I was recently asked for advice on how to choose a good domain and there are quite a few points that came up, which I’ve summarised below.
Choosing your domain name is one of the most critical aspects of building your money making site – whatever you go with, you’re going to be stuck with so it’s worthwhile to invest some time (and potentially money) getting it right.
Do Your Research
Before you launch your site it’s important to know what are your primary keywords you’ll be targeting. For Skyscanner, this was ‘cheap flights’ and despite Skyscanner being a FAR better site with FAR more traffic than www.cheapflights.com it took them YEARS to usurp www.cheapflights.co.uk and www.cheapflights.com from number one spot for the keywords ‘cheap flights’.
It makes sense to figure out the following figures:
- Potential traffic per day
- Potential traffic value per day
- Competition level
Market Samurai will calculate these figures for you as well as tell you all the related keywords and I can’t recommend it highly enough. There is no monthly fee involved – just one small up front price.
Think Like Your Customers
Actually, behave like your customers – take the keywords from Market Samurai and type them into Google and imagine yourself as a customer. Which of the sites would you click? Which would you avoid? Why?
This information will help you figure out what instigates a feeling of ‘trust’ for this sector.
There is a conflict here: When your website is young, you can take advantage of additional traffic by having a domain which includes your keywords BUT it could be that having the keywords in your domain name makes your website sound less like a brand.
Avoid Double Dashes and Consider the Exact Match Domain Penalty
Google are updating their algorithms regularly, and at time of writing they have just released the ‘Exact Match Domain Penalty’. This means if you want to rank for ‘best short term loans’ and you are thinking of buying www.best-short-term-loans then don’t.
SEOMoz have written a great article about the Exact Match Domain Penalty which goes into more depth about this specific. Read the SEOMoz article
The shorter the better, for multiple reasons – your keyword density is higher if you have a shorter domain name, your name is easier to remember and you get a (minor) bonus from Google for having a short domain name. It’s also arguable that generally it induces a higher sense of trust in new visitors. (and trust means sales)
Getting to page 1 of Google is one thing, but once you’re there users need to trust that you will give them the information they need and that your site is a worthwhile click.
Think about it – if you’re shopping for studded dog collars, would you trust www.best-studded-dog-collars.com or www.thedogwalker.com/studded-dog-collars more?
HINT: One of them sounds like a brand and the other sounds like an attempt to influence SEO rankings. Users are wakening up to this.
Get a Shortlist
Come up with a short list and send it round your friends to get their honest feedback – try and get them to think from the point of view of customers, rather than the point of view of an SEO expert.
Tip: If you’re ever in doubt regarding SEO, always build for humans rather than robots – the robots will always tend towards human behaviour ultimately.
Sleep On It
Don’t go crazy buying everything you can possibly buy on GoDaddy straight away – sleep on it first otherwise you might wake up with half a dozen domains you’ll never use.
If you can’t decide between domain ideas in your shortlist, consider buying all of them – you can always make other sub-sites which point to your money site – IF you have the time or money to commit to this level of investment.
I hope this helped you come up with a brand rather than a search engine optimised list of dash-separated-words for your domain name. I realise as I write this that my domain is 3 rather long keywords, but I deliberated over it for weeks before choosing what I think best represents what I want to do with the site.
Hopefully you will feel as happy with your domain name choice as I do with mine.
- Market Samurai – the best keyword and domain research tool available
- GoDaddy – best place to buy domain names
- SEOMoz – read the article on Exact Domain Matching
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