How Can your Domain Name Effect SEO and Ranking?

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is an internet address for a website (www.example.com). Having an online presence is now a requirement for any business that wants to make an impact, so choosing a domain name will be an important task, especially if you are a new startup business that wants to make a splash.

Your domain name will not only represent your business online but it can also have an effect on your Search Engine Optimisation and the ranking factor of your website on search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.

Keyword Rich Domains – How Important are they?

Choosing a domain name that contains keywords relevant to your business was once considered one of the most beneficial moves in terms of SEO and ranking. Today, the ideal domain name would not only contain keywords but also be catchy and unique while representing your brand – something that is actually a lot harder than it sounds!

The domain name itself is a ranking factor which is considered by search engines such as Google and Bing when they decide on the ranking order of websites. However, Google has made many changes regarding domain names and ranking factors which have actually seen a drop in prioritisation of keyword rich domains. Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager at Bing has spoken previously on the topic of keyword rich domains, stating;

‘Ranking today is a result of so many signals fed into the system, the words used in a domain send less and less information into the stack as a percentage of overall decision making signals. This is great from our view (the engine) as it results in better results showing at the top since no one signal can be manipulated.’

Having keywords in your domain is definitely still seen as a beneficial move and although keyword rich domains have gone down in Google’s favour, Backlinko’s latest update of ‘Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List’ states that ‘A domain that starts with their target keyword has an edge over sites that either don’t have the keyword in their domain or have the keyword in the middle or end of their domain.’

When choosing your domain, you should remember that apart from keywords, Google now looks into other factors such as site usability and content relevance when deciding on the overall ranking.

If you are choosing a domain that focuses on specific keywords, you should consider:

The search volume – use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to find out what the search volume is for your keywords. It may be that your keywords are less popular than your thought and you may have to make some adjustments.

The cost – If you are using a popular keyword you may find that it can be difficult to obtain the domain, either because the domain name has already been taken by another user or because the price to purchase the name is very high due to its popularity. It is recommended by Moz that you should not buy a domain unless the .com TLD is available, as this may devalue your site and make it look spammy.

Choosing a Domain – Top Tips

  • One of the most important factors when choosing a domain name is memorability. If a domain name is short and easy to remember then people are far more likely to remember it and type it correctly when they enter it into their web browser.
  • Try to steer clear of domain names that are longer than 15 characters. Short domain names are not only easier to remember but also have a smaller chance of resulting in spelling mistakes or typos.
  • Avoid hyphens within your domain name as they can appear to be a spam indicator. Hyphens are also not a great addition to have if your domain is being passed around by word of mouth, as the hyphen is often left out or forgotten. Similarly, avoid commonly misspelled words and intentional misspellings so as not to confuse your users.
  • Top-level domains, e.g. .com, are the extensions that appear on the end of domain names. The extension that you choose can have a big affect on the attention that your site receives. A .com domain extension is by far the best choice as it is recognisable internationally and is the most common TLD. Low quality TLDs (e.g. .info, .biz, or .name) can appear to be spam and are less trusted than the generic .com. If you have a country relevant TLD (.co.uk) this can help you rank in that particular country but may limit the site in global rankings.