Everyone who knows something about SEO will tell you that the eventual SERP ranking of your website depends on its content quality and back-link profile. A technical SEO expert will probably lean more into the direction of usability, mobile optimization, and other technical terms.
However, very few people, at least outside the industry, consider domain name as one of the major deciding factors determining how high Google will rank one website, which is, of course, a mistake.
But, in which way exactly does this relationship work and, even more importantly, how can you use the domain name to boost SEO rankings? Let us try to find out.
Branded domains have always been seen as an excellent way to improve the brand image and corporate authority.
Of course, the overall success of this effort will depend on the name of your brand, but even as it is, if you choose the domain name that closely resembles your brand, you will let your visitors know what they’re up for from the get-go.
Speaking strictly in terms of SEO, this strong brand identity cuts the bounce rate and leads to much longer retention times. Both these factors have a very strong influence on SEO rankings.
From a branding perspective, choosing a catchy brand name as your website domain can increase the sentimental value of your brand and strengthen its corporate identity.
Leveraging domain extensions
Although domain extensions influence SEO rankings only in an indirect manner, they can have a great influence on the CTR (click-through rate), which is yet another important SEO ranking factor. So how does this exactly work?
Well, some domain extensions inherently draw more clicks when they are noticed on the page.
Some of the best examples are .info pages which draw users by offering some sort of useful information. Another good example can be found in a .me personal domain, which always draws a lot of attention and allows fun and engaging wordplay.
That being said, it is good to know that Google’s ranking algorithm no longer favors more established and authoritative domains like .com and .org, so you are free to explore all the options that can increase the CTR of your website.
Using keywords for the domain name
Some time ago (before major 2012 Google’s ranking algorithm overhaul), relevant keywords used as a domain name had a massive role in creating the link between search terms and the website name, boosting the CTR and ranking the website higher on the SERP.
These days, Google’s AI considers far more factors and puts a much stronger focus on reliable and quality content, but keywords can still nudge your website a couple of places upwards.
This strategy can be especially fruitful for smaller businesses that still can’t rely on sheer brand recognition to push their CTR higher.
However, you should remember that there is a very fine thin line between using keywords in a clever manner and spamming.
History of the domain
In order for some domain to rank high on Google’s SERP, it has to have a completely clean slate.
If in the previous time the domain was penalized or identified as spam, this history continues to haunt future registrations. This problem can be mitigated by making the public domain info available. But, that’s not all.
The other thing that has a great influence on the ranking of your website is the domain age. Generally speaking, established domains that have a long history of delivering quality content are seen by Google as trustworthy and thus rank higher on the SERP.
How to create an SEO-friendly domain name?
These were some of the major domain-related factors that can influence the final SEO ranking of your website.
However, with the number of these factors clocking at about 200, we offer a couple more tips that will help make your domain name a bit more SEO-friendly and make stronger foundations for digital marketing success:
- Keep it short – A good domain name should be short and catchy. Most of the top-level domains keep the character count under nine.
- Keep it unique – Your goal is to create a name that is impressive, remarkable, and pops up from the crowd. Generic options like yourdentist.com won’t cut it.
- Keep it hard to misspell – This is an obvious one. You don’t want your visitors to go to another website due to minor misspell.
- Keep it relevant and memorable – Out of all things we have previously discussed, these two qualities are probably the hardest to capture. Be that as it may, short, striking and descriptive words like Twitter, Facebook, and BestBuy are what brings the visitors in.
We hope these few suggestions gave you a couple of ideas about the ways you can utilize the domain name of your website to improve its SEO rankings.
As time goes by and Google’s ranking requirements become increasingly complicated, definitive pay-to-win strategies will no longer be possible.
Instead, we have to look at good SERP rankings as a sum of countless smaller efforts. With that in mind, the website domain should be an important part of your SEO strategy.