Most business owners tend to think of branding first and SEO later. They come up with a name, buy the domain and only then begin to consider publicity. This strategy ties back to an older business model based on non-digital marketing. When companies run advertisements in the paper or on television, they bring their brand to the public. Online, however, they must find ways to bring the public to the brand. That one small distinction makes all the difference while transitioning into the new global marketplace.
If you have already selected your domain and established a website, don’t worry too much about the possible consequences. If, on the other hand, you are still in the planning stages, there are three key things to remember when picking out your Web address.
There are dozens of different domain extensions available. The most familiar are “.com,” “.net” and “.org,” short for commercial, network and organization, respectively. Anything beyond those three domains is viewed with suspicion by the average American reader, though there are exceptions.
Unless you are part of a non-profit organization, stick with the .com extension. It is ubiquitous and likely the most accurate descriptor of your website’s purpose. Although search engines do not expressly penalize various extensions, having a trustworthy URL is the first step toward attracting potential clients and back-links.
Some businesses take a direct route and name themselves after their service. An example of that would be “Joe’s Plumbing.” Others, like Google and Yahoo, choose a memorable name to stand out from the crowd. Which option is best for any one business depends largely on its scope and industry. Local, service-oriented companies do better with the simple approach, while large or tech-oriented organizations can project a more polished image with something unique. Domain names should be similar, if not identical to, the blog’s or business’ name.
Finally, there is some debate over whether or not to implement keywords in a domain name. In the past, Google and other search engines gave a keyword string within a URL additional SEO weight. Unfortunately for newer marketers, most of the best domains were snapped up quickly. Google recognized this inequality and has since eased off. In fact, exact-match domains with low-quality content are now losing their rankings as a result of algorithm changes. On the other hand, a domain name with keywords attached is excellent for linking purposes.
In modern SEO, domains’ primary value comes from their ability to gain recognition and responses from readers. Choose something natural, simple and related to your niche. Remember that the URL of a website is just the stepping stone to the rest of your content, where the majority of your attention should be focused.