Selecting a domain name for your new website is a crucial choice you have to make.
Choosing a domain name that is SEO-friendly holds lots of potentials and tells Google what your website is all about and what it specializes in.
Over the years, SEO strategists have come up with numerous ways to gain top positions on search engines. And domain names is one factor that can get you there.
In this article, we will share crucial points on how to choose a domain name for SEO.
Is It Important To Have SEO In Your Domain Name?
In short, yes. Unquestionably, the domain name alone helps people identify your business, website, and, most importantly, your brand.
In 2008, the then CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, said that brands are the solution. According to him, brands help them to “sort out the cesspool.” (Source)
But a domain name that’s optimized for SEO informs people of what your website is about. It helps you stand out from the crowd, and people are likely to visit your website.
An SEO-friendly domain name should be well-branded, relevant, and portray your website’s content and intention.
But Be Wary Of Exact Match Domains (EMDs)
However, you don’t need an SEO-optimized domain name to rank well on Google. Search engines know of EMDs, and they prohibit website owners from creating such domain names.
For example, in 2012, Google rolled out a change in the algorithm to decrease the amount of EMDs in search results. And it’s not only search engines you need to worry about. Searchers don’t trust sites that look spammy.
That’s because there’s a huge correlation between EMDs and spammy websites. Imagine if Apple.com was get-quality-smart-phones.com. It probably wouldn’t have made it this far.
What you can do is concentrate on building a well-branded domain name that is suitable for your business.
A consistent and effective branding, together with efficient SEO strategies, can help you gain an online presence, even if your business is new.
Your domain name is an integral part of your website. But it weighs less than the 200 Google ranking factors that they use for your appearance on search results.
Now, regarding branding, there are two ways your domain name can affect your rankings on search engines:
Branding Your Domain Name
Ideally, your domain name should center on your brand. It helps your target customers to:
- Find you,
- Remember your brand,
- Easily share your contents,
- Recognize your business online.
That’s why it’s advisable to select your domain name in the same period you pick your business name. So if you have a business name, use that for your domain name as well.
Branding is a fundamental factor for SEO-friendly domain names. Google is interested in brands because people are comfortable with the brands. If your online brand is effective and strong, people will be involved with your site. They will share, read, link, and purchase from the website.
As more users take note of your brand, they will revisit your website. And that will increase the trustworthiness and credibility of your site.
In short: positive and effective branding can get your site to rank higher on Google rankings.
However, a brand domain name is reasonable if:
- You have an already-established and reputable brand name.
- The brand name has your name (example, yourname.com)
- Your brand promotion and awareness is already in progress.
- If your brand is highly unique.
- You intend to rank your website well on Google and other search engines.
Adding Keywords To Your Domain Name
An alternative method is to select a domain name that has keywords related to your business in it. Examples include clothes.com, webhosting.com, hurricane.com, halloween.com, etc.
Here’s an example. If your business is not related to Cheap Smartphone Repair, the domain name cheapsmartphonerepair.com won’t help much.
But as stated earlier, Google places less value on keyword domain names. And you can gain online visibility without keywords.
But there are exceptions to the rule.
How To Choose Keywords For Your Domain Name
There are legal ways to use keyword-based domain names (if you must) to prevent Google from penalizing you. If you’ve noticed, websites such as clothes.com and shop.com are reputable brands that people recognize. How do they do it?
Remember that Google is entirely focused on user experience. That means your domain name should be relevant and uniform with the contents on your site.
In other words, choose a keyword-based domain name that focuses on your business.
Have you heard of keyword stuffing? It’s an illegal attempt to increase a site’s ranking by adding keywords unnecessarily. The term also applies to domain names, and that’s why you need to be extra cautious of the keywords you use.
Below, you’ll find how to choose keywords for business domain names.
Let the keywords align logically.
The keywords should align well, and people should be actively searching for it. Make sure it’s not in random order. You can use the Google Adwords keyword tool to assist you.
When the keyword-based domain name sounds reasonable, people can remember the name. You should avoid long and complex domain names.
Your brand is still the most relevant keyword.
Your brand name can be part of the keyword. Your brand name can begin and include a good keyword. For example, if your name is Zach, and you run a photography studio, the domain name can be ZachsPhotography.com.
Don’t overdo the keywords.
It’s preferable to use one keyword; it can give an intuitive domain name. For example, ZachsBracelets.com informs people of what you do and your brand name. However, BuyBraceletsOnline.com looks spammy and keyword-rich.
Don’t use hyphens.
Most spammy websites use hyphens in their domain names, and that’s why you should avoid it at all costs.
Should You Use Branding, Keywords, or Both?
Let’s assume your name is Zach, and you run a phone repair shop in Colorado. You want a website and are currently searching for a domain name to help you reach your target customers.
The following are some of the possible ways to acquire a domain name.
Branded domain names
One good example of a branded domain name is Zachs.com.
The domain name does not have a keyword that shows what your business is about. You have to develop your brand and determine what the domain should be.
That means you have to spend much time promoting your brand to create a connection between the domain name and your services. That way, when people see “Zachs,” they quickly think of “phone repairs.”
Local domain names.
A good example of the local domain name is ColoradoZachs.com.
You can target specific clients in Colorado when you use these types of domain names. Of course, the contents on your site will describe the services and products you offer. But the local domain name lets people know your location before they interact with you.
However, local domain names can decrease your business growth. For example, if you want to expand your business outside Colorado, it won’t be easy from the search engine and branding perspective.
Service domain names.
A good example of a service domain name is ZachsPhoneServices.com.
With the inclusion of services in the domain name, people can easily identify that you’re a services company. And they’ll know the kind of services to expect.
You’re also not limited like the domain local names. However, you’ll face limitations when you want to branch out of phone repairs. It’ll be difficult for you to rank for the keywords related to the new services.
Service and local domain names.
A good example of service and a local domain name is ColoradoPhoneServices.com.
This type of domain name helps search engines to define your location and business adequately. However, it isn’t easy to find such domain names because they are already bought.
You may need to purchase if from the owner or use another extension such as .io, .biz, etc. But you must tread carefully here. Using another extension, especially .biz, .ws, is usually associated with spammy websites. The best option is to use .com.
Use Shorter Domain Names.
Try to keep your domain name short. Preferably, it should be within 15 characters. When it comes to URLs, shorter is always better.
According to Fit Small Business, the top 100,000 websites have an average domain name of nine characters or less.
Which Top Level Domain Is The Best?
First of all, the Top Level Domain (TLD) does not affect your search engine ranking. The only ones exempted are TLDs for countries such as .ca, .uk, .us, etc.
If you use such domains, it will affect your site’s ranking in geographical search domains.
So if you have .uk as your domain extension, you’ll have a higher rank if people search within the United Kingdom. Likewise, you’ll have less rank when users search outside the country or city.
However, even though domain extensions pose no significant threat, you can’t ignore the psychological effects. Almost all searchers are familiar with .com, .org, and .net, domain names.
These extensions carry more trust and credibility than the other domain extensions. That’s why we recommend .com, .org, and .net for your domain name extensions.
Key Points To Note When Choosing A Domain Name For SEO
Google recommends and promotes what users like. So when choosing your domain name, focus primarily on your customers.
The domain name should contain the following requirements:
- It should not look like a spammy website.
- People should easily remember your domain name and recognize it as well.
- The domain name should look credible and relevant.
- It should help you brand your services ( for example if you’re trying to promote professional SEO services) and create a connection between you and your customers.
- Avoid intentional misspellings of your domain name.
If using an acronym fits your brand, go ahead, and use it. However, use it only when it makes sense to do so. For example, Zach’sPhoneServices.com is far easier to remember than ZPS.com.
Choosing an SEO-friendly domain name can be challenging if you don’t know the right steps to take. If you follow the guidelines outlined in this article, you will come out with the perfect domain name.
All the points discussed in this article come down to this:
- Concentrate on creating an effective brand for your business
- Let your domain name be simple.
Remember that your focus should not be on the domain name alone.
When it comes to a good website, the domain name is crucial, but it’s not everything. So you should not depend on only your domain name.
Lastly, when you find a domain name and think it’s perfect, ask yourself if you’ll visit that site. You can also ask other people to give their opinion. Since you wouldn’t visit a site like buy-cheap-iPhone-here.com, you should not use such domain names or similar.
This article was contributed by Brand Pulsar. Brand Pulsar specializes in creating premium brands from scratch and helping new businesses have a great start.
Ernest Atta Adjei is a freelance web content writer. He writes SEO friendly informative articles for businesses that want to improve their Google search rankings and increase their organic traffic. He has been in the writing industry for over four years.