What role does SEO play in domain name selection?
A website’s backlink profile, content quality, and usability are just three of the many Google ranking factors that decide which websites rank at the top of the results list and which don’t. A good ranking is crucial for every commercial web project. Another building block for comprehensive SEO is the domain name. A good mix of a meaningful name and suitable top-level domain helps a website place as high as possible in the SERPs.
How important are domain names and endings for SEO?¶
One thing that’s important to know in advance is that a domain name has rather limited influence on SEO. However, this does not mean that the domain name you choose is irrelevant when it comes to your website’s success. A search engine optimized domain can give both search engines and users a clue as to what they can expect to see on your website. This means that an inappropriate domain name can create false expectations and lead to high bounce rates. The SEO relevance of the domain name becomes apparent at this moment since Google and other search engines become aware of these negative signals and analyze them accordingly.
Your very own .ca domain name!
Find your perfect domain name including SSL and a personal consultant!
What makes a good SEO domain?¶
There are a number of SEO factors to consider for domain names, although not all factors are relevant for all types of websites. The following sections list some of the most important building blocks for a search engine optimized web address.
For a long time, it was thought that domains containing a relevant keyword had an edge on Google rankings over those that didn’t. The reasoning was that having matching keywords in domain names enabled users to establish a link between the search term and the website. This has a positive effect on the click-through rate (CTR). In 2012 there was an algorithm update and ever since then, Google has checked “exact match domains” e.g.
dental-insurance.com for their relevance and gave them a positive review if relevant and valuable content could be found. As a result, they tend to favor sites that offer value and relevant content. Since then, not only the number of pure keyword domains, but also the role that keywords play in domains has decreased noticeably.
Secure an affordable domain from IONOS now!
If you use your brand name as a domain name or include it within the domain name, the user will realize what awaits them. This in turn leads to a low bounce rate and longer retention times, which are important factors for SEO. Using the brand name in your domain is not only relevant for SEO, but is also especially important for your brand image. If you include a memorable brand name in your website’s domain name, you strengthen the sentimental value and, ultimately, your corporate identity.
A suitable domain ending (top-level domain)¶
When they were introduced a few years ago, the question also arose as to whether the new domain endings were relevant for SEO. According to official Google statements, the new generic TLDs, such as .hotel and .shop are treated exactly the same as the more established ones such as .com and .org. Here, too, it is crucial that the top-level domain you’ve chosen matches your own website as closely as possible. For instance, websites with the .info TLD would receive a higher click-through rate, since they offer information.
Country code TLDs (ccTLDs) have a small advantage when being evaluated by the crawlers. A .us domain is usually more relevant in the United States than in the UK, while a .uk domain will have a hard time appearing in the search results in the US.
According to Google, new regional domains like .miami or .boston are treated like .com domains. However, customized domain extensions are still an excellent choice if you want to position well in regional searches.
Whether your website is considered trustworthy and high quality is also important in the domain SEO context. If you fill your website with helpful, unique content that reflects your domain name, this has a positive effect on your domain trust. The same applies to a high quality backlink profile. Another factor that can directly influence your SEO profile is the age of the domain. Established domains that have been delivering quality for a long time are seen as trustworthy and are therefore ranked highly. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that a newly-registered domain inevitably loses out when it comes to positioning well in the rankings. “The older the domain, the better the ranking” is not 100% true in this context. The period of time that the site has had a good quality level plays a role, which can affect the ranking in both a positive and negative way.
How to find a suitable domain name with SEO relevance¶
Choosing the right domain is an important step if you want your web project to be successful in the long run. You should choose the domain name for the user, rather than for SEO reasons. A short, memorable domain name with thematic relevance and recognition is essential here.
Whether the brand name or a relevant keyword or even a combination of both is the right choice is determined by what kind of company you have and of course whether the name you want is still available with the desired TLD. It definitely makes sense to opt for country-specific endings if your offer is clearly tailored to a specific market. With a generic ending that reflects your industry or the topic of your website, you have a good alternative if the desired address with your desired ccTLD is already taken.
Can’t think of a suitable name for your company? Use the free Business Name Generator from IONOS, which generations helpful suggestions in seconds. There is also no limit to the number of search queries you make.