Part 1 – Choosing your domain name. For some websites, getting an SEO (Search Engine Optimizations) professional to optimize their WordPress website happens after the website has been developed. However, it is better to get someone on board prior to the development of your website just to get some insights for your web developer on how to prepare your site for better search engine rankings. And that's because, all the planning for your website has a great impact on its SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings as well. From choosing your domain name, to choosing its domain extension to choosing its web hosting platform, all these factors are the search engines consider when ranking websites. In this article series on SEO for WordPress we will cover SEO strategies that will help your site get a better SERP ranking.
We first start with the domain name. Some business 'would really like to have a unique domain name and the really big business' have done that in the past. Business like Flickr, Android, Skype, etc., have managed to get their brands across. And because their product name is unique, then it is easy for people to follow. For the small business owner, getting domain names like these might not be the best decision without your business have the following:
– good solid financial backing
– a unique product or service that will solve a lot of people's problems
– good marketing connections
So unless you have more than one of those elements, then it would be worthwhile to reconsider the domain name you wish to register. And sometimes, the business name is already there and it has been registered so there's no choice but to use the business name right? Not necessarily. You can have a business called ABC Inc. that sells plastic containers and then you can have a domain name that's more relevant to your product or service.
Search engines give a lot of importance to the domain name and the connection with its contents. The objective of most search engines nowdays is contained in one word: relevance. And this is a good criteria to rank a website because it weeds out those websites that says plastic containers but then shows adult content with models having too much plastic surgery.
If you have a big marketing war chest then choosing a unique domain name will not be so much an issue. However, if you are on a shoe string marketing budget, or even if you have a modest marketing budget, the best strategy would be to get a generic domain name that is relevant to your product or services and get ranked to the first page of the major search engines. By relevant, we mean that the keywords that describe your products should be part of your domain name. It is easier to get a better SERP ranking too if your domain matches the generic description of your product and that generic description is what most consumers search for online. And this is where the research comes in. If you are selling plastic container containers for the kitchen (ie food storage), garage (ie toolbox), or for your home office, then coming up with a generic term that describes all these products can be quite challenging. What's even more challenging is that once you have come up with a generic term you need to find out if this is the term that users are using when they search for such products. A good tool to use is Google's keyword tool. It's always good rule of the thumb to look at what your potential buyers would type rather than stick with industry jargons that are not common to the public. A keyword that best describes your products or services in the most general sense is also known as a short tail keyword. While keywords that describes your products / service / niche more specifically are known as long tail keywords. Thus, having "plastic containers" as part of your domain name constituents the short tail key word for your niche while "plastic food storage", "plastic toolbox". Being more specific, would be the long tail keywords. If your business is selling all these different plastic products then it makes more sense to get a domain name where the keyword (s) can be generally applied to the specific products / services you sell.
Getting a generic domain is good for your business for the following reasons: it becomes easier to get a good SERP rank because the name have exact keyword matches on the website's content; the risk of infringing intellectual property is very low (but you still need to do your research); and there is a secondary market for domain names. Generic domains are pretty much in demand in this secondary market. This is where people buy and sell registered domains. There's even websites that auction these names names. Some of these domains have even made it in the news like pizza.com which sold for $ 2.6 million. There are also other less-know domain names that are being sold and bought for and they fetch some pretty impressive prices. Dnjournal.com is a good resource to check out the latest domain names that have been sold and how much it was sold for.
Equally important to consider when registering for a domain from an SEO perspective is the domain name's extension. And there are numerous of the them now. There are generic domain extension ie.com, .net, .org, .info, etc and then you also have country code top level domain (cctld) name extensions ie.us, .ca, .uk, .ph ,. au, etc. You can find more information on this from most web hosting services.
The domain extension has relevance in SEO because different domain extensions rank differently on the search engines. If, for example, you have a.com.au website but you are also trying to sell your products in the UK, chances are your rankings in google.com.au is different from google.co.uk. So if you are planning to sell your products or services globally then it's best to get one of those generic domain name extensions ie.com, .net, etc. As a general rule.com is king! It's the domain extension that fetches one of the highest price in the secondary market. But most of the good domain names are taken so the alternative it to go for other domain extensions. This can be quite treacherous if you do not know the domain name extension really well. Some country codes like.tv, .co, .me, etc. are being marketed as an alternative domain name extension to.com. And some of them do rank well in the search engines and some of them do not. And the reason for this is that Google has made some domain extensions open for geo-targeting. One extension that we saw that rank well is.tv and it's not just the fact that tv is a generic term now but it's because Google has opened.tv for geo-targeting. Normally, domain names with country code extensions would only have the potential to rank well if the search was made within that country of origin. But Google has made a few exemptions to this rule to certain domain name extensions ie.tv., .co, etc. And you can perform geo-targeting by signing up in Google's Webmaster tools.