How to Choose a Domain Name for SEO (Tips & Recommendations)

Are you planning to start an online business? The first thing that you should think of is getting the perfect domain name.

The domain name is your website name. Simply put, it is what people type in their search bar when they want to go to your website. There are many types of domain names ranging from those that describe the place, the owner, or the service provided by your site.

Not many people may realize it, but a domain name has a strong and subtle impact for online businesses. For online marketing, first impressions matter, and this can be easily dealt with by having a great domain name.

In this guide, you’ll be able to find out about domain names, why they are important, and how to choose the best domain name for SEO.

Does a domain name matter for SEO?

Yes and in fact, very much so.

Marketing in general is all about branding, and with online businesses, your mark is your domain name. There are approximately 354.7 million domain names registered as of 2019 second quarter and business continue to shell out a fortune to get their desired ones.

In addition, Microsoft Research has even coined the term “domain bias” in its study finding that users and customers would believe that a site is more reliable when it has a particularly good domain name.

Introduction to domain names

A TLD, or Top-Level Domain, is the domain extension. It comes in many forms such as:

  • .com
  • .net
  • .org
  • .gov
  • etc.

Google has verified that all domain extensions are actually treated the same. Yet, it is still recommended that if possible, opt for the most popular extension which is the .com option. In this study, it can be found that around 43% of websites use .com extension.

Almost all of the top brands have a .com extension which is why such usage can provide a reliable and credible impression for your site.

It has been highly suggested that domain extensions do not necessarily affect your search rankings, but they do, however, it makes your brand easier to remember and the starting point for potential customers.

Make your domain name memorable

Choosing a domain name has almost the same process as brands choosing a trade name: the goal is to be remarkable. Having a distinct domain name can help your customers remember your brand easily. Click To Tweet

But with SEO in mind, it becomes more than just having a unique name. Choosing a domain name requires the consideration of SEO factors to make your site on the first page or even better.

Avoid hyphenated keywords in your domain name

If you are settled on a domain name yet it is already taken, you might be tempted to use hyphens just so you could avail of the name. Generally, the use of hyphens in URLs always refer to spaces i.e., word separators. In domain names, however, it is strongly recommended that blogs do not use hyphenated keywords.

Why?

Hyphenated domain names are mostly associated with spam websites.

It is a common practice of spammers to take advantage of popular domain names by using the exact same domain but only with a hyphen placed somewhere in it. Such as where the name of the site is traveltipsChicago.com, a spam website may take advantage of it when it becomes popular and register traveltips-Chicago.com

Although such is not true in all cases, to avoid such association, it is recommended to avoid hyphens as much as possible. It is important to realize that you should never compromise your brand just so you could use a brand name that is not already available.

Use broad keyword when it makes sense

Many starters are obsessed with matching exact keywords to their content and domain name.

This should not be the case.

Throughout the years, Google has slowly veered away its preferential ranking towards exact and partial match domains.

When Google launched the EMD (Exact Match Domain) Update back in 2014, its goal was to avoid the chances of poor-quality sites from being in a high rank just because they had exact words matched with their domain names.

For starters, it is better for your site to use a domain that has the perfect balance between letting customers know exactly what your site is about from the get-go and embracing the general concept of your site.

Even the most popular websites such as Google, Amazon, and YouTube, do not have the exact keywords that refer to their services.

Length of your domain name

The shorter the better (15 characters in length or less).

This is the practical rule when it comes to selecting a domain name.

It has been found out that the most popular websites have an average of 6 characters. Most popular websites do not even reach 10 characters. This includes websites such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu, and Wikipedia, all of which has been consistent in the top spots.

So why is it more compelling to have a shorter domain name?

User can easily remember sites that have short names. Unlike longer names which are hard to remember, users would like to type in websites that are short. This will also make referrals to friends and other users easier. Click To Tweet

In addition, it is also important to have a domain name that is generally easy to spell. A lot of users get easily discouraged when a domain name is difficult. Most of the time, they will then find another site that is less sophisticated.

The website Ask.com became more popular and successful when it switched to its 3-character domain name from AskJeeves.com. This just goes to show that users like to get to point as much as possible.

To date, the longest domain name consisting of 63 characters is, thelongestdomainnameintheworldandthensomeandthensomemoreandmore.com.

Now, can you imagine typing that in your search engine?

Avoid numbers in your domain name

Unlike usernames, numbers should be at all cost, avoided in making a domain name. A mistake that some sites do is substitute a letter or a word with a number just so they could use the name that they really want.

This can cause more damage to your site than benefits. There could be difficulties in relaying the domain name accurately when it comes to verbal communication. If your site is named TheGr8Thinkers, as opposed to The GreatThinkers, then there is a special need for the recipient to know that “Great” has been replaced with “Gr8”.

There are also instances where a number would perfectly fit in a domain name such as in the case of 247CarRent which would be better than TwentyFourSevenCarRent. In sum, the use of numbers in domain names must be met with caution.

Avoid keyword stuffing in the domain

Keyword stuffing is one of the most common mistakes in SEO writing that should always be avoided.

What is keyword stuffing?

It is the unnecessary filling in or “stuffing” in of the target or related keywords in order to gain a higher search ranking. This also includes the repetition of keywords and related terms throughout the content of your blog.

Google has warned that keyword stuffing provides a negative user experience which would ultimately lead to a low rank for your website.

When it comes to domain name, it is harmful to your site if you stick as much related keywords in it. This relates to the rule that it is always important to keep your domain name short.

As such, try to think about the essence of your site and find a peculiar keyword that will automatically suggest the service that you offer. This way, you get to keep your domain short without keyword stuffing.

Possible domain options

There are four suggested domain options to get you started on choosing the perfect domain name.

These are:

●      Branding domains

●      Local domains

●      Service domains

●      Local + service domains

●      Keyword domains

Branding Domains

It is a common practice that the business name will become the domain name. By using your business name, it becomes easier for customers to go to your site when they are in need of your services.

While generally, branding domains are used by well established companies, starters can also take advantage of the distinction that attaches when your brand name is unique.

Branding domains can come in the form of a new word, a transliteration, or your name. Almost all of the top 50 websites are branding domains which include Apple, Twitter, Paypal, and Google.

Local Domains

Local domains refer to the geocentric approach of choosing a domain name. This type of domain name specifies your target audience only to a certain area. A local domain is perfect when your services can only be offered in a specific area. However, if you plan on expanding your business across different areas, a local domain may not be the perfect choice.

A great example for a local domain is visitutah.com. This keyword perfectly can describe the service and it has search volume as well.

Service Domains

This type of domain name serves to highlight the product and services that you offer. This is the best choice for those who offer a wide array of services without any geographic restrictions.

Local + service domains

It is also a good choice to combine both Local and Service Domains. This serves to hit two birds with one stone: You can promote your products and services to your location of interest.

A great example of a combination of local and service domains would northamericatravelservice.co.uk.

Keyword domains

Lastly, keyword domains have also been widely used in selecting a domain name. There are certain advantages and disadvantages when it comes to using keyword domains.

First, using a keyword domain gives your site a chance to rank higher. Users will generally open a domain that has the keyword they searched for.

Which brings us to the disadvantage previously mentioned: that stuffing in keywords can prejudice your site more than help it. Google puts prior importance on content quality rather than the domain name.

The use of keyword domains then must be careful. As much as possible, only select at least one keyword that relates to your brand and service and spin a domain name out of it.

To summarize

In sum, here are the following tips on how to choose a domain name:

1.     Go for .com as your TLD if possible

2.     Make a memorable domain name

3.     Avoid using hyphen

4.     Avoid using numbers

5.     Avoid keyword stuffing

6.     Use broad keywords

7.     Keep your domain name short

Without a doubt, domain names have an impact on your business and your search engine rankings in the long-run. Today, establishing a strong presence entails more than just having unique and quality content, it also includes branding.

Your domain name provides your brand’s first impression towards potential customers. Which is why it is important that you have a domain name that fully embraces what your site is all about and is also search engine friendly.

Interested in taking your business to the next level? Reach out to us through the form below and let’s help transform your business into a sales machine!



David Kovacs

Founder at TravelSEO
The author is David Kovacs an entrepreneur and a performance-driven digital marketing expert. David worked with businesses that range from Fortune 500 companies to start-up ventures. He is the founder of a digital agency Travel SEO that helps growing travel businesses profit from online marketing with #1 page rankings.
David Kovacs

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