What's In a Domain?

domain-nameThis post is for those who are thinking about buying a domain to use as the web address for their site. In my opinion, the name of the domain is one of the most important decisions you can make for your website, especially if you plan on doing any search engine optimization.

Not only is the name of a website a determining factor when it comes to people being attracted to your site and whether or not they will remember how to get back to your site, but when chosen correctly, the domain name can give your site a tremendous head start in ranking ability. Keep in mind that you can still rank well without a killer domain name, but from what I have seen, it sure helps.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Let’s say your big, 100% relevant, targeted keyword is seo blog. What would be the best domain name to buy to help you show up for this? The best domain name you can use is the exact keyword phrase you are targeting. So, SEOBlog.com would be your optimal domain. Just to demonstrate the importance of this in SEO, go ahead and search “SEO Blog” in Google. For me, seoblog.com is at position 19. What’s so amazing about this? Click on their site and you will see that there is virtually no content. Check their back links–less than 100. This is a fairly competitive term and it takes some good search engine optimization to show up for it. But, it is my opinion that this site ranks well mainly because of its domain name.

Let me give you another example. On July 27, 2009 I started a website for my wife. She is a very accomplished pianist and is going to start offering wedding pianist services in the state of Utah. We did some keyword research and decided to target the keywords “Wedding Pianist”, “Wedding Pianist Utah”, and “Utah Wedding Pianist”. The keyword “Wedding Pianist” is not 100% relevant, since she only offers her services in Utah, however, we found another Utah wedding pianist who shows up for that term already as well as many other wedding pianists who are also geographically limited. We couldn’t buy the domain WeddingPianist.com, that was already taken. Instead we bought www.weddingpianistutah.com. This domain contains our main keyword (at the beginning of the domain even), and it also gives us a geographic location to help customers clarify where she is available.
Today is August 3, 2009 and her site shows up number 8 for “Wedding Pianist” and number 2 for the other two terms. How did this happen? First of all, these terms are not super competitive, but even if they were, I would bet that her site would still show up well in a reasonable amount of time, maybe not 7 days, but still quickly.

In addition to helping you show up well for your terms, having a url that is the main keyword you want to be recognized for is beneficial because people will be able to remember your website easily when referring you to others or when they need to come back themselves. Again, you can still rank well and build a great reputation online with other domain names, but I would recommend a keyword oriented domain if you’re just starting out.

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