One of the biggest changes in search engine land in the past few years has to do with domain names and having the exact match of keywords in your domain name. In general, the theory has been that if you want to get ranked for that keyword then that exact keyword needs to be in the domain. It was thought that using the keywords like the words ‘massage, your city’ would significantly help your site get found for those keywords.
That is no longer as true according to Matt Cutts, the Google Engineer who keeps the public informed of all things Google. In this Youtube video he says if there were two domains on the same topic they would not rank one higher for having the keywords in the domain. http://youtu.be/rAWFv43qubI Exact match domains no longer give the boost that they used to!
That being said – don’t panic if you have done that! If you create a very high quality content website you shouldn’t have to worry about it. So far content seems to outrank exact match domains but that also could change at any time!
So what makes for the best domain name?
A good domain name is also direct and to the point and doesn’t leave people guessing about what it is you do. It is also best to have your domain name and your business name be the same but that isn’t absolutely necessary. In general, the best name for a website should tell people what they want to know – that you do massage and you do it close to where they live or work. It will tell people directly what you do and what is on your site, without leaving them to guess on their own.
Business names such as ‘Helping Hand’, or ‘Kneady Massage’ may mean something to you, but doesn’t really tell potential clients what you really do. Using ‘cute’ variations of kneading, healing, and hands are overused today. The other thing that I have to point out yet reluctant to say this is that you also have to think like a pervert and see if the words can be taken out of context which will make it more likely to attract clients looking for happy ending services. Words like : flow, hands, full body, full service, amazing touch, magic, knotty (naughty), bliss, goal and even the word muscle can be taken wrong by people searching for happy endings.
Here are some guidelines for choosing the best domain:
- Keep the domain as short as possible. One to two words is best. Better is 10 letters or less.
- Use the word massage and then one marketing word to describe what you do.
- Make it short and memorable so people can remember it easily and it is easy to say to others.
- Is meaningful and gives a clear message.
- Is creative but not hokey.
- Also consider brandable domains. Make your business brandable. That would be using a domain that combines two words or something like that like these domains: www.mashable.com or www.techcrunch.com does.
- Avoid Hyphens. (One at most if absolutely necessary and you can’t come up with one without a hyphen.) If you have hyphens, I would suggest even more and better content!
- Use .com domains. Avoid the .info, .biz and .co other domains. I also like to avoid domains with .org as people will think you are a non-profit. .net domains are questionable too although I did get one for my office website back when it was more important to have the keywords in the domain.
- Make sure it is legal. Check with the registered trademark service and also check with your business name registration services if you have that in your state. Check
Here are some tools to help you in the domain naming process.
http://wordoid.com/ – to help create new words or give you ideas for word combinations.
So most of the good domains are taken so it makes choosing a good domain name more difficult but it just needs some creativity.
When you have chosen a domain name it is a good idea to obtain the variations of your domain so no one else gets them! Get the hyphenated and non-hyphenated, and plural or singular versions. It is possible to have other domains directed to your main site however, there is some justified concern about having too many other domains redirected to your main site. Some experts say that it may hurt your chances of getting traffic but others say it doesn’t, so if you plan to have more than one domain use this technique in moderation, if at all. A domain that has your business name or your own name is a good idea because it can be used on your marketing materials. It may make your business easier to remember. Keep in mind that these additional domain options are not as important as getting the website domain correct the first time. When you purchase other domains and have them redirected to your main website, you cannot advertise those domains online or submit them to search engines or anything like that. They are just for your own use and to protect your brand/domain.
Choosing a domain name takes some ‘spinning’ ideas around until you get it just right. Spend some time doing this – a week or two or even a month if you have time. Since most of the top level domains that are short (one or two words) are already taken, you really have to keep thinking on this. It also depends on how competitive it is in your area. You can take a look at the other sites that are coming up on the first page of Google for your keywords to see if they have optimized the sites and see what you will have to beat. If they have really worked on optimization (which many haven’t!) you can get the top spot easily with a good domain, the best content and some good search engine optimization for your site.
Sidenote – check to see what your competitors are doing:
You can look at the meta tags that they used by looking at the source code of the page. You can do that in IE by going to the little wheel for settings in the top right corner, choosing F12 developer tools and then going to the bottom of your screen to the options and choose ‘script’ to show you the code that is used to make the page. You can then look at their meta tags
(which you will learn more about later) so come back to this after you read this and look again at your competition!) In Firefox: go to tools, webdeveloper, page source. In IE: go to the little gear on the top right and click on developers tools. You will get a pop up of the code that is used to create the page. You can find the keywords and meta tags usually near the top and the code will look something like this:
<title>Start and Run a Massage Business – Massage Practice Builder</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Massage Practice Builder – How to start and run a successful massage business using websites, referral networks, ethics, insurance billing and self care.” />
<meta name=”keywords” content=”massage business, marketing massage, start a massage business, get massage clients” />
You will often find many websites that do not say anything there and also ones that use these tags incorrectly. Many will just have things like “Home” listed in the title. You will learn more about using tags correctly later so you can analyze your competition.
Really, really good one or two word domain names are really hard to come by. Should you invest in a domain? That depends on your area and the competition for top web spots in your area. You can take a look at websites to see how well they are optimized and usually tell if you will be able to get higher than them. You can sometimes get a better domain with a little investment. Personally I would not pay more than a few hundred dollars and I believe there is always a way around not having a domain like massageseattle.com which I could easily buy for $12,000 last time I checked. Nope. Won’t do it.
The last and most important thing to know is to always register your own domain in your own name/business name. Never let your web designer do that for you as they may be putting it in their name which is really difficult to change over. Also register your domain with the place you are going to host your website, as it is just much easier to track and renew.
Make sure your domain registrar has a way to auto renew your domains every year so you don’t have to keep track of your renewal dates. If you forget to renew a domain, you could lose it forever!