Domain Names – What to consider and best practice

A domain name is a unique website address that you register. It is what’s typed into the browser to open up a website. It’s also the link that Google displays, enabling people to find your website.

When starting a new website, one of the first and most important decisions you have to make is choosing a domain name.

Like postal addresses, domain names must be unique so that people using the Internet can find you.

You don’t need a website to register a domain name. Because each domain name has to be unique, some people prefer to register their name straight away to avoid the risk that someone else might register it before them.

Domain names are not case sensitive but convention suggests that names should be all lowercase. No white space is allowed, some people use a hyphen to separate words. There are cases where having a hyphen is important so that the domain name is not misread, or to avoid embarrassment eg: www.essex-therapy.co…

Good Domain Names?

Having an easy-to-remember domain name counts a lot in the amount of traffic leading to your site.

The longer your domain, the harder it will be for people to remember. If users can’t remember the name of your website then this is not going to help increase or even maintain your brand recognition.

Most experts agree that a domain name should be as short as possible so that people will recognise and remember it. The main objective of the name is to have something that’s easy to read and easy to remember.

Some people report that the words in your domain name can influence search engines. Their advice would be that if you are a hotel you should include that word as part of your domain – for example www.theritzhotel.com.

Are keywords important?

While it may be true that search engines take into account keywords in your domain name, it’s important to consider how much traffic that will really get you in the long run. At the time of this writing, domain names have become quite sparse, and the odds of registering a domain name that also has high search volume for its keywords is slim.

Google owns the majority of the search engine market, with Bing and Yahoo trailing far behind. Research shows that, in general, search engines do credit you for the keywords in your domain name, but that’s primarily so your customers can find you (ie. by the name of your business).

Your brand is important, and your domain name is the foundation upon which your online brand will be built. Your domain name is how users will find, remember, share and identify your company online.

Multiple Domains – Do you need them?

Lots of people seem to think that having multiple domain names for the same site will help them get a wider exposure. However, although it might sound like a good idea in practice, it doesn’t make any positive difference to your search engine results and can even be a detriment.

Internet users are now accustomed to using search engines to find products and services, rather than blindly typing in things like “bestcarprices.com”. But the desire for higher rankings in the search engines leads people to the practice of buying many domain names and having them all point at the same website.

Please note though, that the only domain that ever gets indexed by the search engines is the one that your website is on, so any extra domains do not give you any benefit in terms of search engine results.

If you copy the website to every domain the search engines will ignore the copied content, or may even choose to penalise the site they think is copying. In addition, if you do this then there is a very good chance that some of your content will be indexed on one domain, and some content on the other, meaning none of them end up scoring well in the search results.

That said, it is permitted to have multiple domains pointing to the same content but it may only be done via the use of a ‘Permanent 301 Redirect’ being applied to the secondary domains, e.g. typing in the URL for any of the secondary domains will redirect you to the main site.

One valid reason to buying extra domain names is due to common misspellings or mistyping of your preferred domain name. In this situation, of course, the best practice is still to install 301 redirects back to the primary domain name.

What about Multiple Domain Extensions?

There are a handful of domain extensions in the market, as listed below.

Quite often, people only remember the name of a company, but not its website. So, when they want to visit that particular business’ website, they may forget the domain extension. Therefore, you can register multiple domain extensions for your primary domain name in order to secure your online identity, and prevent competitors from purchasing the other extensions of your domain.

Common Domain Name Extensions:

.com – Strictly speaking this is short for ‘commercial’, and was originally used to define U.S. based commercial websites. Many people today register a .com domain name as a kind of ‘world’ based site. It doesn’t seem to have any geographical significance these days. Not usually used by charities or non-profit organisations

.org.nz – Short for Organisation. The most common extension used by charities. It can be used in conjunction with a country reference – .org.nz. Generally used to signify a noncommercial website.

.net.nz – Short for Internet. used by both commercial and noncommercial websites.

.ac.nz – This denotes a Academic or Education Institution, usually combined with geographical reference.

.kiwi.nz – Kiwi sites only.

.govt, .govt.nz – Short for Government Department, State Institution, usually combined with geographical reference.

.nz, .uk, .fr – Geographical references. Usually the first two letters of the associated country, (New Zealand, United Kingdom, France).


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