Choosing the right domain name is the first step towards building an online identity for your business. You spend hours picking up a domain name for your business website that will effectively reflect your brand image. But does the domain name you choose for your website affect your search engine ranking? Should you include keywords in your domain name to get more traffic? In this article, we will answer how the domain name influences the SEO of the website and what are the things that you should consider while choosing a domain name.
Understanding the structure of a website address
The domain name, in simple words, is the name of the website. It appears on the address bar while you are accessing a website. A website address has three parts. For example, https://www.dynamichosting.com. Here, ‘HTTPS’ is the protocol, www is the subdomain, dynamichosting.com is the root domain. The root domain is further broken into a domain name and a top-level domain. In this example, dynamichosting is the domain name and, .com is the top-level domain.
While you are choosing a domain name for your website, you have the option to select the domain name and the top-level domain.
How to optimize your domain name for search engine ranking
Does the domain name influence how your website will be ranked by the search engine? The simple answer is it certainly does. However, gone are the days when exact match domain or keyword stuffing would help you rank higher.
An Exact Match Domain is when you use the exact keywords that you are trying to rank for. Some of the examples of exact match domains are renthomeonline.com, badcreditloans.com, buycarinsurance.com.
In 2012, Google changed its search algorithm to ensure that websites are not ranked higher just because it has the keywords in the domain name. After this change, SEO strategists discourage the website owners from stuffing their domain names with keywords. Google may identify it as a spammy website, and that will adversely affect your ranking. You should include keywords in your domain name only when the rest of your website adds up to it.
Instead of focusing on the keywords, try to find a domain name based on your brand. Amazon.com, Netflix.com, Target.com are brand name centric domain names. You may also want to come up with a brand name that indicates your service as well. Some examples are dynamichosting.com, coloco.com, and imagecoast.com.
Another way to optimize your domain name without making it spammy is to include the name of the service and/or place along with the brand name. For example, suppose you offer gardening services in and around Detroit, and the name of your company is Tuner brothers. In such cases, you can think of three types of domain names:
Brand name + service: turnerbrothersgardening.com
Location + service: detroitgardening.com
This may work for small, localized companies. However, remember that Google prefers brand domain names over the keyword domain, and your key to rank higher on the search engine result is branding.
Impact of Top-level domain (TLD) on SEO ranking
The top-level domain doesn’t have any direct impact on the website’s SEO; the only exception is country code TLDs. The example of country-code TLDs are .au for Australia, .uk for England, .fr for France etc. When you use a country-specific TLD, Google tends to rank it high in that geographical area.
The other type of TLD is known as generic TLD. During the early days of the internet, only a few generic TLDs were introduced, and each had specific usage. Like .com was meant to be used by US companies, .gov was for government websites, .edu was used by educational institutions and .org for non-profit organizations. However, in due course of time, this usage got blurry, and now, .com is widely used by anyone and everyone. Besides, now many other generic TLDs are available including, .pizza, .flowers, and many more.
This generic TLD doesn’t impact the Google ranking of your website. However, it certainly has some psychological impact on the potential customers. Customers, no matter from which corner of the globe they are from, are most familiar with .com, .net, or .org extensions and are more likely to click them. In turn, it will impact your ranking. Thus, it is better to go for a traditional TLD. Else, you need to promote the name well so that people can identify it as a website name.
Choose your domain name wisely, keep it short and memorable, do not use numbers or hyphens, and avoid using double-letter or intentional misspelling.
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