Picking a Good Domain Name for
Better Search Engine Placement
How to pick a good domain for better search engine placement as part of optimizing your site for the search engines during the design phase.
For the perfect domain name matchup in a search engine so that a page of our "Alfa Romeo Alfetta" website comes up #1 in the search results, the website would be named:
www.alfa-romeo-alfetta.com or www.alfaromeoalfetta.com
The website name would equal exactly the keywords in the search. Picking the correct domain name for a website is a good first step and can help a lot in how near the top of the search engine rankings your site shows up when someone searches for your key words. It certainly won't hurt to have a great domain name that exactly describes your website, especially for a new website.
You can find out which domain names are available by going to this site: Domain Tools or Domain Name Soup. Enter possible names for your website. If the domain name is taken, it will tell you. Sometimes you can buy a domain name that is for sale, but watch out for scams. Someone tried to sell me www.wiar.com (which would be a lot easier to tell someone than "words in a row dot com" when I'm on the phone) but they wanted $40,000 for that short domain name. I laughed if off--it's not worth that much to me.
When you find a good domain name is available, you can go to www.registerwizards.com or GoDaddy and register it cheaply and easily. Play around with some other names for your site -- get creative, and don't forget about the .net and .org and .biz possibilities. If you'd like help registering a domain name, feel free to contact us. We can even do it for you, for a small fee.
(As an aside: If you need a good dedicated server for your site, the best one we've found, and the one we use and recommend to our clients, is Data393 They offer a lot of practical features and are very responsive--and are inexpensive as dedicated servers go. Most websites DO NOT need dedicated servers, however. If you do happen to need the absolute top of the line in website hosting, use Rackspace, which offers "fanatical support".)
We also recommend 1and1 web hosting, and GoDaddy is also acceptable (don't sign up for the Website Tonite service at GoDaddy - your site will not do well in the search engines if you do). Be sure you specify that you want a static, dedicated IP address for your site.
Some people frown on using hyphens in a domain name--but hyphens can work fine as part of a domain name. That said, in our experience, using more than two hyphens in a domain name can be bad and get a site penalized at Google. Some of the search engines recognize the words between the hyphens in a domain name and give your site better placement for them. Every little bit helps. There does not seem to be any problem using as many hyphens as you want in PAGE names.
You have the option of using this second domain name for your site solely for the purpose of registering it with the search engines for good placement of your website. So what if it ends in .net or .org, or has hyphens in it -- who cares? It won't matter. For your normal marketing purpose, you can always stick with the domain name you already have, ending in .com and without any hyphens. It's true that most people will think your website should end in "dot com", and it can be a real hassle to have to tell them there are a couple of hyphens in it every time you tell someone your URL. To illustrate how this works: if you click to www.search-engine-friendly.com, it will take you to our Words In a Row website.
Duplicate domains: it's not a good idea to try to get 50 domain names with your keywords in them, and register them all with the search engines, pointing to the same website or duplicate content. This is, in fact, a very bad idea. It's a form of spam called "domain name spam" and to be avoided at all costs. If you've already done this, contact us for how to handle by setting up an IP funnel, so that you don't get penalized for it at Google.
If you have already registered a domain name and it is not what you'd like, don't despair. You can register as many domain names as you like for $15.00 each per year through www.registerwizards.com or GoDaddy and have them all point to the same website (IP address). A lot of the good domain names are gone, but if you find a better name than the one you have, great! Snag it and have it point to your IP address. If not, write this step off and move on! For example, we bought the domain www.wordsinarow.com back in 1996. We also bought www.search-engine-friendly.com, and sometimes use that domain instead. Both of them point to our website. At some point we may switch over to using only www.search-engine-friendly.com, but we haven't done so to date. Technically it is not difficult to make the switch and make sure that all the Google PageRank from all the thousands of links to our site are carried over to the new domain; frankly I don't think we'd get very much of an improvement of Google rankings out of making such a switch, so we haven't done it. We already have great rankings for such terms as "table trick" and "optin email addresses" at Google, so we're not that concerned about it.
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This page last updated 2013-05-24.