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What’s the Best Domain Name for Your Website from an SEO Perspective?

Strictly from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective, the best domain name for your website is one that contains your website’s main keyword.

What’s your website’s main keyword?  It is the single keyword or phrase around which your website is built.  The entire premise behind niche websites is to build a site that is very narrowly focused on a particular subject matter, which your keyword defines.

It’s a bit more challenging for a blog as a blog maybe broader in the type of content it carries. However, even blogs have a main underlying premise.

Think about the blog’s title, sub title or description.  Why does the blog exist? What’s its purpose?  The answers define what the main keyword is.

I usually determine the main keyword for my websites based on the keyword research I perform before entering a niche.  I tend to choose a keyword that has the highest search demand because I know that I can push it up to page one following my methodology.

The Best Domain Name for MY Website

For this blog, my main keyword is “make extra money”.  My domain name contains the later two words of the key phrase.

My other domain also contains the later two words of the phrase.  But because I have further optimized the blog for the word “make extra money”, it usually shows up on page one of search engine results.

Make Extra Money

You might be thinking it is foolish to choose a main site keyword that is highest in demand without taking supply (competition) into consideration.  It sure can be, especially if you are chasing the most bang for your time investment (who isn’t?).

But as evident in the example above, it is not completely impossible to do well with a super saturated, high demand keyword in a super saturated niche that everyone is into.

Hopefully the process of how to achieve that will be clearer as I dive into additional SEO and internet marketing topics in detail. I already discuss a lot of it in my free report which you can download by signing up for my blog alerts via email.

Best Domain Name for Establishing a Brand

Whether you already have a brand presence or intend to establish one, if your goal is brand recognition, then your domain must be your brand or at least resemble it.

For example, Pepsi was already a big global brand before the internet was commercialized.  Therefore Pepsi’s domain name is, and it’s the best domain it can possibly have.

On the other hand, you might want to start your own cola company and call it Cool Cola.  If so, you might want your domain name to be rather than or a similar keyword that doesn’t necessarily contain your brand identity.

Branding is a different initiative all together.  Your brand must be the name by which you want to be recognized with, something catchy, preferably easy to remember and one that associates with your product or service.

Dashes vs. Underscores

Searching for the best domain name for your website can be a discouraging and exhausting process because it always seems like all the good ones are already taken.

Domain buying and selling was a real hot business at one point, and it still maybe. I remember purchasing the domain name of a Fortune 500 company when the .in (India) market opened up.

Man, their legal department came after me and because I didn’t want to pursue the case further, I gave it up for a few thousand bucks.  Still a healthy profit considering the domain cost me less than $15.

Pardon the tangent, but the point is that most domain names that are short, catchy and desirable are already taken.  In that case, the best domain name for your website is one that may be slightly longer but include a part or all of your main keyword.

Many refer to this as a long tail domain name because of its length. For example, the domain name of my website on Dubai is  My main keyword is “Dubai Information”, but since it wasn’t available, I had to pick the best one I could.

Dubai Information Site

Fortunately over time, I have been able to rank my site on page one of Google for both “Dubai Information” and “Dubai Information Site”, both of which are super competitive keywords.

Notice the dashes in my domain name.  Many have underscores instead.  Which is better?  Google had historically publicly said that dashes are the best route to go since Google treats them as spaces and thus is better for SEO. However, read the final paragraph to observe a contradiction which leaves us wondering whether dashes are truly the best route.

Dashes do look better aesthetically in my opinion for long domains because of the spacing. According to Google (again historically) the fact that dashes are better to use than underscores also goes for file names, picture files and pretty much everything else you do online.

Note: My Dubai site with dashes in its domain is still going strong after the EMD algorithm update. This reinforces my belief that quality sites will prevail over time. Read below for more on this topic.

Misspellings and dot nets (.net)

If your domain name contains words that are commonly misspelled or interchangeable with numbers, you might want to consider buying domain names that contain some of the most common misspellings and relevant numbers and then direct it to point to your main website.

For example, if you own the domain name, you might also want to get  Notice the extra “b” in the latter, which is a common misspelling of the word habit. Similarly, if you own, you might want to consider getting

As your brand becomes popular, you might also consider getting the domain names in the other types of extensions they come in such as .net, .us, .biz, etc.  Neither obtaining common misspellings, nor obtaining the .net and .biz equivalents are critical “to dos” in my opinion, but worth looking into as your site becomes popular and you start making some money from it.

Exact Match Domains

I added this section in this article after Google announced the Exact Match Domain (EMD) algorithm change in October 2012. Here is an article by Kim Roach that explains what this is and what it means for us.

In a nutshell, websites with domain names that exactly match its target keyword are going to be “penalized”. I use the word loosely here because of all the sites I own that were impacted, it is not apparent whether having an EMD caused penalties or simply became irrelevant from a search algorithm perspective.

Whereas in the past having your keyword in your domain earned you brownie points, it does not appear so anymore. However, I have some sites with EMDs that were not impacted by the algorithm update. It’s really difficult to gauge what truly is going on.

Few days after the hit to some of my sites, I saw many of them to start picking traffic back up again. Again, very strange. Many sites with partial match domains also were impacted, but again, haphazardly (not all were). I believe that quality sites will prevail over the long run, whether or not their domains contain the site’s main keyword or whether they are an exact match. I have no anecdotal evidence of this, but I really do believe this.

Personally, I wouldn’t change the process of selecting the best domain for my website in the future. The only thing I may change is do away with dashes in the URL, which some of my websites contain today.

What about you? How did you come up with your domain name? Do you think it’s the best domain name for your website or could you have done better?  Why did you think this was the best choice for your website or blog?  What would you do different if you were to do it again? Were you impacted by the Exact Match Domain algorithm change? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

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40 Responses to “What’s the Best Domain Name for Your Website from an SEO Perspective?”

  1. I agree with your point that dashes are better. Underscores are not treated as a separator so it will take the whole block of text as one term. I was leafing through youtube and found this video from Matt Cutts who explains the difference quite well:

    That said, search engines are smart enough to pick out keywords from domains without dashes, so if you can get it as all one word, do you think it’s worth it?

    From a brand-ability point of view I’d lean towards getting it without dashes if possible as it’s easier to say and type. But, curious to know what you and others think Sunil..

  2. Great post Sunil. One of my keywords is “way to wealth” hence my domain. I think it’s critical to have your major keywords in the title. If it’s a busy niche you can add “tips” or “ideas” to the name. I understand the received wisdom is to go with .com domains unless your site is country specific (our property business is UK based only so we have a domain for that.

    The domain name registration companies have a useful search and suggestion tool for domain names if you’re struggling to come up with something suitable.

    • Sunil says:

      Totally agree Cassie, the root theme word must be part of the domain, better yet an exact match. While adding pre or post cursors like tips or headquarters (hq) is a common and acceptable practice, one must be careful not to dilute the keyword density of the domain.

      Example: waytowealthhq has a higher density compared to waytowealthheadquarters or waytowealthtips

  3. Elisa says:

    Hi Sunil,

    Thanks for the info. Is it better to have the keyword in the beginning or does it matter? For example, most keyword domains are taken already and I see Godaddy suggesting ones that have “my” or “your” in front such as:

    What are your thoughts on this?



    • Sunil says:


      I have niche sites with keywords before, in the middle and after, and I don’t have conclusive evidence to comment on whether one is better over the other. However, I can tell you that keyword density is critical. In other words, do not dilute your domain too much.

  4. Hey Sunil,
    I really admire and appreciate your firm and well fabricated tips on how to choose the best domain name.I am running three blogs right now and my domains are kind of long tail domain which includes my main keyword.Like “”,”” and “”.They all are doing well and are on the first page of google search engine.The one thing which i have found here on your blog,that was really an update for me i admit,that is to use dashes except underscores.I think this strategy can open more options for SEO.

    Thank you for sharing such a great,valuable and informative content with us Sunil.

    Good Luck and God Bless!!
    With Regards!
    Samuel Joshua

    • Sunil says:

      Samuel – welcome to the blog and congratulations on the success of all your blogs. Any tips for the readership on how we can get our blogs and websites on page 1 like you have?

  5. Geoff says:

    Hey Sunil, I often wondered how dashes or underscores compared to each other in a domain. I tend to agree that dashes are much more readable. I also wonder how much worse it is to have a dashed versus non-dashed domain in the eyes of google?

    • Sunil says:

      In my experiments not much Geoff. My experience with dashes slightly outshine the efforts w/o dashes. I’d say both are fine, but I only have my own portfolio of websites to go off of.

  6. And some search engines like yahoo/bing gives great preference for the exact domain names. So right keywords are extremelly important.

  7. What if you bought a domain name and decided to change the name…is it possible?

  8. Alex says:

    When I was creating my website I also thought that keyword in domain it’s cool. But now I see it in opposite way. Better to make more branded domain. Plus as Matt Cutts said that branded is better.

    • Sunil says:

      Alex – this really just depends on your objectives. If you are building a niche site that you want to simply “set and forget”, a keyword rich domain may be a better option? Do you have a link too Matt Cutt’s article / video where he says this?

  9. Outstanding information. I have spent over a year researching the best ways to make money, and I truly think Internet Marketing will be potentially successful.

    Thanks for the information pertaining to picking the right keywords for your site domain name. I truly think the information you have provided will help many, many people who are looking to make money online.

  10. Abyooda says:

    i think my website Stronger Students is the best name for it, the “stronger students” keyword was there before i did my website, so i managed to rank #1 for this keyword although it is not so much competitive but now and after a year became a famous keyword (you can check it yourself) and i am happy with the results 🙂

  11. Dannielle says:

    Hi Sunil, I have a question. Let’s say I wanted to create a site on the benefits of balloons. What’s the best domain name out of “” and “”? Does having the word “of” in the domain name really matter? When using the Google keyword tool, “balloons benefits” and “benefits of balloons” have the same number of searches (0), but the Google search engine results differ tremendously.

    • Sunil says:

      conventional SEO wisdom tells you to take it out because it dilutes your keyword density. that said, there is something to be said for user experience (will people remember one vs the other?). is this a niche site you plan on setting up and forgetting? or is it an authority site you plan on working on for a long time?

      • Dannielle says:

        Hmmmm. Can I be successful with the site being both a niche site and an authority site? I’d like to set it, add more articles and other features gradually and make it into an authority site. In terms of user experience, more people search for “benefits of balloons” rather than “balloon benefits”.

        • Sunil says:

          most definitely Dannielle, in fact that would likely be the best way to go. as niche as possible, yet the dominant authority within. both domains sound good to me, what is your website’s main/theme keyword?

          • Dannielle says:

            In this case, the keyword would be “benefits of balloons.” Sorry to bother you again, but this leads to another question. Seeing that I would be creating an authority site, should I perhaps expand my focus and have a more general keyword like “what are balloons,” And then create a domain name with those same words? “Benefits of balloons” would then become a T2 keyword.

            • Sunil says:

              ah, interesting predicament Dannielle. here is where you need to determine whether the increase in supply (competition) is worth pursuing the incremental demand (search queries) of the general KW that you are targeting. but either way you go, the other KW can be a nice T2 one. what are you thinking?

              • Dannielle says:

                I’m thinking that “what are balloons” has the potential to offer a lot more information because it is more general, “balloon benefits” is more limited. In the long run “what are balloons” could be worth it because of the wealth of information that will be available on the site. Have you ever created two authority sites targeting similar keywords? E.g Your Site A T1 keyword is your Site B T2 keyword and vice versa?

                • Sunil says:

                  I have never tried that. for some reason I think the benefits kw would attract me more as a reader, but that’s just one opinion. what about something involving implying the various usages of balloons? I’m just thinking, why / who would search for what are balloons or benefits of…? I may just not know enough about this niche

  12. Dannielle says:

    lol. That’s not the niche that I’m thinking of, it was just an example. I’m actually thinking about specific plants and fruit. I’m from the Caribbean and there are quite a few plants and fruit that have not been “discovered” yet, that I want to pursue. I’m stuck at finding a domain name and so far it’s a tedious and difficult process.

    • Sunil says:

      ah – make sure your main/theme KW is part of the domain, and for an authority site, I personally would sacrifice a little dilution for a more attractive domain that also makes sense for what you’re doing. please keep me posted. I am interested in learning more

  13. Dannielle says:

    lol. That’s not the keyword I’m targeting – it was the first example that came to mind. I’m actually from the Caribbean and I’m hoping to target some Caribbean things. Coming up with the right name is a difficult task… The options are endless. Sigh. You’ve been extremely helpful. Thank you so much. 🙂

  14. Mike says:

    Hi Sunil,

    I’ve read a lot about SEO over this past year and find there is always something more to learn! For example, I never knew about the dashes in the name, great tip! I came up with my blog domain because I wanted something that had the keywords I planned to talk about, namely the 1000 Islands in the St Lawrence River and the Steel King line of boats from the 1960’s… thus


  15. Doma Ining says:

    Great advice. I’ve just gotten into the world of domains, and so far, has been the most useful. I look forward to following the steps listed above!

  16. Donny says:

    I agree, search engines gives great preference for the exact domain names, of course right keyword is very important.

    • Sunil says:

      in more recent times however this strategy solely by itself can be questionable due to exact match domain penalties imposed by engines on some websites.

  17. hi!,I love your writing very so much! share we keep up a correspondence more about your post
    on AOL? I require a specialist in this space to unravel my problem.
    May be that is you! Taking a look forward to look you.

  18. I wish i would have read this many years ago.

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