How to Choose a Domain Name
When you’re ready to get your website up and running one of the first decisions you need to make is what will you choose for your domain name.
Your domain is an important part of your online presence. You tell people to visit your website by giving them your domain name. You print your domain name on your letterhead and business cards. It’s part of your business identity.
There are 4 main factors that you should consider when choosing a domain name.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
3. Dashes in Domain Name
4. Top Level Domain
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about getting traffic from the search engines, such as Google, and Yahoo/Bing. Google accounts for approximately 66% of the search engine traffic so it’s best to focus on them.
Your domain name is part of your SEO strategy. If you have relevant keywords in your domain, it can give you a boost in the search engine results when people type in keywords related to your website.
For example, if I had a site about china travel tips and the domain name for that website was chinatraveltips.com, I could get an extra boost from Google when someone types in that keyword phrase.
In fact, if you have an exact match domain name, most people agree that you get an even higher boost for that keyword phrase. For example, if your website was keywordphrase.com that would be an exact match domain name and you would get a boost in the search engine rankings when someone types that exact phrase in.
However, Google is turning down the impact that having a keyword related domain name has on search engine results. How much they’re turning it down, we don’t know yet. But, it’s pretty clear that it won’t have the same effect that it used to have.
Check it out for yourself.
Branding is just using a unique word, phrase or design to distinguish your products, service or company.
All of the major corporations are well-known brand names – Apple, Nike, Sony.
A unique name can help you stand out from the competition and the same goes for domain names. Do you think that Nike would’ve had the same success if they just went with tennisshoes.com? Obviously, that’s a little different since they didn’t start as an internet company, but the principle is the same.
If you’re creating a business online and you want to stand out from the competition, you should consider a unique domain name. If you use a brand name as your domain name, you can stand out in your market and people will remember your name over all the other domain names made up of keyword phrases.
If you’re creating small niche websites that target specific keywords, you might want to avoid brand names and try to get keyword rich domain names. However, with the changes in Google’s position, the benefit from keyword domain names most likely won’t have the same impact as they did before.
Dashes in Domain Name
A lot of people wonder if they should include dashes in their domain. Part of that decision is personal preference and part is based on objective factors.
I’m not a big fan of dashes in domains. If we’re talking about how to choose a domain name, you have to consider the real world too.
Domain names with dashes can be hard to remember, especially if you communicate the domain to someone in person. If they forget, then you’re going to be sending traffic to the non-dash version of your domain.
For example, if your website is keyword-phrase.com and you tell your friend to visit your website at keyword dash phrase dot com and they forget the dash, you are now sending people to what I can only assume is your competition – keywordphrase.com – otherwise you would’ve just purchased the domain without the dash.
I imagine a domain name with a dash would run into those types of problems frequently.
From an SEO perspective, Google and the other search engines can identify keywords without a dash, so it’s not necessary to include a dash in your domain.
In fact, if you look at the search results for any given query, you won’t see a lot of domains with dashes ranking in the top results. That could be because there aren’t nearly as many domains with dashes as there are without, or it could be that Google doesn’t rank them as well.
Unless, there was a really compelling reason to get a domain name with a dash, I would stick to one without.
Top Level Domain
The Top Level Domain (TLD) is the end of your domain – .com, .net, .org.
The most common TLD, and the one most people default to is .com. In other words, if you tell someone your website is superbadinternetmarketing.info and they try to visit your site later, but can’t remember exactly what it was, they’ll probably go to superbadinternetmarketing.com before anything else.
Based on experiments that I’ve seen other people perform, .com, .net and .org are the best 3 domain names to have, from an SEO perspective. That doesn’t mean you can’t rank well if you have a .info TLD, but it’s gonna be a little harder.
You can also go to Google and run a search for anything you want. Take a look at how many of the results on the first page are .com compared to any other TLD. Again, it could be because there are more .com’s than anything else, but the fact still remains that .com’s are the most common and most popular TLD.
How to Choose a Domain Name
There are different factors that come into play when trying to choose a good domain name. If you’re an affiliate marketer and you want the most SEO benefit possible, then you should probably look at getting a domain with keywords in it.
If you’re a real world business that wants a strong online presence, then you should consider branding. Either way you go, it’s just one piece of the puzzle to consider.