We all know that choosing a domain name for a blog is a very important decision.  But what are some of the things we should consider when deciding on a domain name to buy?  I analyzed the domain names of the Technorati Top 100 blogs to find out what these top ranking sites can teach us about choosing domain names.

Top Level Domains (TLDs)

The number of blogs using these top level domains are:

  • .com – 92
  • .gov – 1 (whitehouse.gov)
  • .org – 5
  • .tv – 1
  • .com.au – 1

The majority of the blogs use the .com TLD.  Also all of the top 10 blogs use .com domain names.

Length of Domain Name

I measured the domain name length in both number of characters and number of words.  In each case I excluded the TLD from the count.

  • Average Length (in characters) – 14.12
  • Average Length of top 10 (in characters) – 10
  • Longest URL (in characters) – 32 (for voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein, ranked 29th overall)
  • Shorted URL (in characters) – 3 (for tmz.com, ranked 10th overall)

The top 10 blogs have shorter domain names on average.  However the shortest URL of tmz.com is not the highest ranking sitting in 10th position.  Also the longest URL for Ezra Klein’s blog at the Washington Post still ranks well at 29th overall.

Looking at the overall pattern there is no consistent trend of shorter names ranking better.

 

Now lets look at word count for the domain names.

  • Average Length (in words) – 2.68
  • Average Length of top 10 (in words) – 1.70
  • Longest URL (in words) – 7 (for latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow, ranked 22nd overall)
  • Shorted URL (in words) – 1 (for tmz.com, ranked 10th overall and the highest ranking of 12 domain names that are 1 word long)

Again the top 10 blogs have shorter domain names on average, but again the longest domain name still ranks well.

Looking at the over all pattern again there is no consistent trend of shorter names ranking better.

Sub-Domains and Sub-Folders

Some of the top 100 blogs are installed in sub-domains (such as latimesblogs.latimes.com) and sub-folders (such as wired.com/gadgetlab) of their main domain.

  • Installed in sub-domain – 25
  • Installed in sub-folder – 18
  • Installed in both a sub-domain and sub-folder – 8

For the top 10 blogs the stats are quite different.

  • Top 10 blogs in sub-domains – 0
  • Top 10 blogs in sub-folders – 0

Conclusions

Although this is not an exhaustive study of domain names it does reveal some interesting stats that are useful for people who are trying to choose a domain name.

  • Shorter is better, in both character count and word count.  Aim for 2-3 words max and no more than 15 characters.
  • Even a long domain name can rank well if it has a strong brand, eg CNN, Washington Post or LA Times.  If you can build a strong brand through great content and marketing then nearly any domain name will work for you.
  • The .com TLD is the most recognizable for the average internet user, so it makes sense for sites to prefer to use .com domain names.  If you are planning to use a different TLD for your blog it is a good idea to also secure the .com name in case visitors mistype it.
  • Sub-domains and sub-folders make website addresses harder for people to remember and recommend to their friends.  Take a cue from the top 10 and avoid these if possible.