Picking a Good Domain Name

for Better Search Engine Placement

How to pick a good domain for better ranking of your website? It's a small part of optimizing your site for Google and Bing during your initial design phase.

How Things Used to Work

It USED TO BE that the perfect domain name matchup so that a page of a website focused on, say, "Alfa Romeo Alfetta", so that it would come up #1 in the search results at Google, would be named:

The website's domain name would equal exactly the main keywords for the website. That's how it used to work. It was great for getting good placement for the keywords in the domain. Not any more.

Exact Match Domains Don't Work

It no longer works that way. In 2012, Google began penalizing and filtering out of the search results those websites having "Exact Match Domains." For example, if your website was, after 2012 it would not rank as well as it used to in a search at Google for "Birthday gifts."

In 2023, when picking the correct domain name for a website, it certainly won't hurt to have a great domain name that exactly describes what your website is about. That's true especially for a new website. But don't pick an "exact match domain" that utilizes all the main keywords you hope to rank well for at Google. Individual page names then become problematic because you wind up "keyword stuffing" your URLs.

Example of Keywork Stuffing


and so on.... those URLs are "stuffed" with two iterations of the keyword "Birthday Gifts" and will likely be penalized by Google as a direct result of that, in a search for "birthday gifts". So it can defeat the purpose of having the exact match domain.

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—which would be a whole lot easier to tell someone than "words in a row dot com" when I'm on the phone with them—but they wanted $40,000 for that short domain name. I laughed if off because the short domain is definitely not worth that much to me.

When you find a good domain name is available, you can register it easily and cheaply at Enom or GoDaddy. Play around with some other names for your site—get creative, and don't forget about the .net and .org and .biz (and many other possibilities now available). If you'd like help registering a domain name, feel free to contact us. We can even register a domain name 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 Pixelgate. 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".

What About Hypens in Domain Names?

Some people frown on using hyphens in a domain name—but hyphens can work fine as part of a domain name as long as you don't use too many of them. Using more than two hyphens in a domain name can be bad and may result in reduced rankings at Google. There does not seem to be any problem using as many hyphens as you want in PAGE names, however.

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.

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 we can minimize the impact of your error with 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 about $15.00 each per year through Enom or GoDaddy and have them all point to the same website (IP address). A lot of the good domain names are long 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, check this step off and move on!

Article updated 2023

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