Why SEO still matters when choosing your domain name

How can you make your domain name search engine-friendly? We look at how you can help customers find your website

Picture, for a moment, an autumn day. The day has grown increasingly darker and the temperature has dropped.

Chances are thousands of consumers are typing the phrases ‘cheap winter coats’, ‘good value woolly jumpers’ or a variation of these phrases into their search engine of choice.

This should be great news for anyone selling coats or jumpers online, but the challenge facing any business is to get itself onto the first or second page of search engine results delivered by Google, Bing or one of their rivals.

And this may be harder for small business owners. When it comes to the art and science of search engine optimisation (SEO), the bigger High Street retailers may have already been spending a lot of resources to prominently position their own coats and jumpers in search results.

Using the ‘cheap winter coats’ example, you may think all it would take to reach customers would be to set up a series of domain names exactly mirroring relevant keywords or commonly used phrases relating to your services or products – for instance: www.cheapwintercoat.com.

Exact Match Domains

These are known as ‘exact match domains’ (EMDs) and registering them was once a tactic.

However, Google has rolled out an algorithm change that will reduce low-quality exact-match domains from showing up so high in search results. Google wants “highly-trusted sites in its rankings” and is focusing on searching for high-quality sites.

This does not mean you should not register an EMD. It just means that the work does not end with registering an EMD. You will also need to focus on creating a quality website to help you land on a search engine results page.

For example, if www.cheapwintercoat.com was a website dedicated to selling low-cost coats for the colder months, with product descriptions discussing the range of coats offered such as, ‘fleece lining’, ‘thick fur’ and ‘full length’, while emphasising their ‘great value’ and ‘waterproof’ qualities, Google’s search engine may be more likely to include www.cheapwintercoat.com in its search results based upon the site’s content.

What’s in a domain name?

Despite EMD’s reduced weight in the Google algorithm, relevant keywords in your domain name may still help customers get to your website.

Visitors in search of a specific product tend to use search engines in a number of ways. If they have a specific manufacturer or brand in mind (say Sony) they may simply search for the company name, plus a product name (for example, PS4), and wait for a ranked list of retailers to appear on the screen.

So including keywords to the left of dot in the domain name you register can help improve the chances of a user clicking on your domain name, even if the keywords didn’t help with the ranking.

Registering a new domain name

In a world where hundreds of millions of domain names have been registered, try using a domain name suggestion tool to help you find the right one. You will be surprised to see that there are still many available combinations. You can carry out multiple searches in different combinations to see which one(s) best fit the bill.

By registering a .com domain name, you’ll join millions of individuals and businesses around the world who trust .com for their online presence.

This article is a part of the ‘Getting Online’ series sponsored by Verisign. For more information from Verisign on how to get your business online, click here.

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