Choosing a domain name is something that most of you will be well versed in or will at least have had the experience of doing before. But there is more to it than simply throwing your keywords into a sentence and ‘hoping for the best’ as it were. Further to this point – the Google landscape has changed significantly, and continues to do so – meaning that what was relevant then is not necessarily the case now.
Today We Will Be Discussing…
In this post I will be briefly talking about the importance of choosing your URL as well as some tips on finding available domain names.
More importantly – I will be discussing the legal implications of choosing branded domain names and what can (and did) happen if you go down this path.
I will also be talking about domain names from a niche site perspective – covering subdomains and even our ‘backup-backlink’ domains.
Keywords and Domain Names – What The?
The first thing I want to do is refer to a post I wrote last year in which I cover nearly all aspects of choosing a domain name – a post I invite you to read later: What’s In a Name? – Choosing a Domain name
In this post I bring up the subject of Keywords and Domain Names and I refer to a Video from Matt Cutts (dated Mar 07, 2011) in which he talks about Keywords within a domain name. It seems the video was a response to webmasters complaining that Google was lending too much weight to the Keywords when they were contained within the URL of a site. Of course I saw this as a good thing, we all did after all – but it seems that the ever changing landscape that is Google has changed once more, and the people have spoken…
Because something was recently brought to my attention by my good friend and fellow Blogger – Ana Hoffman regarding this very fact.
What Ana highlighted was a Tweet from Matt Cutts (the face and voice of Google) advising.. well I’ll just paste the Tweets here:
Original Story from WebProNews can be found here
So Keywords are NOT important in a domain name anymore?!
No, they are not important if the site content is crap – and I KNOW none of you would dream of building a site with crap content! If anything this update is even more good news as it means all those sites that have previously beaten you in the SERPS based solely on the awesomeness of their URL are about to get a Google Real(i)ty Slap.
It seems that this response from Google is something that should have been dealt with during the Panda or Penguin updates, I mean if the quality of a site is going to be a basis for which they judge the ‘weight’ they give the URL then surely this new update is irrelevant since they stopped paying any attention to the site after Panda?! (I know there is more to it than that but really…)
Tips to Choosing the Best Domain Name
I am not even going to waste any time going through this here as I have thoroughly and painstakingly covered it in my initial post on Choosing a Domain Name. A lot has changed in the online world since it was published in June of 2011 but the processes I outline have not changed – and neither have any of the kick ass resources I provided to help you with the whole ordeal.
Go there now – Indulge, Share… Rejoice!
Stepped on Someone’s Domain? (It can get sticky)
One of the things I discussed in my initial post on the subject was whether you should use Brand Names in your URL.
There were many for and against this and although I was well aware of the legal implications of choosing to go down this route, I decided to do so anyway. I created the URL Dewaltcordlessdrillreviews.com so that I could showcase the WP-ZonBuilder Plugin -and I did this beautifully I might add, building an Amazon Niche Site in Under 11 Minutes! as well as to sell Dewalt Cordless Drills (obviously).
I knew there was a risk involved as I had used the word ‘Dewalt’ in the URL – a copywritten brand and a legal entity but my previous experience with branded URL’s had actually been quite good.
A couple of years back I registered the domain Bumbo-babyseat.com as I had just purchased this incredibly new product for my own infant. Within a few weeks of promoting it I received an email from the Zimbabwean Owners of the company asking if there was any marketing material I would like and if there was anything they could do in turn. Wow – certainly not what you would normally expect.
It seems that the company was just starting out and as such – any publicity was good publicity (even when it really WAS good publicity).
*I’d like to point out that the business has since gone under – an omen I perhaps should have paid more attention to. (hindsight can be a bitch like that)
When My URL Turned Into a D’oh!-Main
Back to the point of Dewalt and their multimillion $ empire and corporate legal teams…. OK so it was nothing like that at all.
About a year ago I received an email via my Hosting company advising me to remove the site and all its content as it violated the Dewalt terms etc etc. The only real threatening part of the letter was attached to the time in which it needed to be removed – ie: Do it now or else we take the matter further.
I took the site down – that was the end of it.
Domain and Subdomain Options
So you’ve just built up a branded site and you are reading this thinking ‘oh crapsticks – now what do I do?’
If you are in the situation of having a branded domain that is making money then the question you need to ask is not If the Brand in question will ask you to remove it but When.
So now we need to take action – we need to start moving the contents to a new domain before the inevitable happens. But where?
You Have 2 Options Here, But Only 1 Choice.
Whether you like it or not, you are going to have to register a new domain name that does NOT contain the brandname in question. How you choose to do this depends entirely on what you are selling (physical vs. digital products vs. Services) and the manner in which you are selling it (Review based, sales page based, list marketing based etc).
Refer to my original post on the subject (links provided above) as I cover this in detail – but really it comes down to common sense and putting yourself in the shoes of the potential customer
Now when it comes to incorporating the brand name into the new site there are a couple of things you can do:
- Create a Page or Category with that Brand-Name. (All further reviews of that brand become subpages or are filed under that category in Posts)
Which one you choose is entirely up to you and how your theme ‘presents’ each option.
- Create a Subdomain with that Brand-Name. (so it would appear: Brand.Domain.com – and yes, perfectly legal)
A Good option if your niche has a lot of Big Brands selling a LOT of product.
Domain Names and Niche Sites
I briefly mentioned Subdomains, but let me touch on this further now that we are talking about Niche websites, especially those associated with Amazon and physical products…
The reason why Subdomains can be helpful is when you are selling within a niche that has numerous big brands that sell hundreds of products. Why? There are a number of reasons why you might choose to go down this path, here are a few:
- As your main site fills with content it starts to get messy. No amount of hiding pages and creating categories can hide the fact that there are so so SO many pages of content/products.
- Creating Subdomains for each brand means you can leave the main site to focus on quality niche specific content – thus increasing your own position in the SERPS as well as your authority within the niche itself.
- By creating a new site (subdomain) for each brand you are creating a network of relevant backlinks*
*All sites will be on the same IP/Host so will not be as strong a link network – but it’s still a network none-the-less
Backlink Network Domain Names
Here is a little something I have been doing for some of my bigger niche related sites – something that has been paying dividends in the SERPS, especially post Penguin.
When you register your chosen domain name take a look at the primary keyphrase that you are eventually trying to rank for and then go back to your domain registrar and get another one
Sounds simple – stupid even, but hear me out…
When you are registering your domain name you need to take so many things into account, namely of which is how ‘pretty’ the URL looks. Sometimes you either can’t or don’t want your keywords in there at all – and this is where the backlink domains come in handy. Let me use a real life example since I’m literally in the middle of it right now and show you what I mean.
Three friends and I have started building a new site/business called BarterBuild. The URL is obviously BarterBuild.com but even more obvious is the fact that we don’t particularly want to rank for that phrase – so it’s Backlink domain time!
Step 1 – Keyword Research.
Nothing particulary tricky here – just a quick search to confirm the 3 or 4 most searched terms.
(BarterBuild is a business based around the buying and selling of used and recycled building materials and sustainable products)
Step 2 – Finding Available Keyword Rich Domains
There are a number of tools/methods you can use to search for available domains – the most lethargic of which is to manually check each option with your registrar (no thanks!) For todays example I will be using Market Samurai – the easiest and most effective way of searching for available domains.
I have taken a screenshot (enlarge to view details) so you can see how quickly and easily I was able to locate numerous keyword rich domains that I could register. Keep in mind that this was the second or third cull in a process that had me removing the plural from materials (among other things)
Step 3 – Register the domain and fill with relevant content.
I will be writing a post dedicated to this final step as what you put on this site and how is crucial to your SEO success. For now just be comfortable in the knowledge that it is going to be a 100% content driven site (utilising both video and Articles)
Really? I’ve just written over 1800 words and you want me to summarise it all? OK -
Domains are cool dude – you should like totally get one!!