Many people assume the first step to starting your own website is the design. Not true. Choosing the right domain name is equally or even more important. It may be the hardest part of the site creation process. Once you establish your domain name, changing your mind later and transferring it to a new URL has more implications than you might think – not to mention the potential SEO losses that could occur by doing so. Therefore, it is very important to get this correct from the start. Here are a few tips on what you look for and why. But first a bit about SEO.
SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization”. SEO is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search engine results page (SERP) – whether it be Google, Bing, Yahoo or another search engine.
It is very common for Internet users to stop looking at search engine results after the first page or two. In fact recent statistics indicate that fewer than 20% even get to the second page. Therefore, where a site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic to the site.
The Importance of Keywords
Keywords are the most important SEO element for every search engine, they are what search engines use to match content against. Choosing the right keywords is the most crucial step to a successful SEO campaign. If you fail on this very first step, you will basically be wasting your time and money.
There are many ways to determine which keywords to prioritize. Usually the final list of them is made after an in-depth analysis of what the online population is searching for, which keywords your competitors are using and above all, which keywords best describe your site. You want very relevant keywords that are not highly used by your competition and that you have a good chance of ranking for. You must do this BEFORE you try to pick your domain name.
Keyword Driven URL’s
This is the hardest part to control; but when possible, you are better off choosing a domain name that includes your targeted keyword phrases instead of your company name. You can always purchase your company name or brand as a second domain and point that domain to your Website for those that are looking specifically for your company by name.
For example, if you are a marketing company in Milwaukee and you determine that “Milwaukee Marketing Company” is a good primary keyword for you, from an SEO strategy perspective it is better to use the domain “www.milwaukeemarketingcompany.com” instead of “www.yourcompany.com”. It does make sense to also purchase www.yourcompany.com and point that domain to www.milwaukeemarketingcompany.com. You will gain a competitive advantage when a person on Google searches for “marketing company Milwaukee”. In fact, you stand a very good chance of being listed on page one using this method.
There are many places available where you can find out if a domain has already been taken. Don’t use Google or other search engines to find out if a domain is available, however you could use Google and enter “find available domain names” to locate the services that can help you. Most people are familiar with the “.com” suffix so try to get that if you can. If you are able to find one, it also makes sense to purchase the .org and .net domains in addition to the .com. That way nobody can purchase one of these and take advantage of your keywords.
Choosing the perfect domain name is crucial to the survival of your website, and potentially your business. Many times people get so caught up in the design process that they forget that their domain name will usually be the first thing people see, and remember. Take your time, do your research, get second opinions, but be sure to get it right before you jump into web design.