Choosing the right domain name

Getting a useful domain name is hard. Erin Malloch interviewed me a couple of weeks back about Domain Name pitfalls. Google (roughly) recommends a domain with one keyword and another word. For example www.johnsbread.com.au. Nonsensical domain names such as www.johndoughsolutions.com.au may not give you an obvious advantage in search.

Here’s that interview:

Exact Match Domain Names (EMDs)

Around 2010 / 2011, web designers began to realise that having a search keyword in your domain title had an added SEO benefit. Examples of clients with EMDs . . .

  • Perth Web Design (www.perthwebdesign.com.au)
  • Garage Doors in Perth (www.garagedoorsinperth.com.au)
  • Deceased Estates Perth (www.deceased-estates-perth.com)
  • Jims Mowing (www.jimsmowing.net.au)

The sites listed above are “going concern” websites. There’s a legitimate business behind each of those domains. But this isn’t always the case. Many sites created with EMDs don’t have great content. Indeed Google got angry with some of these sites for having low quality (or no) content.

In 2012 Google rolled out a penalty for low-quality Exact Match Domain Names. In 2017, that penalty doesn’t seem to have had much effect. There are still hundreds of EMDs at the top of search in many fields. One can only assume that they are brimming with great content. Content Marketing, by the way, is what I’m lately doing most. This is an example of content marketing; recording interviews, making movies, writing articles.

EMDs still rank well in search, but “low quality” EMDs don’t.

Low Quality Websites

Google doesn’t want to “advertise” (read: add to its search engine) low-quality websites.

Low quality websites are full of outbound links and have no real purpose. If you are updating your website every week with high quality, useful and original content, then you needn’t worry. Your site is a going concern and (hopefully) is adding to discussion in your specialist industry. In this case it doesn’t matter if you have an EMD. The website content is what you are all about.

Spamming Google

Google is always worried that the SEO industry is gaming its algorithm. The big question Google asks is, “Is this a legitimate website?” If it is – they will list you. But if you are just using a site’s domain to produce a list of links to other sites (thereby increasing perceived popularity and importance of each site) then you do need to worry. Google actually calls this “spam.” Yup! Just like spammy email that clogs your inbox, it’s also possible to spam search engines.

Examples of spammy domain names;

  • breadbakeryperth.com.au
  • buykitchenknivesperth.com

All domain names are intrinsically fine. But sometimes, there are missing opportunities.

Domain Name Authenticity

Example: www.audiomicrophonesaustralia.com

Even if your domain is for a legitimate going concern (a real business) you need to think about the user’s total experience. What will users see when they reach your home page? Is your domain name differnt to your business? If your company is called “Mike’s Microphones” and your domain is www.audiomicrophonesaustralia.com it could be a bit jarring. Or it might feel like you have a “cheap domain” (even though, in the past, EMDs could set you back thousands).

I’m probably being picky with this one. Lots of websites that use the word “australia” in the domain name. Some are set up by overseas companies with the aim of cashing in on the Aussie dollar. Australian (.com.au) domain names are policed. You need an active business invoicing clients to set one up. It’s a kind fo authentication for Australian businesses and isn’t likely to raise any eyebrows. You can probably take this one with a pinch of salt, but it might be something worth considering.

Do I get .com or .com.au?

We recommend getting both if you can.

If you are only selling in Australia, use the .com.au. You can always expand globally later. Having a .com instead of a .com.au domain alters the user’s perception. If nothing else, .com.au means you are trading specificaly in Australia.

Even though I’ve told Google that this website (Geoffrey Multimedia) is based in Australia, more Americans still visit than Australians. So if you’re like me and you don’t want to take on the world, .com.au is probably the better way to go.

So what’s a good domain name?

Just off the top of my head, here are some good domain names which, in my opinion, could be a little better.

Real business Domain Name Better?
Culleys Tea Rooms www.culleys.com.au www.culleysfoods.com.au
Miss Mauds (Bakery) www.missmaud.com.au www.missmaudbakery.com.au
Miss Mauds (Hotel) www.missmaud.com.au www.missmaudhotel.com.au

Why add the word “bakery”? “Food”? “Hotel”?

Why? Because of these domains contain an exact match search word within them. It will definitely help SEO – if slightly.

The above companies are obviously going for “branding.” They are successful, very well established Perth businesses. But for the rest of us, adding a word about what you do will help any start-up business and clarify – just from domain name – what you do.

Jims Mowing (www.jimsmowing.net) is great, except it’s a franchise business. I’m pretty sure franchisee “Pete” has often been called “Jim”.

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Author: Edwin James Lynch

Edwin wrote his first (Harrier Jumpjet) computer program in 1982. Today he builds websites utilising best practice, future-proof web development, online marketing and SEO. He lectured for 15yrs+ at Curtin University where (in 2007) he was voted 5th best out of 2,500+ university lecturers in Australia.

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