Whether you’re running an ecommerce site, a blog, or a community portal, your domain name is critical to your website’s success. It plays a major role in how you rank in search engines, to say nothing of the impact it has on how people view your site and your company.

Guest post by Christina Coons of Northcutt.

Today, we’re going to talk about how to make the right choice and select a domain that’s not only SEO-friendly, but also highly marketable. Let’s dive in!

1. Make It Memorable

Forgetting about SEO for a second, domain names that are easy to remember have a lasting influence on how people perceive your site. It makes your site more shareable. It makes people likelier to visit you. And believe it or not, that can actually bring up your ranking in search engine results.

Some advice to remember:

  • Keep your domain name under fifteen characters. This makes it easier to remember and reduces the chance that a user might type something wrong when trying to access your site.
  • Hyphens should generally be avoided. According to Moz, they tend to act as a spam indicator.
  • Get creative. You don’t always need to go with your business name. Think about a catchy word or phrase that people might associate with your business.

2. Consider Your Keywords

Before you start working on your domain name, consider your site’s major keywords. These words should guide your name selection process. 

That being said, here’s a word of caution: Google penalizes keyword stuffing, so that’s something you need to avoid.

Here’s what Moz says about keywords and domain names:

The domain name itself is a ranking factor that the engines consider when calculating ranking order. [H]aving relevant keywords in a domain name is beneficial because the domain name is the text that other Internet users will use as anchor text when linking. Since keywords in anchor text are an important ranking factor, having these keywords in a domain name can have a positive impact on ranking.

3. Remember Redirection

One common practice in SEO involves buying domain names and having them redirect to your site. If you want to follow this practice, think about common typos and errors your users might make when navigating to your page.

For example, “Happyplates.com,” might be “typoed” as follows:

  • Hapyplates
  • Happyplats
  • Happyplate

By purchasing those domains as well as your own, you can not only increase traffic to your site and improve your rankings, you can also deep-six unscrupulous competitors and domain name squatters.

4. Understand The Importance of Top-Level Domains

What do you know about top-level domains (TLDs)? If your answer lies somewhere between “nothing” and “not much,” then it’s time to start reading!

Generally, you’ll be safe using most TLDs, though there are a few low-quality ones you should avoid. Specifically, you should probably stay away from .biz, .info, .ws, and .name.

“In most cases, .com is the best choice,” according to Search Engine Journal. “This is because it’s the standard. The norm. Most users assume a company’s website will end with .com; after all, 75% of websites have the extension.”

5. Don’t Slack Off On Your Domain Name

Like every other element of your site, your domain name should be optimized for search. And given the preferences of search engines nowadays, that means optimizing it for your visitors, too.

You wouldn’t visit a department store with a terrible-looking, low quality sign. Why should you expect people to visit your site if you’ve got a terrible domain name?

Coons-8311Christina Coons is a professional digital marketer at Northcutt, an inbound marketing agency. She specializes in e-commerce, social media, and public relations, and spends her days helping brands succeed online.

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