How Important is a Domain Name for SEO?

Getting a domain name is the first important step towards starting your online journey. After that, you need to work towards making your website established and successful online. For achieving this, SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the most effective method.

Employing SEO tactics helps your website feature in top search results of search engines. Targeting the top spots of the search results through SEO is utmost necessary to be successful online, as most internet users use search engines to find websites and make their buying decisions.

Thus, the online success of your website largely depends on its SEO. But, does your website’s domain name has any effect on SEO?

Actually, these two factors are not exclusive to each other, instead they go hand in hand. A good domain name can complement your SEO efforts to not only drive better but, immensely great results. Search engines like Google, Bing, etc. give due SEO weightage to a domain name based on some specific ranking factors while evaluating your website.

How Does Domain Name Affect Your Website’s SEO?

Search engines use different ranking factors and signals to evaluate the quality of a domain name. Formerly, keywords in domain were a major ranking factor and thus, search engines used to give very high weightage to websites with keyword rich domain names. Then, exact match domains (EMDs) used to perform much better than other domain names.

Now also, domain names with targeted keywords perform well, but only to a certain extent. A study by High Position1 shows that “average EMD ranking has went down from #13.4 to #26.6”.

Now, more factors have come into play that govern the performance of a domain name from SEO point of view. Apart from the keywords, the most important factors that determine the SEO value of a domain name are its recognition as a brand and authority. Google gives high preference to domain names that are an authority in their field. To be precise, Google likes a domain name that has established itself as a brand.

Brand & Authority Domain Name Boosts SEO

Most of us think that SEO is just about keywords and generating backlinks, but the fact is that Google and other search engines like brands2. It is evident from the suggestions by Google when we type in a Search query where it suggests the brands resembling to our query.

Brand Suggestions in General Google Search

Here, it’s worth mentioning a statement by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google.

“Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”

– Eric Schmidt, Former CEO, Google

Not only Google, but we all like brands that are tried and tested because we are hesitant to try something we are unaware of. As Google’s aim is to provide the best possible solution in search results to its users, it emulates the user behavior of having an affinity toward brands.

The authority of a domain name has always been a ranking factor used by search engines. But, now it has gained more importance than ever.

This trend does not mean that keyword rich domain names or EMDs (Exact Match Domains) are not important. In fact, if a keyword rich domain name establishes itself as a brand, then it will get double benefits of being given preference by search engines and getting keyword specific quality backlinks whenever anyone links to it. And, guess what, we all tend to share and link to brands, thus the users also help a brand in generation of backlinks.

How to Choose an SEO-friendly Domain Name?

To choose a good SEO-friendly domain name for your website, you must follow some basic rules that are focused on SEO and branding. They are as follows:

Memorable & Relevant

Your website’s domain name must be easy to remember and relevant to your industry, as a memorable and relevant name lasts long in the user’s memory.

Hard to Misspell

A domain name that is easy to misspell increases the probability of your visitors going away to another website by minute misspells. Due to this very reason, del.icio.us changed its domain name to delicious.com3.

Short

A short domain name is easy to remember, hard to misspell and also brand favorable. Most top websites has, on an average, a 9 letter domain name.

Also, avoid using hyphens in the name, as it is not only confusing but is also seen as spamming by search engines.

Unique

A domain name that sounds unique is easy to be branded, whereas domain names that are more generic like yourecomercestore.com cannot make the powerful impression of a brand. Unique names like Google, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. are highly remarkable, impressive and stands out from the crowd.

Authoritative

Always remember not to choose domain names with words like best, top, etc. Why? Because, if you need to tell people that you are the best, then you are not. Authority is built, not bought and they will also hamper your brand promotion efforts.

gTLD Domain Extension

Choosing a gTLD (Generic TLD) over a .COM is the most effective way to distinguish your website from others for both SEO and branding purposes. Additionally, a gTLD also provides the tag of a specialist in a niche to your website.

Services ZNetLive offer:

Register Domain Name

Linux Shared Hosting

Managed WordPress Hosting

Self Managed VPS Hosting

Self Managed Dedicated Server

The gTLDs are trending and even big brands are increasingly adopting gTLDs. gTLDs are helping them in getting themselves distinguished not only by name, but also by their specialization.

Image - The New gTLDs are Trending

Conclusion

As far as SEO is concerned, the domain name has a huge impact on your SEO efforts. So, choose your website’s domain name with extreme care to make it authoritative and a brand and also to give a boost to your SEO efforts.

Do share your feedback in the comments below.

References

1 Source – A Study on EMDs – High Position
2 Source – Brand, Branding, Brands – SEOBook
3 Source – Why did del.icio.us changed its domain name to delicious.com? – Quora

Relevant Blogs

Pavan

Pavan takes care of clients’ communication at ZNetLive. He has a deep understanding of email techniques and best practices and keeps looking for new and innovative approaches to interact with clients as per their needs. An avid reader with an interest in writing, he can be found researching latest technologies when free. Meet him on Google+.
Pavan