Our online marketing clients often ask us to help select domain names when setting up a new website. Indeed, there is an argument that the domain name may impact search engine rankings for the site. But we also think this decision deserves a lot of attention to how it will impact the website's user experience, from the impression it creates when it's first noticed to how easily it's remembered. I'll share with you a few of the things we tell clients here.
There are several things to consider when selecting a web address. Also called a URL or domain name, your web address should meet these following criteria.
Easy to remember - This includes the order of the words as well as the words themselves. (Was that davisroberts.com or robertdavis.com?) If possible, it should be descriptive of your business, so it helps explain what visitors should expect.
Easy to spell - Avoid words that people commonly have trouble spelling. It'll save you misery when you're trying to give your URL over the phone and help avoid typos in any press coverage you get, too.
Contains keywords (your industry, location, etc.) - While it's sometimes debated whether there are any optimization benefits, all things equal, it may help. Use hyphens to separate the words so the search engines can recognize the separate words (seo-advantage.com versus seoadvantage.com). But make sure you buy both versions, so you can redirect any people who enter your URL without the hyphens.
Brief - What's a good length? Well, that depends. Don't sacrifice the other criteria just to have a short URL - your initials, for example, are not going to carry a lot of benefit unless your business is very famous (GM.com, for example). But don't make your web address so long and full of keywords that people will confuse the order or leave out words if they're trying to enter it directly. Consider that it should also look good on your business cards, brochures and other marketing materials.
The web address you choose will be influenced by your business name and situation. If your company is well known or its name already meets some of the criteria above, you'll be best off simply using your business-name.com or businessname.com. After all, that's your brand, and you want to build it to the max. Another thing to keep in mind is that you can purchase multiple domain names that you think people may try to type in to find you and then point them all at your main address.
Some final advice: Get impressions from a few people before you settle on your web address. You never know what a set of new eyes can pick up that you might have missed. We wouldn't have these hilarious URLs to poke fun at if the owners had done that: Experts Exchange: www.expertsexchange.com; IP Anywhere: www.ipanywhere.com; Speed of Art; www.speedofart.com...you get the idea!
See examples and other things to consider in these informative articles by other authors:
Stone Reuning is president and founder of SEO Advantage, Inc., an online marketing firm and website optimization company that helps businesses turn their websites into powerful lead and revenue generation tools.
Beginning with a focus on search engine optimization in 1999, SEO Advantage now brings a full multi-disciplinary approach to each client website. Clients enjoy dominance on Google, Yahoo and Bing through a suite of unique pay-for-performance search engine optimization and online marketing services. Experts in SEO, social media optimization, online reputation management, and website conversions work hand-in-hand with small business owners and client marketing departments providing complete copywriting and creative web design support.
You'll find SEO Advantage referenced in books such as Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale and the BusinessWeek bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR, as well as popular ebooks like The Small Business Blogging Blueprint.
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