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.
For this blog, my main keyword is “make extra money”. My domain name www.extramoneyblog.com contains the later two words of the key phrase.
My other domain www.extramoneyblog.com 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.
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.
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 www.pepsi.com, 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 www.coolcola.com rather than www.thebestsoda.com 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.
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 www.dubai-information-site.com. My main keyword is “Dubai Information”, but since it wasn’t available, I had to pick the best one I could.
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.
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 www.cleancookinghabits.com, you might also want to get www.cleancookinghabbits.com. Notice the extra “b” in the latter, which is a common misspelling of the word habit. Similarly, if you own www.shoesforless.com, you might want to consider getting www.shoes4less.com.
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.
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.
When it comes to niche websites, the keyword research you conduct will usually dictate your success as the website evolves.
I have repeatedly written that the internet is one big playground of keywords, and therefore ranking high on search engines is one big game of keywords.
Each time someone searches for a keyword, search engines scour the internet and find web pages that are focused on that particular “keyword”.
Since there are a million web pages competing for the same keyword, how do the engines decide which webpage to rank higher relative to another? There are several factors that are taken into consideration, but none more that search engine optimization (SEO), which is essentially a strategic use of your selected keywords.
“On page” SEO is really no more than utilizing targeted keywords in specific places of your web pages in a very specific manner. Keywords are used in your website’s domain name, individual web page file names, meta data such as title, keyword and description tags, within the body of the web pages or blog posts, as well as anchor texts for linking purposes.
Keyword research is how I start with establishing a niche content website. Proper keyword research involves learning keyword supply, demand and potential for profitability.
Supply refers to the number of competing web pages online that compete for a particular keyword, and demand represents the number or searches people are conducting within a specific timeframe.
It is after a detailed keyword research exercise that I am able to put together an architectural blueprint for my website. This is essentially the skeletal system of my website, which lays out the main pages that will be linked to my home page (called tier 2 pages) and the web pages linked to them (called tier 3 pages).
I understand that targeting everything you publish online for specific keywords may sound impractical if you are running a blog, although it is possible. A better application of this discussion however is relevant to a static content or a niche website.
So when building your next website, you can either go with your gut and target keywords you think should be targeted and might do well with, or you can research the hottest keywords and guarantee that you definitely do well.
In a subsequent post, I plan on discussing the best keyword research tool as well as the one I use when planning my niche websites.
What about you, do you consider keyword research a critical component of your success online? Why or why not? What methods have worked best for you?