So… you have a new website for your business. You’ve had it designed professionally, you’ve written the copy, and you think it’s pretty much ready to go.
But wait. Where does it go? How do you get it there? And how will anyone be able to find it?
And you’ve heard of something called “domain SEO,” but what is it exactly?
We’re here to discuss how to name your website–that is, give it an appropriate domain name and select from one of quite a few possible domain extensions. This should answer at least some of your questions.
The name of your website will consist of two parts: the domain name and the domain extension. These are what identify it to search engines.
A domain name is simply a website name. It is part of the universal resource locator (URL), which includes all of the information your computer needs to find a page, image, or document on a website.
At the most basic level, a domain name is a string of characters that identify a specific website. These could be letters, numbers, or a combination of the two. Most websites today use letter combinations that form actual words or phrases.
If a webpage is called up by an individual computer (when the user either types the URL or does a search), the domain name of the requested website is sent to the domain name system (DNS), a global network of servers.
The request is then routed to the server hosting that website. Then, finally, the requested webpage is routed to the requesting computer.
The requested site then appears on that computer. All this happens in the blink of an eye.
Decide on a name you would like to use. It should be something that describes you, such as “suzysmith” for a personal website, or your business or organization, such as “suzyspetsupplies.”
Proceed carefully with domain name length and complexity; you want people to remember it. And don’t use meaningless characters or numbers. They will lead to mistyping–which can cause frustration.
And avoid using the hyphen in domain names. It can make them hard to remember, it’s used a lot in spam.
Do you have your domain name picked out? If so, don’t get too excited just yet. The next step is researching the name you’ve chosen. It’s quite possible that there is another “suzysmith” or “suzyspetsupplies” out there.
Since the name you make up can’t be something that’s already being used, you will have to choose a different name. The hosting company you’re working with should provide some options similar to the one you chose.
Look at the recommendations and see if there’s one that strikes you. If nothing strikes you, keep brainstorming until you come up with something creative that is memorable and fairly brief—yet still makes clear what the website is for.
By the way, one of the options you might be offered is preferred domain name–but with a different domain extension. We’ll discuss that next.
The domain extension–also known as a top-level domain or TLD–is what comes after the period following the domain name. Familiar examples include .com, .net, .edu, and so on. The .com extension is the most popular
If a .com name you like is available, great. But there are plenty of other domain extensions. We’d bet there are some domain extensions you’ve never heard of, and that might be just what you’re looking for. Look at all of them!
Maybe Suzy would actually prefer a .store or a .shop for her site.
A caution, though: while “non-traditional” domain extensions might come to be all the rage in the future, at this point they might be perceived as “cheap” or “lower-grade” compared to .com. This relates to domain SEO.
Here is an excellent resource for understanding domain names and extensions.
Search engine optimization (SEO) should be familiar to many people now, especially anyone who has set up a website. But it’s still more commonly associated with keywords in the text of web pages than as part of the web address (URL).
Hopefully, you already have an SEO-friendly website. That probably was part of the design and set-up. But there should be one or two keywords in your domain name as well.
For example, “suzyspetsupplies” actually has four common keywords embedded in it: “pet”, “pets”, “supplies”, and “petsupplies”. And if you live near Suzy and know her business, “suzys” or “suzyspetsupplies” make a lot of sense too.
If you’re new to this process of creating SEO names, use keywords your customers or clients are most likely to use in a search. This shouldn’t be hard if only a couple are needed.
If you have more SEO experience, try to get search data on business sites similar to yours for ideas on what other keywords might work.
Since .com stands for “commercial,” it gives a business credibility. Internet and tech websites are more likely to use .net.
According to FitSmallBusiness.com, “to protect your brand name from being purchased by another company, it’s recommended that you purchase both a .com and .net extension and redirect the .net to the .com website.”
If you have a good domain name, properly spelled and with relevant meaning, that will help your reputation. Using .com will help a lot as well, as will those that are industry-specific or geography-related (e.g., those assigned to countries).
A recognized TLD can affect how others perceive your domain. For example, many people still think of .org as being short for a non-profit organization rather than a type of company.
This is an important step if you want people to actually find your website. And who doesn’t want that–given all the work it takes to set up a website? There are basically two ways to do this:
Most of these services will only submit your site to 20 or 25 search engines for free, and some require a link to their website before they’ll submit your domain name. However, search engines on these lists are typically the most popular ones.
Do you have an SEO-friendly website? Does it function well for domain SEO? It should.
If you’re waiting for search engines to find your page through keywords embedded in the pages, this could take a while. Who is going to find your site in the meantime?
Content is discoverable by links, so why not put the important keyword(s) upfront, where search engine crawlers (spiders) are most likely to discover them?
If you want traffic to your website, you need to take some initiative–as discussed in this article. But there’s a lot of advice available online, especially from companies that do web hosting.
Get the process started now, and see who all starts finding your website!