Are you getting ready to launch your brand new website or blog? Before you do, remember that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) unavoidably begins with your first site/post and only grows more important from there. This is not going to be a big SEO story, but it is meant to help you understand how you start your own SEO before you ever start your website or blog.
One of the most important, easiest, and overlooked SEO rules is the domain name (URL) that you choose for your business. As you may already know, some of the best Search Engine Optimization points comes from the length of time your domain name has been on the internet. Longevity is so simple - just pick the right domain name the first time and stick with it.
Are the words you choose for your domain name meaningful? What does your URL have to do with your SEO? How do you find the best domain name?
Before we even start looking for domain names at GoDaddy.com or whatever registrar that we are interested in, let’s have a quick lesson in “keywords”. If you were ever going to pay a professional to do anything in the SEO world, I would have them pick your keywords. If they truly are professionals, they will know the best rules for keywords. Since this is not a keyword tutorial, I will just keep it at: “You must know what your top keywords are!” This can be a bit hard because you may think that you sell beautiful sacks, and you want the world to know that is what you sell, so you set your keyword at “beautiful handbags”. The problem is the rest of the world does not care how beautiful your handbags are when they open Google and start looking for beautiful handbags. In fact, chances are, less than 1% of all queries for decorative handbags will ever think of looking for such a detailed term. They are going to put in the term “handbags” and then hope that Google can give them the best options. Make sure you know the statistics behind your keywords before you start using them in your URL.
Once you have the right keyword, put it to work for you. Picking your domain name is a multi-step process where you need to fulfill the needs of multiple people, machines, and purposes. Let’s go over the key steps I would recommend if you were one of my clients:
Step 1 - Make it Descriptive
As an SEO expert, I often get companies come to me that had a web developer purchase their domain name for them before they built their website. The “web designers” were just that: designers who made pretty sites but didn’t take into consideration the needs of the business, the target audience, SEO, or even marketing. They were interested in making this pretty site with cool and flashy things all over it. They have a pretty site, with a domain name such as gcoa.com. As a consumer, how exactly am I supposed to know what “gcoa” is, and exactly what it is that they do? If your business targets a local audience, they may understand this, but as your company expands to the next town over, it may not be as obvious. If you sell golf clubs, your URL should include “golf clubs.” So let’s start with the URL www.golfclubs.com. A bit generic, but it will do for now. It describes what you do.
Step 2 – Not Too Short, Not Too Long
I just love John Lee Dumas, he is one of my favorite podcasters. He is fun and has tons of energy. But recently he changed his domain name to eofire.com. Previously it had been entrepreneursonfire.com. I can only assume that he changed this because 1) How many of us really know how to spell "entrepreneur" without using autocorrect, and 2) that is just too long to type.
So I think that golfclubs.com is the perfect size, and it does describe what we do. So far we are doing great with our new domain name.
Step 3 – Keyword, Keyword, Keyword
In the beginning we talked about finding the keywords for our business. Now we are going to use them. When you are talking Search Engine Optimization, you are really talking about the keywords that people put into their favorite search engine “Google”, and the response that comes back. Obviously, you want to be one of the top links returned, so you do SEO. But did you know that you get special points for including your keywords in your URL? Not only do you get those points, but if your keyword is in your domain name, you have a much better chance of showing up at the top. There are additional things that we can do here, that we won’t discuss in this article, but notice the importance of a domain name which includes your keyword.
So our domain name golfclubs.com, contains our keywords. Theoretically, we should be right at the top of the search engines at this point.
Step 4 – The Reality
It’s time to go over to Godaddy and purchase our domain name. We are sure that we want golfclubs.com. We get there and find out somebody else has beat us to it. Dang, foiled again. Not to worry, we can work with this.
Let’s step back to the beginning. Keep it descriptive. The name of our company is Blu, so lets go take a look at BluGolfClubs.com and see if it is available...It is! Perfect, we now have our new domain name.
Note here that .com is not the only extension available anymore, there are so many more, you can even get .sport, .marketing, .name. The possibilities are endless, but at this time, they are not widely accepted, so it is always better to go with one that the public would normally recognize.
Step 5 - Longevity
The one thing I want to point out with this article is: longevity of your domain name (we just took the long way to get here, no pun intended). The best thing you can do to use your domain name for SEO is keep it forever. The older your domain name is, the more points it will get with the search engines. I have multiple websites, and of those, only a few are actively SEO’d. But I have websites that have been idle for 10+ years and yet still get traffic from Google. They don’t follow any current rules, they are never updated, and yes they were keyword optimized, years ago, but it is the longevity of the URL’s that keep web traffic coming in.
If you feel like your company is going to outgrow your domain name choice, go back to step 1 and try again. Because 10 years from now, you want that name to continue to represent you with pride. Your business deserves the best, and the best starts from the day you made that decision to be an entrepreneur.