There’s more to choosing a domain name for your business website than just coming up with “mybrandname.com”! We’ve distilled the myriad factors to consider down to 10 key points …..
1.Do some search engine based keyword research:
The route to a domain name purchase should start with keyword research and search engine results (SERPS) analysis. Conduct some searches around both your brand name as well as service and/or product keywords to gain an understanding of the online space, and the types of site that are ranking well.
Consider the following points:
- Do you share your brand name with any another companies?
- Do they rank well for searches on “your” brand name?
- Is it likely you are going to outrank them for branded searches?
- Do they own all the key versions of top level domain (TLD) extensions?
- Do any other companies rank for your brand name + location?
- Do any other companies rank for your brand name + services or products?
- Can you claim the key social media profiles for your brand name and TLD?
- What comes up when you type in your brand name + reviews?
- Has a Google My Business listing been triggered for your brand name, and is it your business?
Make notes of the outcomes of the searches. Use this to decide how likely you are to rank for key “branded” searches and if you can claim the key TLD extensions for your brand name. If you can’t claim the co.uk and .com, consider adding some qualifiers to the brand name when you look to register it online. The types of qualifiers you can use are locations, services/products or company terms such as LLP, LTD or partnership.
Keyword or Product Searches
We’d recommend that you carry out searches for your key products and services with and without location qualifiers.
- What types of domains are ranking well organically for your key products or services in the main search engines?
- Are any exact match domain names (EMDs) ranking well in the organic search results? (An EMD is a keyword rich non-branded domain name such as solicitorslondon.co.uk or taxisintrowbridge.co.uk.)
- Are there any part match domains ranking well? (A part match domain is one that combines a brand name and qualifier, eg. heywoodandsonsbutchers.co.uk or heywoodandsonsbath.co.uk.)
- Are there any hyphenated domains ranking well on the front page of the search engine results? For example weatherproof-roofing.co.uk or weather-proof-roofing.co.uk.
- What type of TLD extensions are ranking well? Is there a pattern? Do most of the websites on the front page of the results have .com or co.uk extensions? Are there any less “trusted” TLDs ranking well, such as .site, .website, .store, .net, .london etc.
- Do the searches trigger the Google My Business Map Listings?
- Do the searches trigger Google Knowledge panel results?
After your initial research you can move on ….
2.Use your current business or brand name
Ideally you should use a “clean” version of your brand name with no qualifiers or hyphens. However if your research as shown that you can’t claim the “clean” version then preferably add location, or service/product/company type qualifiers. If all else fails use hyphens to get the TLD you want.
If you are looking for an example this locksmith site in Wiltshire uses the business name that also includes the primary keyword for the business – http://ghilocksmiths.com/vehicle-locksmith-services/
3.Keep it Simple
Don’t overthink the domain name, and don’t try to be too clever. The name needs to be simple, easy to pronounce, spell and type into a search engine. If it is mistyped what site will it take you to? This is another reason for avoiding hyphens in domain names; they can lead to mistakes and missed sales leads when searches end up at the wrong websites.
4.Keep it Short
The shortest version of your brand name or preferred TLD should be the one that is used. The shorter the URL the less likely there are going to be any spelling mistakes or mistyping.
5.Don’t go for EMDs
Don’t use a pure exact match domain, for two main reasons.
The first is that Google does not like EMDs and tends to downgrade their position within the search engine results. It is much more difficult to get an EMD to rank than it is a site built on a brand name or partial match domain.
Secondly, research shows that EMDs have lower click through rates than branded sites. Internet users trust URLs that look like real companies far more than they do EMDs that look like spam. Even if you manage to rank an EMD, the click through rates are poor. If your company name is an EMD (bathbuilders.co.uk, plantation-shutters.com) then you need to consider what other signals you can add to your meta data to showcase your business legitimacy. This can include simple things such as phone number and/or the year the business was established.
6.Think About Offline Usage
Keeping it simple and short will also help you spread the word offline. A short, simple TLD is easier for business cards, email addresses, flyers, posters, newspaper adverts and TV and radio slots. The less people have to remember when typing the URL the more value it will have in driving traffic from offline sources. Word of mouth is still the one of most powerful marketing methods. Make sure your choice of TLD is easy to share
7.Use a recognised TLD and get the key versions of the domain
When looking to buy a top-level domain name (TLD) for your business you need to go for the most trustworthy and relevant one. What did your research uncover in terms of well ranked TLDs? Are the majority on co.uk and .com TLDs? Is it likely that a less common TLD will rank in your niche?
Ideally you should to purchase both the .com and co.uk versions of the name, and if you can’t get both then it is worth doing more research. If one version of the domain isn’t available, you need to check if anything is hosted on the other TLD extensions.
We had a client who bought a co.uk domain and launched a site before he was aware that the dot com version of the domain hosted an adult themed website. Anyone typing in the wrong domain extension at the end of the brand name got a big shock. This damaged his brand and it was difficult to recover from.
You only need one version of the site live and need to decide which will be your primary domain, and which you will redirect. We recommend UK-based businesses use the co.uk. if you are looking to reach beyond the UK, then use the .com version as the live site TLD
8.Purchase Common Misspelling and Redirect Them
If, like me, you have a name (I wouldn’t call myself a brand as I am not Kayne West!) then it is worth buying up the common variations of your brand name if you can. My name is antonyheywood: I would consider registering the other spelling of Antony (Anthony) and Heywood (Haywood, Hayward, Heyward), and redirecting these to the chosen TLD. I would aim to get the .com and co.uk for each of the versions if possible.
9.Don’t infringe on other trademarks – research it
If you are going to add a qualifier to your brand name check to ensure that you aren’t infringing someone’s copyright. This applies to all versions of the domain you are intending to purchase. You could undo all your hard work if you host your website on a copyrighted TLD and the owner blocks your use of the domain making you take the site down.
10.Future Proof your TLD for business Growth
When choosing a TLD make sure you consider how your business will grow over time. Don’t limit yourself to a single area if you plan to sell your products or services in a wider geographical space. For example, if you chose heywoodplumberstrowbridge.co.uk this will make it difficult to rank in locations outside of Trowbridge. It would also have a negative effect on click-through rates if you were ranking for other locations. A URL such as heywoodplumberstrowbridge.co.uk/westbury would have a lower CTR than heywood-plumbers.co.uk/westbury.
Hopefully you have found these ten tips on TLDs useful. If you are looking to register some domain names, launch a website, refresh your current design or start an internet marketing campaign then please contact us today or call Tony on 01373 480584.
Tony Heywood ©