Top 5 best practices for choosing a domain name

We were asked by a client recently who was wondering about their business name, domain name and social media name. Should they all be the same? What are the best practices for this? Can it make a difference in helping my business get found online?

Here’s what we found from the experts.

1. Make your domain name memorable.

  • Strive for domain names that are short, easy to remember, easy to type, and easy to say.
  • Stay away from domain names that include numbers or other non-standard characters, use unusual spelling, or are longer than about 15 characters or so.
  • Because of search engine’s growing reliance on accessibility and usability as a ranking factor, the easier a domain is to read for humans, the better it is for search engines.

2. Use broad keywords when sensible

  • Aim to include a keyword that helps make it obvious what your business does while keeping your domain name catchy, unique, and brand-friendly.
  • Don’t keyword stuff your domain. Having a keyword in your domain can still be beneficial, but it can also lead to closer scrutiny and a possible negative ranking effect from search engines, so tread carefully.

3. Avoid hyphens if possible

  • Keep in mind that use of hyphens also strongly correlates with spammy behaviour and decreases domain name readability and memorability. For that reason, generally, no more than one hyphen should be used (if any must be used at all).

4. Avoid non-.com and .com.au top-level domains (TLDs)

  • To maximise the direct traffic to a domain, bias towards purchasing the .com and .com.au TLD. If the .com TLD for a domain name you’re looking to purchase isn’t available, lean towards .net. or .co.
  • Another TLD gaining attraction is the .io TLD
  • When we started findability, the .com and .com.au TLDs were already taken, so we were very happy going with .co

5. Favour subfolders / subdirectories over subdomains

  • Although content in subdomains and subdirectories is treated roughly equally, it’s still recommended to place content like blogs in subfolders rather than subdomains (i.e. www.example.com/blog/ rather than blog.example.com).

Bonus: Is .com best for SEO?

  • While the .com domain extension is by far the most popular Top-Level Domain (TLD), there is no indication it is given any special treatment by search engines. That said, consumers often trust .com extensions more than others, and having a .com version of your domain is often seen as desirable.
  • findability is based in Australia, so the preference locally is for .com.au TLDs

So ideally, you want to have a domain name and social media handle that matches your business name.

If the .com or .com.au is no longer available, it’s worth considering another TLD, such as .co or .io, as these are growing in popularity and there’s a good chance your business name will be available.

One of the tactics we’ve found to work for our clients is having consistent naming principles across the business, domain and social media space. Google’s algorithm likes consistency! And this tactic allows you to get more ticks in the right column so that you are more likely to rank up in the organic searches.

But what happens if you’re down the path a bit with a domain that goes against the tips listed above? Is it worth changing?

The short answer is yes, and there are another set of strategies and tactics needed to make this change go smoothly.

It won’t mean your business will double overnight, but following best practice guidelines means you’re increasing the chances of getting better search results.

Is it the “must do / biggest job” on your To Do List? Not likely, but it isn’t massively daunting or time consuming, so give it some time this week.

If it all feels too hard, then let’s chat!

Phil x

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