If you use an exact match domain (EMD), it should match what your website offers, but there’s a catch! Depending on the phrase, it can help you beat your competitors targeting similar search phrases but it can also limit your brand’s identity in the long term. Domain names can assist in getting top ranking for a matching search phrase.
- Represent your core offering.
- Beat competitors targeting similar phrases.
- Fast-track your site to Page 1.
How to Choose the Right Domain Name
Searches being made for specific products or services may lead successfully to your website if your domain name includes the words being searched. If your domain name matches with those words exactly, then it’s likely that your website will rank fairly high in the search results, maybe even top position in organic rankings. If you found this website because you searched “SEO Services” then that’s proof! If your domain name keywords are semantically too broad, getting top ranking for the domain name may not be a good thing.
Domain names can be registered with a large number of different domain name providers. Generally, there’s no particular advantage from registering with one versus the other, unless one you are considering offers extras, like email hosting included, or free technical support.
Prices for domain names vary quite a bit. Unclaimed domain names range from $10 per annum to $80 per annum, depending on what else the provider offers in the package.
Claimed domain names are either unavailable or could possibly be purchased from the registrant. Often, domains that could be good but that don’t currently hold a website, are sold through “premium” domain name providers and sell from $100 upwards. The most expensive domain name I have heard of was sold for US$1M.
Domain names are licenses and cannot be purchased outright. You can buy a 12 month license as a minimum, and some companies offer incrementally more years to purchase, 2, 5, 10 years for example.
When selecting your domain name, you can choose the name and the extension. Extensions available here in NZ are things like “.co.nz”, “.net.nz”, “.kiwi.nz” etc.
Generally, if you are familiar with how to manage domain names, you might as well get a cheaper one as it’s not likely you’ll need much tech assistance.
For a domain name to point to a website, it’s DNS records need to have the right address for the website hosting company. If the website hosting company and the domain name provider are one and the same, then you probably don’t need to worry about setting DNS records.
You can also purchase email hosting with domain names, so that your email address matches your domain. There are however ways you can still show your address as @domain name, but get free email services through something like Gmail but setting redirects and reply-to addresses. Generally, email is not included with a website, it’s part of the domain hosting service.
Things to Note
Selecting a great domain name is often a real dilemma. Deciding whether you buy a name based on a keyword phrase from your keyword research, or your brand, or your company name, etc.
Choosing your domain name to match your brand is great if your brand is well known. If not, the SEO value of your domain name won’t get established until after your brand becomes well known. It does help build an identity and helps reassure the visitors searching for your brand that they have come to the right place.
Your Company name:
Often your company name is your brand. Again, the SEO value is only established after the brand is well known in the market. You can test the popularity of your brand or company name by putting it in the Adwords keyword tool and checking actual stats for searches of your brand. Again, it can help reassure visitors that they landed in the right place. Company name domain names are great for building your business identity for the long term.
Your key offerings:
Choosing a domain name based on the main thing your website is about is great for SEO, unless the term is too broad. If you reached this website because you Googled “SEO Services” then that’s possibly proof a domain name has powerful referring capability – but bear in mind that’s what my website is about too, so the words “SEO Services” appear many times in context as well so will also be attracting searches for that phrase. The difference between your company name, brand identity and domain name could possibly cause confusion to your visitors, so it’s worth taking your time with domain name selection and deciding what aspect of the name is important for you and your business. Talk to an SEO consultant or marketing specialist if you need assistance. Professional advice and second opinions are often worth getting. It’s an important decision to make and should be well thought through.
The cost of domain names is completely independent of website hosting. Even if you don’t have a website, but own a domain name, you will have to pay every year for the domain name license.
Domain names that are not “live”, i.e. they don’t host a website, add NO SEO value at all. The only advantages are to prevent other people from taking the domain names, or for ease of use purposes where you might publish a short domain name that refers to your website, in case your website has a very long domain name that is likely to get miss-spelled or miss-typed a lot.