Internet Presence Management

What’s in a Domain Name?

domain nameWhen it comes to picking your domain name, you have two basic options: a keyword domain or a branded domain. Both have their pros and cons.

Keyword Domains

An example of a keyword domain might be something like computersupportphoenix.com or automechanicsanjose.com. The primary benefit of domains like these is that Google looks at keywords in the domain as a ranking factor. So if someone searches for Computer Support Phoenix, computersupportphoenix.com has a better chance of showing up on the first page of results.

However, an exact matching domain is by no means a guarantee of appearing on the first page. In fact, neither computersupportphoenix.com nor automechanicsanjose.com show up for their exact matching search term. Granted, there are no site currently hosted at those domains, but there are hundreds of other factors involved in ranking that tend to be more important like the number of inbound links, the quality of the content, the quality of the user experience and the level of competition for the keyword phrase.

Each year, SEOmoz publishes a report reviewing search ranking factors. They correlate a potential factor with actual search results to determine the level of influence it has on rankings. This year an exact match .com domain had a 0.22 correlation with higher rankings (if you’ll recall your high school stats class, a value of 1 would be a perfect correlation). This is down from 0.38 the previous year so it looks like Google is giving less weight to keyword domains and relying on other ranking factors instead.

Domain Level Keyword Usage

Domain Level Keyword Usage

Some other important things to consider when deciding on a keyword domain: the exact match ranking correlation is much lower for non-dot-com domains, and using multiple hyphens or having a lengthy domain name can have a slightly negative affect on your rankings. Remember, Google wants to provide quality results and these are signals that the site may be spammy.

Domain Level Keyword Agnostic

Domain Level Keyword Agnostic

Branded Domains

A perfect example is our domain - prontomarketing.com. The main benefit here is that the domain is easy to remember and fits in well with your other marketing strategies. It's very likely that people hear about Pronto Marketing from a source outside of our website, and it is not a stretch for them to guess that our website is located at prontomarketing.com.

We don't get the benefit of an exact keyword match, but as with many businesses, our services cover such a wide range that there isn't one keyword phrase to sum up our business plan. Likewise, hosting your site at computersupportphoenix.com could improve your results for that one keyword, but gives you no extra benefit for additional important keywords like Managed Services, IT Consulting, Cloud Computing, etc.

Short and Sweet

There is no clear winner. In the end, it really comes down to your preference, but no matter what you decide, make sure you keep it short, simple and easy to remember. Your domain name is just one small piece of your website. Don't spend too much energy picking one out. There are other tasks that are much more deserving of your time such as link building, adding quality content to the site and making sure the overall usability of your site is in tip-top shape.

Tim Kelsey
SEO & Analytics Manager

Pronto Marketing

Pronto Marketing

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