How Domain Names Impact SEO

selecting the right domain name

SEO is constantly changing, which makes it difficult at times to align your site with search engine best practices. Although SEO encompasses thousands of variables overall, one important variable is your domain name.  The definition of a good domain name has changed according to Google.  Here’s how.

Exact Match Domains (EMDs) are domain names that include keyword phrases.  Just purchasing such a domain would have gotten you the first page ranking a while ago – no good content or backlinks needed.  But that all changed after Google released the Exact Match Domain Update, which essentially made EMDs obsolete in search engine rankings.

An EMD or a domain name containing one keyword (a PMD – partial match domain) may not benefit your rankings anymore. A good domain name will get you more brand recognition, user trust and higher click-through-rates.

So how should you decide on a domain name to maximize SEO? You need only do two things:

  1. choose a memorable brand name as your domain name
  2. pick a .com extension.

Your Brand Name Should Be Your Domain Name

Your brand name is how your customers recognize and find you in search engines and social media platforms. So think of your domain name as the foothold of your online brand.

In fact, the more customers are using your brand name to search for you online, the more your SEO and rankings will improve. This is referred to as brand signalling (any reference of your business online).

So Google now cares more about brands than it does about keywords and links. For that reason, using your brand name is more important than keywords. As long as people recognize it and are searching for it, Google will measure that brand signal and rank it accordingly. For this reason, it is important to have a memorable brand name and consequently, a memorable domain name.

Opt For a .com Extension

You probably already know that .com is the most popular domain extension, and the safest bet, because other domain extensions like .biz and .us are typically seen as spam. Although choosing it may not directly impact your rankings, you may be perceived as a spammy site, which could affect your SEO.

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Domain Name

  • Use your brand name
  • Don’t use exact match domains. Partial match domains are OK but a brand name is always more effective
  • Choose a .com extension
  • Make it memorable so users can easily remember it
  • Keep it short, 15 characters at most
  • Avoid numbers, hyphens and special characters
  • Avoid misspelling words on purpose. It’s a no-no for branding

Remember: As long as you have great content and a good SEO strategy, a strong and unique domain name may rank you higher. Choose one wisely, use it correctly and start reaping the value.