One of the most important factors in getting your website to rank with Search Engine Optimization used to be the domain name you chose. That may not be the case going forward, but it is still plays a huge role in the success of your business.
In the past, if you wanted your site to easily rank for a specific long-tail keyword (perhaps: Best SEO Company in Houston) you could buy the exact domain name (bestseocompanyinhouston.com) and probably rank #1 in a few weeks with a little SEO.
While there are still some lingering benefits to using exact-match domains (EMD), most major search engines are beginning to phase them out in favor of more “brand-friendly” domain names, eg: StanleySteamer.com, Instagram.com & MailChimp.com. It’s fairly easy for search engines to identify someone prioritizing “SEO tricks” over user experience. If you’re in it for the long-haul, you should avoid the EMD approach.
SEO Tips for Choosing a Domain Name:
In the real world, you can’t always get the exact domain name for your keyword or niche so you have to settle for something that has the main keywords you want to target and incorporates a catchy name that you can market.
- The shorter the better.
- Include the root keyword of your niche market.
- Try not to use dashes or duplicates
- Make it easy to remember and marketable.
In general, an SEO friendly domain name should be short and sweet. The example above (BestSEOCompanyInHouston.com) used to be a great way to rank for a long-tailed keyword search, but it was annoying to read and say. No one wants to have to repeat an entire sentence just to get a domain name across and Google can clearly see that you’re trying to game the system rather than build a legitimate brand. This is something that Google has always been working to avoid when serving search results to consumers.
Consider Your Keywords
Exact match domains aside, you should still try to include the root keyword in your domain name. For instance, if you’re going to be selling widgets online, you want “widgets” to be in your domain name (eg. WidgetWorld.com or WandasWidgets.com. Try not to get too specific with your keywords because it could limit you in the future.
Even still, with proper online & offline marketing, even domains without keywords can be successful. See Amazon.com (rather than OnlineMarketplace.com), Newegg.com (rather than ComputerWarehouse.com), StanleySteemer.com (rather than CarpetCleaningNewYorkCity.com) and so on.
Avoid Dashes & Duplicates
Avoid dashes if possible. These domain names are often impostors of the better domain names and they simply don’t look good. I would challenge you to find many successful companies who are using a hyphenated domain name. It’s just best to avoid them if possible.
The same goes for picking the .net or .org alternatives if the .com version of the domain you want is already taken. You’re going to have a lot of people mistakenly going to your .com “competitor” out of force of habit. Remember, choosing a catchy domain name can be the difference between success and failure.
Make it Memorable
Make your domain name marketable and catchy. There’s nothing worse than having a domain name that is hard to say or hard to remember. Your customers might get your website confused with a different website and end up buying from your competitor.
Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of colors and animals used in domain names. i.e. MailChimp, TigerDirect, etc. Another big trend for tech companies and startups is to get creative with .ly or .io domain extensions, such as Leaf.ly, Bit.ly and Ring.io. If you go this route, you should still make sure you can secure the .com alternatives (Leafly.com, Bitly.com & Ringio.com) to make sure you aren’t missing any traffic.
When I work with a client I always try to get a domain name that is easily marketable and fun. One way to do so is to use alliteration in the domain name. This instantly creates an easy-to-say and catchy domain name. Here are some examples: ChimneyChamp (chimney cleaner), PoolPro (Pool cleaner), MuscleMilk (protein drink), etc. Play around with words and find something that’s catchy and easy to remember!
Use these domain selection tips and you are sure to shine when it comes to a catchy domain name that ranks well and is SEO friendly.