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Choosing the Perfect Domain Name

You might think the choice of your domain name (URL) is not really important, but in my opinion, it is one of the primary decisions a business owner needs to make.

In this post, I will cover the different types of domain names and the reason you need to think about the decision.

Each business needs to know what main category it will fall under, let’s look at our company Salterra:

Main Category: Web Services

Sub Categories: Web design, software development, internet marketing, SEO, hosting, etc..

Now when I started this company 7 years ago we only did web design and had no idea or intention of doing anything else. I also didn’t know what I know now in regard to choosing a domain name. I picked salterrasite because Salterra .com was taken and I wanted my brand name in the URL. It wasn’t until later did I understand what I could have done or not done differently.

Brand Domain

A brand domain or branded domain means that it doesn’t have any of the keywords or GEO locations in the URL that might be searched for in a search engine.

Brand: Salterra

Branded: Salterrasite

In my opinion, this is the best way to go. you have full flexibility to expand services, and locations, and not run into the chance of over-optimizing the URL. so if I wanted to add any service or location I have the flexibility to do that.

Partial Match Domain

Adding a keyword into the URL: One of my main keywords in web design. Including this keyword and the brand is called a partial match domain

Partial match domain: salterrawebdesign

The challenge with partial match domains is when you are expanding services or products. Google is getting better at knowing what sub-categories go with the main category, but it doesn’t make it easier to rank. If my domain is salterrawebdesign.com and I want to add a new service called ‘internet marketing’ I might have a URL like this: “salterrawebdesign.com/internet-marketing”.  It would be much better for ranking if the URL was “Salterrasite.com/internet-marketing” because both web design and internet marketing are subcategories of Web Services

Exact Match Domain

An exact match domain would be the keyword and maybe a location in the domain name

Exact Match Domain: Webdesigndenver.com

The challenges get even greater with an exact match domain. So if my company is Salterra and the domain is Webdesigndenver.com and you want to rank for internet marketing, SEO, and graphic design, …then good luck! You have really trapped yourself by the exact match domain of ‘web design’. you also have trapped the location to just ‘Denver’.

Using a GEO Location in your Domain Name

If you want to use a location (State, City, Town) do so with expansion in mind. if you are currently only servicing Denver and you have the domain name Webdesigndenver.com you may run into the same challenge as the EMD (Exact Match Domain) if you want to expand and rank into different areas like ‘Boulder’. You could choose coloradowebdesign and that will be good for the entire state of Colorado. Just think about where you want to be in 5 years. The old days of having micro-sites for each area ( Webdesigndenver.com and webdesignboulder.com) are long gone. it has been proven that a large agency site has much more authority than little micro-sites; plus the maintenance can be a killer.

When Partial and Exact Match Domains make sense

If you have a spin-off or are building another company around a new service it makes sense to use a partial match domain like salterraaffordablehosting.com. When we decided to expand our company to offering hosting, we wanted this in a new LLC, so it made complete sense to have a brand new branded PMD.

Another reason you might want an EMD is when you run paid ads. In Google Adwords, you get a higher quality score if the page is exactly to the keyword and location.

I really encourage people to look at branded and sometimes a top-level keyword like ‘garage’ so something like salterragarage.com would not trap me in location or services around garages, but if I wanted to go into ‘electrical’ I would probably not get the word ‘garage’ on the URL.

Choosing the right TLD (Top-level domain)

Wikipedia definition “A top-level domain (TLD) is one of the domains at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet.[10] The top-level domain names are installed in the root zone of the namespace. For all domains in lower levels, it is the last part of the domain name, that is, the last label of a fully qualified domain name. For example, in the domain name www.example.com, the top-level domain is com. Responsibility for management of most top-level domains is delegated to specific organizations by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which operates the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), and is in charge of maintaining the DNS root zone”.

The original TLDs were .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, and .mil. I believe these are still the most powerful and most recognized. with the addition of many other TLDs like .agency, .pro, .picture. I feel they have diluted the original URL structure. I also believe these new TLDs are very hard to rank in highly competitive markets.

Using Aged Domains

An aged domain means that it was previously owned by another party and they let it go. There are basically 2 different ways to get an aged domain:

Buy the domain at an auction: when someone wants to get rid of a domain and not let it just expire, they can place the domain into an auction marketplace. The auction marketplace is full of domain brokers that will by good, aged domains and try to resell them for people to use as their company site. the nice thing about an auction domain is that it probably hasn’t expired so it has no expiration tag. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to well over $5000 depending on the ‘power’ of the domain.

Buy an Expired Domain: you can buy a domain that has expired by using services like expireddomains.net . again, the advantage of buying an expired domain is the domain has aged to it. It most likely has links attached to it that will help you (or hurt you) with rankings.

Either way, you go, research is the key before you buy any domain with age on it. You want to make sure it isn’t under any penalties, make sure there are not any bad links, and most importantly, be sure the domain history has the same niche you are in. You don’t want to buy a domain that used to be a beauty salon and try and use it to sell cars.

Salterra Web Services can help you with all your Web Development and Internet Marketing Needs.

About Salterra Digital Services

Salterra was started in 2011 by Terry and Elisabeth Samuels; nothing fancy and nothing pretentious. Quality work at a fair price. Starting with a web design focus, they both quickly learned that while having an amazing website to highlight your business is a great start, marketing is intrinsically foundational for our clients. When several clients were not seeing results through the search efforts of other companies, Terry took it to the next level. While digging into SEO and marketing, he found something he was very passionate about. His inner geek pushed him to focus solely on the data and analytics side of the business while Elisabeth built on her creative and visual strength and expanded the design side. In the industry, it is not always common to have both designers and digital marketing so closely connected, but to them, it made perfect sense. Salterra’s World Headquarters is in Tempe Arizona

Terry and Elisabeth are the Hosts of Roundtable SEO Mastermind Series and SEO Spring Training Conference.