When it comes to a stellar SEO strategy, many businesses forget about the importance of their domain name. While Google doesn’t take your domain into account as much as it does your content, your domain name is still going to be an important factor when it comes to local ranking, customer trust, as well as your business’ branding abilities.
In this guide, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about choosing an SEO friendly domain name, from branding names to keyword domains.
Is my domain name important for SEO?
In short, yes. Your domain name is going to be one of the most important trust factors for any customer or visitor to your website. Having a clean, short domain name – especially if it’s relevant to your business – complete with a .com, .uk, or .org finish, is going to foster consumer confidence much more than a long list of numbers, symbols and an unknown domain extension.
When it comes to good SEO practice, it’s important to think about the user experience. After all, Google isn’t going to highly rank a website with a low visitor rating, or a high click-off rate. So, what helps encourage organic visitors? An easy-to-remember, catchy domain name.
Top tips for choosing an SEO friendly domain name
Whether you’re already set on a branded domain name, or stuck between a service domain and a location domain, applying the following tips can help enhance the SEO-friendliness of your website:
Make it short
The first thing you’ll want to ensure when choosing a domain name is to keep it short. Long-winded, unpronounceable, or difficult to read domain names are not going to be easy for the average consumer to remember. Plus, it can make it difficult for you to create written content that flows and directs users to your services organically. Keeping your domain name short (ideally between four and 16 characters) is ideal, and will make it easiest for visitors to remember. The more users visit your site organically, the higher your site is going to rank.
Use a trusted domain extension
When it comes to choosing a domain extension (also known as a top-level domain), you’ll want to stick with trusted domains. .com, .uk, and .org are all some of the most popular domain extensions, and using one of these can help make your site appear more professional than something obscure. That being said, Google doesn’t take into account your domain extension when ranking your website: we’re simply talking about the user experience and trust factor, which will matter when it comes to your site ranking. According to recent data from Mailchimp, around 50% of all websites use a .com extension, making it the best option if you’re looking to establish a memorable, global brand domain that appears both trustworthy and authoritative.
Look into brand domains
Brand domains (aka choosing a domain unrelated to a keyword, with no detail about your business) can be highly effective for SEO campaigns. This is because Google likes brand domains, and will often use ‘brand signaling’ to promote high-quality content from new, branded businesses. A brand name should be snappy, have no distinct meaning, and is easy to pronounce and read. It should also be catchy and memorable: building a brand is all about first building a brand identity, but we’re going to discuss this further on.
Should I use a keyword domain name?
Although Google does tend to favor brand domains in general, there are still some benefits to using a keyword domain name. First of all, it allows you to establish your business from the outset, so it’s easier for visitors to understand what your business is about, even if content is scarce at the beginning.
Plus, keyword domain names are helpful because they encourage clickthrough. For example, let’s compare Penguin (the publishing house) with a keyword domain name in the same field, such as publishing123.com. Without prior knowledge of the Penguin brand, somebody who’s looking for advice on publishing a book would most likely click through to publishing123, as it appears to correspond more to their search query. As always, a brand domain is going to rely heavily on building brand identity and brand recognition, which can mean extra marketing work for your business.
Should I use a branded domain name?
It’s no secret that Google prefers branded businesses to keyword businesses. In general, Google likes to amplify new and upcoming brands (think Apple, Twitter, etc) because users themselves enjoy brands. Google is, after all, a user-based service.
Having a branded name also comes with many logistical advantages. For example, it’s much easier to branch out and take your business in new directions with a branded domain name. If you have a keyword domain name – for example, Nails by Anna – but you want to start offering haircare services, it’s going to be much more difficult to rank content in the haircare genre with an unrelated keyword domain.
In addition, branded domains have the advantage of being memorable – provided that you use a short, quippy, memorable domain name. This is hugely important when it comes to your SEO ranking, as Google is going to take into account how many monthly organic visitors your site has when calculating your ranking. It’s simple: the more memorable your domain name the more your site will have organic visitors. And the more organic visitors you have, the higher your Google ranking.
On the downside, having a branded domain name means that you’re going to have to put in the work to establish your brand and business. This will typically mean using platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram to grow your brand awareness, and will also mean having a strong brand identity: logo, font, ethos, company values. This can be a lengthy and expensive add-on, and might not be possible if you’re starting a business alone from scratch.
Should I use a location domain name?
Location domain names can be incredibly useful for SEO, as Google will always cater their search results to match the users’ own location and language. If you have a brick and mortar business in a particular city or town, a location-based domain name can be a great way to attract more local customers and clients, or increase online orders in your local area.
However, it can cause problems if you ever want to branch out and grow your business elsewhere; it can also be complicated if you move to a new city or new country, as you’ll need to rebuild your site, change your domain, and re-optimise your content for your new location.
If your business is exclusively online but offers its services or products internationally, it’s best to avoid a location-based domain and opt for a brand or keyword domain instead: a location domain will most likely discourage clickthrough from international visitors.
When it comes to choosing an SEO friendly domain name, the most important thing to consider is the user experience. While keywords can help your site rank in certain circumstances, a brand is easier to build from scratch, and can allow you to grow and scale your business as you wish, without limitations. If you need help with optimising the user experience of your website, it’s best to hire the help of SEO services – SEO experts can perform an SEO audit on your site, measuring its usability according to various important metrics.
Domain names that are short, easily pronounceable, memorable and catchy are ideal for boosting organic traffic and attracting Google’s brand signals.
Is .com best for SEO?
If you want your site to appear authoritative and professional, a .com domain extension is probably the best way to go. If .com isn’t available, you can always opt for .uk, if your business is strictly based in the UK.
Will changing domain name affect SEO?
Yes, changing your domain name will affect SEO, as your content has already been indexed by Google. This is why it’s important to settle on a domain name before creating content for your business.