Before You Build That Site
It is important that search engine optimization (SEO) starts before you build your Website. Before a single line of HTML is written. Why is that? There are many structural and architectural considerations that can have a profound impact on your search engine ranking. SEO needs to be “baked into” your Website design.
If you build the Website and then consult an SEO specialist, you are likely going to have changes to make. Such changes may prove expensive. Save yourself time and money and use a Web development company that includes SEO as part of your Website project. Last week we covered the importance of keywords. To summarize, you need a list of keywords that a would-be customer might use to try and find businesses to meet a need. You want them to find your site rather than a competitor. You need to step into the customer’s shoes and try to think like they think when picking keywords. Pepper your content and, where possible, internal links throughout your Website.
For this edition of the WebPorch.net blog we will explore the importance of your domain name. Your domain name is very important as it has an impact on SEO and branding and there is much to consider.
Where possible and helpful you want to include keywords in your domain name. Your Website should also contain lots of internal links that use your keywords.
There’s so much that goes into branding that we cannot cover it here. For SEO purposes, you want your brand name to be memorable and it is important to make a connection to your online presence. Brand names composed purely of keywords will not be memorable. If you defined “burger”, “fast”, and “quick” as keywords for your site, is it reasonable to expect a would-be customer to easily distinguish between FastBurger.com and QuickBurger.com? Probably not.
Here’s how trade-mark law breaks it down. There are six different categories of branding words
1. Fanciful – made up words such as “Ebay”
2. Arbitrary – real words but unrelated context such as “Subway”, “Amazon” and “Apple”
3. Suggestive – not direct but close like “The Home Depot” or “Pep Boys Automotive”
4. Descriptive – describes the business overtly such as “Auction House” “Guitar Center”
5. Generic – Names that describe exactly such as “Rent.com” and “Books.com”
As a rule, fanciful, arbitrary and suggestive brand names are more memorable and they are easier to protect in a court of law. Descriptive and generic brand names are generally not very good. They hard to distinguish and do not hold up in a court of law.
Another important consideration for your Website domain name is the type of top level domain you choose
Top Level Domain (TLD)
What do we main by TLD? There are different kinds of top-level domains. You’ve seen them before as the right-most part of any Website address. Here are a few:
You want to be careful in this selection as people are easily confused. For example, it is estimated that as many as 10% of would-be Website visitors will type yourdomain.com rather than yourdomain.net.
When choosing the TLD we first establish whether we want a generic top-level domain (gTLD) or a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) or a generic with country code (gccTLD). Using a country code indicates you only intend to operate in that particular country. Here are some ccTLD values you may have seen:
Here’s a good example of a domain that uses a gccTLD:
Such a domain name will rank high on searches in the United Kingdom but will not outside of the United Kingdom. If you are doing business in the United Kingdom this is of course desirable. But if you have an international business then you do NOT want to use a country code unless, like amazon, you have a different domain for each country you are operating within.
In general, if a TLD is not a country-code, Google treats it as generic when indexing your Website pages.
Other Domain Name Considerations
A couple of points about name format are also important
If you own SamAshMusic.com you also want to own Sam-Ash-Music.com and map both to the same site.
Never use underscores in your domain name. Google treats underscores as another character when indexing a page, but treats dashes as a word separator.
Wrapping Up Domain Name
Remember, the point to your domain name isn’t to be clever or ingenious. You want would-be customers to be able to find you. Like the keywords list that was described in the previous blog, you want to put yourself in your would-be customer’s shoes and try to think about how to go about finding your site.
It’s a good exercise to identify a few possible domain names for your Website. Share the list with friends, family, perhaps even customers! Ask them to rank them by what seems most memorable. Some businesses have even run contests where customers suggest domain names and the winning suggestion wins a prize.