Consider these seven things while selecting a domain name: domain equity, availability, domain cost, ease of use, brand, location, and service/product.
Do you already have an existing domain? If so, you may want to consider keeping it, especially if it meets any of the criteria to follow. If you have a domain with content on it, it could already have some pull with the search engines, which will make the fight to the “top ten search results” a little easier. Also, Google’s algorithms look at how long the domain has been in existence. Overall, the domain’s age is not the biggest factor in determining authority, but it’s still something to keep in mind, especially if you have older content that is performing well.
Is the domain you want to purchase available? Try to visit the domain you’d like to buy. Is there real content at this domain, does it see like a spammy ad, or do you see nothing at all? If it’s an ad or nothing, it’s likely ready to go.
Is the domain name you want cost prohibitive? Most domain names are reasonably priced, however not all domains are created equal. Some of them are considered to be more lucrative than others, for instance, insurance.com sold for 35.6 million in 2010! Check with godaddy.com and type in the domain you want. Godaddy should be able to give you a quote right away.
Is the domain name you want easy to spell? Is it easy to remember? Is it easy to pronounce? Does it take a long time to type out? Choosing a domain names is not a time to get fancy. Keep it short and sweet. Personal preference: avoid using hyphens. It’s much easier to type out bardstonicharping.com than bards-tonic-harping.com. Try it yourself and see.
Do you have any unique identifiers that need to be in your domain? These can be last names (gustafsonlawgroup.com) or business names (burgerjones.com). If you are on the fence about including brand, there are a few possible advantages to using your own name in your domain IF– Your name is easy to spell. Your name is unique. You have strong referral or word-of-mouth business strategy. If any/all of these apply, your name will rocket to the number one search result in no time at all.
If your business is dependent on local customers and can’t provide services through telecommuting, it is worth considering including the closest big city in the name. Examples include: service industries–dentists, plumbers, handymen, etc. These people have to either perform house calls for customers, or patients need to visit the office in order to obtain a service or good. Google’s algorthims have been focusing on local search, and will reward local businesses with a result if you are deemed relevant to the query. This is great news to small businesses, because bigger, well-established businesses will have to work hard to be relevant locally. Be aware, however of the potenial pitfalls of having a location in your domain name. It will limit you if you expand your business or move to an entirely new city.
Each of your services or products are essentially search terms. Websites with a broader search term included in the domain will appear to be a better match (and more authoritative) for related search queries, and will display that website higher on the results page. Ideally you’d want to target a search term that is as specific as possible, but still broad enough to consider other website/business expansions.
Doctor Barbara Johnson is a plastic surgeon that specializes in eyelid reconstruction in Minneapolis, MN. She’s been in business for fifteen years and needs a new website. Her first step is to select a domain name.
She wouldn’t want to have a domain that was too specific–such as eyelidreconstruction.com–she would be putting all of her SEO efforts into a very narrow category. What if she were to expand and specialize in “tummy tucks” down the road? In contrast, it might not be wise to select a domain name that is too broad, such as surgery.com, because there are so many specializations within the category of surgery.
A better domain name might be minneapolisplasticsurgery.com. However, Dr. Barb might decide that there’s a growing market in Fargo, North Dakota and needs to build an entirely separate website just for that locale. She will have to start her SEO efforts from scratch, and double the website maintenance tasks, which isn’t very sustainable.
What if she were to select a domain that is based on brand, such as drbarbarajohnson.com? That’s better, but like the surgery example above, it’s still a little broad since there a lots of different areas for doctors to specialize in.
Still, the best solution is likely a combination of all the above: johnsonplasticsurgery.com. It’s broad (yet specific), which still allows for lots of specialties within the category of plastic surgery. The brand name will never change, and still gives a nod to Dr. Barb’s word-of-mouth leads.