When it comes to website design, the domain name you choose is an incredibly important step. You need to pick something that’s memorable enough for people to easily be able to recall, while at the same time choosing a unique name that won’t confuse search engines. Needless to say, doing so can be very difficult, but there are certain rules that you can follow in order to improve your chances of picking the right name. Here are our rules for choosing an SEO-friendly domain name in 2023.
Remember that SEO isn’t the be-all and end-all
It might seem counterintuitive to begin with a tip that essentially diminishes the importance of SEO, but bear with us. While domain name SEO is pretty important, it’s not the only thing you need to consider. You shouldn’t just pick a domain name because it’s easy to optimise for SEO; thanks to multiple Google algorithm updates, the focus appears to be moving away from raw SEO and towards usefulness, so branding, expertise, and trustworthiness are all equally important nowadays.
Use a good extension
Research suggests that .com is by far the most popular extension for domains. There’s a good reason for this; the .com protocol is easily the most memorable extension, and telling people that your website uses a different extension is a great way to engender confusion and ensure that they’ll end up in the wrong place. If you can, make sure that you grab the .com domain, but if not, try picking up .net or .org, as both of these are also extremely popular extensions. Other great domain extensions are .io, .ai, and .co.
Don’t use numbers or symbols
Keeping your domain simple is the order of the day. Make sure that you’re not using any symbols or numbers in your domain, as this can make it harder for search engines to pick you up and also make it more difficult for people to remember your site. “bobsusedcars.com” has much more of a ring to it than “bobsusedcars23.com”, after all. A potential exception to this rule would be if your brand name has a number in it, as is the case with services like 23andme.
Try to be clever
Picking a domain that’s simple and easy to remember is one thing, but being clever and creative is quite another. It’ll stand you in good stead if you can think outside the box when it comes to choosing an SEO-friendly domain name. The reason for this is simple: if your domain is easy to remember and also unique enough to be clever, then people will remember it, and your domain will skyrocket to the top of the search engine results when people look for your brand.
As with all other things SEO-related, keywords are king (although perhaps not quite as much as they used to be), so try to use one in your domain if you can. For example, let’s say you’re creating a website that sells flowers, and your brand name is Katie’s (i.e. Katie’s Flowers). Just “katies.com” wouldn’t be a great domain name, because nobody would know what you’re selling. However, “katiesflowers.com” or “katieslondonflowers.com” would be better, because you’re including the service you provide and also the location of your business.
Check out your competitors
You’ve probably already used market research and competitor research repeatedly in setting up your business and in your day-to-day operations, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that doing so is also a great idea when it comes to your website’s domain name. Researching what your competitors are up to and figuring out what you should do in response should be a key cornerstone of your strategy; don’t use domain names they’re using, for instance, and try to keep your site’s domain name far away from theirs.
Don’t worry about length…
While the length of your site’s domain name might matter in terms of keeping it memorable and simple, it actually doesn’t affect your SEO rankings as much as you might think it does. According to Search Engine Journal, it’s a good idea to keep your URL under 1000 characters if you can (which should be pretty straightforward for the most part), but outside of that, URL length doesn’t matter too much, so if your site’s name is long, you shouldn’t worry.
…but try to keep it snappy
While length doesn’t matter for SEO, it is important when it comes to helping your customers or clients find your site. In this instance, a slightly contradictory piece of advice arises; “katies.com” would be stronger for branding than “katiesflowers.com”, because it’s easier for customers to keep in mind. If a customer wants to find your official website, then “katies.com” is much more likely to be their first port of call than “katiesflowers.com”, so bear that in mind when you’re coming up with your domain name.
Try a domain name generator
There are tons of domain name generators out there that you can use to try and find a domain for yourself. You can usually input prompts or keywords, and then the generator will try to find empty and unused domains that match those prompts or keywords, making it much easier for you to think of something original and clever. This is likely how many of the best domains in the world got snapped up, so if you’re struggling for ideas, don’t be afraid to seek outside help.