Domains and SEO: How Your Website’s Domain Name Affects Its Search Rankings


Domains and SEO

Just because you bought a cool-sounding domain doesn’t mean that it will work fine. Google ranks websites according to their domain name, too. Just when you thought that it is content that only affects your ranking positions, here comes your domain name taking a spot in Google’s algorithms.

But how do domains and SEO affect your site’s rankings? What specific areas can possibly affect your ranking stats?

Today, we will understand how the following can affect your ranking:

  • Brandable Names
  • Top-Level Domains
  • Domain Extensions
  • Location Domain
  • Keywords in Domain

These five issues or domains and SEO are important. Let us dive in and find out how they affect your search engine rankings.

1. Brandable Names

Technically, a brand is not merely a name. It is the personality and message of a company rolled into one, but we globally recognize names as brands.

How does the brand name affect your domain and SEO? If you are going to market your blog or store as a brand, the chances are that people will talk about it. The mere mention of your brand name in social media channels and other websites is a signal to Google.

Google knows if a user is searching for a brand or just another keyword because of social signals and long-tail keywords. For example, Google knows if a person is looking for the Amazon website or for the Amazon rainforest.

The more people talk about your brand and link to you, the more link juice your brand name gets for SEO. As such, using your brand name on your domain name makes perfect sense. If your brand name is Savvy Cats, it will not help you if your domain name is SV.com. If you brand yourself as SV, then it is alright to use that in your domain.

When choosing a domain name, see if your brand name is available as it is. If it is not, try to keep the extended names as short as possible. For example, SavvyCatsCorp.com will still work if SavvyCats.com is no longer available.

2. Top-Level Domains

There is a debate raging among SEO professionals. One camp says that top-level domains do not matter, while some say that they do.

What are the top-level domains? Top-level domains are the grandfather of domain extensions. Some examples of these are:

  • .com
  • .edu
  • .org
  • .net
  • .gov

These were the very first domains used when the internet was born. Today, there are thousands of other domain names available to you, including your country’s extension.

Here are some examples:

  • .ph for the Philippines
  • .in for India
  • .uk for the United Kingdom
  • .jp for Japan
  • .nz for New Zealand

There are also other domains that you can use today from words that used to be ordinary keywords. Some examples are:

  • .life
  • .today
  • .accountant
  • .store
  • .attorney

So, what is the verdict? Top-level domains or TLDs are still better than all of these, with a few exceptions. Why? A TLD is much more globally recognized. People will not type .store—they are likely to append a .com when they refer to your website.

The worst thing that can happen is if they type SavvyCats.com instead of SavvyCats.store. If this happens, the search engines will get confused and cannot find you—no link juice equals low rankings.   



3. Domain Extensions

Most TLDs are already taken. There is a huge demand for TLDs, and they can become really costly, especially if the domain you want is a single-word domain name.

In some occasions, domain extensions like .store makes sense. If your website is a store, then it makes sense to use the .store domain extension. For example, let us say that your business name is Chic Bags. In this case, a domain of ChicBags.store is ok.

The domain name ChicBags.store is in itself a brand. People will type your business name not just as Chic Bags, but ChicBags Store. This, in itself, should be enough to signal to Google that this business exists.

Another benefit to using domain extension is its relevance. If you are an accountant, you can use your first name or initials and use the .accountant as your domain extension.

JohnDoe.com does not tell a person anything. But if your domain name is JohnDoe.accountant, it tells the reader what your profession is.

The domain extension works best if you are a professional, but not if you are a corporation. Big companies are more trustworthy if they use TLDs, not domain extensions.  

4. Location Domain

Location domains are those that end with a country’s extension. For example, you can use SavvyCats.nz if your company is in New Zealand.

How does this help? The domain extension by country is a signal to search engines where you are. Let us take Savvy Cats as an example with a domain extension of .nz.

If a person from New Zealand searches for cat toys, it is likely that Google will show SavvyCats.nz to this user instead of a cat toy seller from China.

Google wants the best experience for its users. Its natural tendency is to show results that are most beneficial to a user. If the person is in New Zealand and types “cat toys”. Google will think that since the user is from New Zealand, then this user must want to deal with a company from the same country.

A domain extension by location works best for localized businesses. The same applies to international websites.

For example, there is a Shopify.com.ph, which has a different site content from Shopify.com. If a person from the Philippines is looking for an online business platform, the .ph extension is going to show and will look more credible than that .com one as far as the user’s perspective is concerned.

5. Keywords in Domain

Domains and SEO are also impacted by keywords in your name. There was a time when people who built websites capitalized on this, as this was seen as a gap in how search engines showed results.

For example, many businesses 20 years ago used something like BrisbaneFireTank.com. Naturally, search engines are very likely to show this website to a user that typed “fire tanks in Brisbane”.

This does not work anymore, but keywords still matter. In our Savvy Cats example, the word “cat” is a keyword. This keyword can be supplemented by the other keywords used in the website’s heading, meta-description, etc.

If the word “cat” is not there, Google may not easily recognize this website as a cat-oriented site, thus impacting its SEO effectiveness. Stuffing your domain name with keywords is not recommended, but a balanced keyword usage works.  

Summary

Your domain name has an impact on how search engines rank you. Gone are the days when you can just pick a random domain name, and then stuff your content with keywords. Google has learned a lot in the past 20 years, and you can no longer game the system.

Choose a domain name that is brandable, easy to remember, and optimized for your locality if you are a local business. Your domain name must also contain a keyword if possible, but this is only secondary if you have a creative brand name.



John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling, photography and blogging. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of blogging. Discover how to turn your passions and pastimes into an online business.

Recent Content