Optimizing a Business and Domain Name
You might think what’s the name of my business got to do with search engine optimization (SEO)? If you choose the correct business and domain name in the first place it makes the whole optimization process so much easier.
As you’ll discover later links to a web site are very important, in fact essential for high search engine positioning. The text associated with those links (called anchor text) is one of the most important SEO factors to get right when it comes to optimizing a site.
The Right Domain Name = The Right Anchor Text
The red text (SEO Gold Search Engine Optimization Services) below is the anchor text of a link to the home page of this site; it’s the copyright link at the base of every page-
<a href=”/”>SEO Gold Search Engine Optimization Services </a>
Those links are under our control, we as webmasters can create the perfect anchor text for each page. However, webmasters linking to your site will tend to do one of two things. The first is they use your business/site name for the anchor text (for this site SEO Gold is most likely) and the second is the actual URL (for this site http://www.seo-gold.com) for the anchor text. If you have picked the business name and domain name badly it won’t help your site in the search engines since links to your site will not use the right anchor text.
The right anchor text, (keyword rich anchor text) is essential to good search engine rankings.
Branding vs. Search Engine Optimization
Zeus Thrones may sound great for a company selling high quality toilet seats, but it’s not going to help potential online customers find your carefully crafted web site via the major search engines, unless you have a large advertising budget for branding purposes (like Amazon had/has) your potential customers won’t know your business or your web site even exists.
If you have a site about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for example a good business name (for optimization reasons) would be Search Engine Optimization or SEO and the domain name would be search-engine-optimization.tld or seo.tld respectively (tld being com, net, co.uk etc…).
There are other considerations to take into account when choosing a business and domain name including branding and of course available domain names, so compromises have to be made. For example when deciding on a business and domain name for this web site I knew I couldn’t have the ideal domain names (for optimization reasons) because others already owned them. After a little keyword research at Wordtracker and checking various domains, settled on http://www.seo-gold.com and general site name SEO Gold Search Engine Optimization Services (or in short SEO Gold).
Why Hyphenated Domain Names?
Why www.seo-gold.com (hyphenated) and not www.seogold.com (non-hyphenated)? The current main search engine (Google) doesn’t recognize the individual words from the above non-hyphenated domain names, so they would not help future optimization plans. The hyphenated domain http://www.seo-gold.com is seen by Google as-
www seo gold com since Google treats . (dots) and – (hyphens) as a space. We say “google can parse those keywords out of the domain name”. Note a domain with a single keyword (i.e www.keyword.tld) will have the single keyword recognized since Google sees the two dots (in the example above) as spaces (sees www keyword tld). So when choosing a domain name either go with a single keyword domain (like www.seo.com if available) or have multiple (or at least one) keyword(s) separated by hyphens (like www.seo-gold.com).
If branding is a consideration or you plan to tell people about your site on the phone or in person, hyphenated domains are harder to verbalize. So www.seo-gold.com would be www dot seo hyphen gold dot com which isn’t too bad, but imagine a domain with multiple hyphens, doesn’t exactly role off the tongue!! Fortunately there is a solution, register a non-hyphenated version as well and refer to it on company letterheads, traditional advertising media etc… and redirect the non-hyphenated domain to the hyphenated domain via a 301 redirect.
A word of warning regarding multiple domains. A simple 301 redirect will not be treated negatively by the search engines, but having two identical sites (called mirror sites) might. If you plan to have two or more sites about the same subject make the content different. Changing the background colour or a few images, does not make a site different, you need unique text. If you can’t create unique sites, don’t make mirror sites, you might get your main business site penalized!!
If you MUST have two or more identical sites give the duplicates canonical URLs back the main site. A canonical URL tells Google etc… the preferred version of a webpage (they are page not site based). Every page of a duplicate site should have a corresponding canonical URL back to the main page.
With my sites I currently only advertise online so have no need for a second easier to verbalize non-hyphenated domain name, so haven’t registered alternatives (as it happens www.seogold.com was already taken anyway). However, I did plan to add an element of branding to this site long term which is why I went with the business/domain name SEO Gold, it’s memorable (so brandable) and has at least one keyword (SEO). I could have registered a name like “SEO Search Online Company”, but this is completely unbrandable as no one will recall a generic name like that, but would be great in terms of keywords since all four words are used by searches looking for SEO Services. If branding isn’t important (say an affiliate site) a generic keyword rich domain name is advisable.
In essence with www.seo-gold.com we have created a web site that is both brandable and easier to optimize.
Anchor Text Revisited
When a web master links to SEO Gold they will tend to use the following code-
<a href=”http://www.seo-gold.com/”>SEO Gold</a> (using the business name as anchor text)
<a href=”http://www.seo-gold.com”>http://www.seo-gold.com/</a> (using the URL as anchor text)
In both cases the site benefits from the keywords Google can parse from the anchor text. The first example we have SEO Gold (one important keyword out of two words). In the second example www SEO Gold com (one important keyword out of four words, not as good, but better than nothing). So in both cases we benefit just by choosing the right business and domain name.
If we’d of gone with the words combined (www.seogold.com) version, Google wouldn’t parse out anything helpful, it would see www seogold com which is unhelpful since no one will search for seogold! Webmasters who use the business name might use Seogold as anchor text instead of the preferred SEO Gold as well!
The above also holds true for directory and filenames, so when choosing directory and filenames use hyphens like you see for the pages of this site. For example the page you are reading has the URL-
This will be parsed to- http www seo gold com tutorial domain name choice if a webmaster linked to this page using the entire URL! From this we have important keywords “SEO Tutorial Domain Name Choice”.
Please note underscores (_) within a filename or directory like domain_name_choice are not treated as word separators like hyphens are in domain-name-choice, so rather than parsing to “domain name choice” Google see one word “domain_name_choice”. Try the search in Google for domain_name_choice to see the problem.
You will find a lot of so called SEO experts believe underscores are treated as spaces, ask them for the evidence: evidence would be pages ranking for a SERP like “Unique Keywords Here” (include the speech marks in the Google search) with a filename like unique_keywords_here.html and the words Unique, Keywords and Here are NOT used on the page or as anchor text with in links to the page. So the only use of those words are the filename and separated by underscores.
The Right Domain Name helps with Search Engine Rankings
There is a direct search engine optimization benefit to using keyword rich hyphenated domain names (and directory/filenames). Google and other search engines using Googles database (AOL, Netscape etc…) will give every page of a site a fair boost for singular and hyphenated words within the domain name, even when the word isn’t used in the code. Yahoo and MSN also give a SERPs boost, but it’s much smaller than seen with Google.
For example one of our consultants has a home page with their ISP. The URL is http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ooar123/search-engine-optimization/ (this page no longer exists, but the concept is still true).
This URL parses to “http homepage ntlworld com ooar123 search engine optimization” with the last three being important keywords. The ‘words’ homepage, ntlworld and ooar123 are not keywords important to the content and so they are not used in the content of any of the pages of the site. A search for various combinations does show that even though those words are not used in the content, just being part of the URL (domain name) is enough for Google to find those pages.
Try these searches in Google-
ooar123 – 1st place
homepage ooar123 – 1st place
homepage ntlworld ooar123 – 1st place
The above searches use words only within the URL (none of those words are used in the content).
The searches below include one word that’s only within the URL and another word that is found in the content.
ooar123 seo – 1st place
ooar123 search – 1st place
ntlworld seo – 1st place
homepage seo – 6th place out of over 2,000,000 pages!
The last search shows the importance of words within the URL. A search for just homepage in Google reports over 200,000,000 (200 million) pages, that’s a lot of pages using the word homepage. Of those pages 2 million (about 1%) also use the word SEO. Our consultant’s home page is number 6 for the combination even though the word homepage is not used on the site, it’s just part of the URL.
Having a keyword within the URL will alone result in a boost for that keyword for every page of the site, so your domain name should ideally contain your most important keyword.
Indirect SEO Benefits to Domain and Business Name Choice
Search engines rely on the words in the body text and other areas of code on a page. If your site and domain name is highly related to the phrases you wish to rank highly for adding those phrases to your sites content will be so much easier. Look at the number of times the word SEO has been added to this page just through mentioning the business name SEO Gold, if our business name was “Good Traffic Rankings” for example the word SEO would not be used as much.
The main words for this site are Search Engine Optimization, SEO and Search Engine Placement etc… Since the site is called SEO Gold Search Engine Optimization Services just by mentioning the name of the site we’ve added five keywords to a page.
If you are stuck with a business/site name already, don’t despair some of the information is relevant to directory and file naming. Also the business/domain name is but one small part to high search engine placement, the majority of this SEO Tutorial will deal with pre existing sites.
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