Category Archives: Your Domain Name

Keyword Domain Names–Doomed?

End of the Road for Keyword-Rich Domain Names?

It’s no secret that a great way to get high position in Google search results for some given term is to have that term as part of your domain name.  In fact, that’s been a pretty sure shot to a #1 Google ranking, especially for a whole phrase that may be part of your domain name.  Now we have an indication that these halcyon days for what are called “keyword rich domain names” may be ending!

Matt Cutts

Matt is the leading spokesman for Google’s search term on search engine optimization issues.  He often explains Google’s changing to how they rank search engine results, and he gives previews of things to come.  I don’t usually quote him, but the use of keywords in domain names is so widespread that I thought you’d want to see this, from the horse’s mouth, so to speak:

“Now if you are still on the fence, let me just give you a bit of color. that we have looked at the rankings and the weights that we give to keyword domains, & some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. So we have been thinking about at adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given 2 different domains it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain name with a bunch of keywords in it.” – Matt Cutts
Since this statement, a number of people have reported experiments that show decreased ranking for keyword-rich domain names.  Not dramatic changes, but changes such as from the top to the middle of page 1 of search results.

What This Means

One of he big shortcuts to getting search results position–keyword-rich domain names–is going away!  Google is pointing the way to increased ranking–good quality content that’s focused on a narrow topical area.  They are getting better and better at identifying the sites that are actually useful for their customers–searchers.

The Bottom Line

Base your search engine strategy on high quality incoming links and lots of high quality content.  Don’t plan on getting high search engine position from keyword-rich domain names.

Promoting Your Domain Name

Your Web site is your “home” for reference information about your company, its plans, its recruiting, its press relations, its customer acquisition. So the domain name is a crucial company asset. This issue talks about the basic steps you should take with your domain name; choosing it, acquiring it, protecting it and using it.

Choose Your Domain Name

The first step is selecting your domain name. Find a few important words that characterize your business for the domain name. You’ll hare to research which names are available; you can do this easily at Use full words, even it the domain name gets a little long; abbreviations and other cute shortenings make the name harder to remember. For example, is a longie, but what’s the chance that anyone can get correct?

Protect Your Domain Name

You’re going to put a lot of time and money into promoting your domain name, and it’s going to become a very valuable business asset. So you need to give it the protection that you would give to any such important business asset.

If you can, register your domain name as a trademark. It’s not expensive, and a trademark can be very useful if someone else decided to cash on the promotion work that you do on your domain name.

I recommend that you use Network Solutions to register your domain name and not a discount registrar. Yes, they’re more expensive–it will cost you an extra $10 a year or so–but they have more robust procedures around disputes than the other provider. If you have a serious dispute you may not be happy with even their procedures, but at least you can keep in mind that they have some of the best.

I also recommend that a company executive, with significant equity in the company and a long-term commitment to the company, be the person who registers the domain name and not a technical person or consultant. The person who registers it will be recognized as the person who legitimately controls it and can take it off the air or can transfer it to ownership of another party. You do not want this valuable asset to be controlled by someone who does not have a long-term commitment to the company.

Use Your Domain Name

The guideline I give for providing real prominence for your domain name is that you should tattoo it on you forehead and make sure that everyone in your staff does so also. If you don’t want to take this step, then do everything else you can think of short of this step. Be sure the domain name is on all signs that have the company name, your letterhead, your business cards, any marketing giveaways you have, and so on. Be sure that your domain name appears in every ad that place in any medium. Including social networks.

Make sure that no email goes out from your company without using the domain name as an email address. Especially as the proprietor, be sure that your own email always bears your domain name. Each email is a promotional opportunity, and you want to make sure that it helps to promote the business.

The Bottom Line

Your domain name can help your business if you make promoting the domain name second nature to you. Promote your domain name all the time.

Registering Your Domain Name

There are few useful things for you to know about registration of your domain name, to protect yourself in case of a dispute or from a disloyal Webmaster, and there is some impact on search engine position as well.

Value of Your Domain Name

You spend a lot of time and money developing your domain name, and it’s an important source of business. If your Web site is a major source of new customers, then it can be a crucial asset for your business. If you’re deprived of it your losses can be substantial. So it’s worthwhile to think of your domain name as a very important business asset, one that needs to be carefully protected.

How to Protect It

Disputes can happen. Happy employees can become disgruntled employees and things can turn nasty. No, you don’t intend for that to happen, but it can. And if it does, you don’t want your entire business to be endangered. So there are two measures to take to protect your domain name:

  1. Register with Network Solutions, the leading Internet domain name registrar. They are more expensive than their competition, but they have some processes to handle disputes, while the discount registrars may have none at all. If a disgruntled employee grabs your domain name and shuts down your Web site, you need some procedures to deal with the problem. Quickly.
  2. Don’t give the domain registration password to your Webmaster or anyone other than a full-time employee who has a contract regarding company assets. The person who has that password can shut down or otherwise control your Web site.

What Google Cares About

It’s known that Google considers how long your site has been registered by the current owner and for how long into the future you have registered it. Presumably the idea is that someone who is serious about their domain name will have registered it for a long period into the future. The common recommendation is to register your site for at least ten years into the future.

The Bottom Line 

Care for your domain name as the valuable business asset that it is. Register it with Network Solutions, control the password yourself and register for at least ten years.

Keywords in Your Domain Name

Use Keywords in Your Domain Name?

There is a popular view that including keywords in your domain name can improve your position in search engine results for that keyword.  Is that true?  Should you build your domain name out of keywords used by people who want to find you, or should you base it on your company name?  This issue tackles these questions, gives you recommendations, and also points you toward some free tools to help you get it done.

Domain Keywords and Search Engine Results Position

I can tell you based on repeated personal experience that today, keywords in the domain name can definitely improve your position in Google search engine results.  In fact, for a small business, I believe that the quickest path to page one of Google results for a given query keywords is by incorporating that keyword into the start of the domain name.

The Question
Now, given the benefit of incorporating keywords into the domain name, should you base your domain name on popular keywords, or should you base it on your company name?  If you are British Petroleum, and you’ve spend millions popularizing your trademark, BP, then there’s little questio for you.  You’ll use BP and get your search engine results position some other way.  But for a small business, your trade name may never get very popular; so do you want to go after the name or keywords?  A strategy that can give you the benefits of both is to name your company based on important keywords.  Such as the company “Web Marketing Advantage”, for example!
Being in your business, perhaps with many years of experience, you may believe that you know the keywords that searchers will use to find you.  But bear in mind that you’re inside the business, and when talking with your peers and your most sophisticated customers you need to make fine distinctions about your offerings that prospects who are searching for you may not make.  So your prospects may use different terms entirely.
The good news is that Google makes a free tool available to find keywords that are actually used by searchers, the Adwords Query Tool.  Use it to find terms that are popularly used.
Once you have the terms you want to incorporate, the job of building domain names from combinations of these terms and searching to see which are available can be burdensome.  So there’s more good news–there’s another free tool available, BustaName, that you can use to put together combinations of terms and find out which domains are available.  And even purchase a domain name.
The Bottom Line
Consider a keyword-based domain name.  Or even a keyword-based company name!

Choosing Your Domain Name

As you plan your Web presence, an issue to deal with early on is your domain name. So let’s talk domain names! There are a few things that you ought to know about it.

To get to your Web site, visitors type in http:// followed by your domain name. You need to choose a domain name that’s available and list it with a registrar. Then it’s yours. To find out which domain names are available, go to the site of a domain name registrar, such as Network Solutions, and do a search. You can also purchase the domain name there, if it’s available. If you’d like to purchase a domain name that’s owned by someone else, that process is more complicated and expensive. Good domains sell for thousands and tens of thousands of dollars on the resale market.

Network Solutions is the oldest registrar of domain names, and they are one of the most expensive. But the cost difference ma be ten or twenty dollars a year between the most and least expensive, so that’s not a reason for choosing one or the other. As the most established registrar, it is possible that Network Solutions is likely to have more customer service and a better dispute resolution procedure in case some sort of dispute develops. That’s not a guarantee that you won’t have trouble, but it could be a reason to register with them.

Can your choice of domain names help or hurt your position in search engine results? You bet it can! Do some Google searches on a few terms you dream up, and look at the results. You’ll find that very often, the sites in the first positions in the search results have domain names that include or even match the query you entered! It’s quite evident that Google uses the domain name as an indication of what the site is about. If you can find a domain name that includes a popular search term in the topical area of your site, then that’s the way to go. Notice that my own domain name starts with webmarketing; that’s no accident, since web marketing is one of the terms used frequently for searches. My site doesn’t have very good search engine position yet, though, because my promotion campaign for it has just started.

If you’re fortunate enough to choose a domain name that echoes an important search term, you’ll save a lot of promotion effort getting good search engine position. However, these days we often find that the best domain names are taken, and we have to be content with something else.

You don’t have to have a domain name that ends in .com. Consider .org or .info if they suit the purpose of the site. Or if you’re a business site, there’s always .biz. And often you’ll find that .us is available; the suggestion that you’re nationwide can’t really hurt. Yes, we all want .com, but the other domains are a good way to have those keywords you want.

You’re going to put serious money and time into promoting your domain name, so it will become a valuable business asset. That makes it worthy of your personal protection. It’s a good idea for you to personally register your own domain name, pay for it yourself, and register yourself as all of the contacts. Many businesses that have sites let their Webmaster handle the registration. But if you might want to change Webmasters, if they’ve registered your site, they are in control of your domain name and the site. Or suppose there’s a disagreement about an invoice from the Webmaster. If you don’t pay the disputed invoice, your Webmaster could take your site off the air, and you’d have no quick recourse. So keep the registration in your own name and control it personally. Consider all the resources that you’re putting into building the site and building its reputation, and you’ll realize that your Web site is a significant asset that you must control personally.

Finally, when you register your domain name, be sure to register it for at least ten years. One good reason for doing this is that you won’t face the nuisance of needing to renew the registration every year, with the risk that you’ll overlook it and lose your domain name. But even if you’re perfectly organized and won’t forget to renew, note that Google uses the length of registration of your domain name as one indication of how committed you are to the business. If the owner is willing to pay for a ten-year registration, then this is a serious site–deserving of higher search engine position–at least in Google’s opinion. So go for a ten-year registration. An added benefit is that it’s cheaper per year than a shorter registration.

The Bottom Line

Choose a domain name that includes important search terms, register it yourself in your own name with yourself as all of the contacts, and register it for at least ten years.