Choosing a domain name was a pretty hard thing in the past. There were a lot of factors to consider, and the fact that cyber squatters took the best domain names with great keywords using automated tools certainly didn’t help the situation.
If you wanted your site to rank well and get traffic, you had to get a short domain name that was composed of a good keyword relevant to your site’s main topic or niche. For example, if you wanted to establish a store that sold hats, then domains like “hats.com”, “hatstore.com”, “thehatsstore.com” were the best choices.
The Top Level Domain Name also mattered a lot, and you needed to get a .com or at the very least a .net for a general site/blog. If you registered a .de, .us, or .es domain name, then the site wouldn’t have ranked well internationally, because those TLDs are considered local ones for different countries.
But now, a lot of things have changed and what held true about domain names in the past is simply useless today. Yet a lot of people follow the advice of hopelessly outdated articles on SEO and domain names found on the Internet (yes, 5-6 years old is very old on the Web).
The fact of the matter is that it has become much easier to choose a domain name nowadays, or at the very least, the priorities have shifted towards other details. No longer is the domain name, length or TLD important. Things like the titles, descriptions, content on the site and incoming links are the most important factors that will decide the success of SEO campaigns for a site.
So, in the example above, if you want to start an online store selling hats, you can go with “maddesmond.ly”, and it wouldn’t affect your rankings at all. What you will need to do right is make the site SE friendly by having proper titles and descriptions (with the keywords you want to rank for in them), great product descriptions and articles related to hats (this is probably the most important factor – good content related to the main niche) and lots of incoming links from other trusted sites and forums.
In this age of social media, people would actually remember “maddesmond.ly” better than “thebesthats.com” simply because it’s a fun and unique name (i.e. more brandable). A lot of people also type keywords like “buy a hat” or “get a hat online” right in their browser address field, which often leads them to the first result on Google or Bing, and you can easily have than first spot with ANY domain name, if you did all the other things right.
Let cyber squatters have the “best” domain names, and just get a good and catchy one with any TLD, focus on building a great website and you will be successful and get traffic from Search Engines with no problems.