When creating a new website, the domain name is among the most important aspects to consider, helping to establish your brand identity and attract and retain potential users. However, choosing the ideal domain name can often be a difficult task; not only does it directly reflect your business and offerings, but it might also significantly impact your SEO efforts. If you’re wondering how SEO and domains might be connected, here are just some ways domain names can affect SEO, as well as a few tips on making the right choice:

Domains and PPC

Pay Per Click
Pay Per Click

One aspect where domain names have a higher impact is Pay-Per-Click (PPC). In case you have limited space for ads, a domain name that includes a keyword might be of help, as most users who click on PPC ads tend to search for specific products instead of brands and companies. When a location is included in a domain or subdomain, local SEO results might also be higher. For example, if someone is visiting New York and looking for a cafe nearby, mentioning Manhattan instead of Brooklyn might help to increase the number of clicks you receive, depending on where you are located.

Keyword Domains

Entrepreneur typing keyword domains on computer
Entrepreneur typing keyword domains on computer

It was thought for a long time that domains which contain relevant keywords had an advantage in Google rankings over those that did not. The reason behind this was the fact that having matching keywords in domain names allowed users to establish a clear link between the website and the searched term, also having a positive impact on the click-through rate (CTR) that led to higher rankings on Google. But after a significant algorithm update, Google now checks “exact match domains” for relevance, and often favors websites that offer relevant content and real value. While this might mean that fewer keyword domains now appear in search results, they could still help with rankings if they are combined with relevant, quality content.

Branded Domains

Entrepreneur presenting branded domains to team with whiteboard
Entrepreneur presenting branded domains to team with whiteboard

Both users and Google tend to favor branded domains, as your brand name is exactly how people find, remember, and identify your business online. A strong brand identity also means users are more likely to open, read, link, and share your website, thus leading to a lower bounce rate and higher retention times, both of which are quite beneficial for SEO. For this reason, using your brand name in your domain can be a great option. For instance, if you wish to create a personal website, it would be best to choose a domain that is both personal and reliable. Combining your brand name with a domain such as .me could be a wonderful choice, as it’s a more individual and unique solution, while still being quite SEO-friendly.

Domain Extensions

SEO
SEO

In recent years, a high number of new top-level domains (TLDs) have been introduced in an effort to expand the market, and many have wondered whether these new endings are relevant to SEO. According to Google, new TLDs are treated the same as more traditional and established ones like .org or .com. However, country-specific TLDs usually aren’t treated the same. For example, a .com.au domain will often rank quite highly in Australia, but it might have a difficult time reaching the top position of search engine results in the UK. To that end, these domain extensions seem to be a good option for more localized SEO and country-specific websites.

Domain Owner and Age

Laptop on desk
Laptop on desk

Whether the owner of a domain has a clean slate in Google’s records could also be important in the context of SEO and domain names. If a number of owner’s domains have previously been marked as spam or otherwise penalized, this reputation could also follow them when registering new domains, which is why experts often recommend making public domain information available. Additionally, the domain age could be another aspect influencing SEO. More established domains that have been producing quality content for a longer time will generally rank higher and be considered more trustworthy overall, but that’s not to say that new domains won’t achieve good positions as long as the content is relevant and high in quality.

Choosing SEO-Friendly Domains

Website traffic and SEO
Website traffic and SEO

Once you are ready to choose a good, SEO-friendly domain name, there are a couple of aspects you might want to keep in mind. Having a unique and short domain name (around 9 letters long) is generally recommended, as well as avoiding hyphens that could be seen as spamming or simply confusing. It might also be wise to choose a relevant and memorable name that’s not easy to misspell, in an effort to achieve the best results.

Evidently, selecting an SEO-friendly domain name is simpler than you might initially think, as long as you keep it brief and focus on branding. But even though the domain name might affect SEO in a number of ways, keep in mind that you can’t solely depend on the domain to rank high in search engine results.

Have any more tips on how domain names affect SEO? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.