Choosing a domain name is one of the first decisions people launching a new website have to make. Even though the name is not a ranking factor in its own right, it affects the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM). What is more, domain represents the name of the website, and is an integral part of how the internet functions. It does not require advanced internet knowledge and technical expertise to realize what kind the role it has on the big online stage.domain name seo

A name to remember

To understand the importance of domain names, one must first get into the basic factors that affect them. Those are memorability, keyword and SEO potential. We shall focus on the second factor, as it leads to understanding the real SEO value of domain names. So, the first thing to note is that those containing frequently searched keywords are the cream of the crop because they drive traffic from the mighty search engines.

You could say that names may have predefined popularity and inherent worth. However, they do not give a considerable boost to the ranking on their own.

Instead, keywords that appear in a top level domain (TLD) serve as a relevancy signal, while the ones in a subdomain provide a slight boost.  The trick, of course, is to purchase a name that features targeted keywords, not just any ones. Exact match domains (EMDs) are popular because they perfectly echo the keyword phrase you are targeting. Yet, they are less beneficial than before, and this trend might reach new depths in the future.

This means that keyword potential should not be your only concern when pinpointing the appropriate domain name.

That being said, premium keywords can increase the click-through rates (CTRs) on ads and SERP listings. Namely, ads that contain a generic domain name, with a keyword that is an exact match to the product, perform better than alternative generic or non-generic domains. Furthermore, prime domain names tend to be shorter, up to six letters, due to the fact that they are more memorable.

Now, notice that these benefits depend on the volume of search that certain keywords generate. Therefore, a proper research is needed in order to find out what rewards you may hope to reap. Also, you can expect the vast majority of premium keywords to be registered, making them hard to obtain.

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Extended universe

Another thing to keep in mind is the domain extension. In most cases, a .com extension is the best one money can buy, and 75% of all websites have it as a suffix.  Still, as we pointed out, they are not easy to get. For that reason, a multitude of new generic top-level domains were introduced.

Today it is possible to domain hack a name that uses an extension as a part of the word or phrase, which usually shortens the URL. Examples of such killer combinations with country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) are Find.ME, Hire.ME,Around.ME, Fund.ME, etc. In this case, by utilising .me domain, these addresses convey a point without being too bulky. What is more, Google itself prefers sites with local server IPs and domain name extensions that are country-specific.

Keywords, however, do not give you the whole picture of domain name’s nature. The final piece of the puzzle is commercial interest. For example, a funny phrase is not as valuable as a word that is related to an established product or a brand.

The domain name is a foundation upon which branding process takes place, so make sure you pick a “brandable” name. It determines how the customers will find, remember and perceive your business. One other thing about brands is that Google adores them. They give this corporate giant a map showing where in the immense cesspool lies a buried treasure and what parts are to be marked as trash.  

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Choosing a domain name is one of the most important aspects of establishing an online identity. Thus, a domain name should reflect your brand, and capture the message you are trying to communicate. We all want a domain name that is memorable, short and includes some popular keyword. But, if you want to go cheap, you might as well be looking for a needle in a haystack. When you do find a suitable one, you should not hesitate to bid for it at an auction site or acquire it from the owner himself. Hot domain names are worth thousands of dollars, but they are also an investment worth making.

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