What To Consider When Choosing A Domain Name

June 2, 2014

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Base Camp Training What makes a good domain name for SEO

Location, location, location!

Your address on the web says as much about you or your business as your physical brick and mortar address off the web. Are you in a memorable location? Are you in a reputable neighbourhood? These things matter as much in the online world as they do in the off-line world especially when it comes to getting found.

Your Domain Name: Your Address On The Web

Your domain name, the human-readable internet address for your website matters hugely if you want to get noticed by search engines and humans alike. If you pick a domain that is too long (I recommend a maximum of 15 characters) or you choose a poor domain extension like a .info, or .biz (your domains extension is like the neighbourhood in which your website is built) then you could be seen as lacking credibility, or even forgotten entirely.

To set yourself up with a solid foundation for success on the search engines you should consider these important elements before choosing your address online:

1. Radio Domain Name

A good domain name should be short, easy to say, type and remember. If you were to speak your domain name on the radio, listeners should be able to recall your domain hours later and type it accurately into their browser. If they can then it passes the radio test. Having a good “radio” domain is especially important for businesses that rely on word-of-mouth advertising.

2. Keyword Rich Vs Brandable Domain

Of greatest importance is having a catchy, memorable brand friendly domain name, however having a domain name that also includes keywords you want to target can be advantageous.

SEOSherpa.com, for example, strikes a good balance between catchy and unique, and keyword optimised. In our case “SEO” is a keyword we want to rank for and having it in our domain name itself does improve our chances of ranking for that term. This is the case for 2 reasons.

1. Search engines consider the domain name itself when determining a website’s ranking.

2. Our domain name is often the anchor text people use when linking to our website. As anchor text is an important ranking factor search engines consider, the fact the term “SEO” is in the anchor text when people link to using our domain seosherpa.com helps us.

In recent times, Google has made changes that have de-prioritized sites with keyword-rich domains. Since the EMD update, exact match domains have come under more scrutiny especially those that aren’t otherwise high-quality. If you choose a domain with keywords in it, you will need to tread a little more carefully.

What To Consider When Choosing A Domain Name

3. Domain Age

A domain that is several years old is seen as more trustworthy than a newly registered domain and with all other things equal will rank more highly in the search results. Furthermore, given that almost every catchy, memorable “radio” domain has already been registered buying a pre-owned domain name is the way to go.

4. Hyphens

If your intended name has more than one word you may consider separating the words with hyphens for readability, such as www.my-website.com. That being the case, hyphens in domains are commonly used by spammers and as such lower the value of your domain in the minds of users and on the re-sale market. I strongly recommend choosing a domain with only one or two words and avoiding hyphens full-stop.

5. Domain Extension

Your first choice of domain extension should be a .com or if you specifically serve one country then the local domain extension is also good (.ae for the United Arab Emirates as an example)

The other Top Level Domains (TLD’s) which are .net and .org are also ok, however, .biz, .info, .me and any other low-quality domain extension should be avoided as they do not rank well.


Choosing the right domain name is important to your site’s success. Whilst you can easily affect the look of your site, it’s usability, it’s content, even it’s authority, changing your site’s domain name is a pretty big deal after the fact.

So consider carefully the domain name for your site. A little forethought now will pay dividends later.

What tips do you have for choosing a domain name? 

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James Reynolds

About the author: James Reynolds is passionate about helping you get more traffic and sales from search engines.


About the author: Karl Tablante is the Inbound Marketing Manager for SEO Sherpa, a top-rated organic SEO agency that lives and breathes all things search.

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