What You Need to Know about Choosing a Domain Name with SEO and User Experience in Mind

July 4, 2018 Simon Hopes | Comments Off

Are you thinking of buying a new domain name for an e-commerce website?

Getting a new domain name is one of the most critical decisions business owners need to make and one that must not be taken lightly. It can be a good idea to take the decision in consultation with an online marketing agency who are more experienced in picking a domain name which makes a website easier to rank.

Before deciding on a new domain name, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is domain name a ranking factor?
  • Should your domain name contain keywords?
  • What domain extensions should I get (e.g. .com, .org, .au) and does it matter?

The questions mentioned above are all valid concerns and well worth considering. However, before we go over the answers, it would be best to redirect our focus on things that matter. In the current web marketing landscape, rankings are a big part of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). It’s why SEO companies in Sydney spend countless hours examining keyword data, website logs and other best practices intended to help a website get ahead on search engine results pages. What most people fail to realise is that SEO is more about the experience and less about rankings. That journey starts with picking a good domain name for your website.

Branding + target audience = your domain name

The first thing that you need to consider is to pick a domain name that relates to your brand and at the same time to your target audience. Put yourself in the shoes of these people and ask yourself what name will pique their interest should they see your domain name listed in the search engine results page.

Some businesses focus on names that are spirited or gimmicky and easy to remember. Others opt for names that their customers can relate to or are relevant to the products or services that they offer. In any case, you understand your target audience best which is why you should not leave the decision to anyone else. Business owners have the best insight on what domain name resonates best with their target audience.

Proper URL structure

If there is one other thing that would matter more to search engines than your domain name, it is the URL structure of your website.  It’s a good practice to have something like https://www.example.com/your-product-or-service/ and not https://www.example.com/bdfsudh2-fbfbd/378834dbdusd/.

URLs need to be descriptive and straightforward to help both users and search engines understand what your website has to offer. Also, an intuitive URL structure helps facilitate good click-through rates as people are more likely to click on your site when it is easy for them to understand what it is about.

HTTPs vs. HTTP

Ensure that the domain you are getting is on HTTPs. It does not matter whether you are operating a blog or a full e-commerce website that collects personal and financial information from users, it pays to adopt a standard that people expect and trust. More importantly, HTTPs is now a ranking factor used by Google and will help your website rank well on search engine results page.

Starting from scratch

If possible, pick a brand/domain name that is unique. From a user experience perspective, if your brand name is fairly common, it can lead to confusion. Take the time to check if the domain name that you are interested in is similar to one that already exists. The last thing you need is to get stuck with a domain name that most people already associate with another brand or is one they cannot associate to the brand name you are trying to establish.

Domain name extension

Earlier, there were only a handful of choices when it came to domain name extensions — .com, .org, .gov and .edu. Today, we have a lot more options thanks to ICANN’s (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) approval of new TLDs (top-level domains).

In Google’s eyes, all TLDs are equal, and search engines will not necessarily favour or penalise you for choosing one over the other. Still, you have to make sure that the domain extension you select makes good sense from a branding point of view and is relatable to your users.

History

If you are buying an existing domain name, you need to consider its history. Was the domain name that you are interested in buying ever penalised for breaching any of Google’s quality guidelines? What sort of backlinks does it currently have? It is often best to choose a domain name that is new. Working on issues that made the previous owner drop the domain name in the first place is almost always not worth the effort.

Keywords in the Domain

In the past, it was a common practice to pick a domain name that closely matches the product or service on offer as it offered some advantage in organic searches. Nevertheless, too many folks exploited this method to set up spammy, low-quality websites.

In 2012, Google released the Precise Match Domain algorithm to punish thin or low-quality sites with precise match domain. So rather than fretting about search engines when choosing a domain name, pick something that is relatable to your users and gain their trust. Find a name that will help users recognise your web pages in search engine results.

Conclusion

So there you have it — a few important things that you need to think about when picking a domain name. We have gone through the factors mentioned above with user experience in mind. It never hurts to have a firm grasp of SEO best practices when picking a domain name but user experience matters more than the question of whether something is a ranking signal or not.