Domain options for great SEO
Domain is an important part of your overall SEO efforts. Good domains tend to get higher rankings in Google and Bing. Here I want to share a few things you want to keep in mind as it relates to having a strong domain for SEO purposes.
Please note that in this article I will not talk about sub-domain or directory structure of your pages. These will be the subjects of future discussions.
Before we go into qualities of a good domain let me lay some ground work for the discussion by talking about the anatomy of a domain name.
Anatomy of a domain name
Domain is composed of a couple of key parts: TLD or Top-Level Domain, domain name. Example of a TLD would be .com, .ca, .co.uk, ru, .com.cy, etc. There a number of TLD types such as country TLDs like .ru for Russia and .ca for Canada. There’s also generic types such as .net, .org and .com. Read more about TLDs on Wikipedia.
Domain name in turn is a single-word or dashed word-group that goes immediately preceding the TLD. For example, my domain name is zagoumenov and EBay’s domain name is ebay. Now that we’ve covered the anatomy issues, let’s talk about some qualities of a good domain name for the purposes of search engine optimization.
What is a domain and why it’s important
Domain name is your unique address that identifies your website on the internet. A good domain should be chosen based on the following qualities:
- Relatively short: choose a domain that’s not super lengthy. For example, zagoumenov is 10 characters and it’s ok. Vovia and Anduro are better because they’re shorter. I don’t think that Google wants the shortest domains to rank higher, so don’t worry if your domain is 10-15 characters long.
- Easy to remember: just as with your SEO content you should create domains that are built for users first, then for search engines. Make sure your domain is easy to remember and to type into the address bar. For example, zagoumenov.com is NOT the best name for a domain, but that’s my last name and I’m kinds stuck with that :). However, inboundinteractive.ca, although a longer one, is better because people can spell it easily.
- Branded domains: a good domain for your primary website should use your company name. According to SEOmoz’s recent study Google started to pay attention to domain / brand matching. in other words, sites with their brand name in domain tent to rank higher than sites with keyword-based domains. For example, if you’re a lawyer providing services in Canada, a good name would be ZhivovLaw.ca.
- Localized domains: pay attention to choosing the right TLD for your business purposes. If your business targets users in Cyprus it’s recommended that you use .com.cy TLD as opposed to a generic one like .com. Or if you’re targeting users in Russia, then you should use .ru TLD. Google and Bing would value your website higher as being more location specific to the customer.
FAQs on SEO-friendly domains
There’s a number of FAQs regarding SEO-friendly domains I get often. Here’s a couple of select questions and answers.
- Dashed vs. not dashed: What’s better sharp-fridges.com or sharpfridges.com? I’d recommend the latter. Less characters and therefore shorter. I’m pretty sure that a search engine can understand that we’re talking about Sharp Fridges. Also, non-dashed domains are simpler to spell out. Instead of telling your customer to visit “Sharp dash fridges dot com” you would just say “sharpfridges doc com”.
- Keywords in the domain: it used to be the case that your domain had to have keywords in there but that’s gradually going out of fashion. Google noticed that this rule is being abused and now places less attention to keywords in your domain. So, you don’t have to insert keywords in your domain for the purposes of SEO and ranking higher. Moreover, generic non-branded domains such as keyword1-keyword2.com are less reliable than brandkeyword.com for people and Google equally.
Transferring your domain names
As a side note, if you decide to transfer your domain to another service provider, I want to share a good guide of domain transfer from GoDaddy. Please note, I’m not affiliated with the company in any way. I just found their manual handy and very easy to follow.
Some good articles on the topic
- Domain name matters: searchers pick brand over quality, study finds
- Should I get a new domain name for SEO?
- How to choose domain names for SEO?
- Best practices on domain names for SEO from SEOmoz
- 12 rules for choosing the right domain name from Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz
- Discussion of top level domains from Search Engine Journal
- Domain optimization: facts and myths
As always, feel free to leave your experiences in the comments below. I’m sure my colleagues can add a thing or two and those who want to learn will get their bit of advice here useful.