One of the most common problems clients or potential clients approach me with is what to do when choosing a new domain name. A lot of clients have heard about this SEO thing and read somewhere that keywords in the domain are good, so they just assume the best thing to do is go out and buy as many domains as they can targeting as many keywords as possible. However, before gobbling up domains with every possible keyword variation, there are a few things to consider:
1. How old is your existing domain?
If your existing domain has some years on it, there’s usually no sense in getting a new one. Once a domain has aged 1+ years, changing to a new domain should be done tentatively, with a great deal of thought behind it. Search Engines thrive on trust, and an older domain is a more trusted domain. To check your domain age, try a Domain Age Checker.
2. Are you pushing a brand, or just selling a type of product?
If you have your own brand and want to promote it (on the internet or otherwise), it’s much easier for someone to remember a site such as www.nike.com instead of www.runningshoesandclothing.com, as mentioned by Aaron Wall in his article “How to Choose Great Domain Names“. However, if you are selling running shoes of all brands, the domain www.runningshoes.com makes a lot of sense.
3. Do you sell one type of product, or many?
One thing you want to try to avoid is pigeon-holing yourself with a domain name. If you sell lamps, www.lamps.com makes sense, but if you sell lamps, chairs, glue, silly putty, life-sized R2-D2 models, and everything else under the sun, it may be best to just go with your company name, or something like www.everything.com, which encompasses all that you sell, not just one type of product.
Keywords in domain names do help, I’ve seen it time and time again, but another thing to consider is usability — how friendly is the domain name to potential customers? If customers need to type www.really-great-blue-widgets-that-are-cheap.com into a browser, they aren’t going to be thrilled and probably won’t remember the domain. And personally I think long domain names look a little unprofessional. While keywords in domain names can be beneficial, a lot of people get obsessed with the idea that a keyword-rich domain name will automatically rank them for that phrase, and that’s simply not the case. Plenty of sites do just fine without any keywords in there domain whatsoever. Ebay, for instance, ranks #1 for the phrase “auction”, and that keyword doesn’t appear anywhere in the domain name, and there are plenty of similar cases.
The best case scenario is to combine your brand and keyword in a memorable, user-friendly manner. Not to toot my own horn, but dragonflyseo.com is a good example of this.
The bottom line is this: Choose a domain name that makes sense, is easy to remember, and, if possible, contains a keyword or two. In the end, it’s hard work and good SEO that rank a site for keyword phrases, not the domain name. This brings me to another point: Unless you have unlimited resources and a team of SEOs working around the clock, please do not buy up domains (microsites) targeting every city in your state for the keyword you want to rank. I’ve seen this too many times to count and what I always tell people when they ask me to build up every single one of these sites is, “Sometimes it is good to put all of your eggs in one basket.” In most cases where resources are not unlimited, it makes sense to build up a single site and create individual pages for cities within the site, building links to the individual pages as necessary. If you’re still thinking about going the microsite route, read this.