That’s a really good question, isn’t it? When talking about SEO, you hear about keywords, backlinks, website optimization, all that good stuff – but among these things, you also hear domains being mentioned, if only slightly.
So, why only slightly? We already know how important SEO is (67.6% of all clicks belong to the first five organic results!) and how important it is to create reputable links and have good, authoritative keywords – but how does your domain name fit into this story?
Well, look no further! In this little article, we’ll take a look at how your domain name impacts SEO and does it really deserves to be pushed to the side in favor of some, presumably, more important things.
TLD and SLD
Okay, before we start picking this topic apart and deep-diving, let’s do some theory crafting. Let us discern first between two types of domains – Top Level Domains (TLDs) and Second Level Domains (SLDs).
The difference is very simple – TLD is the main domain name in your URL. It’s the thing that comes after the dot – .com, .net, .org, etc. Though these three are the most common, there are actually thousands of TLDs.
The reason you don’t see them, however, is that they aren’t very popular, and many of them are attached to low-quality, spammy websites from the early days of SEO. The most popular domain is .com, with 54% of websites using it; .ru is in second place with only 5% and .org with 4.3%.
SLDs are domain names used as an indication of the organization that registered its name with a domain name registrar. In simple terms, this is the name you’ve chosen to be your domain name. For example, if you have something like Google.com, Google is the SLD, and .com is the TLD.
How to choose an SLD?
Now that we’ve got the theoretical part out of the way, let’s crack straight to the business – how do you choose an SLD?
Now, you may wonder, why did we lead with SLDs and not TLDs? The answer – choosing a TLD is much simpler, and there are fewer considerations to make.
Of the two, your SLD is the more important domain. Since it contains the actual name of your business, this is what you want people to pay attention to, and this is what you want them to remember.
So, when choosing your SLD name, your first consideration has to be whether to use keywords or a brand name. And while it may seem logical for your brand name to be a keyword, that isn’t always the case, and the two shouldn’t mix together.
Why? Well, think about it! When searching for something, most people won’t type in the name of a website because they don’t yet know which one they want to visit. More likely, they’ll type something along the lines of Magento web development and then go from there.
Now, if you put a domain name such as MagentoWebDevelopment.com, this won’t boost your ratings all that much. In fact, you might even get flagged by Google’s web crawlers because keyword-stuffed domain names have long been phased out, and now they’re considered as spam, low-quality websites.
With that being said, it’s not as if you shouldn’t try to insert a keyword – you should, but that keyword needs to be very short and simple. For example, if you’ve got a chop shop named Randy’s Chop Shop, registering a name such as RandysChopShop might be a good idea because it fits so well and so naturally.
All in all, your best bet is to use a branded name as your SLD. Google doesn’t value keywords as domain names much (though it will highlight them), but it does value brand names highly because most people value them highly.
Consider this – does Apple really need to emphasize that they sell smartphones and equipment by creating a domain name such as AppleSmartphones? No, it does not. They’re already a recognized brand, and just seeing the brand name gives someone browsing the web all the info they need to know.
How to Choose and TLD?
As we had said, choosing a TLD is much simpler than choosing an SLD. With fewer options and some very clear choices, you should definitely put more effort into selecting a proper SLD that will make your brand recognizable and give it a professional look.
As for TLDs, your best option is to go with the .com domain. We already said that it’s the most popular one, and it’s popular for a good (albeit a little dumb) reason – most people aren’t that tech-savvy, and most of them think that’s how a URL should end which lends .com the highest level of credibility.
However, one thing you should consider when choosing a TLD is using geo-specific suffixes. For example, if your chop shop is in the US, you might use something like .co.us.
Using geo-specific domains is a very good way to boost your company’s visibility. According to Brightlocal, 35% of the people questioned for their survey say they use the web to find local businesses multiple times per week. If your business is made to operate specifically in your local area, then going with a geo-specific domain may be the way to go.
The reason behind this is that Google tends to push organizations close to the person browsing the web first. So, if someone from Canada searches for a chop shop, they’re more likely to get Canadian-based businesses first, rather than US ones.
Finally, your TLD can also be industry-specific. For example, a food blog might have a .food domain. This, while not a great way to reach a broader audience, is a good way to draw in specific clientele. Again, consider moves such as these very carefully, as they’re risky, and changing your domain can be a tricky business.
In the end, what is important to take away from this article is that your domain name doesn’t have a massive impact on your SEO rating, but it does have a great influence on how your organization looks to the outside viewer.
By keeping your domain name short and concise, you’ll certainly get more clicks, views, and shares, and the more your business gets shared, the more likely it is that somebody actually decides to give you their patronage. All in all, domain names are still a powerful tool that should be carefully considered when creating a website for your business.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for Seo Turnover.