How And Why To Choose An Effective Domain Name
- Often the crucial goal is obtaining that first click on SERPs. Once the user has opened a site, there is a good chance they will have found what they are looking for (because Google is an excellent librarian) and not go back to look at other sites.
- If you know your audience are looking for a fun, creative service, then your brand voice—reflected in your domain name—should show them you have those qualities.
- It’s important never to limit yourself to thinking of your domain as just a typed word, especially with voice search growing in popularity.
Think of Google as a librarian—this is something of a mantra in the world of SEO, or at least in the Go Up office. It helps us explain the way google stores website information, and how it organises and presents this information to users on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Sticking with this, our favourite analogy, we are going to look at the importance of creating an outstanding domain name, and identify the key rules for doing so.
Why does the domain name matter?
In search, we do judge books by the cover.
When we look at how a website appears in SERPs, it can be helpful to think of them as books stacked up on a shelf. As we browse, we read each page title and domain name just as we would the spine of a book; only if it looks like what we’re looking for do we choose to open it.
If a domain name fails to convey information about the website contents, purpose and relevance to the user query, then it could find itself being pushed to the bottom of the pile. Your domain name should be able to convey all of this in a succinct and creative way. This will earn you the interaction and recommendations to put your website pride of place on Google SERP shelf.
Here are some of the most important domain name rules to get you standing out, attracting traffic and becoming a best seller.
Make it relevant…
Congratulations, your website has been filed correctly by the brilliant Google librarian, and your website is appearing in search for the right keywords. However, if your service and content is disguised by a nonsensical domain name, then your site could easily be overlooked by a user in search.
This is, in part, because where the connection between query and result is obvious, we expect the site to be a better, more authoritative resource. If the user can’t work that out straight away, they will choose to click on a different site.
Therefore, if you were setting up a pancake delivery service, for example, the domain name ‘shrovestack.com’ might not be obvious straight away. A better choice would almost certainly better be ‘pancakeporter.com’.
Often the crucial goal is obtaining that first click on SERPs. Once the user has opened a site, there is a good chance they will have found what they are looking for (because Google is an excellent librarian) and not go back to look at other sites. That’s why it is so important to have a clear, relevant domain.
… Just not too relevant
Do not confuse relevance with being keyword rich. If you become too focused on targeting keywords in your brand name then you may end up with exact match domains (EMD) – a generic string of keywords which do not create a strong brand. Both users and search engines have begun to associate EMDs with spammy content and poor authority websites.
In fact, when we think of some of the top domains and brands, there are numerous examples of highly successful names which are keyword free. Relevance encompasses everything from industry terms, semantics and brand tone.
If you know your audience are looking for a fun, creative service, then your brand voice—reflected in your domain name—should show them you have those qualities. Relying on users to work out clever word associations, or pick up on industry related terms also means thinking carefully about your target audience. For B2B industry specialists, niche terminology isn’t likely to damage traffic, but for services with a wider audience, it may pay to be straightforward.
Whisking together some more ideas for your pancake business: the name ‘pancakedelivery.com’ isn’t quite as fun as your customer might want. It does the job, but it’s not a brand. ‘flipsidedelivery.com’, on the other hand, is accessible without being too obvious, making it a stronger brand.
Pronounceable is memorable
Back to the Google library. When we happen across a difficult name or alien title, it tends not to stick and we tend not to engage. A domain name is no different. Even a stunningly clever name can be rendered useless if it isn’t immediately clear to the user how the name is pronounced. This will suffocate your chances of becoming a memorable domain, or a household brand.
It’s important never to limit yourself to thinking of your domain as just a typed word, especially with voice search growing in popularity. Anything which threatens to make the pronunciation of your domain less clear, such as disruptive placement of characters, numbers and punctuation may make for a less effective domain.
A study by a User Experience agency, they found that difficult domains led to a greater tendency among users to find the site using keyword searches, rather than branded search. It is therefore particularly important for long confusing or long domain names, to make sure their domain name corresponds with their service and content.
A hungry user trying to remember a recommendation for ‘galettegazelle247delivery.com’ might struggle to read, compute and remember the brand quickly and easily. If this site was optimised poorly, with too much mention of the brand name it may start appearing in search for ‘gazelle food’. This could drive up the sites bounce rate, which could in turn harm the entire website.
We want to avoid stifling what should be a highly creative process with too many rules; let these guides be the start of your marketing homework. With a bit of luck they will leave you with more than just a hankering for pancakes and get you thinking about what the Google librarian and web users will read into your brand from your domain name.