This article covers choosing a right domain name for best SEO. There are tons of articles suggesting one method of picking domain name over another. In the end, it will all come down to your personal choice, and picking a domain name that has nothing to do with your brand or your niche, doesn’t necessarily means you won’t get good rankings.
When choosing a right domain name, this is what you should know.
Are Keywords important for SEO when choosing a right domain name?
Getting it done right in the world of SEO can be tricky on so many levels. There are so many different opinions on what the right approach is to skyrocket your website to the very top of search results. Google algorithms keeps evolving from day to day, which makes it hard to guess what would be the right approach. This is the troubled part for everyone who is just starting with their website.
Domain name keywords used to have much more importance, but that has changed. Most of you might think that having the keyword in the domain name will boost your rankings. The truth is, domain keywords are not that important as they used to be for SEO. To go a bit further, they can even hurt your rankings if implemented incorrectly.
Domain Keywords used to rank differently
Just a couple of years ago, search engines credited much more importance to website domain name. Search algorithms were very complex, but the logic was different. Finding relevant site for a given search was often based on the domain name.
This led to over-optimized websites for the given keywords. People started to serve optimized pages for bots, instead for humans. Buying links from another sites was very popular, which made it difficult for people to find quality information.
After the domain name anarchy, Google changed the search factors. What now seems obvious, it was a pretty unexplored territory at the time. Google determined that the content of the website is more valuable to people than domain name.
Choosing Brand over Keyword for Domain Name
Let me try to explain it this way. Try to remember a few websites you recently visited. It’s most likely that their domain wasn’t stuffed with keywords. It was probably a short, brand focused name. I chose wpbrainery.com for this domain name, even though it has no mention of WordPress or Tutorials. Think of Twitter, Techcrunch, Zynga.. Nothing in that domain names says what the website is about.
It became obvious to Google, that people were exploiting the system with exact-match domain names. Since then, Google has drastically changed its algorithms and it became more important to have a great content that people actually read over having keywords in the right places.
Make no mistake, keywords are still important part of your SEO, but they are not the only thing you should be focused on.
I want to have Keywords in my Domain Anyway
You absolutely can! The intention of the content above this wasn’t to discourage you of for using keywords when choosing a right domain name. I was merely trying to point out that choosing a brand as your domain name will not hurt your SEO in any way.
Having keywords in your domain name can still be beneficial. Even though it might be hard to find a domain that is available for certain keywords. To help you easily find available domain names, use WPBrainery’s domain finder tool. I’ll share my favorite domain finder tools:
Alternately, I’ll share my favorite domain finder tools:
Don’t throw away your keyword strategy just yet!
While it’s not a necessity to have keywords in your domain, it can still be beneficial if you are able to find one. This is because of backlinks and, more specifically, the anchor text used in those backlinks.
Let’s say your lava lamp store’s domain name is totallavalamp.com. Any time another website links to your website, it will likely look something like this:
“I really wanted a yellow and green lava lamp, and the only place I could find it online was at Total Lava Lamp.”
This is incredibly beneficial for SEO because your targeted keyword is being used often in backlinks to your website, which is a strong indicator for search engines that your site has something to do with lava lamps. Unlike the80sstore.com, which says nothing about lava lamps.
This kind of approach should only be taken if you can incorporate a keyword and keep the name brandable. Be careful not to have a long domain packed with keywords. It looks spammy.
To get the most out of your domain name, make sure your domain name follows your brand name.
Which TLD should you choose? .com, .net or something else?
TLD’s to consider while choosing a right domain name
.com was created in 1985, in a time when internet went public. The intentions for this domain were to be used as “commercial”. It’s easy to guess that the .com is shorten from commercial. As the presence of .com domain began to spread, it soon became an industry standard.
.net is the second most used domain extension. It was created around the same time as .com extension, but .net was made specifically for business purposes. As you guessed, .net stands for “network” and it’s widely used with companies offering network or internet services.
.org is the third most used domain extension. It’s often used by organizations and it’s easy to guess that the searched company is organization without even visiting the website.
There are many other TLD’s available, but their popularity and usage is not that high. Also, some TLD’s a considered as spam or not safe, like .biz or .xyz.
So which TLD should you choose?
If your website is not an organization or internet service, you should always go with .com extension. Your TLD won’t have negative impact on your SEO, but choosing the wrong one might put you down with low ranking websites.
Besides .com extension, extensions with highest values are country extensions like co.uk or .de. Why? Because to get a country extensions, you’ll need to provide company info to your national domain registrant. Registering your domain in this way, it usually cost nothing. So it is assumed that the company is “verified” so to speak. But it doesn’t necessarily means that. You can also buy a country TLD.
In most cases, choosing .com as your TLD is a good choice for choosing a right domain name.
Domain Name With or Without Dashes
So many people are having this question: Should I use dashes inside my domain name?
Even thought this is something worth debating, my advice is without. Don’t use dashes inside your domain name. Why? The reason why should be very obvious if you think about it.
Let’s start with marketing. Let’s take for an example wpbrainery.com. That domain is obviously taken. While I was searching for available domain name for this site, it could have easily happen that it was already taken by someone else.
I’m sure it happened to all of you. Domain you really like and you think you scored a jack pot with the name, is already taken. Naturally, your first next step would be to add a dash in your domain name and check availability. In my case, I would search for wp-brainery.com. Woohoo! It’s available!!
But you will easily fall into the trap! There will be two websites with similar domain name, possibly with the same or similar niche. So you are expecting users to remember your domain name and to land on your website after they type in your domain name directly. The truth is, with proven case studies, that user will simply type wpbrainery.com and hit enter. User will rarely take dashes into consideration. By doing that, the traffic will go to a non-dashed domain.
Would you ever consider purchasing domain face-book.com? Of course not, why would you!
Hyphenated domains are usually confusing. People usually get confused with the dash. They often forget the dash.
On the other hand, by using dashes, you can get some extra attention on your domain. For example, buycheapusedsamsungphones.com looks complicated and you have no idea what it says. Unlike buy-cheap-used-samsung-phones.com which grabs much more attention than the first example.
Having more than one hyphen is not recommended.
How does Google treats dashes in domain name?
Google and other search engines couldn’t care less whether you have or don’t have dashes inside your domain name. For search engines, domains of both the types are same.
What matters is the way you treat your domain. When deciding to go with or without the hyphens, you should put people on the first place, instead of bots.
Extra Tip – Buy them ALL
Well, not all.. Even though it presents an extra cost while just starting with your website, a useful tip while choosing a right domain name is to purchase variations of your domain name as well. So if your domain would be mybrand.com, you would want to purchase my-brand.com and possibly mybrand.net. Or similar variations. That will make sure that you own TLD’s for your domain name which will eliminate possible confusion and competitors.
I hope this article helped you decide how to choose a right domain name. Even though it all comes down to your personal preference, niche or business name, this guide will definitely help you avoid some most common mistakes when choosing a domain name.
Got a domain name in mind? Check it’s availability here!
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