Keywords in your domain

Funny I was having this conversation on Twitter just the other day. Granted not much of a conversation with 140 characters but I decided to take it a bit further and write a blog post.

You’re setting up your website. You already know you’re going to pay a professional SEO specialist to perform the complete kit-n-SEO-kaboodle, you just haven’t hired anybody yet. Now, you’re pretty sure you read something about domains being important for the process, but how important is it?

… and what’s a domain?

As you may or may not know, a domain is your Internet address. It’s the “http://www.mysite.com” you type in to reach your site. It’s also an important part of your SEO strategy to consider if you haven’t bought a domain yet.

If you already know you’re going to hire someone to do your SEO, don’t wait until after you have your domain. Many of the strongest SEO strategies have been created before the website was even built. In fact, it’s often easier to create a highly optimized site from scratch than it is to come in after the site is created… and it all comes down (for the most part) to keywords.

If a potential visitor is looking for widget makers for example, and your domain is “widgetmaker.com”, you get double power from your domain. One, the search engine will consider your site to have a higher amount of relevance in the search (thus, ranking your site higher). Second, the potential visitor will believe they’ve found just what they’re looking for.

Search engines are always looking for relevance in their algorithms; finding relevant keywords in the domain name scores very high. They give a lot of weight to keyword rich domain name.

If you’re iffy about this, do a search for anything. Instead of looking at the information for each listing, look at the domain name…

  • #1 listing for “SEO company” – www.seocompany.com
  • #2 listing – www.seocompany.net
  • #1 listing for “golf shoes” – www.golfshoesplus.com
  • #1 listing for “internet marketing” (after Wikipedia, that is) – www.freeinternetmarketingcourses.com

WWW or Non-WWW?

People are starting to drop the “www” from their speech; when people remember a site name, they seldom add the www to it. Whichever you choose is fine, but remember search engines will index both versions. This can cause issues. Once you decide make sure you set which one you’re using in your .htaccess file.

For non-www to www

For www to non-www

The problem now is that people are realizing that having keywords in a domain helps with organic SEO. There’s a good chance all the good domains have disappeared. For example, “business.com” was the highest valued domain ever, and will never be available again. You have to be original.

.com, .net, .org?

Another discussion ensued on Twitter about the .com, .net, .org  here is what you should keep in mind. Several domain types are available – so many that it can be overwhelming. Which type of domain is best? First, consider the user. Most people simply assume a domain name will end with “.com”, so it’s easy to remember. If you can’t grab a good .com domain name, move to the next best thing, which is “.org”. The third is “.net”.

However, don’t give up a good domain name just because the “.com” isn’t available. For instance, if you want “widgetmakers” and the .com or .org aren’t available but the .net version is, go for the .net. As with anything, the potential visitor is the ultimate target, not the search engines; never give up user experience for search engine ranking.

Find a good keyword-relative domain name for your new web site, but try not to make it too long. Make it catchy, memorable and as short as can be. So next time you are in a position to help a client or a friend choose a domain name what are you going to do?