One of the first things you will do when getting started with your website is register a domain name. You would think that the process of selecting a domain name would be straight forward. However, website owners often make common mistakes that will badly affect them in a few different areas, particularly in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Tips for Registering Your Domain. When it comes to registering a domain, most registrars are very similar. But, here are a few things you should take into consideration.
• Select a registrar that’s well known. Avoid any registrars that you’ve never heard of or are not well known.
• Go with a registrar that your friends recommend, especially if they’ve been with them for a few years. Two I like are Google Domains and GoDaddy.
• Avoid paying big fees. To register a “.com” domain will cost about $10-15/year. Avoid buying a preregistered domain since that can be at a cost with a large premium.
• Register your domain for as long as you can. I suggest that 3-5 years is a good start.
• Don’t let your domain registration expire. Registering a domain is like renting it, not buying it. If your domain registration expires it’s possible for someone else to acquire it, which means you cannot renew the registration. To minimize the chance of the domain to expire, set up an auto renewal on the domain, and keep your credit card information current.
• Consider adding registration privacy. Private registration for a domain name allows you to remain anonymous and helps to increase the privacy and security of your website. Whenever you purchase a standard domain name, your registrar is required to pass on your personal and contact information to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). When you purchase privacy, the registrar replaces your registrant and contact details with theirs. Some registrars include the cost of privacy in the cost of the domain registration. Others offer the option at a cost of about $5-8/year.
Make Your Domain Name Memorable. Memorable domain names are short, easy to remember, easy to type, and easy to say. Users must be able to easily remember your domain name/brand.
Use Relevant Keywords. Having a domain name that matches your target keyword(s) does offer some benefits. For the users, it clearly relates the name of your website domain with its purpose or brand. In addition, when the search engines can relate keywords in the domain name to the content of the website, they see that as consistent and relevant to the website. Relevancy by Google and the search engines is what improves SEO performance and result positioning.
Avoid the Following in a Domain Name. Hyphens and Numbers — While a hyphen (-) between words can make the domain name easier for the website visitor to read, the use of hyphens correlates with a spam-like name and behavior. This is also true when using numbers in a domain name. Search engines consider domain names without hyphens or numbers as more reliable, which may improve SEO performance and result positioning.
• Purposeful Misspellings: Having a purposely misspelled domain name, while cute or cool, can be confusing and make it hard for your users to find your website. It may also confuse the search engines from an SEO perspective since the search engines will not know the words. Examples of purposely misspelled domain names are “moneestore.com, “vacationholidaze.com”, etc.
• Adjoining the Same Letters: Domain names with the same letter repeating between words makes the domain name harder to read. Examples of adjoining the same letters between words are “beachholidays.com,” “businessspecials.com,” etc.
Your domain name is how users will find, remember, share and identify your website and your company online. In both social media and search engines, the domain name is the primary way by which users can identify where the link will lead. Just as important is that you select the proper domain name for SEO purposes.
David Schuchman is the founder and principal consultant at Princeton Technology Advisors, an IT consulting and services firm, and executive chair of the Professional Service Group of Mercer County. Visit www.princetontechadvisors.com or www.psgofmercercounty.org.