How Can a Domain Name Affect Your SEO

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How Can a Domain Name Affect Your SEO

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 07:10
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Does the domain name for your website still matter? Here is what you need to know before you adopt a new domain name for your website.

Online businesses and the entire market have expanded and evolved quite a lot over the years. The power of search engines has grown quite significantly and if you want your website to make a difference and use its maximum potential, you simply have to think about SEO. Naturally, there are loads of tips and tricks for better SEO out there, but we’ve focused on one of the most common questions people ask about SEO and professional web design. That question is – can a domain name affect your website traffic?

The simple answer to that question is yes, a domain name has a significant effect on how much traffic your website generates. But, it’s not that simple. There are various reasons why your domain name is important, and we’re going to go through some of them. We did a bit of digging around and we’ve come up with this short guide which should help you understand why you have to be careful when choosing your domain name. So, without further ado, let’s get straight to it.

A Keyword Domain VS A Brand Domain

Back in the day when SEO was still becoming a serious digital marketing tool, one of the easiest ways to get the top-ranked position in search results was to use the targeted keyword as a domain name. For example, if you wanted to sell used mobile phones, you could use a domain like cheapmobilephones.com or usedcellphones.com and your website would probably appear very high in the search results. Marketers and SEO experts purchased the exact match domains (EMDs), but things have changed quite a lot.

Back in 2012 Google created a filter for EMDs, which lead to EMDs becoming less and less effective as an SEO tool. Don’t get us wrong, there are still websites which use EMDs and reach high ranking positions in the search results, but the general practice has changed, so you shouldn’t focus primarily on the EMDs as your only SEO tool. One of the things quite a lot of successful businesses do is a switch to their brand names as a name for their domains. This has proven to be quite a good SEO practice, as most of your clients and customers actually remember you through your brand. Having a number of backlinks with your brand name around the web is another way to use your brand as an effective domain name. With such brand exposure, your brand and your domain name, you can generate quite a lot of that necessary traffic.

When To Use Keyword Domains?

In some very specific cases, EMDs can actually help you with more traffic. Even though it is much smarter to focus on making your brand recognizable and trustworthy, there are certain cases in which EMDs can help you generate more clicks and boost your Click-through rates (CTRs). In a sea of generic brand names and domain names, it may prove to be more useful to focus on an EMD rather than just a generic name. An older study from Memorable Domains found that EMDs that match the product exactly have a higher potential for generating traffic than other generic domain names related to the subject. The best example is comparing the traffic rates of two websites – ElectricBicycles.co.uk and YourBikes.co.uk. In this case, the domain with the more specific keyword name generated much more traffic than the other website, even though both seem to have quite a generic domain name.

Use all the available tools like Google AdWords to do a thorough research on keywords. This can help you quite a lot and in many ways too. Another thing you should keep in mind when you're picking out your domain name is to avoid any potential legally problematic situations. The experts from Actuate IP state that with the growth of internet's commercial use it has become somewhat of a practice to register domain names that are almost identical to those domains which generate more traffic. This practice can seriously harm your overall traffic, so make sure you consult a professional beforehand.

Best Domain Name Practices

There are some things that have become somewhat of a practice in the world of web design and SEO. Here are just some of the useful tips to keep in mind when picking up a domain name.

  • Less is more – or in this case, shorter is better. As people’s collective attention span has dropped significantly in the last few decades, having a domain name which is too long to read is definitely not a smart choice. You should try to keep your domain name under 15 characters long and it should be instantly recognizable.

  • Avoid misspelling words – we’ve seen quite a lot of websites which use intentionally misspelled names to show off their originality. This can cause a big problem for your overall traffic, as quite a lot of people already have a hard time spelling. It can only get more confusing if you decide to misspell the word, so try to think of another way to gain visitors’ attention.

  • Avoid numbers – if you get to talk with someone about your website, and you have a number in your domain name, they might not be sure whether they need to spell it or simply write a numeral. Everything that causes confusion with your potential customers and clients should be avoided when you’re thinking about your domain name.

  • Avoid hyphens – using hyphens when you have a multi-word URL somewhere deep within your site is great. Using it in your domain name – not so much. Hyphens are observed and analyzed by search engines in a different fashion, so using them as a domain name might have quite a negative effect on your overall traffic.

Wrapping It Up

When it comes to picking the perfect domain name, there’s always a lot of thinking, testing, and researching. You need to fully understand what your website’s role in your business is and discover the best way to use its potential so your business becomes successful. Hopefully, these tips helped point you in the right direction and your website will soon help you expand your business reach. There is a lot of possibilities, you just need to find the one that suits your specific needs in the best possible fashion.