This excerpt from The Art of SEO will help you select domain names that are good for SEO.
When a new site is being conceived or designed one of the critical items to consider is the naming of the domain, whether it is for a new blog, a company launch, or even just a friend’s website. Here are 12 tips that will be indispensable when helping you select a great domain name:
- Brainstorm five top keywords
When you begin your domain name search, it helps to have five terms or phrases in mind that best describe the domain you’re seeking. Once you have this list, you can start to pair them or add prefixes and suffixes to create good domain ideas. For example, if you’re launching a mortgage-related domain, you might start with words such as mortgage, finance, home equity, interest rate, and house payment, and then play around until you can find a good match.
- Make the domain unique
Having your website confused with a popular site that someone else already owns is a recipe for disaster. Thus, never choose a domain that is simply the plural, hyphenated, or misspelled version of an already established domain. For example, Flickr desperately needs to buy Flicker.com—when kids in their 20s tell parents in their 40s and 50s to see photos on Flickr you can easily imagine that traffic going straight to the wrong domain.
- Choose only dot-com available domains
If you’re not concerned with type-in traffic, branding, or name recognition, you don’t need to worry about this one. However, if you’re at all serious about building a successful website over the long term, you should be worried about all of these elements, and although directing traffic to a .net or .org is fine, owning and 301'ing the .com is critical. With the exception of the very tech-savvy, most people who use the Web still make the automatic assumption that .com is all that’s out there, or that these domains are more trustworthy. Don’t make the mistake of locking out or losing traffic from these folks.
- Make it easy to type
If a domain name requires considerable attention to type correctly due to spelling, length, or the use of unmemorable words or sounds, you’ve lost a good portion of your branding and marketing value. Usability folks even tout the value of having the words include easy-to-type letters (which we interpret as avoiding q, z, x, c, and p).
- Make it easy to remember
Remember that word-of-mouth marketing relies on the ease with which the domain can be called to mind. You don’t want to be the company with the terrific website that no one can ever remember to tell their friends about because they can’t remember the domain name.
- Keep the name as short as possible
Short names are easy to type and easy to remember (see the previous two rules). They also allow for more characters in the URL in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and a better fit on business cards and other offline media. Shorter URLs also get better click-through in the search engine results pages (SERPs), according to a MarketingSherpa study located at http://www.marketing...cfm?ident=30181.
- Create and fulfill expectations
When someone hears about your domain name for the first time, he should be able to instantly and accurately guess at the type of content he might find there. That’s why we love domain names such as Hotmail.com, CareerBuilder.com, AutoTrader.com, and WebMD.com. Domains such as Monster.com, Amazon.com, and Zillow.com required far more branding because of their nonintuitive names.
- Avoid trademark infringement
This is a mistake that isn’t made too often, but it can kill a great domain and a great company when it does. To be sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s registered trademark with your site’s name, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark office site and search before you buy.
- Set yourself apart with a brand
Using a unique moniker is a great way to build additional value with your domain name. A “brand” is more than just a combination of words, which is why names such as Mortgageforyourhome.com and Shoesandboots.com aren’t as compelling as branded names such as Bankrate.com and Lendingtree.com.
- Reject hyphens and numbers
Both hyphens and numbers make it hard to convey your domain name verbally and fall down on being easy to remember or type. Avoid spelled-out or Roman numerals in domains, as both can be confusing and mistaken for the other.
- Don’t follow the latest trends
Website names that rely on odd misspellings (as do many Web 2.0-style sites), multiple hyphens (such as the SEO-optimized domains of the early 2000s), or uninspiring short adjectives (such as “top…x,” “best…x,” “hot…x”) aren’t always the best choice. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but in the world of naming conventions in general, if everyone else is doing it, that doesn’t mean it is a surefire strategy. Just look at all the people who named their businesses “AAA… x” over the past 50 years to be first in the phone book; how many Fortune 1000s are named “AAA company?”
- Use an AJAX domain selection tool
Websites such as Ajaxwhois and Domjax make it exceptionally easy to determine the availability of a domain name. Just remember that you don’t have to buy through these services. You can find an available name that you like, and then go to your registrar of choice.
Learn more about this topic from The Art of SEO.
Four acknowledged experts in search engine optimization share guidelines and innovative techniques that will help you plan and execute a comprehensive SEO strategy. This second edition brings you up to date on recent changes in search engine behavior—such as new ranking methods involving user engagement and social media—with an array of effective tactics, from basic to advanced.