What’s In a Name? What Your Domain Name Says About You

William Shakespeare once asked, through the dialogue in Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name?” I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about domain names. But the question still stands. Just how much power can you get from a quality domain name? And what does your domain name say about you? You’d be surprised at how a quality domain name can make—or break—your online presence. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at everything that should go into your domain name: “Dot Com” or “Dot…Whatever”? Like it or not, “.com” is one of the most trusted domain types on the internet. It is and it has been. It’s where many of the world’s largest websites are located. Chances are, you’ve visited several .com’s just today—and very few “.net” or “.us” domains. This isn’t to say that you can’t have a viable website that comes on a different type of suffix. But if you want to put your best foot forward, try and spring for the “.com.” This is the easy part. All you have to do is go to a hosting company like Bluehost or GoDaddy and type in some ideas for “.com” domains. (Note: they might try to sell you on some alternate domain suffixes. But don’t give up.) There, you can find out if the domain name of your choice is still available with that suffix. If not, don’t despair. There’s still a lot you can do to optimize your web address—even if you don’t end up with your first choice. The One Word that Matters Most in Your Domain No matter what your domain is, there’s one word that’s ultimately going to matter most with search engines: Trust. You need a domain that a search engine like Google can “trust.” But to explore exactly what that means, let’s look at a domain Google might not trust first. Do you think Google trusts a website with a strange title like “important-keyword-or-keyphrase-here.com”? One that you just set up this morning? Of course not. Heck, would you trust it? The opposite of that domain name is a short, simple, established domain. Something that Google knows wasn’t set up overnight in an effort to spam the internet. True: you can’t build trust overnight. If you’re starting with a fresh domain name, you can’t expect that you’ll automatically have rankings and traffic aplenty from scratch. But there’s an old Chinese saying that the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago—and the second best time is now. Fortunately, there are ways around this, if you want to take the time and money to ensure you start on the right foot with the best possible domain name for your business. Relevant Keywords in Your Domain Although relevant keywords in your domain don’t matter as much as they used to, they still matter. Not only do relevant keywords attract people who are searching for those keywords in the first place, but they make it clear what a link pointing your way is all about. The problem is when companies over-stuff their domain names with keywords. (See the example above. It’s not a good look.) Take the time to do some keyword research and see if there’s a domain out there that might still be unused—something that you can really sink your teeth into. If you can’t squeeze three keywords into that domain name, it’s not a big deal. In fact, look at the many domain names that have no keywords in their domain—they simply build a brand and make their brand the keyword. The “key” point here? Be flexible. Chances are, if you’re aiming for a particular key phrase, someone already thought of it. You might have to put your creative hat on and think of something a little more outside the box to pull it off. But if you want keywords in your domain, then it’s worth taking the extra time to poke around. And one extra “key”: don’t push it. You can go crazy trying to come up with a keyword-rich domain name that isn’t already taken. And this can result in some bad decisions. A good domain will be simple—if you put too much thought into constructing it, it can become convoluted and difficult to remember. Why Simplicity is King “Google” is an example of a great domain name. It’s simple, to the point, and when you think of “Google.com,” you have an absolutely specific page in mind. You’ll want to incorporate some of the same principles into the domain for your own website. Here’s what you need:
  • Ease of spelling. Is your domain easy to spell? Once someone hears it in a radio ad, for example, would they be able to type it in from memory? “leadPops.com” is an example of a domain that you’ll remember after hearing just once. It includes two simple, easy-to-spell words—words that stick with you.
  • Google is memorable. Bing is memorable. Think about how many times it took you to remember “Bing” after hearing about it for the first time. It wasn’t exactly a struggle, was it? You probably heard “Bing,” learned it was a search engine, and that was the end of the story. That’s by design. Good companies know memorability is important in domains as well as brand names.
  • Avoiding numbers. “Mortgages4U” is not exactly a phrase that conveys the professionalism you want to promote. Throw “.us” on there and you’re likely to get reported to the FBI or DHS. Something like “SanDiegoRealEstate12” doesn’t look so hot either. Go for a domain that’s unique enough it won’t require you add numbers.
The mantra “K.I.S.S.” applies here: keep it simple, stupid. The more simple your domain is, the better. And if you can’t fit in the keywords you want, use this rule of thumb: it’s better to be simple and unique than to have the absolute best keyword in your domain. Putting Together Your Domain Name With all of this advice, you still have to have the creativity to bring it all together. How do you bring together different elements like memorability and simplicity? What if your company has a long name that’s a bit tough to remember and/or spell? It’s simple: think of your domain as your online brand. It’s great if your brand already has a simple company name built into it—for consistency’s sake. But when putting together a list of potential domain names, you don’t always need to do that, especially if your company name isn’t very domain-friendly. Sit down and generate a list of ideas. Put them on a spreadsheet. Give them each ranks for different categories: simplicity, memorability, etc. Finally, when you’ve done that, see if there’s an available domain that hits as many of the categories as possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be good—and something you can live with for years as you build up your online presence. What’s in a domain name? If you really want quality traffic, the answer is: an awful lot. And once you have that set up, don’t forget to sign up for a free trial of leadPops to make the most out of that fantastic new domain name.
Andrew Pawlak

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