There are loads of standards and common practices when choosing domain names. Just by performing a quick google search you can uncover dozens of websites containing the same list of culprits.
Some of these being:
- Keep it short
- Be memorable
- Make sure it’s easy to spell
- It should be easy to communicate verbally
- No hyphens
- Be descriptive
- The best suffix in most cases is .com
That’s a huge task for such a short string of characters to accomplish.
The fate of your business relies heavily on your chosen domain name. No pressure, really. It’s easy to spend days, weeks, even months pulling your hair out trying to find “the one.”
By the end of this article you’ll have a clear idea of what qualities your domain should have, and what truly matters to the almighty search engines. Your time spent endlessly pondering the possibilities ends here.
While all of the things I just mentioned do in fact have an impact, there is no singular technique to maximizing results. It’s a contribution from all factors, some more than others, which will determine your ranking among your competition.
Here’s a concise checklist for choosing your perfect domain name and leading your market.
Scout the competition
If you have an idea of what you’d like your domain to be, and it’s available, you’ll want to do a quick background check.
There’s a chance that a similar domain exists or possibly even the exact domain with a different suffix. If this existing site is well established, you’re going to show up on the scene like a minnow among sharks. The work required to outrank and outshine your competition in this case will take a lot of effort, and money.
Unfortunately for some, this fact isn’t evident until after they’ve already purchased and built their website. At this point it becomes an uphill battle. It’s always a good idea to begin with a certain level of ownership over your chosen words.
However, you shouldn’t run at the first sign of competition. Some competition is necessary to confirm that there’s a market readily available. If you don’t find any competition for words or terms related to your chosen domain, you should consider choosing a different name. This often means that there aren’t enough people searching for those terms. In this case, even if you rank #1, your traffic will still be low.
Keywords are nice, but they aren’t the holy grail
Domains can be anywhere from 1-67 characters. It might seem like a good idea to cram keywords in there like sardines. Search engine aside, these kind of domains are awkward to type and hard to remember…
“Was it webdesignfordoctorsdentistsandchiropractors.com, or webdesignfordentistschiropractorsanddoctors.com?”
There’s a fine line between targeting keywords and making sure your content is relevant to what your domain name suggests.
In fact, here’s an interesting graph that displays the affect of Partial Match Domain (PMD) names.
As search engines evolve, it’s becoming much less important.
Take amazon for example. Pretend you don’t already know it’s the largest online marketplace and one of the most visited retailers in the world. In which way does the name “amazon” lead you to believe that they sell books?
How does the name Yahoo or Google relate to searching for things online?
So what really matters?
Relevancy. When people land on your webpage, what they do from thereon out affects your search ranking. If you end up fooling your visitors because your keyword packed domain name misled them, and they hit back immediately, that’s a small but accumulative strike against your ranking.
If you’re going to use specific keywords, you need to make sure that your content is, and always will be, directly related to those keywords.
Which leads me to my last main point.
Future proof your domain name
There’s a few ways the changing times can wreak havoc on your page ranking.
- Passing fads
- New technology
- Culture shifts
This is important to keep in mind when choosing words to represent your business across the web. To build a website with longevity, refrain from relying on a specific technology, trend, social standard, or slang. All of these things change, and when they do, it’ll significantly gimp your search traffic.
Being malleable to changing times and technologies is absolutely crucial to long-term success online. In the SEO world, things can turn upside down at the drop of a hat. Google continually updates and improves the algorithm it uses to rank websites. For this reason it’s important to establish some resiliency to the whims of google. If 65% of your traffic comes from search, and the algorithm shifts dramatically, your SALES could drop by 65%, what kind of impact would that have on your business?
Checking for Blacklisting
Often times, a domain name can become blacklisted because a former owner took part in email malpractice, and most likely sent out unsolicited mass emails. These blacklistings can stay with a domain name even after it’s been sold or tossed back out into the market. It’s important that you check for these blacklistings by using some free tools listed below.
Simply enter the domain name you’re looking for, and view the server results. Any result that is not listed in green should be approached via email so that you can move towards getting rid of your blacklisting.
- Here are some tools to check blacklistings with:
Checking for Google Penalties
Once again, if your domain was ever previously used, it could have become penalized by Google, and thrown out. It’s extremely important that you check for a penalty before you purchase a domain name.
I suggest checking out archive.org. With their wayback machine, you can see if the domain name you are considering buying has ever been used for a site before. After that, I would do some simple searches on Google. For starters, try searching “site: yourdomain.com.” If you don’t see any results come up, this could be a danger signal. Another search you could try is your domain name, minus the tld (.com, .net).
Finally, I’ve found a tool from a quick Google Search that may be useful to you. Just a quick disclaimer – I’ve never used this tool before for any hard domain searches, but they pull their data from SEMrush. If you trust them, you might trust this tool:
Choosing a domain name doesn’t have to be stressful
Hopefully I’ve shed some light on a few of the most underlying and important aspects of picking the right domain name. As long as you keep these guidelines in mind and back it up with stellar content, you’ll be on your way to the Google podium in no time.
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