Once you decide on a subject for your website the next step is to get a domain name. It is absolutely imperative that you do get a domain name, sites without their own domain look unprofessional right from the start. Domains have come down in price the last few years, although they never were that expensive. Nowadays you can get a domain for under $10 a year, if you're not willing to spend that much on your website then you should reconsider making one altogether.
This next step is perhaps the most important decision to make in the site creation process. A domain name is not just your address on the web, it also often doubles as a name and can be as important or more important as what title you give your site.
Because your domain name most often reflects your site name we can discuss both at the same time.
Pretend you're a photographer named Ray and you want to build a photography information website. You have you choice for a domain narrowed down to the following three:
Number one is a horrible choice. Above all else your domain name needs to convey what your site is about. If you choose a meaningless domain that has no association with your site's subject then you've already handicapped your site and you haven't even started building it yet. Raynio.com may mean something to you because it incorporates your first name, but it will not mean anything to the people searching for photography. Always make sure your domain name has some association with your subject, the more association the better.
Number two is definitely an improvement over number one. Initially you may have even thought that number two was the best one on that list. I bet right now you're wondering why it's not so let me explain.
Branding refers to the process of getting your name associated with your product. The value of a well branded product are immense, Kleenex, Q-Tips, Band-Aids, Trapper Keeper, Roller Blade, these are all brands, but they have been branded so well that we refer to the product by the brand name. Now many people will suggest getting a unique name for the purposes of branding, and believe me Photopia.com would be great for that. Its unique, its cool, its hip, it would be the ideal domain name if you were going to run a branding campaign. However I'm not one of those people who recommend branding, in fact I advise against it. Not that branding doesn't work or that it isn't a valuable promotional tool, on the contrary branding is a viable way to build product awareness. The problem with branding is not that it doesn't work, the problem is that it costs money, a lot of money. You cannot simply buy a unique domain name and consider yourself branded. Companies spend millions of dollars on brand awareness and it doesn't even always work, E-trade spent 2 million dollars on one ad during the Super Bowl just for the purposes of branding, and yet when you think of online brokers others, such as Ameritrade, come to mind. Most people are too over concerned with branding their website, they fail to think practically. Branding is not for small or independent webmasters, unless you plan on spending money on heavy advertising you will never effectively brand your website. Instead of worrying about branding, which will likely never happen, concentrate instead of building traffic.
Number 3 is actually the best domain for building traffic because it has the best use of keywords in the domain. Also, before you actually buy your domain you should do some keyword research to make sure the keywords you are targeting are the best ones to target.