Domain Names

Guidelines for Selecting a Domain Name

Domain Names. All the good ones are gone yet more and more new businesses start everyday wanting to stake out their online property. How do you select a good one?

Here are some guidelines based upon my experience since 1996 in this industry as an ISP owner, a domain reseller, search engine optimization specialist, Internet marketer and Web host operator.

When I’m asked how to select a good domain my typical answer is: select something that is easy to remember, easy to spell, nice and short, something that isn’t easily confused and something that doesn’t contain dashes. You want to be able to rattle off your domain name to the average Joe/Joette on the street so that they can go home and remember it, know how to spell it and not have to account for dashes. If you can follow these steps you’ll be in good shape.

We can get more in depth however and talk about other things to take into consideration:

Branding
If you’re planning on branding yourself/your company/etc, you’ll probably want a domain that reflects your company name and/or brand, one you’ll keep for the long haul. If you can sneak in some words that are in your company name then all the better.

Does a good, keyword-rich domain help with SEO?
Yes! [see case study above] However there are many other factors I work with when optimizing a site. If a domain name contains keywords separated by dashes it might help minimally when someone links back to a site, but that’s about it. There is a visual component in the SERPs that has to do more with humans than ranking… if you have your keywords in your domain, they’ll be highlighted in the SEPRs, thus calling attention to itself.

Here is an example of that (see how property and listing is highlighted?):

Keywords in Domain Name

Case Study – Do Keywords in a Domain Help with Ranking?

[I recently did a study with a brand new domain – AlbuquerqueSkinCare.com – within 2 weeks, with no backlinks, it ranks on the first page of Google for “Albuquerque Skin Care” – totally amazed I am. I always said Google doesn’t put much weight into domain names when it comes to ranking consideration, based upon this one case (which is never good, I’d like more test cases) I can say that the domain name has to matter on some level – amended 3/13/12011]. It’s #1 here in Albuquerque and #8 via a proxy server.

Albuquerque Skin Care

Dashes
I don’t like dashes. They’re hard to remember for some people and when you tell someone a domain with dashes, they’ll inevitably go home and type in the domain sans dashes which sends them to an entirely different site. In some cases, it’s a last resort to get a domain that relates to your company however.

Keeping it Real
Really take a real hard look at your domain before you click the buy button. I have a client (and I won’t post the entire domain name, the first two words illustrate my point) who has the following domain:

AnAlbuquerque…… .com

-or as it shows up in the address bar-

analbuqureque….. .com

See anything strange there? I’m not even sure my client realizes what you see in the address bar after clicking on her site but us geeks sure do. The domain name was already in use and had established a history with Google by the time it came to us, so there was no going back.

TLD
Top level domain (.com, .org, ,net). Try to get a .com always, if possible. The non techy of us humans think the only TLD is .com and it’s the most commercially visible too.

Legalities
Do NOT register domains of other business/companies. They can and will come after you.

Variations & Registering Multiple Domains
I get asked this one a lot… *should I get the .com, org and .net of my domain?* – usually it’s a good idea but I’ve never really run into a situation where NOT doing this has caused any problems. I have clients with many, many domains… they want to use them all to help their *SEO* effort but don’t understand how that can do more damage than good (you can 301 em in safely but that’s all I’d suggest using them for). I sometimes suggest getting all the variations of your company/business just so your competition won’t get them.

EX:

I have AlbuquerqueWebDesign.com, AlbuquerqueWebDesigner.com, Albuquerque-Web-Design.com JUST so my local competition won’t buy them. I have Realtor clients that do the same thing…. one guy has over 200 domains!

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