratch with the new urls, resubmitting everywhere using the new, shorter urls and redoing my seo and backlink work with the new, shorter urls.

          If I had it to do over again, I don’t think I would unless there was something truly detrimental about the old urls.

          If you’re not depending too much on ad revenue and paid posts, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem.

  2. My main mistake/regret is making my domain name difficult to spell/prounce – phogropathy – isn’t a word instead it’s a word I made up using the letters of “photography” which is the theme for my site.

    While it does separate my site from the millions of sites out there that are “(Insert Studio name/Photographer name)’s Photography” it’s definitely hard to communicate it to someone when I say ‘Oh yah I share photos at http://www.phogropathy.com‘ everyone’s response is – uhh could you spell that for me?

  3. As you can see when I started my blog I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. The title is At Home with Vicki Bensinger, In-Home Culinariy Classess with my URL being the latter. I know more now but still have a lot of learning to do. My domain name is sooooo long it’s crazy. My only salvation is if someone frequents it the name pops up when they type. That said, I am in the process of switching over to WordPress and this should take place sometime late May.

    Here’s my question and I hope you can help me answer it. Since I teach in-home culinary classes and to date I’m right up there on top when you do a google search – do I keep the current name the way it is with the hyphen ending in .com, remove the hyphen, or just go with VickiBensinger.com? Or do you have a better alternative?

    I want to be sure I don’t lose any current followers and I wasn’t sure if including in home culinary classes in my URL would be best for my SEO or if VickiBensinger would be better for SEO even though it doesn’t include in home culinary classes. My logo does say it all on my home page.

    I need to decide which one to go with soon, so your feedback would be greatly appreciated or anyone out there that wants to comment.

    Thank you.

    • Personally, I think you’d be better off with something shorter – if you leave Blogger, you can redirect traffic to the new site easily. Google will eventually recognize the redirect and the new site will replace the old one in search results (though it definitely takes time). I just did a quick search and saw that inhomeculinary.com is available or even homeculinaryclass.com. I think it makes more sense to have a memorable domain that’s easy for people to type, and your content can take care of the SEO. Just my two cents – hope that helps!

  4. My mistake was putting a hyphen. And am learning to live with the long name.

  5. I’ve had a lot of trouble with domain name issues. My blogging started in 2011 where I purchased one domain “emptynestheritage.com” and over time started four blogs as subdomains. My traffic and rankings on the sites increased quickly, but I soon realized the urls were too long and decided to purchase domains for each one. Once I purchased the domains names, I noticed my alexa rankings and some Google page rankings decreased substantially, thereby affecting revenue by approximately 60% – a huge hit. I learned that the domains started fresh, not picking up the rankings of the subdomains. I’m still trying to rebuild what I lost.

  6. Mine was having too many domains. I finally consolidated everything and then started over and moved what needed to be moved out to it’s own domain and it makes for a much easier experience for everyone, including me.

  7. This didn’t exactly happen to me, but I’ve seen situations where the domain names contains a commonly misspelled word or a word with double letters (ss, ll, tt etc). Unless you can get both versions and set up as redirect, someone is going to steal the portion of your domain’s traffic.

  8. Great post and something I’ve suffered from. A question. If you have a blog with good content and then acquire the better domain, would you move all your content across and battle with a huge redirect file or would you just point your new, better domain. At the existing content?

  9. I don’t understand why my comment was deleted

  10. Not researching the niche to see how well the domain will do. I just bought the domain out rightly without researching at all. Yeah, I know that sucks – but that’s my own mistake.

  11. As I live in the United States, it makes no sense to purchase a domain from Australia. Barring that, I’ve made all the mistakes you mentioned. I’ve made a few other mistakes as well including: buying domains that I would never use, accidentally allowing domains to expire that I was using, buying expired domains with sketchy incoming links…

    Oh well, as they say, “Live and learn. Die and forget all.”

  12. Originally, I had a totally unnecessary article (the) at the beginning of my domain (luckily it was a free .wordpress domain). When the time came to buy a real domain, I asked my wife her thoughts and she looked at me, and in all seriousness said, “Drop the ‘the’.” She’s a big Social Network fan, but looking back, I’m glad I did. Sometimes “the” just gets in the way.

  13. When I first purchased a domain name back in 2006, I had no clue about how you can register a domain in your own name. Unfortunately, the company I had registered with at the time for a domain name and hosting My domain name hostage as I was not able to put the domain URL in my own name. I later canceled my hosting and domain name with that company and went with someone else. That was one of the hardest lessons I learned about domain name ownership and domain registration.

  14. I have a question regarding your post title of this post.. The url is – https://problogger.com/domain-mistakes/

    However the title is – Do You Make These 6 Domain Name Mistakes?

    Earlier we were taught to use the default but now I am seeing this trend on all the authority blogs. They are shortening the url by using only keywords it seems removing the stop words.

    There may be some other theory or reason but this is what I came to.. Please expand upon this. Maybe a blogpost to help better understand how this effects the site from SEO point of view.

    • I don’t do this on every post but I think it makes sense to shorten a URL and to only use the main keywords – for me it makes more mistakes than including the superfluous keywords like ‘do’ and ‘make’ etc.

  15. A very interesting post Darren,
    One thing i like here is that you’ve made all these mistakes and still learnt from them, i think that is the spirit.

    Most people in life makes lots of mistakes and never learnt anything from them. Personally, i think domain extensions does not really matter that much once you know what you’re doing but, i cannot go for a domain outside the .com, .net and the .org extension.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • I think that’s the key – make mistakes but make them mistakes that teach you something or that you can turn to your advantage!

  16. Leesa says: 05/02/2013 at 8:51 am

    Thanks Darren – such a timely article as I’m looking to register a domain name by the end of this month :)

  17. Getting the domain you want sounds easy at least for me, but getting the end product or domain that I want is more of a task! I usually go to GoDaddy with a particular domain in mind and 99% of the time my first pick is gone for the .com TLD. So now it comes down to what variations may work, etc. Hyphenated versions of the original domain I was seeking usually are available, but I have not bought one yet as I am leery how well it may work.

    Generally I will spend hours on other keywords that may work and go for those domains.

    Usually works….sometimes not

  18. Awesome post Darren.

    I remember when hyphen domains were all the rage.

    I think the domain actually being brandable helps too.

  19. Hello Darren,

    Thanks for this post! I’m starting a blog about WordPress development, as a hobby, and this sure came in a good time.

    But since we are on this subject, may I ask you one opinion? I still can’t decide on the domain name. My first idea as to use my own name, since I already have that domain laying around for a while. I could use the blog not only to talk about WordPress, but also to show my work.

    The problem with that is I don’t know if it would work. My name is Portuguese and kinda long, so I came up with the name “WP One”.

    It have a nice keyword in my opinion and it’s a nice name, since the blog is run by one person alone. The problem with that name is the .com and .net are already taken. Both of them aren’t being used, so I can talk with the owners, but I don’t have much money to trow on this.

    I thought about wpone.in or wpone.me, since they looks cool, but I’m afraid it may be a mistake. So what are your thoughts on this?

    Should I use my name or stick with WP One? Thank you for your time :)

  20. My mistake was using my name has my domain. I’ve built up some traffic and now can’t really make it a niche site since there is no real target market for people looking for… Me.

    I don’t know if a redirect to a new site would work well with the search engines.

  21. I already have purchased:
    InHomeCulinaryClasses.com and
    VickiBensinger.com and own them so feasibly anyone they click will redirect. But I guess if its stays the same since I’ve had it since 2009 maybe I’m better off I don’t know or brand myself with my name.

    Then I change my email to one of those as well. It’s stressful trying to decide which one is best. Thank goodness for forums like this.

  22. I started out on Blogspot as well before getting my own domain. I also had the crazy name of linugadgetech as a combination of Linux, Gadgets, and Technology. I don’t see starting out on blogspot as a mistake though. It gave me a free place to experiment and figure out if I was serious about blogging. It was a pain to move it later and blogspot doesn’t give a way to do a 301 redirect, so I ended up using a javascript redirect.

    As far as those comments about moving from one domain to another, I think that Google passes pagerank for 301 redirects, so it should work ok for your search traffic.

  23. Well, you’re not the only one making mistake. Many blogger ignore domain name criteria. Short, simple, and easy to remember, easy to read, and easy to spell are domain name criteria that you have to fulfill. If you ignore these criteria, there is a big possibility for you of choosing long and complicated domain name that can make you or even visitors feel confused of remembering your website address. For example: thinkbetterbehaviour.com or latestsmartgadgets.com. This is important to remember and apply unless you want to sink in bankruptcy sooner or later.

  24. I don’t know if this is an error or not but I feel that my domain name is a real mouthful. Admittedly it’s designed to appeal to a certain target audience that won’t mind that many syllables in a domain name and some might even find that appealing but I often wonder if I chose a good one.

    Would love to hear your thoughts


  25. I completely agree re: hyphens, the look spammy right of the bat. Most of the time in my experience people register hyphen domains because the exact match isn’t available. My personal opinion is you are far better of going with a brandable domain, hence no need for hyphens.

  26. For me I am still a begginer so to be honest I am still in the learning as you go phase.But the first I learned is that if you dont know what your audience is and your starting focusing on the group your site will go no where.The second things was conflicting brands and topics I tried to do it all and thats what I am trying to fix right now.Also making sure your blog and the name actually match and your living up to it.Thats what I have been dealing with

  27. Hi Darren! My biggest mistake was giving up a wonderfully short Domain-Name that i had already registered in the early 1990’s. Later it was already taken by a company just to save Domains similar to their brandname. Still hate myself for doing that ;)
    Greetings from Bavaria, Germany

  28. I made some of the mistakes you made like not owning my own domain name and starting on blogspot. When I found out the name on blogspot I was using was taken, I couldn’t even buy my own domain with the same name. After taking a poll on my blog and thinking about it for a long time, I bought ‘ecokaren’, thinking, it was ‘me’ and no one had it. Now, I regret having my first name attached to my domain name because if I want to sell my site, it’s going to be almost impossible. I wish I chose a more generic name.

  29. My mistake was not getting my own domain name. Its now one of the first things you have to get when you are starting a business as well…Thanks for the article.

  30. Thank you so much for this – it makes a lot of sense. Whenever someone tells me that we HAVE to get a .com, I point out ProBlogger.net. Whenever someone says not to use dashes, I point out DPS. LOL

    The biggest mistake I made was choosing a domain that wasn’t my business name. It caused confusion for a year. My business name was already taken so I chose something different. The next mistake I made was not researching keywords when choosing a domain.

    ~ Kimberly

  31. Thanks to Darren, I was able to avoid most of the common mistakes when choosing a domain. Finding the right name for a blog is becoming tough everyday. I chose ‘sleepwriter’ because that was one of the shorter domain names available and it sounded memorable. While I’m happy with the name, I wonder whether it directs the search engines in the right direction. Although, I have ‘writer’ in my domain name, my blog has nothing to do with writing tips.

  32. When I started blogging, I did not thought that domain names would play such importance in branding, I just came up with a crazy idea of registering some without doing any research. But I was wondering why does the “hyphen” have to do anything with domain? I need to be clarified.

  33. You did well with ProBlogger! I am an avid fan! I stuck with my name and that worked out very well with good content, but I learned that here…SO THANKS Darren and to all of you who have posted here!

  34. Jason Brown says: 05/03/2013 at 4:46 am

    One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when you’re considering a domain is assuming that if you spend a lot on a domain that is an exact match for your brand/product, that you’ll rank well in search. Although certainly a factor, high quality authoritative content will always be a higher factor.

  35. I have a domain related question, when I bought simmering nicely it was supposed to be a food blog but thats on hold right now for various reasons. The tag line at the moment is ‘blogging for the bewildered’ but thinking of changing it to an explanation of the title .. along the lines of simmering nicely – a state of mind not a pot of boiling water – but then neither the domain or the tagline would have anything to do with the content. So I suppose it’s 2 questions really – first does it matter if your domain doesn’t contain your main focus keyword and second does your tagline mean much in terms of SEO.

    • Jason Brown says: 05/03/2013 at 8:10 am


      It’s great if you have your focus keyword in your domain. I think it could add a slight edge to your ranking in the short term, but you absolutely have to back it up with high quality content on your blog that supports that keyword. Industry leaders in SEO have found that exact match domains and keyword matching domains are becoming less and less relevant to search engines. It’s far more important to have engaging content.
      A tagline is really an extension of your brand – or what you offer your clients. It should be an extension of your brand. Oftentimes, if your tagline is an extension of your brand, it will naturally contain keywords relevant to clients search queries. I would focus on a tagline that makes sense and would work a keyword in, but only if it’s natural.

  36. OK so I’ve had a few answers but not direct and I’m at my final moments to determine which URL to use. Since I’m not that well versed with SEO and other important factors when determining a domain name your assistance is appreciated.

    Currently and since 2009 my blog has been operating as http://www.In-HomeCulinaryClasses.blogspot.com. However, I’m switching over to WordPress and for the sake of SEO and my readers I purchased 3 domain names. Which one of these would make the most sense to use for my new updated site, the others could always redirect readers to the main domain:

    #1 http://www.In-HomeCulinaryClasses.com
    #2 http://www.InHomeCulinaryClasses.com
    #3 http://www.VickiBensinger.com

    Which one – #1, #2, #3

    I appreciate your comments.

    • If you look back up at Darrens post and read the comments you’ll see the hyphen isn’t a good idea. As for using your name, well it depends on the brand you want to build, or have already built and whether your name is already tied to it. Then again these are just the opinions of someone with seo questions of their own.

  37. Thank you for sharing. I got to say, I feel so much better knowing that just cause you make mistakes doesn’t mean you can’t move past it.

  38. Great post and something that I’ve been suffered from. Thaks for sharing with us.

  39. Well, the points you mentioned were good. But I never follow those when I purchase a domain. I will never see whether it is SEO Friendly or anything else. If I love the domain, I will purchase it for sure. But by luck, my domain agrees to all the factors you’ve mentioned. Cheers Darren :)

  40. Oh, no! I just bought a URL, but I had to hyphenate because the guy who currently has it is asking $5k. I think I can get it for $1k… should I bite the bullet and do it?

    I have rude-tech.com and rudetechnologies.com, but wanted rudetech.com. Should I try to buy it from him before he benefits from the brand I am building?

  41. Oh man really great . Thanks for putting this all together for newbie bloggers like us . Actually many of us did these mistakes when choosing domain name and many are doing right now.. It will clear their mind and let them know what they should do and what not when choosing the domain.

    Thanks again..

  42. Great blog, this could be the best blog I ever visited thi month. Never stop to write something useful dude!. I have a blog also, You can find it at Movers in Santa Clara

  43. So then would you go with my current domain name without the hyphen and .com or VickiBensinger.com?

  44. One big mistake that I made while registering my first domain was that I used a common misspell of the word just because the real spelled word was not available.

  45. Whenever I start a new website, I register it on .com, .net, .info and .org. I have been using domain with .com and same domain name on .net, info, .org for letting users know that these are associated to that same brand that’s on .com. One thing I have been doing is to post related stuff on .info, .net and .org. Now I have several domain names on multiple tld. I prefer to use .com and register website on others for brand uniqueness. Don’t know its worth it but I still do it.

  46. Well, I start my blogging carrer in 2013. Biggest mistake I made is, buyed unsuitable for my blog niche.

  47. Starting it off with personal Brand domain name shanker bakshi dot com and then giving it a more pro look NetProfitMantra dot Com seems like a good idea, but i know i have gone through rough weather. Still struggling with broken links problem,

  48. Pro domain name with .com extension are rarely available. I also purchased some domain other than dot com but at last i got it. Newbies make mistakes! Well, nice article.

  49. I have not made any major mistakes like the ones mentioned, but my blog name is to broad and I bet the people coming to my site does not tell what the focus is right away. Currently I am trying to focus on ranking for certain key words and hope that helps to specify my market a little bit.

  50. I started with a free blogger blog–mistake! Once I got smarter, and self-hosted, my readership grew and I began making money.

    Now, I am actually in the middle of one of the mistakes you mentioned–having hyphenated my blog name because the original name I wanted (domain name) is being held hostage by someone who registered it just to auction it off. It is a pain in a batooty ;), and I really would love to get the original domain I wanted. It is up for sale now for $1000… but I honestly do not have the extra funds for it now, otherwise I would buy it. I am torn.

    I was just exploring a possibility of changing domain name to a program I offer, but alas! it is registered as well, and also seems to be being held hostage.

    I already grew a decent readership and following, so, getting the originally designed domain would be perfect!


    • Hi Elena,

      Have you thought of.net,.biz,.me options? You probably have but I thought I’d suggest that anyway.

      I also read something recently about laws against squatting on domain names. Depending on the content this person has on the website the domain name may be contestable.

      You mentioned that after you self hosted your readership grew. I am pretty new to the blogging world (about a month actually) and I’m curious to know more about self hosting. Does self hosting make a big difference to readership?

      If so I would be very grateful if you could point me in the right direction as I have no idea where to start with self hosting.

    • Hey Elena,
      I have a blogger blog and am weighing my self host options I like what I an doing but am hesitant to take the self host route. Reading the post and your comment was really helpful

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