Choosing the right domain for your business is a huge challenge – this is the focal point for your brand and the hub for your customers. If you can boost your SEO with the perfect domain name, you’ll be ahead of the game. But how much can you really impact SEO with your domain? We’ll take a look at how your domain name affects your rankings, and explore the best way to balance branding with SEO in the domain world.
Know Your TLDs From Your SLDs (150)
There are two components of every domain name – top-level domains (TLDs) and second-level domains (SLDs) – both of these can impact your SEO in different ways, so it’s important to understand this difference when you’re exploring domain names for your brand.
Top-level domains are .com, .biz, or .org – the main domain that your site is located. There’s a vast number of TLDs to choose from, and originally they were intended to be used differently depending on the purpose of the site – charities tended toward .org, UK websites would use .co.uk and government websites would use .gov. Although some usage is restricted, generally you can choose any TLD you like – and for SEO purposes it’s beneficial to choose one TLD and keep your whole site on it. Unless you have a good reason, stick to the better-known TLDs to ensure your site looks professional.
The second-level domain is what comes before the TLD: it’s the Google in google.com. Choosing the perfect SLD for your brand can be agonizing, but it’s important to note that keywords in second-level domains will no longer impact your SEO. When you’re choosing your SLD, it’s all about branding.
SEO Hacks For Your Domain
In 2012 Google changed the way it ranked websites to reduce the impact of keywords in domains on SEO. Formerly, keywords could bump your domain up the ranking – so websites such as bestflowersforher.biz might get a boost. Nowadays, that’s not the case, but there are still a few key things to consider about domains for SEO.
With a proliferation of top-level domains across the web, businesses often wonder how they should arrange their website. For example, global brands will need multiple versions of their site and could be considering using website.com for their American audience and website.fr for their French customers. However, whilst this strategy may help with branding (the French version of the site will appeal more to French customers) you’re giving yourself twice as much work from an SEO perspective. Keeping your whole site on one domain and using subdirectories such as website.com/en and website.com/fr will mean that your SEO all takes place around one domain – backlinks, for example, all lead back to one place.
Historically, older domains – those websites registered deep into the internet’s past – fared better for SEO, but again that’s no longer the case. Google has been prioritizing content above all else in their search engine rankings, and so nowadays links in and out and content are much more important than age. That means that if you feel like your site could benefit from branding, your SEO won’t be damaged by a new domain – as long as you can keep the links.
Exact Match Domains
Exact match domains (EMDs) are built to precisely mirror search terms that users might be Googling, so, for example, BestChristmasGifts.com. Back when Google allowed domain keywords to influence SEO, registering these sites was a good way of driving traffic but ever since the change to this in 2012, EMDs have been less valuable for SEO. If you’ve built a thriving brand around an EMD, stick with it but as an end game exact match domains are no longer worth pursuing.
Ultimately, your domain name won’t have a significant impact on your SEO. Since the changes to Google’s algorithm in 2012, domain names became less of a priority for SEO and the algorithm turned towards content. Building a high-ranking site is all about providing quality content and a thriving ecosystem of links. Use your domain name to center your brand – powerful branding can have a knock-on effect on your SEO because it will encourage others around the web to trust your brand, link to your site and ultimately boost your rankings.