Choosing the Right Domain Name
Whether you’re just building your first website or you’re thinking about creating a new site for a specific niche, one of the most important tasks is choosing the domain name. Choosing the right domain name is important – it’s as important as picking the right title for a book. Either your domain name needs to grab people’s attention and intrigue them enough to visit your site, or it must convey enough information about the content that people know exactly what’s on offer. You can’t be too creative though – you need to bear in mind keywords to make sure your domain name is attractive to the search engine bots, too. So the challenge is to find a domain name that is both catchy and search engine optimised. Here are some tips on how you can achieve both objectives.
The first step is to do some keyword research and find a relevant keyword (word or phrase) that can be incorporated into your domain name. A good place to start is the Google Keyword tool, where you can enter a keyword that best sums up what your website is about. The tool will return lots of search results (driven from the Google Adwords database) that are based on and around your keyword, along with information on how many people searched for the term and how competitive the keyword is for those bidding on your term for pay per click advertising.
NB: Do not use the level of competition as an indication on how many people are competing for these terms in the natural SEO listings. This is ONLY for Google Adwords. This is often a common mistake that people make. Looking at the competition for your chosen can only really be done by looking at who comes up when you perform the search, in the search engines themselves. Click here for a more information on keyword research.
Use this list as a good start for your search – look for keywords that get lots of searches per month, but also be mindful that there may also be lots of people competing in the search engines for these terms. You may well find a search term that scores well in terms of lots of monthly searches, then jump over to Google and do the search only to find a few 100,000 competing pages or less – This would be the ideal term for your new domain name.
Many people choose domain names that are based on their company name but actually that can have a negative effect. Say you’re an accountancy firm called Smiths – choosing the domain name Smiths.co.uk says nothing about your business at all and won’t help you get ranked for your keywords, which are going to be related to accountancy, bookkeeping etc. SmithsAccountants.co.uk would be a much better bet – or you can localise your business by choosing, for example, something like WiltshireAccountants.co.uk.
Once you’ve found a keyword that would work well as a domain name you need to check if it’s available. A great site is 123-reg.co.uk - a really useful place to start. You can type in your keyword and it will check all the available options and show you what’s still available. It will also come up with some suggestions for alternative domains. Have a look for the keywords you wanted and consider the suggestions the domain name company gives. If the main keyword is included in these suggestions and it ends with .com or .co.uk, consider it. If it’s not available, though, you will need to be more creative.
For example, you can use ‘filler’ words like ‘a,’ ‘an’ or ‘the’, numbers or phrases within your domain name to still include your selected keyword – in our example above WiltshireAccountants.co.uk has been taken but you could have TheWiltshireAccountants.co.uk. Search engines tend to not look at filler words, so you still have a good chance of being indexed for your keyword while having a domain name that is memorable and catchy. You can also consider fillers at the end of a phrase, such as ’101′, or ‘online’.
What if you do these things and you still can’t get a .com or .co.uk domain name you like? If your keyword is very popular you might have to consider using one of the lesser-known extensions such as .biz, .org or .org.uk. One thing to bear in mind is that local domains (such as .uk based domains for UK websites) can achieve higher search engine rankings quicker.
Choosing a domain name that will work for both visitors and search engines isn’t as difficult as you might think. Using keyword tools will help hugely, and a little bit of imagination can point you towards a killer name. And if you need any help with keyword research then give us a call and we’ll be happy to help! Call us on 01793 608777 or visit our Keyword research page for more information.
Author: Ant Hodges (Google)