When you create a company, you spend a lot of time defining the overall goal. Yes, you start by creating a detailed list of your products and services. But fairly quickly, you begin defining your marketing and your sales.
Without profits, there is no business. And in today’s world, you have to get your name out there to increase traffic and bring in the sales.
We talk a lot about SEO here on our blog. We write about the importance of quality content, keywording, and understanding search intent. But there’s one more piece of the SEO puzzle that doesn’t get a lot of attention: domain names.
Does your domain name affect SEO?
In short, yes, it does. Google ranks every page online using proprietary ranking methods. Domain name is just one of the pieces of that process.
When you’re first starting a business, you focus on the name to tell your customers who you are and what you’re all about. Choosing a domain name is a part of that process.
For years, people chose domain names to reflect the industry rather than focus on the company itself. That’s how sites like Hotel.com, Insurance.com, Flowers.com and more got started. And that made sense in the beginning. When people went online for the very first time, typing products or services seemed like a good pathway. Eventually, it went too far.
Does it really make sense to have a domain name like: PortlandHotelOnMacadamStreet.com? Of course not. Which is why we now see domain names matching a company’s business name, product, or service, rather than resembling keywords only.
If you use in-demand keywords, Google may even penalize you because of your choice in domain names. GetRichQuickly.com might seem like a good choice, but Google might not agree.
How to maximize your domain name for overall SEO results
If you’ve paid attention to all we have to say about ensuring your content is high quality, then it will come as no surprise to you when we say the same rule applies to your domain name. It’s crucial your domain name resembles your brand. DMG – Digital Mark Group – uses the domain name DigitalMarkGroup.com for ease of use. It’s identifiable because it’s our company name, and thus lowers the barrier of entry when people look for us online.
What Google does pay attention to is how many clicks it takes to find you. It watches how easy people locate you, and once they do, how easily they move around. When they come back, can they type in your domain name without a lot of thought? Or is it something they get stuck on and have to Google you again? This strategy benefits you on both levels, ranking well in Google and solidifying your name with your customers.
Does TLD affect SEO?
TLD refers to top-level domains. For most people in business, they choose to do business as a .com. The other global TLDs are .org and .net.
The official list of top-level domains is maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). While initially there were less than two hundred TLDs available for use, as of June 2019, that has grown to 1530. If you can get a .com, it’s your best course of action.
Overall, your domain name extension has no impact on your SEO ranking. The only exception is if you use a country-code top level domain. For example, a .uk would let your customers know you’re a United Kingdom company, and your website would be given higher priority for placement with UK searchers.
While domain name extensions don’t have any bearing on SEO, they do impact how memorable your company is to your prospects and customers. You know this if you have a favorite site that ends with a domain name extension other than .com. How many times have you mistakenly typed it in with the .com? That can be hazardous to your business if your competition comes up instead.
Another word of warning is that .biz and .info started out with the best of intentions, but now they are most frequented by hard-core sellers. Because these domain name extensions were bought purposely for marketing and sales, they often have a negative connotation. And depending on who owned it before you purchased it, you might have to overcome a lot of negativity to make it a valuable domain name.
Does changing your domain name affect SEO?
If you’ve been in business awhile, you might be thinking about a rebranding project. You’ve grown your business, changed your focus, and desire to move forward with a cleaner, clearer brand.
For a lot of people, that includes changing their domain names. But if you know anything about online traffic and SEO, you might also be considering how detrimental that could be to your business.
While there are reasons to change your URL, or even to change the focus of your website, it can impact the placement of your rankings. The main reason for this is because the links to your old site’s content will no longer work. Search rank is an AI driven process. You can’t explain it to an individual and get a pass for your business changes. Instead, Google will spider your site, looking for what was once there, discover it’s missing, and categorize it as “dead” links.
That can destroy your SEO and lower page rank, meaning all the work you’ve done in the past will no longer help you be findable online.
If you are rebranding and will have a new domain name, there is a way to let Google know of your change.
1. Backup your current site in its entirety.
2. Upload your old site to your new domain.
3. Inform Google about the change. Google understands businesses grow and change. The Google Search Console is designed for you to access your old domain name and walk through the process of submitting a request for change to your new domain. It will run tests to make sure everything is in order. Once approved, all rankings will continue based on your new domain name.
Still think your domain name isn’t important to your business and search engine ranking? Not sure where to go from here? We can help.
While not one of the top things Google looks at when deciding where to rank your traffic, it can have a major impact if you take action in the wrong manner.
Do you have any more questions about how domain name impacts your SEO strategy?