Deciding on Your Virtual Real Estate Address
First of all, what is a domain? I liken it to a piece of real estate. It is your ‘home’ on the Internet. It is the beginnings of your ‘virtual real estate’ portfolio. Therefore you need a ‘street address’ or domain name to give people, so that they can find you!
Therefore a website begins with the selection of a suitable domain name. Ideally, the domain name should be your brand. Branding is the number one, most important factor, when choosing your domain name today. Why? A brand brings trust. A brand has followers.
So your domain name needs to be something you think about carefully if you intend to be online for a long time. It could contain either your business name or catchy word or phrase that is directly relevant to your business. It can also be a relevant keyword based on the topic or central focus of your website. although I would personally recommend choosing a brand name to you first.
A more appropriately named website can quite often turn up more frequently in relevant web searches than a site whose domain name is completely unrelated. This is because the search engine algorithms may pick up domain names relevant to the search term.
For example if your business is on website designs, a good domain name would contain the words website designs, especially if your brand is also part of that word. 🙂
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Although choosing good domain names is an excellent first step towards search engine optimization, it is by no means the only way to increase your site rankings.
Furthermore, a good domain name by itself will not be enough to guarantee that your site will turn up first in a search engine’s results.
Again, using my example of website designs, if you search this phrase in Google, you will see a figure of 331,000,000 returned results at the time of writing this article. This indicates Google has indexed that many ‘pages’ of content relating to the particular keyword listed, with what they consider the most relevant at the top.
Obviously it is a lot of competition if you were just beginning to set up a business involving web designs. However, if you scrolled through the results, you will notice a tendency (not an absolute, there are many factors involved here) for the higher ranked search results to have ‘website designs’ or ‘website’ or ‘designs’ in their domain names. As you move down the list this becomes less so. (The age of a domain is also significant and often the first sites are trusted, aged domains.)
Exact Match Domains – EMD’s
You can also benefit from having an exact match domain name – EMD – as it can give you an edge over your competitors and you can use a ‘TLD’ for your country. For example, if your target market was only in Australia and your keyword was ‘website services’ then in a perfect world, www.websiteservices.com.au would be a great domain name.
There are advantages and disadvantages of having a country extension, but that is another topic of discussion. It is basically your choice and a personal preference. Many marketers (including myself) recommend using a .com if your market is global.
Search engines look at many other factors besides the domain name to determine the order in which results are to be displayed. For example, the site content is very important as are the amount of backlinks pointing to a site. A ‘website page’ where the keyword is used correctly in the content, will certainly rank higher than a page that is not optimized, even though its domain name is the keyword itself.
Update: September 2012
Recently Google made a few minor/ major tweaks (depending how it affected you) regarding EMD’s (exact match domains.) Some webmasters were hit hard, as they saw their rankings plummet, whilst others said they experienced no effect. Personally, I saw some of my ‘EMD’s’ survive, whilst others have shown drops in their rankings.
Search Engine Optimization Brings Targeted Visitors
A higher ranking means more ‘free’ organic traffic and therefore more opportunities for sales and positive customer turnaround. This is why serious online business people and website owners always use effective methods of search engine optimization and will pay for professional SEO services to get them on to that first page and keep them there.
Other than being very helpful for increasing a website’s rank in search engine results, choosing a good domain name can also make a site stand out from the crowd. Even if your site doesn’t turn up in the top five results but is still in the first page of results, there’s a good chance that people will click on your link if you have a very catchy or memorable name.
Surveys have shown that the most popular sites across different industries and niches are those that have catchy names. You only have to look at Google, Yahoo and Bing. None of their domain names suggest ‘best search engine’.
Domain Names and Keyword Rich Content
In order to get the most possible hits on your website, you must combine good domain name with quality content that contains your strategic keywords. Keywords are the ‘hot words’ appropriate to your business or more specifically your product, the words most likely to be typed into a search. You can start by picking the best available name then write content for your site that contains your keywords.
Search engine optimization certainly begins with the domain name, but it is very important to provide interesting, informative, keyword rich content.
These two aspects are the first steps in achieving high site rankings in relevant keyword searches for your online business.