One question we hear a lot from businesses who are building a website is how to choose a domain name that boosts SEO. Some wonder if domain names even affect SEO ranking. We’ll get to both those questions in just a moment, but for now, let’s think about what makes a good domain name.
Good domain names are catchy. They stick in your mind and are easily remembered. They might make you laugh. They might be branded or contain a made-up word (Google, anyone?).
But the best domain names all have one thing in common: They contain the most frequently-searched keywords for your business.
When choosing a domain, keep your keywords in mind.
Keywords are the words that people search to find your business. If you can manage to get your top keywords into your domain name (and it’s available), you’ll be off to a great start for SEO purposes. Existing research shows that owning an Exact Match Domain (EMD) results in more clicks and better click through rates (CTR). That’s because a person types in keywords that exactly match your domain name–for example, FreeCreditReport.com or BuyMyGold.com.
Click through rates are determined by how often people clicking on your website and finding what’s on your website relevant. That’s part of why using an EMD helps boost your SEO.
There are 3 basic differences between domain name types: Generic, non-generic, and alternative generic. We’ll explore each of those types and how they affect SEO below.
Generic or premium domain names
Generic domain names are what you want when you create a website for your business. Generic domain names make it easy to rank higher in search because they contain frequently searched keywords that match your business (for example, howtoloseweight.com would receive traffic from anyone searching the keywords ‘How to lose weight’).
Memorable Domains did a study and found that Google clearly favored generic or premium domain names over other types. In the study, the generic domain name used generated 45% more clicks than the alternative name.
Alternative-generic domain names
Most businesses don’t set out looking for an alternative-generic domain name, but end up choosing one because the .com domain name they wanted was unavailable. Using our example from above of Howtoloseweight.com, if a competitor came in, they might try using the alternative-generic domain name losingweightnow.com.
The keywords aren’t as frequently searched, but are still relevant for the site. This type of domain name should only be used if the generic or premium name is taken.
Non-generic domain names
Non-generic domain names contain little or no keyword search benefit, but might be catchy, funny, or universally understood. An example of a non-generic domain name using our examples above is ‘Getskinny.com.’ The keywords aren’t searched often, but the phrase is universally understood to mean “lose weight.” This is the least desirable type of domain name for SEO purposes.
If it’s possible, choose a generic or premium domain name for your business. You’ll rank higher in search, see more traffic, and if your website is properly optimized, see more conversions and sales!