Does a Domain Name Matter for SEO?
Does a Domain Name Matter for SEO?
Answering the question “does a domain name matter for SEO?” is quite simple. The answer is yes. Just look at any spam website with a domain name like new-get-rich-quick-scheme-to-become-a-millionare.info. Historically spammers have bought names like this because they get results. So yes, domain names have an impact on SEO. But that’s only the beginning of the answer
There are several guidelines that you should follow when choosing a domain name. But a word of warning first: don’t buy new-get-rich-quick-scheme-to-become-a-millionare.info. It breaks just about all the guidelines discussed below.
Domain names are not a quick path to success. But like all other aspects of SEO and online marketing they are one of the building blocks to a good website. A domain name won’t make your website successful, but getting it wrong can damage your chances.
Your First Priority is Your Customers
Your customers are your main consideration when choosing a new domain name. If you put the search engines or anything else first, you’re much more likely to make a mistake. So always consider your customer when choosing a domain name.
- It should not look like it belongs to a spam website
- Make it memorable and easy to read
- Make it relevant
- Ensure it is unique
- Get one that sounds authoritative
Your domain name is your brand. As it is your customers who buy into your brand, get a domain that works for your customers.
Exact Match Domain Names
One way of achieving the above is through an exact match domain name. But what is an exact match domain name? DivorceLawyer.com is a famous example. The opposite is a generic domain name such as MyNameLegalCompany.com.
This is all about search terms, i.e. people search for “divorce lawyer” more than they search for “my name legal company”. So the theory is the search engines will rank DivorceLawyer.com higher than anything else when this phrase is searched.
It is not as simple as this in practice, particularly since Google devalued many websites with exact match domain names. They did this to reduce the number of poor websites incorrectly showing highly in search results. So does that mean you forget about them?
No, it doesn’t mean that because you must always consider your customers. Even when you remove search engines from the equation, people are more likely to click on DivorceLawyer.com than they are likely to click on a generic name.
TLDs are the extensions that appear at the end of website addresses. The most common is .com. Not all TLDs are equal though as some have ended up as tools for spammers. Good quality TLDs are .com, .net, and country domains like .co.uk and .com.au. Poor quality TLDs include .info, .name and .biz.
You need a domain name that represents your brand and appeals to your customers. This might be an exact match domain. And it might not. Here are some other guidelines to follow to ensure your domain does not damage your SEO strategy:
- Don’t use hyphens
- Keep it as short as possible and no longer than 15 characters
- One word is ideal, two words are okay, but three or more words is usually too much
- Avoid numbers or words that have multiple spelling variations. For example, 1divorce.com can also be written as onedivorce.com. If you can’t avoid this you should buy both versions.
- Avoid words that are easily misspelled
- Make it unique so you are not confused with your competition
Also you can consider a made-up word. Such words are successful online with obvious examples like Google, Bing and Ebay. But you’ll have to devote resources to market domain names like this so that customers know what your website is about. Factor this into your budget before choosing a made up name.
Finally, a good test is to ask yourself whether you would click on the domain name. You wouldn’t click on new-get-rich-quick-scheme-to-become-a-millionare.info for example and that is reason enough not to buy it.
Would you click on yours?