Getting your website’s URL to sit above the rest on search result pages is crucial for making your business visible to your customers. But SEO best practices are a complex, nebulous business. With Google regularly putting out minor updates and, every six months or so, more major core updates, SEO is far from a static system.
Knowing what to do with your keywords is not simple, especially when it comes to domain keywords. If you are a business owner with questions about how keywords affect your search engine rankings, you are not alone.
What is a keyword domain?
If you include keywords in your domain name, that means you are using a keyword domain. However, with so many companies out there offering similar services, it is difficult and expensive (to say the least) to get your hands on the domain name that you want. That is, “YourIndustry-YourTown.co.nz” is likely to be long gone.
So does that mean the company that has the keyword domain that you wanted is going to rank more highly than you?
Not necessarily. You probably already know about plenty of websites that rank at the top but whose domains are not industry-based. For example, Google is not “Search-Engine dot com”. It’s “google”. Amazon, Facebook, Bloomberg, and many other big names similarly do not bother with keyword domains.
So how do you choose a domain?
John Mueller, Google’s CEO, advises that instead of trying to rank keywords in your domain name, choose one that will stand the test of time. Keywords that sound snappy and trendy now might sound tired and overdone in five years. And you need to choose a name that allows for your business to grow over time.
For instance, if you run a heating business and use “heating” as a keyword in your domain, that will make it tricky for your company to expand its service offering down the line. A domain name that allows your business to grow saves you the time and money hassle of merging or moving domains later.
Mueller also publicly tweeted that keywords in domain names are overrated. Google does not provide special treatment to websites whose domains use keywords. That means, from the SEO side at least, you are just as likely to rank if you use “pinkflyingcat.co.nz” instead of “interiordesignernearme.co.nz”. Branded domains rank just as well as keyword domains.
But that is not quite the end of the story…
Just because there is no SEO advantage to using keyword domains does not mean there is no need to put thought into your domain. Make sure you choose a domain that stands out from the rest, defines your brand, and is relevant to what you offer.
Here are some more tips for choosing your domain name:
- Be choosey with your top-level domain. See our blog on how TLDs affect SEO to find out more.
- Go for something that you can brand, rather than a generic keyword name. That is how your audience will remember you.
- Make it snappy: short, concise domain names are better.
- Make it easy: you don’t want to lose sales just because your audience has trouble spelling your domain! On that note, make sure it is easy to pronounce as well. Your audience will remember you better if they can say what your website is called, plus this will help you get more visitors through word-of-mouth.
- Don’t use numbers or hyphens. They get in the way of having an easy, snappy domain.
- Don’t be afraid of keywords. If you still want to use a keyword in your domain that’s not too generic, no problem! While “website.co.nz” is generic and unmemorable, we clearly use keywords and branding in our domain: “kiwisite23.wpengine.com”.
- Consider the long-term of your business. The domain you choose should suit whatever your business may grow into in the future, not just what you offer now.
- Make sure nobody else is doing it: check that your domain is not already trademarked or in use. Avoiding legal drama is ideal.
Get in touch with the experts
Want to know more about domain names and SEO? Get in touch with the team here at KWD by calling 0800 932 669 to get all your questions answered.