Emphasize branding over keywords, every time
If you walk away from this blog remembering one thing, let it be this: Forget the keywords. Focus on branding.
Wait, what? Aren’t keywords the driving force behind SEO? Aren’t they one of the most important pieces of the SEO puzzle?
Well, not really. While keywords are important, their use has changed in the last few years. Years ago, in earlier days of the Internet, you could achieve great search rankings with just keyword-rich domain names such as www.californiahomes.com or even keyword-heavy names such as www.californiastudenthomes.com.
This meant that businesses could purchase keyword-heavy domain names, not do a whole lot else in terms of search engine optimization, and still achieve good search engine rankings. However, Google made smarter changes to keep people from deceiving the users and give a better ranking to legitimate websites. Now businesses are required to earn their way to the top.
So what does this mean for someone planning to launch a web presence and needing to choose a domain name?
When it comes to domain names, branding is most important. Your website’s domain name is its online identity, which makes it a fruitful branding opportunity. Your online brand is how people will perceive and remember you, and that will drive your SEO efforts.
While it may feel like an easy and intuitive decision, choosing a domain name can have a significant impact on your SEO and the success of your business online. Here are some of the factors that you absolutely should consider before you register that domain.
1. Think about branding
Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt says, “brands are the solution, not the problem…brands are how you sort out the cesspool.” Therefore, having your brand name in your domain name would be a wise choice. Brand creates distinction and in the over-crowded cyberspace that’s exactly what you need to stand out from the competition.
2. Incorporate keywords wisely
Having keywords in the domain name can still help with SEO - however, you need to play by some rules. Avoid using multiple keywords (www.californiastudenthomes.com) in it as it may make your website come across as spammy. That said, it’s okay to include one or two broad keywords in your domain name. For example, you could include your brand name and use an industry-specific domain extension such as www.northernknits.store. This is one of the most effective ways of owning a high-quality, keyword-rich domain name without coming across as spammy.
New domain extensions such as .store, .tech or .online, depending on your product or service, can help you incorporate relevant keywords in your web address while keeping it on-brand.
3. Ensure ‘processing fluency’
If you think that the pronounceability of a domain name is not that important since users do not find websites through word-of-mouth, think again. Processing fluency implies that people are more likely to remember words that can be easily pronounced in the mind. So, having a domain name that is easy to pronounce should be considered.
4. Keep the domain name short
A good domain name should be under 18 characters. When it comes to URLs, the shorter, the better.
Having a short domain name helps with memorability. It can also be included in your marketing material. For example, something like www.kindle.store is more likely to be remembered compared to www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html/ref=as_li_ss_tl?node=133141011&linkCode=sl2&tag=amznip-kindle.store-20&linkId=4cd0d831c10ebb77bbf4aeeb9b352a3a, or even www.amazon.com/kindlestore.
5. Keep the domain name intuitive
A good domain name is one that doesn’t leave people wondering what it is that you do. In other words, your domain name should be highly intuitive. This is where new domain extensions come to the rescue. Having words like .website or .tech, etc., after the dot tells the user what genre of content, product or service expect from the website.
For example, compare www.countrycollectables.ca and www.countrycollectables.store. All it takes is a domain extension to distinguish which one of those web addresses will direct to their official site and which one will direct to their merchandise website.
6. Avoid using numbers and hyphens in the domain name
A best practice is to not include hyphens and numbers in the domain name. Including these characters makes the domain name complicated and if missed when typing, the user can be directed to some other website. They are also difficult to communicate. Ideally, your domain name should roll off your tongue when you quote it, and be as unmistakable as possible.
For example, think about how you would tell someone the domain name www.john-blog4tech.com. What if the user writes the word four instead to the numerical 4? Now consider telling someone the more streamlined www.johnblog.tech. Notice the difference?
Choosing a domain name for SEO – a quick summary
Choosing a good domain name might seem easy, but it requires some careful thought. Keep these quick tips in mind to keep you on track when the next time you have to source the perfect domain name:
- Include your domain name in your brand name
- Avoid domain names with multiple keywords separated by hyphens
- Use new domain extensions to better brand your domain name
- Ensure your domain name is pronounceable
- Keep your domain name short (15 characters or less)
- Avoid using hyphens and numbers in the domain name
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This blog was written for Webnames Blog by Alisha Shibli, a Content Marketing Specialist at Radix, the registry operator behind great new domain extensions like .store, .online, .tech, .press and others.