Domains are unique Uniform Resource Locator who is used in websites. Domains constitute of three parts – A Top-Level Domain (sometimes known as extension or domain suffix), a domain name (or known as IP address), and an optional subdomain.
In the whole domain name, the ‘http://’ is a part of the page’s URL and not part of the domain and is known as PROTOCOL. The combination of the domain name and the top – level domain is known as the ROOT DOMAIN.
Now, let us learn more about these constituents
Top – Level Domain
Top – Level Domain generally known as TLD is the formal term in domaining for the suffix that appears at the end of a domain name (refer to image above). Some examples of top-level domains include –
You might be familiar with these four TLDs above, but there are 1000 of choice of TLDs that webmasters can choose from. .book, .clothing, .dog, and .lifeinsurance are to name a few from those list. There are also country-based TLDs like .UK (United Kingdom), .DK (Denmark), and .USA (United States of America). These countries or region specific TLDs are also called Country Code Top – Level Domains or ccTLDs.
After the Top – Level Domain, Domain Name stands in the second place of the domain category. Domain names with specific TLDs are purchased from the registrar and represent the specific location of the website. Here are following examples
Many domainers use search engine keywords in domain names because of the ranking factor. You have to tread carefully the keywords when thinking about optimizing your domain name for the search engine. Google has made a specific function to combat these keywords stuffed exact domain names with its algorithms.
If you are trying to decide on the domain name then you should check out How to Choose A Domain Name.
The term Root Domain was originally created for Domain Name Servers (DNS) referring to combine of a unique domain name and a top-level domain to form a complete website address. Your website’s root domain is the first page in the hierarchy probably your homepage. Individual pages or subdomains can be built off the root domain, but each page URL must technically include the same root domain in order to be a part of your website.
Examples of root domains include:
A website with all the pages will have the same root name and no there is no possibility that two different websites have the same root domain.
Because root domains represent whole websites instead of specific web pages, counting on linking root domains instead of linking URLs (pages) can be a more accurate way to judge the size of your site’s inbound link profile. Generally speaking, linking root domains are found to be better. Tools like Link Explorer or Majestic can help uncover the total number and specific identity of root domains linking to your site.
A subdomain is the third part of the domain hierarchy and is also part of top-level domain umbrella. Subdomains are basically added in front of the root domain and are separated from the domain name with a period.
For example, ‘www.example.com’ and ‘english.example.com’ will be the subdomains of the ‘example.com’ root domain. Subdomains are easily and freely produced under any root domain that a webmaster controls.
The two most common domain names are –
- http://www.example.com – here www is the subdomain
- http://example.com – here this URL does not have a subdomain
There are also few subdomains that generally result in canonicalization errors.
7 Best SEO Practices for Domains
Follow these 7 important practices to maximizes the potential of using search engine traffic.
#1 Make Your Domain Name A Lasting Memory
Potential and brandable domain names are short, easy to remember, easy to type and easy to say. This creates a great value for word of mouth advertising because various visitors can directly visit your domain directly and it also matters for processing fluency. Processing Fluency is a concept where it creates a cognitive bias – we remember and have more associations with the things that we can easily say and think about including pronounceability in our own minds. It is recommended to avoid using numbers or other non-standard characters or unusual spelling or longer than 15 characters and so on.
The search engine’s growing much depends on accessibility and usability as a ranking factor. Thus, the easier a domain or URL it is for humans to read, the better it is for search engines.
#2 Use Longer Keywords When Sensible
If you think you can add keywords that make it obvious what your business does while keeping your domain name unique, brandable and logical, you should go for it. But, should avoid domain names with ‘keyword rich’ or ‘keyword targeted’ domain names as best-pancake-pans-for-pancakes.com or senior-eldercare-retirement-home-finder.com.
Here once again I would like to mention, while this kind of domain names have once carried weight with regard to ranking factor, but their tendency to be associated with low-quality content means searches and search engines may now view these keyword dense domain names with a negative bias.
In recent times, Google has strived to deprioritize these keyword dense domain names that aren’t otherwise of high-quality. In order to tread carefully, use keywords for domain names with great caution because keywords can enrich your website with more traffic yet it can bring in scrutiny and negative ranking effect from search engines. You can further look for information on the blog – The Exact Match Domain Playbook: A guide and Best Practices for EMDs.
#3 Avoid Using Hyphens
Let me give you an example to make you understand why should you avoid using hyphens. If your domain name is consisting of two words – www.examplesite.com, here you may want to separate these two words for readability as www.example-site.com. It may wise to use a hyphen in this case, but it is perceived that using hyphens are correlated with spammy behaviors and eventually decreases domain name readability and memorability. For this reason, we recommend you not to use the hyphen and if required maybe just one.
#4 Avoid non .com Top-Level Domains
When you register for a domain name, you are often provided an offer to give additional Top-Level Domains. This offer is given to you in order to maximize the direct traffic to a domain bias towards purchasing .com Top-Level Domains. If the .com TLD for a domain name you are looking to purchase is not available, then it recommended to buy .net, .co, or ccTLDs as alternate options.
Additionally it is not recommended that SEO conscious domaineers should not engage in purchasing low-quality TLDs such as .biz, .info, .ws, .name, etc as a means of enriching their traffic. Because these are less commonly known they receive substantially less traffic than the widely known domains and are known for related to spammy behaviors.
#5 Favor Subfolders/Subdirectories over Subdomains
Search engines have different metrics for domains than they do for subdomains. Google has stated that from a ranking perspective, content in the subdomains and subdirectories are treated roughly the same. It is still recommended that webmasters use link-worthy content like blogs in subfolders rather than in subdomains. Example, use www.example.com/blog/ rather than blog.example.com
There are notable exceptions to these which include language-specific websites. Example, en.example.com for the English version of the website.
#6 Take it easy with the Domain Age
The preconceived notion that the age of the domain or how long the domain has been registered is important for SEO ranking factor is a myth. In a discussion, Google’s Matt Cutt spoke about the domain age as follows “To the best of my knowledge, no search engine has ever confirmed that they use a length of registration as a factor in scoring. If a company is asserting that as a fact, that would be troubling. The primary reason to renew a domain would be if it’s your main domain, you plan to keep it for a while, or you’d prefer the convenience of renewing so that you don’t need to stress about your domain expiring.”
Even though Matt Cutt assures that “the difference between a domain six months old and one-year-old is really not that big at all”, for Google search engine what matters the most are things like how long since it has been that your website has crawled or since your inbound link was recorded.
#7 Moving Domains
When a webmaster moves from one domain to another, there are several crucial factors that are to be considered including setting up the redirects on a page-to-page basis such that sub-folders and deep content pages are redirected to corresponding sub-folders and deep content pages on the new domain. SEOs should avoid redirecting all pages from one domain to the homepage of another domain. For more information about moving domains, see Achieving an SEO-Friendly Domain Migration: The Infographic.