Selecting the best domain name for your new website is often the task that new website clients tackle first. Since there are a nearly infinite number of possible website domain names to choose from, how does a prospective website client go about choosing just the right domain name for his or her small business website or personal project?
There are three general strategies to consider when selecting a domain name for a new website:
- using keywords,
- using branding, and
- using something easy to remember.
When you select to use keywords in your domain name, you are doing it for search engine optimization purposes. You get â€ścreditâ€ť with search engines for every keyword that appears in your website, and the domain name carries quite a bit of weight. If for example you are a dog trainer in Seattle, you might want â€śseattledogtraining.com â€ť as your domain name so that folks who are using those three words find your website.
When you select to use branding in your domain name, you are trying to establish some kind of identity online, like â€śyourcompanyname.comâ€ť . With this strategy, itâ€™s assumed that people will find your website because they either know the domain name by heart (aka Amazon.com) or because youâ€™ve done marketing to get your companyâ€™s domain name known to potential customers.
When you select something easy to remember in your domain name, you are using neither keywords nor your company name, but often a clever, short, memorable domain name like â€śzippydogs.comâ€ť for a business that has nothing to do with dogs. (If you donâ€™t believe me, check out their website!)
You can also come up with a combination strategy, like I did for my domain â€śAldebaranWebDesign.comâ€ť, using both my business name and two keywords that are super-relevant to my business. There are great websites that help you choose a domain name, and Iâ€™d recommend using domain.com to help come up with alternatives you might not have otherwise thought of.
You may be asking, â€śWhy is this choosing a domain name such a big deal when they only cost $10 a year? â€ś. This is a great question! Domain name registrations are certainly inexpensive, and probably deceptively so, from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective. There are many, many different factors that search engines like Google consider when their super complex algorithm assigns your website ranking for specific keywords. The factor that matters in considering selecting a domain name, is domain age. When you register a domain name, it gets time stamped, and the search engines know how long youâ€™ve had it. Some people claim that the longer you register your domain name for, the better, implying that you should pre-pay for your domain name for 10 years versus 1 year.
Some of the search engines, like MSN donâ€™t care about domain age, but Google does. In an effort to have new fly-by-night websites get lower rankings than established websites, Google uses something known as the â€śGoogle Sandboxâ€ť. The sandbox is where Google sends your â€śnewâ€ť website (domain name) to play until it ages enough to play with the older websites. I can tell you from personal experience with my own website that this happens, and thereâ€™s no telling how long new websites will be in the sandbox â€“ it depends on what keywords youâ€™re trying to get ranking for. For example, for my own website, I got good ranking for my last name, which is unusual, within a month or two. But for â€śwebsite design seattleâ€ť I had to wait 8 months to emerge from the sandbox.
Hereâ€™s my point: select your domain name carefully, because changing it after your website is well established will be extremely detrimental to your website traffic. Your new domain name will go straight into the Google sandbox for many, many months. Again I speak from experience as I recently changed my domain name from â€śAldebaranConsultingSeattle.comâ€ť to â€śAldebaranWebDesign.comâ€ť. Very painful, believe me. Read about my own experience with changing my domain name while attempting to keep my search engine rankings high.
Try not to just select a domain name thatâ€™s something quick and easy because domain names are only $10/year. Put some time and thought into selecting your domain name and youâ€™ll be much happier in the long run!Jill
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.