Choosing the domain name is the first important decision you will make in creating the website.
There are actually two schools of thoughts in selecting the domain name for a website: the branding approach, and the keyword approach.
- The branding approach is choosing a short, catchy and easy to remember domain names such as Twitter, Flickr, Google and eBay.
- The keyword approach is choosing a domain name that utilizes keywords for search engine purposes.
Benefits of Keyword-Driven Domain Names
The main SEO benefit of keyword-reflective domain name is in the inbound link, or how other sites will link to you. Keyword-rich domain names allow your keywords to be placed in the anchor text when people reference your site.
For example, WomenHomeBusiness.com – when other people link to the site, they use the text “womenhomebusiness” within their links (e.g. WomenHomeBusiness.com). This is called the “anchor text,” and anchor text of the inbound link is one of the most concise assessments another person can make about what your site/page is ‘about’. Search engines then see WomenHomeBusiness.com as a site highly relevant to the term “Women Home Business” thus helping the site become #1 for that term.
Another benefit of having keywords in the domain name is to help boost the site’s CTR (click thru rate) in the search engine results. The URL with the keyword gets bolded in the search results, and this helps grab the attention of more searchers. Search engine users are becoming better at ignoring spam in search engine results, and are looking for important clues in your listing in the search engine results. Keywords in meta descriptions, titles and URLs get clicks.
Google does give keywords in the URL a certain amount of weight, but you don’t need it in order to rank (as evidenced by those who use the branded approach). MSN/Live Search and Yahoo place more emphasis on keywords in the domain name than Google. So if you are looking to target MSN/Live Search and Yahoo, having keywords in the domain name is the right first step.
Guidelines to Consider in Setting up a Keyword-Rich Domain NameIf we’re going with the keyword approach, here are some guidelines to consider:
- Think of the main keyword you’d like to site to be found – and use that term. What is the site all about? A good domain name relates to your business name or core business.
- Choose generic domains that users are likely to remember and use, as these domains will carry more weight than others.
- Keep the domain name short and easy to remember. In many cases, type-in traffic is more valuable as opposed to a 20-letter keyword rich domain name.
- Say your prospective domain name out loud to listen to its sounds. See if your tongue gets twisted around any syllables. Whatever your domain name, it should stick in the mind.
- Think of how easy it is to say your domain name to people over the phone. If you have to constantly spell it for the other party to understand your name, then you’ve got a confusing domain name.
- Use excellent, descriptive, and truthful naming strategy when selecting the name of your web site, because the name reflects your value and the brand.
However, it is important to remember that the real key to front-page Google rankings lies not in keyword-rich domains, but in the quality and relevance of the website content. You can rank highly for any term you set your mind to, regardless of your domain. Short, catchy titles may help, but ultimately, you need to use your business sense to define your brand.
For more information, read the article “What’s in a Domain Name: How Your Domain Name Can Ensure Your Online Success” and “So What Makes a Good Domain Name?”