How to Choose SEO-friendly Domain Names: Your choice of a domain name is critical to your business, it’s how people find your business on the Web. Usually a short and memorable domain name makes it easy for your market to find your website if they have seen it in social media posts and promotional material. But this requires continual posting and promoting which is a job in itself. If you want to reach a much larger market with a single effort then you need to register domain names that improve search engine ranking and social media visibility, hopefully by using a SEO-friendly Domain/Web hosting provider. Choosing an optimized domain name helps boost targeted website traffic by improving search engine ranking and it also enhances social media visibility. Below are some basic considerations if domain name SEO is of interest to you, if you want to be easily found by those using the major search engines seeking the kind of services you offer.
Considerations for SEO-friendly Domain Names and Websites:
Is Your Website Currently SEO-friendly?
Before making any changes to your domain name and your website you first have to evaluate how well it’s doing right now. Don’t destroy something that’s already working well and replace it with something new which may take months to ramp up to speed and confuses clients. If you have never viewed your current website visitor stats you may contact your web hosting provider who can assist you with this or you can simply use Google Analytics. Website analytics tools will provide you with a wealth of real-time and archived data which will help you decide if domain name SEO is worthwhile right now for your website. If you already have many website visitors and good conversion rates through organic means then you should consider other options to increase your targeted traffic like blogging, social media posts as well as other client touchpoints. But if your website is underperforming and you are ready to try domain name SEO, please read on.
SEO-friendly Domain/Web Hosting Providers:
Selecting a good domain and website hosting company is critical in securing good search engine optimization for your website. SEO-friendly Web hosting providers boost search engine rankings technically by offering greater server speed, availability and security. A good Domain/Web hosting provider will make sure your domain names are reserved in advance and for the long term, which also has a positive effect on rankings. Many providers will also recommend available domain names that would complement your existing domain names, but the better providers employ SEO strategists who know there’s more to SEO than domain name selection. Furthermore, if you wish to have website visitors from a certain country then you should select a web hosting company who have servers in that country, close to your target location. Server location of your web host provider affects your web hosting service as well as local ranking (see more details). Below are some articles that show the important connection between domain/website hosting provider and SEO.
- Reserving your website domain name longer assists rankings
- Server location assists rankings
- Ask your domain registrar or hosting provider to assist you with the selection of a premium domain name
- Ask your domain registrar or hosting provider about future domain name extensions
- Consider the benefits of hosting your domain in a server within your country, close to you, with your country extension
- Consider the benefits of a HTTPS website rather than a HTTP website
- Many domain name registrars offer free online tools to suggest domain names you could use
The last thing you want to do is to use the services of a web hosting company that can damage your SEO. Make sure you select a provider that has been in business for years, has good client reviews and can answer your questions.
SEO-Friendly URL Structure:
Your should have a well-planned URL structure for all the pages of your website: (website title, domain name, domain extension, subdomains, subfolders, URL page names). This will be discussed in greater detail below. For consistency you should also write all your URLs in lowercase words. Always avoid what the Google search-engine does not understand (like underscores). Always add what the Google Search engine favours (like mobile URLs). Since search engines now evaluate many elements of your overall URL structure so it’s good to plan it well and learn what to add or avoid.
SEO Using Country-specific Domain Extensions:
Country-specific domain name extensions like .ca or .quebec are very useful if your market is mostly within Canada. Even though the .com domain name extension is by far the most popular worldwide and using one would give you more visitors, your conversion rate would be lower if your business only serves people in your specific region or country. So many now register country-specific domain name extensions. If your business is in Canada, please refer to my other article “Why Start With a .CA Domain Name?”.
SEO Using Category-specific Domain Extensions:
Category-specific domain name extensions should also be considered (examples: .PRO, .AUTO). This helps give your business a reputation within a specific industry worldwide. In this globalized world that we live in, many people within an industry find it convenient narrow down their searches by domain name extension. It is a common search feature in search engines.
Subdomains are considered as separate domain names by different search engines so this produces twice the SEO results, though it demands more work from your part to optimize it. For instance if you select this subdomain name Ottawa.yourwebsite.ca then this will help you attract local traffic within Canada but you’ll have to make sure that the web page contains content speficic to that location within Canada.
SEO-Friendly Website Folders and Page Names:
In addition to changing your domain name, changing the page names of your different web pages can also produce better ranking results, especially if your web-page content and all the meta-tags are aligned with the new web-page name. It’s good to use an easy to find keyword in specific page name URLs.
SEO-Friendly Domain Names in other Languages:
You can register an exact match domain name in other languages, providing your website is also written in those languages. Registering domain names in different languages is useful if the domain name you want to register is available in all the languages of the nations you want to serve. This will attract international traffic and may give you a competitive edge, especially if those domain names are crawled by search engines in other countries.
Domain Name Branding for SEO:
If your company name or one of its products is well branded in the market then you better make sure you quickly register and protect all the domain names that match your brand.
SEO-Friendly Keywords and Key Phrases:
SEO through domain name keywords is not just a matter of selecting the right domain name that matches popular keywords, different factors must also be taken into consideration. For instance, the title and content of your web-page also has to be closely connected to the domain name keywords. If there’s no correlation then selecting a domain name that matches a popular key search phrase may be of little use and may even be detrimental. Keyword rich domain names are effective to a certain point. If you have too many of them then it is considered keyword stuffing by some search engines and that may work against you. A SEO strategist can help you include an optimal amount of keywords for your domain name, its subdomains and subfolders. One trick is to find (and include in your domain name) upward trending keywords and keyphrases that are not overused in your market. There are many free online tools (like Google Trends) that can help you find such gems. It is important to mention at this point that including such keywords is just one element to increase your search engine ranking success, it must be used with other elements such as good title meta-tags, description meta-tags, image tags, headline tags (H1, H2…), appropriate website content, and so on.
Until recently Exact Match Domains (EMDs) were very effective means of increasing traffic by optimizing domain name key phrases. For instance if you have a domain name “increasewebsitetraffic” and people searched for the phrase “increase website traffic” then they would find your domain name quickly. This method is not as effective as it was 3 years ago since the WEB now has hundreds of millions of domain names registered, and abuse of this once powerful tactic by competing companies has led to its diminishment in search engine algorithms. But if you find an available and underused EMD and you have a good supporting URL structure for your overall website (as well as good web-page content) then it may work well for you.
You can register an exact match domain name in other languages, providing your website is also written in those languages. Registering domain names in different languages is useful if the domain name you want to register is available in all the languages of the nations you want to serve. This will attract international traffic and may give you a competitive edge, especially if those domain names are crawled by search engines in other countries. Furthermore, if the domain names containing the keywords of key phrases you are looking for have all been registered then you might consider looking up similar words in an online thesaurus to find better alternatives. It could be that the alternative you find is even more popular than your competition’s choice. Try to register a domain name describing a new and trending phrase in your industry that your competition has not tried yet (If you are a good trend forecaster then you can register domain names with keywords that you believe may be popular in the near future). You can use Google Trends to evaluate the popularity of the alternative keywords you’d like to use. Using such trendwatching tools may find alternatives that have more staying power.
Beyond SEO-friendly Domain Names: Finding and registering SEO-friendly domain names and optimizing your website’s URL structure are major steps in promoting your website organically. If you wish to do more, please review the following articles at your leisure:
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