Exact match domain names used to play an important role in search engine ranking back in the day. Search engines are phasing them out of their results pages and it is no longer good practice to include exact match domain names for SEO purposes. That being said, you should still try to incorporate keywords in your domain name.
Search engines are ranking pages based on user experience. If the website in question ticks all the right boxes for user-friendliness, it will rank higher than websites that attempt to cash in on exact match domains.
Here are a few tips to Choose the Right Domain Name
Chances are, you probably won’t be able to use exact match domain names even if you wanted to because they’re already gone. Your best bet is to settle with something that has the main keywords you want to target along with a catchy name that you can market.
A good example of a business that does this incredibly well is MailChimp.com.
They make use of the main keyword (mail) and tie it up with a catchy word (chimp) that has become synonymous with their brand name.
Here’s what MailChimp teaches us about SEO friendly domain names:
- Keep it short
- Include the root keyword of your target market
- Try not to use duplicates or dashes
- Make the name easy to remember and marketable
Keeping it Short
In general, search engines prefer to rank websites that have shorter domain names. Our example in this case would be MailChimp.com. Here’s a quick analysis on MailChimp using SEMrush:
If it’s annoying to read, pronounce, and type into the URL bar, you should steer clear of it. Of course, you could try going for something like BestMailServiceProviderinTown.com because it’s an excellent long-tail keyword to rank for, it really won’t work for you unless you incorporate the keyword in a blog post.
Users don’t like spelling out an entire sentence when visiting websites. Besides, it almost looks like you’re trying to manipulate Google’s algorithms instead of building a legitimate brand. This is the sure-fire way of getting dismissed by search engines entirely.
Evaluate Your Target Keywords
While you shouldn’t go for exact match domains, your goal should be to include the root keyword in the domain name. For example, if you’re trying to sell a mechanical keyboard online, you want ‘keyboard’ to be in your domain name (for example, KeyboardExperts.com). Once again, try not to get too specific with the keyword because it will limit your branding opportunities in the future.
With the right combination of online and offline marketing, even domain names without keywords can be immensely successful. For example, mailchimp.com rather than bestemailproviderintown.com or Amazon.com instead of bestretailerinhouston.com.
Don’t Make Use of Dashes
Avoid dashes if at all possible. This is because they will appear as copycats of domain names that have already been taken. For example, you should not buy out mail-chimp.com just because mailchimp.com has already been taken. No marketing company worth its salt will ever try to leverage the success of its competitor.
Instead, your main goal should be to grow your brand and increase its reach with online and offline marketing. The same applies to domain name extensions. For example, don’t pick mailchimp.online just because the .com variant has been taken.
If anything, most of your hard-earned prospects will end up going to your competitors out of force of habit. All you need is a catchy domain name with a root keyword to become successful.
Make the Domain Name Memorable
One of the key ingredients of success with domain names is that they should be marketable and catchy. You could be setting yourself up for failure by choosing an exact match domain that is hard to pronounce and remember. Your customers may even get confused with the name of a competitor.
For example, they may type in houstonkeyboardexpert.com instead of keyboardexpertinhouston.com.
When it comes to catchy domain names, you are not limited to .com, .edu, and .info. One big trend is for startups to use creative extensions such as .io or .ly. A few examples include Bit.ly and Leaf.ly. Even though these brands are not using keywords or popular TLDs like .com, they’re still doing phenomenally well with search engine results.
Keyword Domain Names We Should Not Use – 3 Things to Avoid
i) Domain Names that are Too Long
Your goal should be to keep the domain name short and to the point. This will ultimately get people to click on it and visit your website. You have to strike the ideal balance between choosing a unique name and a memorable name. If you choose something too long, people will have difficulty remembering the domain name and you will ultimately lose traffic because of this.
ii) Domain Names That Contain Numbers
Some brands include numbers in their domain names to stand out from the crowd. Unless the number happens to be your brand name, incorporating numbers in your domain is always a bad idea. Let’s suppose that you want to communicate the fact that you have the best mechanical keyboards in Houston. You may be tempted to make your domain name something like number1keyboard.com.
This may appear as the perfect domain name. But what would happen if a large percentage of your customers instead type out, numberonekeyboard.com? Unless you buy out that keyword too and redirect it to number1keyboard.com, you will miss out on a lot of potential traffic. In our opinion, it is best to leave numbers out of the domain name altogether.
iii) Domain Name is Too Similar to Existing Domain Names
Before you choose a domain name, make sure it isn’t familiar to domain names that are already out there. For example, you shouldn’t take an existing domain name and add an ‘s’ to the end of it. If anything, you’re subconsciously letting your prospects know that the original brand was good enough for you to start copying them.
Feel we missed out on an important point? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update this list.