Search Engine Optimization

Keyword Research: Which Elements Of Your Domain Name Can Play Into Your SEO Success?

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Choosing a domain name is an important decision when creating a website for your brand. The right domain can help you target your niche audience and rank higher in relevant search engine results.

68% of online experiences start on a search engine. If your domain name is well-optimized, you create new chances to reach your audience.

“In today’s digital world, your domain is more than an address,” says InterNexum | BU lead Team Internet Group CEO Daniel Strauss. It’s your brand’s digital real estate. It’s your Park Avenue storefront. Here, internet “foot traffic” becomes “revenue and relevance.”

This article explores domains. It covers the importance of doing a competitor analysis. It also discusses four elements of your domain name that can boost search engine optimization (SEO) success.

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What is a domain?

The term domain refers to a string address. It’s used to identify services provided through the Internet, like websites and email.

An informational graphic showing an example of a domain name

(Image Source: WordPress)

Around 628.5 million domains are currently registered worldwide. They include ‘www.facebook.co.uk,’ ‘www.linkedin.com,’ ‘www.youtube.com,’ and ‘www.amazon.co.uk.’

Here’s a breakdown regarding the anatomy of a domain address in full:

  • Top-level domains (or extensions) appear at the end of a domain name (‘.com,’ ‘.net,’ or ‘.org.’).
  • Domain names are digital identities that show website visitors who you are and what you do.
  • The root domain is the domain name and top-level domain combined.
  • A subdomain is in front of the root domain. It is usually ‘‘www.’ but some websites may add internal pages as subdomains, such as ‘blog.example.com’
  • Subfolders are internal pages added after the root domain, such as ‘example.com/about-us/’ or ‘example.com/blog/.’
  • Protocols such as ‘http://’ are part of a page’s URL but not its domain name.

Search engines like to use keywords from domain names as a direct ranking factor. This explains the existence of domains like “where-to-buy-the-best-donuts-in-Seattle.com,” say experts at Moz. But be cautious when thinking about optimizing your root domain for search engines. One of Google’s algorithm’s specific functions is to combat these keyword-stuffed exact-match domains.

When should you perform a competitor analysis?

Before you buy a domain, check the domains used by your biggest competitors. Then, make decisions based on your SEO competitor analysis.

An infographic showcasing what to include in a competitive analysis

(Image Source: Semrush)

Studying a competitor’s domain name lets you understand your rival’s domain position. You can see their ranking and stature in the industry. The results can then help you choose domain keywords, phrases, general TLDs, and lengths that are even better than your competitors.

Platforms like Moz can offer extensive analyses that rank domains based on keywords, spam, and more. The more information you get from competitor analyses, the better decisions you can make about the domain name you want to purchase.

Let’s have a closer look at how you can perform an SEO competitive analysis:

Identify your competitors

Your competitors are among the first factors to consider when performing a competitive analysis. In terms of SEO, these are ‌websites with similar domain name keywords and those with the same search audience.

Your direct competitors are those with whom you share a similar ranking. You should focus on evaluating their success in comparison to yours. This includes monitoring their position in SERPS. It also includes evaluating their traffic engagement and their keyword quality.

The key here is to perform above and beyond your competitors. To do this, you must be able to predict each and every move. For example, to gain deeper insights into your competitors’ metrics, consider crafting a comparison infographic.

According to experts at Emerald, over 90% of Fortune 500 companies use competitive analytics to outperform their greatest competitors.

The more time you spend evaluating their traffic engagement, content style, and keywords, the better your position will be.

Find your keyword gap

Once you’ve identified your key competitors, it’s time to do some sleuthing. To improve your visibility, ensure you target your competitors’ keywords.

If you address the keywords your competitors rank higher for, your site has a better chance of beating them in the SERPS.

Better still, why not find a keyword gap? If you find keywords related to your industry that your competitors don’t rank for, use this opportunity to create content about them. It will guarantee success.

Analyze the SERP results

The SERP results reflect what your target consumers are looking for and help uncover their search intent.

Look at the domain names on the first page of SERPs and identify their keyword use, their TLD, and the domain name’s length and complexity.

Screenshot example of SERP results

(Image Source: Screenshot provided by Author)

Use the first five results to influence your next steps. These are the domains ranked most authoritative by Google, otherwise known as your biggest competitors.

Perform a competitor domain backlink analysis

Once you’ve identified your top competitor domains, it’s time to examine their SEO profiles. While on-site keywords help improve content ranking, backlinks skyrocket a domain’s visibility.

Using tools like Moz and Ahrefs, examine your competitor’s backlink profile. How many times has the domain received a referring link? What types of publications feature their name?

Leveraging backlink data sets you up for a SERP takeover. Once you’ve found your competitor’s domain, go to the same web pages and publications with your brand domain. This will battle your competitor’s authority.

Four elements of your domain name that can play into SEO success

Your domain name is the backbone of any successful SEO strategy. Keyword use, TDL, and domain name length all affect your site’s performance online.

“To create your domain strategy, imagine you’re constructing the Empire State Building. The skyscraper’s resilience rests on its foundational integrity,” says Daniel Strauss.

“Likewise, your domain is the structural foundation upon which your digital brand is built. A shaky foundation makes your brand easy to attack. It also hurts the user experience. And, it undermines your credibility.”

With this in mind, here are four elements of your domain name that can play into SEO success.

Keywords

Search engines like Google use keywords, which are words and phrases, to help people find new information. For example, someone may type ‘vegan food in London’ into the search bar.

So, you must do keyword research. It shows which high-volume keywords are relevant to your website’s products or services. Many tools are available online to help you conduct your keyword research, such as Google’s Keyword Planner or Ahrefs.

Good domain names are search-optimized. They have relevant keywords, products, or services. They help search engines understand your website. This understanding makes search engines rank you higher.

“The importance of using keywords in a domain has varied. It was once a mainstay of search indexing on sites like Google and used by hundreds of thousands of e-commerce brands throughout the early 2000s. Today, keywords continue to play a part in domain SEO—albeit in an abbreviated context,” say experts at Shopify.

“These days, domains don’t need keywords spelled out in their names to see search engine boosts. However, it’s not always a bad idea to include a concept or two to clarify your brand.”

A graph showing the conversion rate comparison of long tail keywords and short tail keywords

(Image Source: Loganix)

There are three types of keywords to consider when doing this:

  • Short-tail keywords are short, broad, and general words or phrases, such as ‘shoes’ or ‘burgers.’
  • Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific, and more targeted. For example, ‘men’s hiking shoes’ or ‘best burgers in London.’
  • Branded keywords include your brand name, such as ‘Adidas shoes’ or ‘Mcdonald’s burgers.’

Remember that a great domain name doesn’t need to rely wholly on keywords, so try to choose a name with one or two keywords.

An example of a long-tail keyword domain would be www.londonveganshop.com. With this, the customer knows they’ll see the website for a London-based vegan shop when they click on the search result.

Here are a few domain name keyword tips to keep in mind:

  • Make it original: If you’re choosing your first domain name, ensure that the name you choose is exclusive to your brand. Use a business name generator if you struggle to find an original domain. It can suggest domain names based on niche keywords.
  • Make it relevant: Choose keywords pertinent to your website’s products or services. This will make your website a more accurate choice for visitors and improve your search engine ranking. For example, do not mention ‘vegan’ if you don’t sell vegan-based products or aren’t a vegan brand.
  • Use your brand: If you have an established brand, use its name as a keyword. This will help with branding and make your site more memorable.
  • Check domain name availability – Before settling on a name, make sure you can have it. Websites like Hostinger offer tools to check domain availability and facilitate domain purchases.
  • Research your target audience: Knowing who they are and what they want is key. This way, you can pick keywords that resonate with them. For example, if you’re targeting a niche market like vegans, use language specific to that community. Mentioning meat or animal products will show you didn’t think about your target audience. You didn’t consider their needs, wants, or values when choosing a domain name.

Your TLD

37.16% of domains have ‘.com’ as the top-level domain (TLD), making this the most common and, therefore, the most trusted.

Change your name if the ‘.com’ TLD is unavailable for a domain you want. Or, choose a Country TLD for countries, states, and territories. For example, ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.us’ are for the United Kingdom and the United States.

However, ‘.ai’ — which began as Anguilla’s Country TLD‌ — ‌is now on the rise as the go-to domain for artificial intelligence (AI) – centric websites.

Infographic showcasing the TLD distribution

(Image Source: Semrush)

We don’t recommend buying low-quality TLDs like ‘.biz,’ ‘.info,’ ‘.ws,’ and ‘.name.’ They’re less well-known and get much less traffic than domains with more common TLDs. They’re also often associated with spam.

Domain name length and complexity

Alongside your chosen keywords and TLD, consider your domain name’s length and complexity an essential element of SEO success.

Website domain length is the number of characters before the TDL. For example, facebook.co.uk has eight, linkedin.com has eight, youtube.com has seven, and amazon.co.uk has six.

The average length of a domain name with a ‘.com’ TDL is 13.5 characters. However, the top 50 most popular websites have an average domain length of six characters. This shows that the simpler your domain name is, the better it performs.

The complexity of your domain name will impact customer readability and memorability. Short, catchy domain names, like londonveganshop.com, are easier to read and remember. They’re better than keyword-rich ones, like ‘londoncitysbestveganshop.com.’

Also, hyphens and numbers can make a domain name easier to read and remember. But they can hurt your search rankings. Hyphens correlate with spammy behavior, so you should use no more than one hyphen, if any.

Subfolders

Search engines have different ranking metrics for domains than subdomains (www., en.). These come before the root domain.

So, it’s worth putting link-worthy website content like blogs and contact pages in subfolders. Subfolders come after the root domain rather than in subdomains. For example, ‘www.londonveganshop.com/blog/’ rather than ‘blog.londonveganshop.com.’

The exceptions to this are language-specific websites. For example, ‘en.londonveganburger.com’ is the English site. ‘fr.londonveganburger.com’ is the French site.

Conclusion

This article demonstrates that choosing the right domain name is crucial for any business looking to create a website. It establishes an online presence. It plays a big role in improving search rankings. It attracts your intended audience.

When selecting a domain name provider, it’s also essential to research and choose a trustworthy and reliable company.

“In an era where the pace of digitalization is nothing short of breathtaking, your domain serves as the cornerstone of your brand,” says Strauss.

“A strong domain strategy is business-critical. Mastering the “three pillars of domain management” lays a foundation as solid as bedrock that can support a website and an entire digital empire. In this complex, high-stakes digital ecosystem where mistakes are unaffordable, it’s time to give your domain the attention it deserves.”

With some effort and planning, you can choose an SEO-optimized domain name that continues to reap the benefits long after you purchase it.

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