When creating a new website for your business or hobby, one of the first important decisions you’ll make is choosing a domain name for your WordPress site. If you’re wondering whether the choice of domain name will have any effect on the success of your website, then this article is a must-read for you.
Here, we examine how domain names and domain extensions can influence your WordPress website’s success. We also look into the factors that make up a good domain name.
Terminology – Let’s clear up a few things
Before we proceed, we need to first have a clear understanding of some of the terms that will appear in this article.
TLD – Top Level Domain (TLD) is that last part of your domain name that ends with .com, .org. or .net. There are hundreds of TLDs to choose from, but not all of them rank well globally. There are those that rank by country, called ‘Country Top Level Domains’ (CTLD), such as .us, .uk or .fr.
Domains like these are best used for websites that focus on visitors from the country where the domain name originates. For example, a fashion shop with a ‘dot fr’ TLD will be more effective if it only targets customers from France.
SLD – Second Level Domain (SLD) is the domain name that identifies your website. These are domain names you buy from companies such as namecheap and godaddy. To illustrate, a website called ‘example.com’ has ‘example’ as its SLD and ‘.com’ as its TLD.
Choosing your SLD
As pointed out earlier, one of the most important decisions is choosing a domain name for your WordPress site. It’s also one of the most difficult. For most people, the difficulty lies not in its availability, but rather in how it affects SEO and the overall success of the website. For many years, website owners and SEO experts have chosen domain names for their WordPress site that contain their targeted keywords in order to boost page rankings and increase click-through rates.
These individuals buy what are known as exact match domains, which are domains that match the exact keywords users type in when searching for the products and services on offer. For example, they can purchase ‘bestautorepairs.com’ to target users that search for the best auto repairs or best auto repairers.
The advantage of this system is that including keyword phrases in your domain name can be a ranking factor. However, as a result of Google’s EMD update in 2012, this system is no longer as effective as it used to be. Although using your keywords as part of your domain name no longer boosts page ranking as much as it used to, it’s still useful if you’re interested in boosting your WordPress website’s relevance and helps you include exact match anchors pointing back to your domain.
Making your brand your domain
There are organisations that happen to have their brand names double as a search keyword. This is highly advantageous, as Google places more value on brand than keywords. However, if your brand name cannot be used as a keyword, it’s better to use your brand name for your domain name than try to make a keyword fit.
“Brands are the solution, not the problem,” says Eric Schmidt, Google Chairman. “Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.” This means that Google would rather identify your website with a brand that people can associate with, rather than information that could be misleading. Your brand is the foundation on which your business is built. Identifying your domain name with your brand makes it easier for visitors to trust your business. A brandable domain influences how customers will search, find, identify and share your business online.
Tips for choosing a domain name for your WordPress site
- Make it relevant
Your domain name has to communicate the right message to your visitors. People can easily get a better understanding of what your WordPress website and business does if you make your domain name relevant to your operations. Make sure the words that make up your domain name don’t mean different things to different people.
- Keep it short
The more, the merrier doesn’t work when you’re looking for a brandable domain name. It’s better to limit it to just one or two words. Some of the world’s most popular websites have domain names made up of just nine characters.
- Easy to spell
Your brandable domain name should be easy to spell. An easy to spell domain name is always easier to remember. Avoid words that are easily misspelled or words that carry hyphens, numbers and unusual characters. If you happen to own a domain that contains a number, you might want to consider buying one where that number can be displayed as a word.
- Be unique
Choosing a unique domain name for your WordPress site will help you distinguish your brand from your competitors. Even if your business is in an industry where names are similar, look for something that would make your domain name stand out and appear easily identifiable. Domain names like cheapsecondhandcars.com are generic and unremarkable compared to a name like Edmunds.com, which is a unique name for a second-hand car dealer.
Choosing your TLD
Things have changed a lot since the early days of 1985. We now have domain name extensions (TLDs) such as .pro, .xyz and even .pizza. Combine this with the hundreds of country-related domain names such as .nl and .nz, and you’ll realise that things have become a bit blurry.
The question now is: do these domain extensions have any impact on the visibility of your WordPress website?
There are approximately 200 ranking factors in Google’s search engine algorithm, with the possibility of more being added. Your choice of TLD is only one such factor. Therefore, it’s safe to say it will have little or no effect on the visibility or success of your website. However, the right TLD will definitely help your business in many ways.
As of February 2017, the number of TLDs is in excess of 1000. With this many domain extensions available, it can be difficult to identify one that would best serve your business interests.
The following tips can help you make that decision:
- Consider your target location
If your business caters to customers from a specific location – the UK for instance – then using a .uk TLD is the best option. A country or geo specific TLD will help you rank for the countries where people are searching for local content. Even though search results can contain any type of TLD, Google is more likely to disclose local results for country specific searches. This means that if your WordPress website offers content that is being searched for in a particular country, and your domain extension is tied to that country, then your website will appear as part of the local results.
- Go industry specific
There are so many industry related TLDs that you can choose to represent exactly what your business does. For example, there is .tech for technology companies, .food for food, .tv and .fm for television and entertainment.
- Use dot com
A large percentage of websites use the .com domains. If you plan for your website to be among the top movers and shakers online, you should consider choosing a .com extension.
In choosing a domain name for your WordPress site, it pays to portray what your business or blog is all about. The right domain name and the proper SEO practices will ensure your WordPress website can hold its own in the fiercely competitive online world.