After seeing such a positive response from my Domain Development 101 post I’ve been putting-together some great content for an SEO 101 post. I was thinking of posting this today but then decided it would be good to do a post about Domaining and SEO to give a bit more context. At the end of the day Domaining and SEO have one big thing in common – it’s all about Targeted Traffic. Yes, Rick and Howard picked the absolute best name for their conference because it gets to the core of what is so important about premium domain names.
In the SEO world while Domains aren’t necessarily paramount, targeted traffic is, so in the end we’re all talking about the same thing. For the purpose of this post I want to talk about how Domaining and SEO intersect and the advantage of these together, rather than thinking of them as two disparate topics. There are plenty of smart SEO pro’s that use exact-match domains as a key part of their SEO strategy. One of the most successful is Michael Jackness who bought WebsiteHosting.com for $190,000 in January of this year and sold it for a whopping $415,000 just a few months later.
Michael is a great example of someone who builds real online businesses and sees the domain name as a key part of his strategy. He’s not afraid to spend five or six-figures on a name because he knows the value it will bring to his business. So let’s drill down into some of places where Domaining and SEO intersect.
- Exact-match domains and SEO. There is a common misconception that having an exact-match domain name means that you can rank well in Google for the exact-match term without doing any work. This is not true, however, having an exact-match domain does decrease the amount of SEO work you have to do. The idea is simple and powerful, you still have to do SEO however what you do will go further and have a great impact than someone who does not have an exact-match domain. This is a hotly debated topic in the SEO world but what I’ve seen along with many other SEO’s is that it allows you to get more bang for your SEO buck and rank well doing less SEO than your competitors. A higher ranking means more targeted traffic, something many Domainers have only they get it without relying on Google, which is even better!
- Domains and CTR. Consumers click on search results in Google that look like the most authoritative source of information. A good category-defining domain name sees higher CTR than competitive sites with a weaker domain. Just think about it, if you’re looking for a plumber online would you rather go to Plumbing.com or FindAPlumber.info? Doesn’t the exact-match .COM just sound like it would be the authority in the space? Search engines use CTR in their ranking algorithm so the more people that click on your site when they find it on Google or Bing, the higher your site will rank.
- Domain Age. This is one of those unknowns that the SEO world is definitely divided on, the impact of domain age and SEO. The idea here is that search engines will rank a newly launched site better on an older domain than a new domain. I could see this as a factor since a more established business in a niche might be considered more of an authority than one that’s been around for a few months. Since search engines are trying to display the most relevant results an older business might have more credibility. For me personally I think anything more than two years old is good for SEO purposes. One other advantage that I personally like is existing backlinks, particularly DMOZ listings. I look for domains that are DMOZ listed as this one link is very powerful in the SEO world and hard to get. If you buy a domain that’s already DMOZ listed you have an immediate SEO advantage built-into that domain.
- Domain Registration Length. This is one I completely disagree with it but since there are other opinions I felt it only fair to include in this post. Some folks in the SEO world do believe that having a domain name registered for a longer period of time will increase your rank in Google. The thought behind this is that Google will see you as a more serious business if you’ve registered a domain for a longer period of time. I think this is a bunch of hooey and don’t believe that registration length has any impact whatsoever on SEO.
- Top Level Domain. Yes, in some cases TLD can actually be used for SEO. This is because Google does include the TLD when doing keyword matching. So if you own a domain like RentAB.us (i.e. Rent A Bus) search engines will see you as a match for the keyword phrase “Rent A Bus”. The only thing to be careful of here is ccTLDs which are usually what end-up getting used in domain hacks like this. Using a ccTLD for a site you want to rank well in the search engines will give you an edge in the country the ccTLD is from, and a disadvantage in Google US. This doesn’t mean you can’t overcome the hurdle here, but it actually works against you in the SEO world if Google US is your target search engine. It’s important to note that ccTLDs like .ME, .TV, and .CO are all allowed to be treated like .COM, .NET, or .ORG in Google by geo-targeting the names using Google Webmaster Tools.
As you can see from the list above, there is a lot of a value that Domain Names bring to the SEO world. The question now is, with new gTLDs coming-out will online businesses and SEO pro’s stick with .COM, or opt for one of the many new TLDs on the horizon?
What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!