The Common Mistake
Let's look at how this can have an impact on a Web site. Joe Smith sets up a Web site selling plastic widgets and proudly registers the domain name "JoeSmith.com." This is a common practice, especially among smaller companies or entrepreneurs running their online businesses from home. However, Joe should also register a domain name that contains keywords that relate to the products he sells.
By having keywords in a domain name, Joe will do a lot more to help his site rank higher on the search engines than using his own name alone. What Joe needs to do is also register "plasticwidgets.com" or "plastic-widgets.com" and have those domain names point to the same site. A domain name with keywords embedded will do wonders, not only in achieving higher positioning on the search engines, but also in becoming more effective at informing a potential customer what the Web site sells. Now when a search is carried out for plastic widgets, Joe's Web site is more likely to be displayed, as the domain name contains a match for the searched item.
Achieving the Advantage Without Spamming
You can easily test this strategy by going to any search engine and entering a popular search term. You will see that the Web sites displayed on the first few pages often have domain names filled with keywords. The search engines read the keywords in the domain name when reviewing the rest of the site. If two Web sites are equal, the one with keywords in a domain name will more likely be ranked higher.
When employing this technique it is important to remember not to submit both domain names to the search engines as you could end up being categorized as a spammer trying to get both domains listed for the same site. The consequences of this would likely mean that neither domain name gets registered by the search engines. The advice is to submit the optimized domain name to the search engines and leave the official domain name for your business cards and letterheads.
Are the Best Domain Names Gone?
If you have been to a domain name registrar recently, you have probably noticed that a lot of the good domain names have already been taken. If you are looking for a ".com," you will more than likely give up in frustration before finding the name you want. The key thing to remember is that while most consumers only remember ".com," the search engines treat all domain extensions the same. Consequently, ".net," ".tv" and ".biz" are all treated exactly the same by the major search engines. These lesser used extensions open up a greater opportunity for registering a domain name that contains keywords relevant to the Web site. Follow my advice and register a ".com" as well for all other forms of marketing and you will achieve the best of both worlds.
April 4, 2002
Internet marketing consultant Andy Beal has provided online marketing advice to thousands of companies including, Motorola, NBC, Lowes and Quicken Loans and is a trusted resource for The Washington Post, LA Times, Dow Jones, NPR and CNBC. Andy provides consulting services on search engine optimization, business blogging and online reputation management. Read his blog and request a free consultation at Marketing Pilgrim.
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