You’re about to learn how to choose a domain name for SEO purposes. You will find out why choosing the right domain name will help you find success in your SEO campaign.
Before we continue, I want to mention that if you’d like to learn SEO right from scratch, please follow the SEO tutorial guide page and move forward from there.
If when you’re through with reading this you feel you’ve learned something new, please post it in the comment box at the end of the post. I’ll reply your comment in 12 – 24 hours. Alternatively you can contact me on the contact us page if you need more help.
What is a Domain?
A domain is of course just the name for a unique place or area on the Internet where a website can be viewed. But how do they affect your SEO?
In your effort to learn how to choose a domain name for SEO purpose, the important distinction to make is that the SEO ‘strength’ of a website domain lies in the history and age of the domain itself, rather than the actual files (content) of the site.
Theoretically, we could take an organization like the BBC, and transfer all the current files and databases on bbc.com over to a freshly created domain called britishnewsandbroadcasting.com. When you visited the new domain, you would see the BBC’s website in front of you – just as you know it now – with all the articles and media associated with it.
However, the website would receive little online visibility via SEO because the domain britishnewsandbroadcasting.com has no history and standing in Google.
The domain you choose to build and showcase a website on is one of the most important decisions you can make for your online venture. This is why you learn how to choose your domain name carefully.
Not only will this domain become your online brand that you’ll publicize and share with people, but it’s the entity that Google identifies with when considering your optimization.
How Domains Contribute to SEO
Bored and tired of plumbing SEO example we used in the previous tutorial (SEO Tutorial 3)? Well you’re about to beg me to bring them back, because for the rest of this post we’re going to talk about couches instead. Interesting huh?
Let’s pretend that we’ve just finished our keyword hunting session, and the primary keyword we’d like to get to the top of Google for is ‘Chesterfield Sofa’. Yes, there’s a real interior design theme going on in this post, and I have no idea why! Anyway, sorry. I digress.
In the Early Days of Google
In the early days of Google, when its ranking algorithm was less advanced and over-optimization was less of a consideration, Google would look at your domain name as a huge indicator of the relevance of your site towards an industry, niche, or set of keywords.
The domain name chesterfield-sofa.com could be registered and you’d have a massive SEO advantage over a competitor for the keyword ‘chesterfield sofa’ simply because the domain is also the target keyword.
If you then mentioned ‘chesterfield sofa’ hundreds of times in the content of the website, and managed to get links coming to it where the words included in that link (the link’s ‘anchor text’) were ‘chesterfield sofa’, then reaching position number No.1 in Google was almost an inevitability.
Those were simpler times. Fast-forward to the present day.
Armies of Google engineers have now spent hundreds of thousands of collective hours developing their ranking algorithms, and they’ve developed a formidable beast. Whereas before an SEO expert just had to lead a kitten to a saucer of milk, we now have to domesticate a 250lb lion.
Google has become brutally adept at uncovering deliberate and unnatural efforts to optimize a website for a given keyword. Anyone caught dabbling in excessively aggressive optimization practices will likely have their domain penalized. And quite rightly so really.
Anyway, back to domains.
All this isn’t to say Google doesn’t look upon a domain name as an indicator to a site’s relevance anymore. It just places far less emphasis on them these days. All things being equal, a site with a domain name including the target keyword will rank higher than one with a domain name that doesn’t.