How to Pick a Domain Name | Your Brand’s First Big Decision
Your choice of domain name is an important decision to make, it defines how people will remember your brand. It is, and should be your brand.There are a few important decisions to make when choosing a domain name.
You need to decide:
1. The domain name
2. It's extension (.com/.net/.org/etc.)
What Should my Domain Name Be?
There are a few different options for your domain name:
- Branded domain name
- Partial match domain name
- Exact match domain name
Let's start with the first option, branded domain names. This is the most practical option. Your domain name should be your brand - not a variation of your brand. You don't want to confuse people.
A branded domain name is preferred by Google. It shows Google that you're a real company - not some internet marketer trying to hack their way through rankings.
Your next option is a partial match domain name (PMD). A PMD takes a keyword or two and combines it with other branded characters. A lot of companies use this approach.
It gives people an idea of what your focus may be and still leaves room for branding.
The final option is an exact match domain (EMD). An EMD takes a search term or keyword(s) and makes it a domain name.
About 10 years ago an EMD was all that you needed to rank on the first page of Google. Markets were created where these domains were traded for tens of thousands of dollars.
It also led to spam-filled websites ranking in search engines without putting up useful content. Google caught onto this and implemented an EMD penalty in 2012. You can still rank with an EMD, assuming that you provide useful content. But it's no longer the path of least resistance.
Does My Domain's Extension Matter?
Your domain's extension is the group of characters at the end. The most well known extension is .com. A few other popular extensions include .net and .org. They're known as gTLDs (generic top level domains).
As of late, the list of gTLDs has grown by quite a bit. Hundreds of extensions like .tech and .club have been added to the mix.
Does it matter which extension you choose? Not really.
There's a growing list of companies using these new gTLDs:
It's no question that .com is the most recognizable extension. It will likely have some impact on searches, as people naturally assume that .com comes at the end of every website.
But as more and more companies explore new gTLDs the importance of a .com extension will continue to decrease.
New gTLDs are a great way to differentiate. They're also a great way to provide visitors insight into the nature of your business before they ever reach your website.
Case Study | My Hoverboard Niche Website
I built a niche website about hoverboards a little over a year ago. In that time I've learned a few things about domain names and extensions. My original domain was tophoverboardreview.com, it specialized in hoverboard reviews.
This was one of my very first websites, I decided to go with a near exact match domain.
- People knew exactly what to expect before clicking on the link.
- I was able to rank in Bing and Yahoo quickly, without any real SEO knowledge. This led to a few affiliate commissions in the first couple of months.
- When I was out of hoverboard reviews to write, expanding the focus of the website became difficult.
- Link building was difficult. The high quality websites that I wanted links from didn't want to link to an EMD.
- I didn't feel like I had the ownership that a brand gives you.
Ultimately, I realized the cons were outweighing the pros. That's when I purchased hoverboardlab.tech.
You could call it a partial match domain or a branded domain - it's a bit of both. I plan to build it into the ultimate hoverboard resource. It's a work in progress, but I'll continue to provide updates on rankings, traffic increase, link building and content for the domain.