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Do Domain Names Affect SEO?

Do domain names play a role in your website’s SEO?

Do domain names affect SEO well, even the best website with excellent quality content will prove to be useless to you and your business if no one ever visits it. This is simply the way the internet works; as harsh as it may sound.

There are many ways of driving visitors to your websites. Taking care of your search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is one of the best things you can do to drive potential traffic.

We recommend checking out our other article on what a domain name is if you haven’t already. Once you’ve done that, come back to this article. We’re going to discuss search engine optimization in-depth and whether or not your domain name affects how your website ranks with search engines.

What Is SEO?

SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, as mentioned earlier. It is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic alongside increased brand exposure. This is done organically through non-paid search results.  It is a common misconception that SEO revolves solely around what search engines think of your website. This is false. Instead, SEO is a practice that involves both search engines and people.

Search engine optimization is about truly understanding what people are searching for online and what answers they are seeking. It involves the analysis of the keywords they use and what type of content they typically consume. You will be able to connect better to your target audience by knowing the answers to all these questions.

Why Is SEO Important?

SEO

Search engines drive the majority of all online traffic. When you stumble upon new websites, you probably find the site by clicking a search result on Google. Chances are, you didn’t stumble upon the website by clicking on a paid advertisement. You don’t have to pay a dime for marketing if you perform your website’s search engine optimization correctly. Your traffic can snowball over time if you continue to provide high-quality content that is rich with keywords. Advertising, on the other hand, will cost you.

Search engine algorithms are continuously improving, although they aren’t yet perfect. Optimizing your website correctly will allow search engines to understand your site better and display your website link when the right customer types in the keyword.

Factors Affecting SEO

Let’s discuss the other factors affecting SEO before we go in-depth with domain names. The first and one of the most important factors is content.

Content is one of the longest-standing ranking factors for search engines. Search engines, however, have been favoring keyword-focused content less and less. Instead, they are beginning to prefer content with relevant and natural content, sprinkled with a few keywords.

Remember, people aren’t looking for a website that will feed them a bunch of highly-optimized keywords. Instead, they’re looking for a site because they need answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. If your content provides answers and solutions, chances are potential customers will find their way to you.

Backlinks are another critical factor that influences any website’s search engine optimization. Google, however, has learned to distinguish the bad links from the good over the years. More links will still result in a higher score in the eyes of search engines, but only if they come from several authoritative and diverse domains.

Creating content that people need and promoting the content consistently is the key to a strong link building campaign. Google, along with other search engines, will read and find your content more relevant when other industry leaders read and link back to your content.

Does a Domain Name Matter for SEO?

Domain names do matter for SEO.  A good domain name will allow people and search engines to recognize what your website is about without even seeing the site itself.

You don’t see pictures or previews of websites when you type in keywords in a search engine. You’ll see only a few blocks of text. One of those blocks of writing is the website’s domain name. If your domain name stands out, there is a higher chance of people clicking on your listing.

You may not have noticed, but most people subconsciously choose to click or not click links based on the website’s domain name. If a link looks somewhat spammy and is filled with random incoherent letters, you’re less likely to click on it, regardless of how many keywords it contains.

Having a good domain name can be beneficial for your SEO. It is best to remember, however, that domain names are not just about keywords.

Do Hyphens Hurt SEO?

Adding a hyphen to your domain name can be beneficial, in some cases. This can improve your domain name’s readability. For example, puppytreats.com would be more readable as puppy-treats.com.

Keep in mind that hyphens are also strongly associated with spammy content and can decrease a domain’s memorability. Do not use more than one hyphen if you choose to use any hyphens at all. You wouldn’t want your domain name to look something like best-example-website-xyz.ec.

Does Your Domain Extension Matter?

domain extensions

The domain extension is what commonly goes after the dot and the main body of your domain name. The extension does not affect your search result rankings.

Although domain extensions do not directly affect your ranking, your conversion rates are affected. This is because of the psychological impact of domain names. You’re probably most familiar with the .com, .net, and .org extensions. These extensions display more credibility and authority compared to extensions such as .biz and .info.

People will be less likely to click your website if you choose a less common domain extension, regardless of how high your listing ranks on search engines.

Which Is Best: .NET, .ORG, or .COM?

Most established companies choose the .com extension, as it is the most popular and most credible domain name.

Dotcom extensions have become so popular in fact, that almost all established businesses use them; nike.com, facebook.com, google.com, are famous examples.

When it comes to search result rankings, opt for the .com domains when you can. Dotcom domains are favored by Google; simply because Google understands that internet users associate real businesses with .com.

If the .com version of your preferred domain name is not available, that’s alright. One of your other options is the .org extension. It is also well known and well trusted.

Dot org extensions will do just fine and are still able to rank well when it comes to search engine results. Do note, however, that most organizations will have better success by sticking to a .com domain.

The third best option is to purchase a .net domain. It’s a popular extension, and .net domains are generally accepted as trusted and authoritative, although it does not hold the same influence as .com and .org extensions.

If .com and .org domains are both taken, .net will be your best bet. It is a far better choice than certain domains such as .club, .de, etc.

Choosing a Domain Name for SEO

Choosing a Domain Name

We’ve discussed some of the commonly asked questions regarding domain names and their effect on website search engine optimization. Keep these factors in mind as we discuss two best practices for choosing an SEO-friendly domain name.

Make your domain name memorable.

As much as possible, strive for domain names that people can pronounce easily and remember. Think of domain names as names, rather than keywords. Doing this will benefit your word-of-mouth advertising significantly.

Do your best to avoid names that include random numbers or other special characters. Also, avoid using unusual spelling and stick to names with a length of around 15 characters or less. The fewer letters a visitor has to type, the faster he or she can get to your website.

Use broad keywords.

If you can think of a keyword to include in your domain name that makes it easy for customers to understand what kind of business you run, then use it. Don’t overdo it with the keywords, though. We already mentioned this briefly earlier, but it deserves restating.

The number of keywords in a domain name once carried much weight in the search engine ranking process. More recently, however, search engines view these keyword-stuffed domain names as spam and, thus, rank them lower.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with including a keyword or two in your domain name. Do note, however, that this may lead to increased scrutiny from the algorithms of search engines and may cause your website to rank lower. Search engines such as Google, after all, make it a point to reward sites that provide valuable content and chastise websites that rely solely on keywords.

Final Thoughts

If there’s one thing I’d like you to take away from this article, it’s that keywords are not the be-all and end-all of search engine optimization. Equally important is how your users interact or perceive the domain name. Is your domain name memorable? Will potential visitors know what kind of website you have; based solely on your domain name?

Search engines have grown to be increasingly more reliant on accessibility and usability as a ranking factor. With that said, the easier a domain name is to read, the more favored it will be by any search engine.

Think about your customers and your target market first and tailor your domain name accordingly.

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