Domain Names and Search Engine Optimization
Choosing the right domain name should be the first thing to consider in search engine optimization. Domain names and search engine optimization go hand-in-hand, as your domain name is a great factor in making sure that your website ranks high in searches to drive more traffic to it. A poorly chosen domain name or a completely non-relevant domain name will not kill your SEO efforts, but it will make them a bit more difficult.
Keywords and key phrases are the gods of search engine optimization. In choosing your domain name, make sure that you utilize your best keywords and integrate them into the domain name if possible. You don’t have to necessarily use your company name as your domain name; it is the keywords describing your website’s main function or your company’s main product or service that will optimize your website’s search rank.
A company called Digital Room, also called UPrinting, provides a great example of using domain names for SEO. The company provides different printing solutions from small to large scale printing and owns more than 20 domain names that describe what kind of printing they do. They have domain names like digitalprintingcompany.com, largeformatposters.com, onlineposterprinting.com, etc. and these domain names are used to redirect you to their main website which is digitalroom.com. Now, they’ve already created landing pages for these domain names specific to the kind of service the domain name describes, but the website still utilizes the same web server and the same backend system. Go ahead and search digital printing in Google and you’ll find that their website ranks high in the search results. You could also find anchor links in Google under their websites because having so many domain names with backlinks that go directly to their landing pages or their main website, gives them a higher PageRank. This example illustrates that domain names play a big a role in search engine optimization.
You can also use your company name as a domain name, but you should consider a short description of your product or service as your primary dot com. It all depends on your marketing strategy, but sometimes the corporate name is best reserved for a corporate office site and more keyword targeted domains may be more appropriate for your business and services sites.
In choosing your domain name, remember to keep it short – as short as seven characters, if possible, not including the suffix (the .com, .net, .org etc.). If your keywords are longer than seven characters, try to keep it as minimum number of characters as possible. Choose the keywords that you’ll be using for your domain name wisely. Keep in mind that it should sound professional as well and should reflect the character of your company name. There are a couple of different approaches – either highly relevant keyword laden names, or completely irrelevant but very catchy names. The former will be far better for SEO, while the latter may stick in the minds of your users better. It all comes down to your personal preferences as to which route to take, but a keyword based domain name will always be better from an SEO standpoint.
Using dashes for your domain name, while still not the method of choice, it isn’t such a bad approach anymore compared to a few years back. It used to generate lower rankings if your domain name has dash between keywords, however today Google is developing more and more tools to eliminate the consideration of other characters in domain names, keywords, key phrases and backlinks in their PageRank. In general avoid this practice if you can, but, if you must add spacer characters, it is advised to only use the ‘-‘ (dash) character.
Be careful in choosing your domain names, though, as there are trademarked names that are owned by some companies and if you don’t do your research, you might get involved in a lawsuit. Search online if the domain name you have in mind is available and is not yet trademarked or owned by anyone.
Domain name age is a key SEO factor that you need to understand. If you are considering starting a brand new site with a fresh new domain, you may wish to do some research on perhaps buying an existing domain instead. A domain that has a 5 year old history is considered to be much more trusted than one that was just created last week. Now there are downsides to this approach as well, however, principlely that 5 year old domains may be very costly to acquire – perhaps costing several hundred dollars – as opposed to a $10 (or less) brand new domain name.
If the domain name you are looking to register has been owned by another company or individual but has already expired, you can go to domain name auction websites to bid on the domain name. Go to freshdrop.net to search for auction websites and to search for a specific websites that auction your chosen domain name. You can also view the performance of these expired domain names and their PageRank, number of backlinks and domain age, which are factors that you should consider in registering for the domain because these factors can either add, multiply or decrease your website traffic. There is downside, however, in buying domain names that have expired, even if they have previously drawn a lot of traffic. It is rumored that some search engine websites, like Google, reset the PageRank and backlink credit once the domain name’s owner information changes. This is not a proven fact, however, but it would seem logical that it may be true.
It is important that you know the relevance of domain names in search engine optimization. Choosing the right domain name not only brands your company right, it will ultimately help in increasing the search rank of your website and its number of backlinks as this will ensure more traffic to your website, therefore more customers and more sales.