Podcasts seem to be getting more and more popular by the week, with big shows and big names finally getting the mainstream media attention they deserve. But one of the best things about podcasting is that it can be done by anyone. There aren't any expensive broadcasting rights or legal hurdles to deal with—all you have to do is get a mic, learn how to use some basic audio software (free options like Garageband are readily available), and find a reliable platform to host your show.
But one thing that trips up many budding podcasters is the domain name. For the same reasons naming anything is hard, naming and finding a domain name for a podcast is a tricky balance between science and intuition.
General naming tips
Before we get into top-level domains (TLDs), let's dive into some basic naming tips for your podcast. Here are a few rules to live by:
- Try not to pick a name that's too long or too hard to spell. The last thing you want is for your show to be hard to find.
- Try not to name your brand something that could be confused with a bigger, more well-known brand. A quick check is to type the name in Google—if you find a brand with an entire page full of search content, you'll be fighting an uphill battle (not to mention potential legal issues).
- If your show begins with "The", it may be wise to get two domains—one with "the" and one without. For example, if your show is The Domain Podcast, try registering thedomainpodcast.com and domainpodcast.com.
- Non-letter characters like dashes and numbers are fairly rare online, and may confuse people trying to find your show. Only use them when it's absolutely necessary.
Domain extensions from iTunes' US top-50 podcasts
(Excluding shows that don't have their own sites due to being on larger networks, like Invisibilia with http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/.)
- .COM - freakonomics.com, missedinhistory.com, stuffyoushouldknow.com, lightroomkillertips.com, wtfpod.com, dancarlin.com, commonplacebooks.com, thisiscriminal.com, fourhourworkweek.com, daveramsey.com, nerdist.com, thetruthpodcast.com, smartpassiveincome.com, adamcarolla.com, sciencefriday.com, billburr.com
- .ORG - serialpodcast.org, thisamericanlife.org, radiolab.org, themoth.org, howtodoeverything.org, 99percentinvisible.org, onbeing.org
- .NET - podcasts.joerogan.net, startalkradio.net
- .CO - howtostartastartup.co
- .INFO - everydayfinance.info
What's interesting about podcasts is that although they're seen as a fairly new phenomenon, they've been around for quite some time now, and many of the most popular shows are linked to either "old-school media" (NPR/various TV networks) or sites that represent established non-podcast entities (like Freakonomics Radio, which started as a book, and The Moth, which organizes live storytelling events). Given the abundance of pre-internet roots, it doesn't surprise me to see so many .COMs, .ORGs, and .NETs.
But like the rest of the internet, good names in these domain extensions are increasingly hard to come by. If you're looking for some alternative domain extensions, here are some suggestions.
Alternative domain extensions for podcast websites
Also, don't be afraid to use descriptive extensions for your brand. Here are some industry specific top-level domains (TLDs) that could work quite well:
The new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) open up such a huge world of naming options for everyone. If you find one you like, use it! Just remember that podcast discovery is unlike typical website discovery. If your show is good, fans will probably find your podcast on platforms like iTunes or Stitcher first, then attempt to find your website later after hearing a few episodes. Given that discovery path, your biggest concern should be how sticky your domain sounds when you inevitably say it at the end of each episode. Before you register a domain, say it out loud to a few of your friends—if it sounds awkward, long, or tricky to spell, you're probably going to lose traffic.
And if you ever get stuck, try a .pizza domain. Nine out of ten scientists agree that it's impossible to forget domains that end in .pizza.