Guest Author: Alisha Shibli
Not too long ago a new marketing practice emerged and quickly became popular. A few SEO experts had identified certain website characteristics that produced great Google rankings. They figured out that if you bought a keyword-rich domain name, you could set up a website, put some low-quality content on it, buy some backlinks from external websites, get a few directory submissions, add a bit of dodgy marketing, and voila: your website would start appearing at the top of Google results.
Well, that was pre-2012. Since then, Google has kicked all that kind of spammy stuff under the train by continually updating its search algorithms. The current search ranking system has a range of factors that collectively determine the authenticity of a website and decide which ones deserve to be on the top.
What Google wants businesses to do
Simply put, Google wants businesses to help the user. The search engine is constantly asking “what is the user looking for?” and if your business is answering this question and providing value, you will be rewarded.
Google knows that people are looking for a better, more valuable user experience. One of the factors Google considers to determine this is the amount of time people spend on the page. The search engine wants to know if people are really reading and engaging with the content.
That’s what’s most important to Google.
So… do domain names add value to a business’ SEO?
In one word, yes. Keyword-rich domain names do impact SEO in their own way. But that does not mean you should jump through hoops and contort yourself to squeeze loads and loads of keywords into your domain name.
Let’s say you’re selling patio furniture, or maybe, just furniture in general. You could get a domain name like goodqualitypatiofurniturestore.com or something along those lines. Perhaps, you could add hyphens in there to make it slightly easier to read and remember.
But this alone won’t necessarily impress Google. You would still need to add relevant, good quality, content to your website, and even get backlinks from reputable websites to your pages.
What’s more, since your domain name is not user-friendly, it’s likely that customers:
- may not trust it
- may not understand it
- may think of it as spammy
- …and therefore may not click on it
It’s not a good practice to create a massive, 30-40-character-heavy domain name. In addition, domain names should not include misspelled words (sweeetgumdropzs.com is bad!) or contain hyphens (sweet-gumdrops.com is bad too!).
A good domain name is short, crisp, memorable and brandable. One of the ways you can check all these boxes is by using a specific and meaningful domain extension. With over 1200 new domain extensions available, such as .SITE, .TECH, .STORE, .PRESS, .SPACE, or .WEBSITE, it’s easy to find a domain name that naturally fits your industry.
Other SEO friendly factors businesses must consider
So, what other factors must your business focus on? Well, as mentioned, we now know how important user experience is to Google. So, keep that at the heart of everything you do. Here’s how:
Focus on content marketing
While the domain name is a decently-sized slice of the SEO cake, the biggest one is content. At the end of the day, if your website’s content does not make the cut, you’re unlikely to see your website rank well—no matter how awesome your domain name is.
Make a content calendar to ensure you are sharing superior-quality content on a regular basis. This could include list-based articles, expert guides, service (or product) comparisons, videos, infographics, etc.
Conduct keyword research to narrow down the list of keywords you want your website to rank for, and then optimize your content to see results.
Focus on links—external and internal
As you are creating content, link the various pages of your website. For example, you can link to your sales page in your blog content. Getting high-quality backlinks from relevant websites goes a long way in establishing relevance with Google. Try to create content that can help you achieve that goal.
In addition to that, linking the pages on your website internally will tell Google that you’re sharing helpful content about a specific topic. Google will understand that you are a subject matter expert if you share content that is interconnected.
It’s also a good idea to go for the easy, quick wins, such as linking your social media accounts and setting up local listings such as Google My Business, Bing Local, Yelp, industry-specific pages, etc.
In a nutshell, every element of your business’ website affects your SEO ranking, including your domain name, the structure of the website, the content, and link structure. As a business, your chief objective must be to serve your users. The more you do that with content, the better your site will rank. Make your user’s experience easy, memorable, and valuable, and top ranking shall be yours.