Here are some tips and some advice on picking the right name for your website if you are launching from scratch or re-branding.
In this article we’ll focus on Google although similar rules apply on other modern search engines such as Bing.
Get this bit right at the beginning. Do not proceed until you are happy with it. Changing your mind later will be a headache, costing you money, search results and loss of customers.
Does A Domain Help SEO?
No. Not on Google. Other search engines may still use this as a ranking factor but they’ll catch up.
Google is smarter than that. Much, much smarter. Google will use a huge list of contributory factors to rank your site. The domain name is definitely not one of them.
That said, consider something within your domain name that reflects what you do. This is to help the user identify you with your trade, but has no impact on search engine results.
10 Tips When Deciding On A Domain Name For A New Business
1. Use A Unique, Niche Word Or Name Combination
Example: Your online shop sells personalised greetings cards. Avoid the use of adjective keywords within the domain. Words like “best”. Imagine someone has heard of your service because of the PR groundwork you have done. So they go looking for you on the internet and your company is called Best Cards. If you enter that search term in you’ll be lucky if your page lists within the first 1000 results on Google. Your potential customer will simply give up and shop elsewhere. Remember what Moonpig done. They called themselves “Moonpig” and quickly grew into the country’s biggest online greeting card retailer. Now that is genius. A unique combination of two everyday words that would normally not be associated together.
2. Avoid Words That Users Can Easily Misspell
Example: If you offer a garden maintenance service. Avoid using the word “maintenance” within the domain name. Opt for something like “services”. This will help the user find you without having to Google spell check the word “maintenance”. It’s all about ease of use.
3. Avoid Dashes
Keep dashes out of domain names. When using some mobile devices, the user will have to switch on screen keyboard layout to find the dash. This is inconvenient. The use of a dash between words in a domain also looks like you had to choose that because the original choice without a dash was already taken.
4. Research The Domain
This is hugely important. Before choosing a domain, Google it. Try and run as many different searches as you can using similar terms and words. Spend a lot of time researching.
5. Choose Your Correct Locality Extension
Domain names don’t affect your search results. One factor that does remain relevant is your locality factor. If you are a company in the UK, choose .co.uk
If you are based in the Netherlands, choose .nl. Spain .es (you get the idea).
The obvious choice for many is .com However choosing your locality extension like co.uk will be more useful.
You may want to reserve the .com and apply an addon domain if you think your brand will be going global at some point, otherwise stick with your locality domain extension as your primary.
This helps search engines filter results for your locality.
For example: a user in Scotland searching for something like “double glazing windows” will see an entirely different set of results from a user searching the same phrase over in Chicago.
There is far more to it but when choosing a domain name, picking your own country / locality is still a factor.
It could even become the difference between you and your closest competitor. How frustrating would that be? You always ranking 1 below below your closest competition simply because you went for the .com instead of .co.uk as your primary.
6. Cross Check Copyright
Back to research. If you decide on a name for your brand and discover that someone else somewhere is trading under the same name – pick something else. If that other company is trading under that name, they could quite rightly sue you for copyright infringement which would also result in you being forced to stop trading under that name. Research this before picking a name and avoid clashing with others.
7. Be Consistent With Branding
Example: You have a radio station called Hot Radio. On the posters, on the merchandise, on the sign outside the building it says “Hot Radio”. Even the jingles are playing out on-air singing the words “Hot Radio” But you discover the domain isn’t available for Hot Radio. Do not then choose the domain Hot FM. Keep your branding consistent across everything. This includes social media pages and channels. Thorough research before deciding on a brand name will save a lot of headache later.
8. Avoid Abbreviations
Some of the world’s biggest brands have abbreviations as their title. But you aren’t one of the world’s biggest brands. A name of a builder with some random 3 letter abbreviation on the side of their van pulling up beside you on the road shows lack of imagination. By the time the van is out of sight, you will have forgotten what those letters were.
9. Keep It Short & Snappy
Example: Your name is Thompson and you offer Mortgage Banking & Brokers services. Sure: the domain name thompsonmortgagebankingandbrokers.com will be available. But you can see the problem we have here.
10. Say It Out Loud
Is your brand name easy to pronounce? Make sure that your name is easy to say out loud. Make the experience as easy as possible for the user.
Myth Of Domain Name Helping SEO
Back in the early days of the internet, there were dozens of major search engines.
The job of a search engine is to match up the end user (you) with the information that they are looking for. If they fail to do this correctly, you will lose faith in their ability and find a new search engine.
In those days (the late 1990’s) – YES. Your domain name was important to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is because there weren’t as many domains registered back then. The search engines were easily manipulated and a domain relating to the search was relevant.
Back in the early days of the internet, if you lost faith in Yahoo you would turn to Hotbot, Excite, AltaVista, WebCrawler. If those didn’t find the information you wanted you would end up Asking Jeeves.
Then along came Google. Clean, no spammy adverts on their home page. Furthermore they seemed to find the sites or information that you wanted quickly and cleverly.
A smart search engine without adverts all over it’s home page. A search engine that could actually find what you were looking for! It was a win win and the global online population switched to Google after all the years of frustration and bombardment of adverts from the others.
From this point – the domain name of your website became a non-issue on where you ranked on the search results.
Rankings became content based.
Here is a question that I am often asked. A business page may have 10,000 followers but most of the posts struggle to reach 25% of this. Sometimes lower than…
When creating websites, one hugely important consideration is to make sure that the website is accessible to people with sight-loss or visual impairment. Any reputable website designer will have studied…
If you have a website that doesn’t have a valid SSL Certificate, modern browsers will display the dreaded “Not Secure” alert. Windows, MAC, Android & Apple IOS platforms all take…
What Is Voice Search? Voice Search is used by smart speakers & mobile hands free devices. Voice search is accounting for a rapidly growing percentage of website traffic. Phrases such…
If you are thinking of setting up a new website to sell online, there is a lot to consider. A clear strategy is required from the very beginning, otherwise you…