There was once a time when exact match domains (EMD) were enough to help rank your website. For those uninitiated, these are websites that have matched search terms in their domain names. So for instance, if you are making a search for “cheap hotel rates”, a website which uses cheaphotelrates.com is considered to fall under the EMD category.
However, Google realised that a lot of these websites are not providing high quality content. In fact, these websites even look like they were made by 7th graders during their practical arts class. There were not supporting high quality elements to backup their use of the search words, and so Google began thinking: what if we change things up and rank websites based on quality and content, rather than just the use of keywords.
And so in 2012, Google rolled out an update that would effectively drop the rankings of websites which does not show relevance and value, and boost websites with good quality content on top of a fair keyword density, and an overall website design that looks pleasing. Right now it seems, in effect, domain names does not have quite the effect that in your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts.
Well, not exactly. In this article, we will explore how domain is still impacting your online marketing efforts and how you can take advantage of it.
Domain Name’s Contribution to ranking
Some marketers will tell you that domain names do not have an effect on ranking anyway, you do not need to make an effort in securing your preferred name through a domain check, or do a backorder if it has been taken by another webmaster. Just go with whatever clever name you want, that is trend anyways.
That is exactly what is going to harm your ranking. While a domain name may not contribute in the overall ranking of your website, it offers the following advantages:
- Established branding
- High clickthrough rates
And the way it assists in boosting your ranking is through its brand signal. Remember that you want your brand identity to show on your domain, too. It needs to be memorable and relevant to your industry, and putting in keywords may just be a nuisance.
You do not have to use the keyword in the domain name, just make sure it is utilised within the website at the right density. In this way, when users make a search, the keywords within your page will be bolded, but your domain name will remain on brand.
Creating a brandable domain
Brandable domain names are simply domains that are not infused with keywords, rather, they only reference the nature of the business or industry without necessarily mentioning search terms. Here is how you can start creating a brandable domain name:
- Make sure it is not too complicated
Especially if you are part of a niche group, there will be words or phrases exclusively used in that circle. You can utilise those unique words or phrases by referencing them on your domain name. These may not be keywords, but users who are keen members of your industry or niche group will easily recognise what your business is about just by looking at your domain name.
But this also means that the name should not be too unique that it is very difficult to remember. Note that you are creating online efforts not just to cater to your group, but also to seek out potential clients. So make sure that while you are staying true to the nature of your business, you are also able to attract prospective users to your site.
- Keep it short
Another tip on retention is keeping the domain name short, the most you can go for if it cannot be helped is 3 words (which is already a lot).
- Use a .com extension
A .com extension is the standard and the best choice. You can still purchase other extensions like .co.uk, .au, .net, and so on; but make sure to redirect all of that to your .com extension.
At the end of the day, your branding should be the most important factor when creating a domain name because this is how users will find and remember your company. Sometimes the best brandable domain names have already been registered, but that should not be a concern. Do not hesitate to take the time to brainstorm new ideas with a creative team who can help you further your brand identity.