What’s in a Domain Name?
When you launch your business online, your domain name will probably be the first thing your customers encounter. This makes it as important to your success as your company name. Choosing your domain name wisely requires considering a number of factors. For deeper look at those, go to <How to Choose your Domain Name?>.
We’ll now examine closely the choice between keyword rich domains or exact match domains, and brandable domains. Keyword rich domains are domains that contain a searchable keyword or phrase associated with the offered products or services. They are most suitable for industry experts, eg the Marketrealist.com, or big market leaders such as Hotels.com or Cars.com.
Brandable domains, on the other hand, are catchy and memorable, though not necessarily associated with the company’s nature of business. They are generally suitable for companies offering diverse services such as Ebay or Twitter. Of course, a dictionary searchable word can become a brand and a brandable domain as well. A case in point is Apple.com.
Both have advantages, but it all depends on what fits your business needs best.
What Goodies can a Strong Keyword Domain Name Offer you?
Since Google’s 2012 Exact Match Domain Update, not that many. The aim of the Update was to clear the search from low-quality exact match websites with poor content that were only set up for fast and furious SEO. From then on, it became best to avoid domain names with what’s largely viewed as spammy signals:
– long exact match names: bestpaydayloansonline
– less familiar generic domain extensions, especially in combination with the above: bestpaydayloansonline.biz, or bestpaydayloansonline.us.
– use of hyphens, especial more than one: bestpaydayloans-online.biz.
– use of numbers: not a spammy signal in itself, but can create confusion: numberone.biz or number1.biz.
In addition to the above, good exact match domains, especially in the popular .com extension are hard to obtain.
However, the argument for exact matches and partial matches is not yet lost. There are still valid reasons for choosing a keyword domain:
– your business is focused predominantly in one niche: eg ski tourism, deep sea diving, car rentals, etc.
– you can make the keyword/phrase your brand, if appropriate: eg Hotels.com, Cars. com
– your links will have better matching anchor texts so your rankings may improve and boost website traffic
– you can get higher click-through rates and monetize on business-relevant PPC (Pay-Per-Click) links.
What Goodies can a Strong Brandable Domain Name Offer you?
Your brand is your business identity and what customers look for and trust – both online and offline. It stands to reason to have a domain name that matches your brand because:
– it maintains brand consistency
– it’s easier to remember
– it looks professional and trustworthy and
– it’s more attractive to loyal customers.
That is not all, though. When you launch and choose a unique brand name, it’s more likely that you can register it as a trademark (than if it contains a generic keyword) and protect your brand against potential infringement in the future. Trademark abuse in the domain arena is not uncommon so it’s better to think ahead. More on that topic at: < What you Need to Know about Protecting your Brand Online>.
Plus, brandable domains work better if:
– you offer several services or products, ie you cannot cover them by a single keyword/phrase
– you operate in a broad industry sector
– your website is constantly updated: eg social media websites or online shopping portals.
Is there a Middle Ground in Domain Names?
The short answer is ‘Yes’, even though it all depends on the nature of your business needs. One option is to go for branding a keyword if appropriate: eg connectivity.com, box.com though trademark registering may be an issue with generic words.
Another is to go for partial match domains which contain one important keyword combined with a catchy element which makes it more appealing to customers while also preserving high click-through rates and good anchor text links: pinkblushmaternity.com. It may limit branding if you work in many market niches, though.
Which One is it going to be?
It seems brandable domains are trending these days and many claim that keyword rich domains are a thing of the pre2012 past (because of Google’s update mentioned above). Brand names are undoubtedly consumer-friendlier, but it takes more effort and resources to build a sustainable brand online. If that’s your purpose, then — brandable domains are the way to go. If not, keyword rich domains may as well get you the web traffic and ranking you need.
If you need more information on registering domains, go to <What you should Know before Registering your Domain>.