Picking a domain name is exciting. You have cleared your way, made plans for your domain and this sets your energy high.
But when you choose a wrong website name, you will land yourself in trouble. Many studies show domain names do impact SEO. But how? Are there specific ways to choose a domain name? Is there a wrong or right way to choose a domain name for maximum SEO?
Here are few things you should know to choose the right domain name for maximum SEO.
Never Pick an Exact Match Domain
For newbies in SEO business, you will be tempted to choose the exact match domain or EMD. What is Exact Match Domain (EMD)? An exact match domain is a domain name that includes the keyword phrase itself. Few of them refer to these domains such keyword domains.
Example: If a business wanted to rank “awesome cheap widgets” as their keyword, the alternate Exact Match Domain would look something like this – www.awesomecheapwidgets.com
It might look easy-breezy to use this strategy on the surface level. Did you feel that if there are more keywords then more SEO? It is quite not the same.
Here is a trivia – Google back in 2012 took notice of a lot of websites were trying to improve their SEO by choosing Exact Match Domains. Years ago if you wanted to rank “cheap Nokia phones”, you would just buy the www.cheapnokiaphones.com domain for few dollars. Viola, you would be in the first-page ranking. These domains didn’t have backlinks nor any quality content but JUST raw SEO power.
Then it came as a surprise when Google dropped an update of Exact Match Domain. This Exact Match Domain update subdued all the keyword domain websites in the rankings. Immediately average ranking was shown to the bottom of the records. Now you can understand why choosing Exact Match Domain is a bad idea. But here this paves a way to only know what you shouldn’t do. Instead in the following learn what you should do.
Use Your Brand Name as Your Domain Name
Using Your Brand Name as your Domain Name is the easiest and safest option. Why? Because customers remember you best with your brand. Much of website traffic will come from navigational search.
What is Navigational Search? A Navigational Search is a type of search query in which the user is trying to find your website.
Example: If your brand name is Crunchbase, then there is a possibility that users will use these navigational queries –
- crunch base
- crunchy base
- cruncch bas (nobody’s perfect)
- crunched base
Generally informational queries are popular and then comes the navigational queries. When potential customers conduct the search like those above, they will most likely find your website. But there is yet one important reason why you need to use the brand name as your domain name. Which is? Brand Signals.
What are Brand Signals? Brand Signals are mentions or occurrence of your business name on the web. These are increasingly important means to improve your SEO significantly. In a nutshell, Brand Signals are broader than SEO. They have much to do with PR than any SEO.
Some SEOs dream of a day where backlinks don’t matter and keywords aren’t anymore given relevance. They are hoping for a future where the brand itself stands as a proof for determining search presence. We aren’t there yet, but Brand Signals are a step towards this dream.
Here are some ways that businesses build brand signals
To build brand signals you don’t just engage in SEO activities or content marketing alone. Instead, you involve your brand in broad business building activities.
- You have actual employees who work for your company or brand
- You also have a physical address and an office or two
- You have real people answering while contacting for information with real contact numbers
- You have registered your business and organized it right authorities
- You have people searching for your brand
- You have people talking about your brand
Even the big names at Google are declaring that brand signals are a way to differentiate low-quality websites from high-quality websites.
Are you thinking how will these factors influence SEO and your domain name? Your domain name should be your brand name because this will precipitate to have a high ranking website.
What About Target Keywords?
Let’s remove the notion that keywords matter the most. Keywords do not actually matter anymore. Google and other search engines have managed to associate keywords with your brand name as and when your brand grows in popularity and if you continue producing content.
Take Buffer, for example, their brand name has nothing related to their keywords ‘social media’ and ‘sharing’. But what does Google do with these queries? They bring up all of Buffer’s products, accounts, and information.
Even if your brand name has an ordinary name, it isn’t a problem at all. If it is like a standard vocabulary name like Apple, you do not see any other information about the fruit – apple. Do you?
Maybe you are not a publicly traded multi-billion dollar company like Apple. But Google can still measure brand signals and provide your brand with the search-boost it needs.
Connectivity, for example, has a brand name that is basically a vocabulary word. But Google still gives them top rank. They even outrank Wikipedia.
Always your brand name matters more than your domain name. But your domain name should follow your brand name.
What If My Brand Name Include Keywords?
Is this a question that you need to mull around with? Not necessary.
A website that contains keywords often called a PMD for partial match domain, doesn’t ruin your SEO. Here’s why – Instead of just changing how domains impact ranking, Google is targeting spammy signals around EMDs and PMDs.
The problem with EMDs and PMDs aren’t just the keywords in the domain. It also about a bunch of spammy stuff too. So, let’s say your business is “The Light Bulb Replacement Company.” Your target keyword is “light bulb replacement” and your website is LightBulbReplacementCompany.com.
As long as you have a decent site with good quality content and user experience, you will not see any major negative impact. If you are starting from scratch when you want to choose the best name for your brand, try not to choose a name brand that is an exact match for the keywords you are targeting.
In today’s era of digital search and machine learning algorithms, brand identity is absolutely vital. And it includes just about everything except keywords.
This article doesn’t tell you how to pick a brand name, but about the two intertwined topics – brand names and domain names. For more information on the interplay between brand names and domain names, please check out these resources:
- The Psychology Behind Choosing a Killer Domain Name
- How to Come Up with the Best Name for Your Brand
- How to Pick the Perfect Brand Name
- How to Pick the Perfect Name for your Business or Startup
Choose a .com extension
Like other factors, even your extension or TLD (top level domain) is important. The most common TLD today is .com.
There are many extensions or TLD in the market, but be aware of certain TLDs like .biz and .us that are associated with spam.
Your TLD will never directly affect your SEO of the business. But choosing a wrong one can degrees you to the low-ranking websites which could negatively impact your SEO of the business.
The .com TLD is easiest, simplest, safest route to go about. If you need other high-quality extensions choose country extensions.
Tips for Scoring Best Domain Name
I’ll wrap up his article with a rundown of tips to remember.
When a person hears your domain name, they might not know whether to spell the number or to use a numeral. For example, Number1Ranking.com could also be NumberOneRanking.com.
Avoid Intentionally Misspelling Words:
By intentionally using misspelling words in your domain or brand name can confuse everything. It may seem unique and creative enough to use misspelled words in your domain or brand name but people have hard time spelling it. So, technically this method backfires when used.
Combining two or three words to form the longer word is fine:
It has worked out for many businesses such as Quicksprout, Kissmetrics, HelloBar. But make sure that your combined words won’t be misinterpreted. MensExchange.com could also be MenSexChange.com, so think twice.
Hyphens a Bad Choice:
It’s easy to forget when, where, and if to use hyphens in a domain name. Hyphens are fine for multi-word URLs deeper within the site. But they’re not so great for the actual domain name.
Shorter is better:
Anything that starts getting longer than 15 characters is too long.