The right domain name is essential to building a successful website and improving your SEO performance. How to choose the right domain name for SEO, though -- and what are some of the essential things to know about it?
In this article, I'll delve into some of the basics of choosing a domain name to help your website rank better on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Getting the right domain name is important -- both when it comes to Search Engine Optimization and outside of it. The main reasons to pay attention to your domain name include:
Your domain name can have a direct impact on how well your website ranks in SERPs. Search engines look at the relationship between the words and the amount of characters in your domain, and also the age of the domain name.
It is worth mentioning that Google does not consider domain names as direct ranking factors. However, they can have an indirect impact, as several domain elements are tightly connected to SEO success:
Your domain name is like a flashing sign -- it defines your brand, and its purpose is to draw attention to your website. A domain name should be easy to remember and relate directly to what you offer on the page, as well as your values, the kind of customers you're looking for, and so on.
Shady domain names don't get traction. Bar from a handful of exceptions, most of the odd-looking, untrustworthy domain names out there don't "do" as well as they did back when even the surface of the internet was a breeding ground for con artists and scammers.
Pick a domain name that inspires trust: everyone's already wary of how bad things can go online, so the last thing you want is for your target customers to put you in a "mental bin" next to the Nigerian Prince and other suspicious characters.
Domain names are one thing.
Domain name extensions are a slightly different one. In layterms, your domain name is your street name on the internet, while your domain name extension is your area code.
Domain extensions, also known as Top Level Domain Extensions (TLDs), are the letters that come after your domain name. They can be country-specific (.it, .com, .co.uk, and so on) or generic, such as .com, .net, .org, and so on.
Originally, TLDs were used to tell visitors where they would be taken - for example, .gov was for government websites, .edu was for educational institutions, and .int would be used by an international organization. These days, however, domain extensions are more complex, and they have different roles -- including, but not only:
In SEO, domain level extensions can influence the way SERPs interpret your website, as well as how visitors interact with it. For example, the .gov domain extension is seen as a trust signal, while domain extensions such as .info and .biz don't have that same "weight." Although research shows that the TLDs influence a domain score, but not way as much as the actual content hosted on that domain and its track record.
Choosing the right domain name for SEO doesn't have to feel like rocket science. In essence, it all boils down to a few tips you need to keep in mind:
The first and foremost important thing you have to do is run a background check on your domain. This includes:
Double-checking on these matters will help you make sure your domain is:
.Com domain extensions have long been touted as the most usable and SEO-friendly option. If you can get a .com domain, do it, for sure.
However, keep in mind that these domains have grown to be scarce and expensive in the last few years. That being said, don't limit yourself to .com - you can find plenty of other useful and SEO-friendly domain extensions (such as the more general ones, or country-specific TLDs) that could help you reach your target audience better. Some examples of more general TLDs that do well include:
Your domain name should be short -- the longer it is, the harder it is for your visitors to remember and type it. Keep your domain name concise, comprehensive, and relevant for your business, target audience, and industry.
Domain names with special characters (dashes, underscores, etc.) and/or numbers can be difficult to remember or type. Not only that, but they also look unprofessional and can affect your website's ranking in SERPs.
Avoid all words generally considered hard to spell -- otherwise, your potential customers may be taken to the wrong website (which can often be shady.) Avoid double letters, foreign names, and any difficult words, or else you risk losing customers due to a spelling error.
Including your target keyword in your domain name is a great way to boost your SEO. But don't overdo it - stuff your domain name with keywords, and you may end up in trouble (especially if Google picks up on the keyword stuffing.) Plus, a keyword-stuffed domain name can frequently seem untrustworthy to users too, as they likely associate this type of websites with scammers.
Your domain name should be easy to remember - not only is this a great way to make sure your visitors find their way back to you, but it also works to your advantage in terms of SEO.
If visitors can remember your domain name, they will share it with their friends and peers. This, in turn, can help you create more organic links pointing back to your website - which is an important factor when it comes to SEO.
Once you have a domain name that meets all the criteria above, don't wait too long to purchase it - someone else may take it before you do. Also, don't forget to check if the domain name is available in multiple TLDs - that way, you can protect your brand and avoid copyright or trademark infringement.
A brandable domain extension is a type of domain extension that uses a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters to create something unique and eye-catching. These types of extensions are best used when making an impression on a target audience, as they help tell the story of your brand in a catchy way.
Your domain name requires careful consideration -- but choosing the right one doesn't have to feel like a daunting task. By following the tips outlined above, you can pick a SEO-friendly domain name that is easily memorable for your visitors (both of which are very important criteria in choosing the right domain name for your business.)
Be ready to make compromises if you don't have a lot of money to spend on this, and always make sure you avoid domain registrars that will sell you domains for cheap and then bump up their prices exponentially as soon as the initial period expires.
Last, but not least, have fun with your domain name search. It's an exciting moment in your business journey, and you should be proud of buying a small "plot" on the internet. Stay level-headed, run your background checks, and don't be afraid to add some creativity in your domain name too!