Ask anyone in the know about SEO (search engine optimization) and they will tell you that there are a vast number of factors which can influence and affect your website’s ability to rank well on search engines for any given keyword or phrase.
Google, for example, have published a set of webmaster guidelines which spells out most of the pros and cons for designing websites and laying them out in a certain way, but those guidelines are just the tip of the SEO iceberg. If you are new to the wonderful world of SEO, then one thing that you might have come across yet is how domain names affect your website’s ability to rank (or not, as the case may be). The problem with SEO is that search engines like Google keep moving the goal posts when it comes to designing and building websites which will have the highest chances of ranking well.
Luckily with domain name SEO, there hasn’t been a huge amount of changes in the way that the big three search engines (Google, Yahoo! and Bing) rank a website in terms of its domain name. Here are some of the best domain SEO practices that you should be considering when you are next choosing a domain name.
How memorable is your domain name?
The key point to absorb with domain name suitability is to make sure that it is as short yet as relevant to your website as possible. Let’s say that you own a company called William Wycherley Gardening Supplies Ltd.
Your first thought might of been to buy a domain name like “williamwycherleygardeningsupplies.co.uk”, but the truth is a domain name like that is hardly going to be memorable, and you can pretty much guarantee that it will be misspelt (‘wycherley’ might be spelt as ‘wicherley’, ‘whicherly’ or ‘witcherly’).
If you cannot rename your brand to something easier to remember, then in such circumstances the best thing to do is buy a domain like ‘wycherley.co.uk’ as well as all possible misspellings and have those other domains automatically redirected to your main ‘wycherley.co.uk’ domain name.
This way you won’t lose any potential customers due to name misspellings, and your domain name is kept short (and therefore more memorable).
Should you include keywords?
There is great debate among the SEO community as to whether domains with keywords in their titles, known as exact match domains, should be used or not these days.
Google has updated their search engine algorithms in the latter half of 2012 to make “low-quality” websites rank badly that use such domains (as spammy websites often use EMDs), but it is still pretty useful in terms of SEO for websites that have good-quality content, and abide by their webmaster guidelines.
Subdomains or subfolders for domain SEO?
Another topic that divides SEO experts is whether webmasters should be using subdomains or subfolders to compartmentalise different types of content. The answer to that is “either”. Last year, Google’s Matt Cutts posted a video response to this exact question, and his answer was to simple use whichever is easier, as they are “roughly equivalent”.