5 Tips For Choosing A Domain Name That Is SEO Friendly
Choosing the right domain name is one of the first and most crucial decisions a business owner makes when starting a new website. SEO analysts have long argued over the merits of properly optimizing a domain name for search engine success.
Today, I’m here to argue that choosing the right domain name can have a crucial impact on how well your website ranks in major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and many others.
In this blog post, I’ll cover:
- How your domain name impacts your website’s ability to rank in search engines.
- Best practices for choosing a domain name that is both user and SEO friendly.
How your domain name impacts SEO
Your domain name serves as one of the primary tools to inform potential website users what your website is about. A properly optimized domain name will give users an idea of the purpose of your website and also hint at your core service offerings.
When choosing your domain name, you should think about how your domain will stand out against your competitors. Look at the other websites that are ranking on the first page of Google for your main service offerings. Check for patterns. Are you competitors doing well here? Are there missed opportunities? These are important questions to ask yourself when choosing a domain name.
Keywords are important
If your brand is not well established and not easily recognizable to users, adding relevant and targeted keywords to your domain name can help it stand out.
Look at the examples below and tell me which domain name is more informative to potential customers that are unfamiliar with your brand.
The second domain name sends a clear message to users that the domain offers plumbing services, where the first domain is unclear about that without clicking on the domain itself. In the fight for clicks in the search engines, the second example is more likely to earn clicks and web traffic.
Consider your brand name
If you’ve already chosen your business name, it’s important for your domain name to align with your current business or brand name. It will certainly be confusing to potential and returning customers if your domain name and the branding of your business are different.
Take for instance, if someone types in the name of your business or your brand name into Google and comes across a domain name that does not match your business name. The chances of them finding your site are low at that point.
It is also important to see what else is ranking for your brand name. Start by doing a Google search of your brand name to see who and what is ranking for it currently. Depending on your competition it could be tough to rank even for your own brand name.
Take for example if your name was Charles Schwab and you were opening a local credit union. Trying to rank for your name is going to prove difficult when you’re competing against the brokerage firm Charles Schwab.
In this instance is might be worth choosing a domain name that is a bit more unique that will help your domain stand out from other competing websites.
Exact match domain names
Keywords can be beneficial to have in a domain name for SEO purposes. However, it is important to not go overboard and keyword stuff your domain name. One common practice that has been used and abused when choosing a domain name is called exact match anchor domains. Exact match anchor domains are designed to match an exact search query for the sole purpose of ranking well.
Say for example your wanted to rank well for the keyword “Chicago SEO agency”. If you followed the practice of exact match domain names you would choose to name your domain www.chicagoseoagency.com. For years this type of domain naming strategy was effective for ranking well for targeted keyword searches.
However starting in 2012, Google rolled out an algorithm update to target exact match domain names in their search engine results. This update was targeted at exact match domains that also were spammy websites and thin on website content. While this update was successful at targeting low quality exact match domain names, a more recent case study from Moz showed that exact match keyword domains can still be effective when done correctly.
Stay away from dashes
When choosing a domain name, it is important to avoid dashes in the URL. Many domain names that include dashes, are often sites designed to look like a more popular website. They can also be difficult for customers to remember and can result in them landing on a different website altogether. Your domain name as one full word is easier to remember than a domain with dashes randomly inserted throughout the domain name. Think of your user experience first and foremost when choosing your domain name and how it is structured.
Choosing a domain name that is SEO friendly doesn’t have to be a difficult process if you follow the steps outlined above. In summary:
- Analyze both your competitors and also who is ranking currently for your domain name
- Include keywords in your domain name where appropriate
- Make sure your domain name and your brand name align
- Avoid keyword stuffing and exact match domain names
- Stay away from dashes or other spammy domain name tactics
Matt Zajechowski is the Outreach Team Lead at Digital Third Coast, a Chicago based digital marketing agency who specializes in SEO, Paid Media and Digital PR.View Matt Zajechowski`s profile for more