One of the first important decisions when building/launching a new website is the selection of a domain name. Domain names are a very valuable part of a business and its web presence. What most people don't know is that the right domain can deliver some great SEO benefits.
Researching, selecting and purchasing a domain name is an essential step in any SEO strategy. This important step should be taken seriously. Think of your domain URL as the address of your website. Much like your own address, a domain is where your site will "live" online. And you don't just leave where you live up to chance, you take the time to research and carefully choose where to live. This same care should be taken when deciding on a domain name for your new website.
There are a number of things that one should consider during the domain selection process.
- There are two strategies for domain selection- focus on the association with the brand of your company or including keywords in the domain. Including keywords in the domain will help the site gain better recognition, lead to more external links, increase the chance for better organic rankings and bring more traffic to the site.
- Keyword-rich domain names tend to get more direct traffic. Keeping a domain keyword rich, generic and short in length will help bring traffic to the site when users type in the keyword(s) directly into a brower and add a .com extension. You don't want to miss out on this targeted traffic!
- Domain names need to be seen as trustworthy. Aim to select domains that are short and don't include a large amount of hypens/dashes. ex: onlinebanking.com vs online-banking-for-free.com
- If possible, also try to secure the .com version of the domain. People tend to remember, search for and navigate for this extension more than others
(ex: .net, .org)
- Consideration of a domain's age is another important part of domain selection. There are a number of benefits for having an aged domain. These include, but aren't limited to, the advantage of getting pre-existing traffic to the previously developed site and its pre-existing inbound links. There are a number of tools to check the age of any domain name such as DomainTools.com.
- If you want to check out the site that formely was found at this address, use the Internet Archive or Wayback Machine.
- Domain names should be memorable. This will help your search engine result stand out as well as increase the probability of capitalizing on direct, type-in traffic.
- This may go without saying, but the domain name chosen should be easy to spell. Unless you create a completely new term/product, choose a domain that will be easily found and remembered by online users.
Now, with all of that said- you may be asking what are the SEO benefits of carefully selecting a keyword-rich domain name? Well, I am about to tell you...
- When linking to other sites, it is common practice for webmasters to link to the business name or simply the web address. Having a main domain name that is keyword rich will make it easy to create inbound links with strong, keyword rich anchor text.
- A keyword-rich domain also provides the search engines with something to consider when choosing search results for a specific keyword search. If your domain is keyword rich and revelant to your site, it has a fighting chance of showing up well in the natural rankings. Top ranked sites very often contain the keyword that was searched for. This isn't the case every single time, but there is a strong trend that indicates that there are advantages of having keywords in a domain URL.
- Domain names that contain relevelant keywords also seem to work well for obtaining Google site links (the exact algorithm is unknown, but the consensus is that this seems to work). Site links are the additional links you see below a result on the search engine result pages. These links are there to help users navigate to a specific, inside page without having them navigate to the homepage then searching for the information they seek.
- Keyword-rich domains also complement other aspects of a website's design that make the site easily crawlable by the search engine spiders/bots. Along with keyword-rich URLs, other things to consider to build a crawlable, SEO friendly site include: well-structured site navigation with a sitemap and well-writted titles and descriptions (work along with strong domain name to produce high click through rates in search results).
- High natural rankings and the presence of Google site links will help combat your competition by pushing their listings down below the fold on the first page of the search results. Other tactics can also be employed to make sure that you dominate the first page of results above the fold. These include paid search and supplemental rankings. All of these working together will help build your brand and position your business/website as a leader in your industry in the minds of current and potential customers.
Can't decide between a few domain names? Is there more than one domain available that is keyword rich and relevant to your business' products and/or services? Not a problem, it is possible to purchase any amount of domain names that are desired. These domains can then be redirected to the main domain URL that you choose. This is another way to make sure that you aren't missing out on any direct, targeted traffic.
Carefully selecting a domain name is just one tactic to help your site perform well in the search engines for keywords that are relevant to your business. This is an important step that you must consider when building a site with the intent of generating large amounts of traffic, gaining qualified leads and building a strong web presence for your business. And really let's be honest, who builds a website without these goals in mind?