Choosing a Domain Name for Your Website

Choosing the right domain name for your website (aka website address) is one of the most important things you’ll do. It’s the first step in the process, and it’s crucial to get off on the right foot. Get the foundation right. First time.

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Choosing a Domain Name: What You Should Know

First, it’s important to note that a new domain name may take up to six months to feature in search results. Why? Because new domain names have yet to establish any ‘trustworthiness,’ and need to do time in Google’s mythological “sandbox.” Domains are created and neglected or misused all the time; thus, search engines only ‘promote’ websites that have a degree of credibility. For this reason, free domain names are considered less reliable and are therefore less likely to feature well in search results. Free domains start and close faster than a fly’s life-cycle and therefore, a paid domain that builds credibility over a time is smart SEO.

In creating a new domain name, you have three options.

1. Exact Match Domains (EMDs)

Creating a domain name using the keyword phrase that matches your main business focus. For example, Joe Blog might register premiergadgets.com.au if he sold high-end gadgets.

This approach may produce the best short-term gains for SEO and it once was considered the best way forward in terms of SEO. There is now growing evidence that Google is minimising the effectiveness of EMDs. It is also not the best long-term solution. First, it limits you from diversifying down the road. If Joe Blog wanted to also offer standard gadgets, for example, or even branching out into gizmos, the domain name would no longer reflect his core business. Second, it prevents you from reflecting the brand you are trying to build.

2. Brand Name Domains

Creating a domain name around your business identity or brand. For example, Joe Blog might register joeblogsuppliers.com.au if he hoped to build an identity as a supplier in the gadgets and gizmos industry.

Brands communicate longevity and therefore imbibe trust. Google has gone on record publicly stating the importance of brands and their link to perceived trust.

Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool. Brand affinity is clearly hard-wired. It is so fundamental to human existence that it’s not going away.” (Eric Schmidt, Google CEO)

As you’ve probably gathered by now, the concept of ‘trust’ is massive in the SEO game. Why? Because search engines want to deliver reliable search results to their customers: online searchers like you and me.

As a sole trader, you are your brand and working hard to establish top-class integrity in your business dealings and your online persona is crucial. Although brand-building takes time to achieve, this has better long-term gains for SEO than Option 1. (Corporate brands are not built around personal names, of course. Google and Apple are concise, generic terms that have become powerful household names because of the quality of their product and millions of dollars of advertising. However, learning to think like a brand is the key.)

3. Hybrid (Keyword Brand) Domains

Creating a domain name around your business identity and business focus. For example, Joe Blog might register joebloggadgetsuppliers.com.au if he hoped to build a brand identity as a gadget supplier in the gadgets and gizmos industry.

While this approach attempts to capture the best of both options, diversification limitations may still exist. Coining a concise, generic term would be helpful if you had tons of money to market it, but for small-business sole traders, it is best to build your brand around your personal name and try to include a keyword that reflects your industry.

For this reason, many photographers choose to register domain names like janeblogphotography.com.au or janeblogweddingphotography.com.au. The first name builds an identity around the broader industry photography; the second focuses solely on wedding photography. The latter is more focused, but may prove limited down the road. Jane Blog should choose the second domain name only if she is absolutely certain that her long-term focus is wedding photography. It won’t help if her domain name is built around wedding photography and she’s specialising in newborn photography in five years’ time.

Choosing a Domain Name for your WebsiteFinal thoughts on creating a domain name…

Typically, a domain name should be no longer than 90 characters long, although the shorter the better.

This is more than enough space, however.

For example, http://www.janeblogweddingphotography.com.au is a relatively long URL, but it only has 37 characters. (And if she needed to, she could shave off four characters by registering the domain without the subdomain www. Her URL would simply look like this: http://janeblogweddingphotography.com.au).

According to Australian regulations, an Australian Business Number (ABN) is required in creating a domain name with a .com.au extension, and you’ll need to supply this information upon the registration of your domain name. (The AuDA are the policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for .au domain names.)

Finally, don’t include hyphens in your domain name. While hyphens improve readability in the tail of a URL, like joeblogsuppliers.com/premier-gadgets, it’s considered spammy to use hyphens in the domain itself. (And don’t use any other punctuation like underscores either).

Toggle on this link to learn the important components of a domain name…

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