Friday, 8 August 2014

SEO Strategy - What's in a (Domain) Name?

A domain name can have a big impact when it comes to competing for that all important top search engine results page spot. Here are a few points to consider as part of your SEO strategy.

Domain structure

Make sure your keywords and phrases are positioned correctly. This is vitally important when it comes search engine rankings.  As part of this SEO tactic, ensure that keywords appear in your top level domain - it shows a commitment to your subject area.

Accorzing to Moz's Search Engine Factors, placing a keyword as the first in your domain can give you a competitive edge over sites that don't feature keywords in the domain at all, or include it in the middle of a URL. Similarly, including keywords in sub-domains can also boost SERPs positions.

This article on competitior keyword analysis list a number of tools to help you research keywords and phrases. 

Domain stablility

The length of time that a domain has been registered for does have some weighting on SERPs positions. A stable domain adds to evidence of long-term subject commitment. Of course, this would not be looked at in isolation - you may have registered a domain 10 years ago but that doesn't mean you are still actively managing the content.

A domain that has remained in the same hands for a significant amount of time is another indicator of a credible website. Hiding 'Who is' status, or a 'Who is' status showing regular domain change of hands can be signals of instability.

Domains that are penalised by Google, for black-hat SEO techniques, will affect other websites owned by the same individuals - something to bear in mind if you are purchasing a domain from an existing business - or if you are the owner of multiple websites.

Domain location

Having a domain that is specific to your geographical location is a great way to focus SEO efforts if your target audience is in the same country. However, if you wish to have a global reach, you should consider domain location in your SEO strategy.

Before registering a domain, you may also wish to research who has the same URL but with a different country extension (.uk, .ca, .cn and so on). Do you want to be accidently associated or confused with that organisation?

"Google Search returns the most relevant and useful sites in response to a user query. For that reason, the results we show to a user in Ireland can vary from the results returned to a user in France.

If your site has a generic top-level domain, such as .com or .org, and targets users in a particular geographic location, you can provide us with information to help us determine how your site appears in our search results. This improves Google Search results for geographic queries, and it won't impact your appearance in search results unless a user limits the scope of the search to a certain country. See a full list of domains Google treats as generic."

To change the target locations for your website, access Google Webmaster Tools and access 'Site Settings > Country Targetting'.

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