Choosing a Domain Name for SEO: The Do’s and Do Nots

Choosing a domain name sounds easy in theory.

It should be natural and simple, right?

The perfect name should present itself organically.

It should spring fully formed from your brand name, like Athena springing fully grown from Zeus’ skull. ⚡

…Shouldn’t it?

To that I say…

If you’re lucky. 🤷‍♀️

Most of the time, choosing a domain name for SEO can feel like choosing a name for your firstborn child. 👶

A LOT is riding on those names.

For your domain name, what you choose can make or break your brand online. It will directly affect your:

  • Brand recognition
  • Web traffic
  • Revenue

That means it’s utterly essential to choose the right domain name. Let’s dive deeper into why it’s so important, and then we’ll talk about how to choose a good domain name for SEO and your brand.

choosing a domain name for seo

How to Choose a Domain Name for SEO: Table of Contents

What Is a Domain Name?

Why Is Choosing a Domain Name for SEO Important?

How to Choose a Domain Name for SEO

  1. Make It Branded
  2. Don’t Be Afraid to Invest When Choosing a Domain Name for SEO
  3. If Your Domain Name Is Taken or Too Expensive, Try Keywords for SEO
  4. Keep It on the Short Side
  5. Choose the Right Domain Extension
  6. Carefully Consider How Words Look Pushed Together in a Domain Name
  7. Avoid Repeated Letters, Numbers, or Anything Hard to Type or Remember

Get Hosting for Your Domain Name with GoDaddy

Choosing a Domain Name for SEO Is Step One… What’s Next?

What Is a Domain Name?

“Domain” is often a word people use to mean “your website on the internet” – aka what I like to call here at Content Hacker, your content house. Your content house is the place that exists on the internet that no one can take away from you – and that’s not social media, friend. That’s your website.

content house

 

Your domain name is the exact address people type into their browsers to reach your website (content house).

Example: contenthacker.com

domain name in browser

A domain name is made up of two parts:

  • The domain (e.g., “contenthacker”)
  • The domain extension (e.g. “.com”)

Thus, choosing a domain name for SEO means you’ll need to choose both parts. (More on this later.)

Why Is Choosing a Domain Name for SEO Important?

As I mentioned, your domain name will directly affect your brand recognition online, your website traffic, and your revenue.

Why?

  1. Brand recognition – Your domain name is one (major) facet of your branding. This impacts visitors’ first impression of you, how well they remember you, and the overarching feeling they get from your business.
  2. Website traffic – How easy you are to find online has a lot to do with your domain name. If your prospects can find your site quickly and easily with nothing more than their memory or a Google search of your brand, you’ll earn more website traffic than a competitor with a confusing or non-branded domain name.
  3. Revenue – A professional, branded domain name is often a key determiner in who gets the clicks in Google. And, if your site is optimized properly for lead generation, more clicks can equal more conversions and more revenue for your business.

Let’s compare some domain names in Google Search so you can see what I mean. I’ll use a scenario where we need specific information and must choose between various blogs from unfamiliar brands to get it.

Example: I’m craving a tea latte, but I don’t want to go to the café – I want to make one. I google “how to make a tea latte” to find a good recipe. Here are the top results:

comparing domain names in google

When comparing blogs and deciding which one I want to click on, the domain names factor in, big-time. Which one will teach me the best tea latte recipe?

Here are my options:

  • Acouplecooks.com
  • Ohhowcivilized.com
  • Artfultea.com
  • Neighborfoodblog.com

Not bad. Instantly, two stand out: artfultea.com and ohhowcivilized.com. These sites sound like they’d be knowledgeable about tea, specifically. They’re creatively branded, and they grab my attention.

Ultimately, I click on ohhowcivilized.com, and it was the right choice:

domain name and branding

See how that works? The domain name of this brand had everything to do with earning my click, my traffic, and my attention.

What else does your business need to succeed? How do you build it successfully without burnout? How do you scale without breaking? I explain it all in my free class. Watch now.

Now, let’s move on to how you can choose a good domain name for SEO and your brand.

How to Choose a Domain Name for SEO

1. Make It Branded

As you saw from the previous example, branding is everything when it comes to choosing your domain name.

Your domain name should either reflect your brand name or come as close as possible while using major keywords from your industry. This will give you brand recognition at the foundation of your business.

Examples:

  • Contentmarketinginstitute.com
  • Teachable.com
  • Everydayhealth.com
  • Booking.com
  • Zellepay.com

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Invest When Choosing a Domain Name for SEO

Most brand names are unique enough so that when you’re ready to buy a domain name and build a website, that name should be available to use. However, if your brand name involves a common word or phrase, it might be more expensive to buy – or even taken.

That said, a domain name that’s right for you comes down to the value of that name for your brand.

If your brand is like mine, Content Hacker, you’d benefit from buying contenthacker.com – even if it was $5,000 (mine was!).

Because when anyone types your brand name in Google, that exact match domain will come up, and – voila! – the majority of brand recognition for the entire name/term/phrase will be yours. We also did this with seowritingcourse.com, contentstrategycourse.com, texasgermanshepherd.com, etc.

Owning the exact match domain name to our brand aligned with what we were selling/doing, and was a way to win the market and hold authority for that term. Thus, the cost was worth it.

serious business owner map

3. If Your Domain Name Is Taken or Too Expensive, Try Keywords for SEO

Let’s say you’re in the latter camp and your brand name is taken as a domain name, or it’s way too expensive to buy.

What now?

Go straight to keywords – either added to a branded term or used wholesale as your entire domain name.

Here’s a good example. The brand Zelle is a payment app, much like Venmo or PayPal. However, the simple domain name, zelle.com, is taken (it belongs to a law firm!).

zelle law firm domain name

The solution for Zelle, therefore, was to attach a descriptive industry keyword to the end of their brand name to create their domain name – Zellepay.com.

zelle payment app domain name

As you can see, your brand presence reinforces your domain name and builds it up. Great content published consistently on your site will give your authority a huge boost. (Never rely on your domain name alone to do all that heavy lifting for you.)

Check out the top content types to grow your business in this video:

4. Keep It on the Short Side

What do the most memorable domain names have in common?

They’re all short and sweet. Think:

  • Apple.com
  • Google.com
  • Yahoo.com
  • Amazon.com
  • Twitter.com

So, if you’re starting a content writing business and considering “contentwritingandeditingbysally.com” – maybe don’t do that. 😬

Shorten, shorten, shorten – even if your brand name is on the long side.

Some good examples:

  1. 21st Century Insurance – 21st.com
  2. American Woodmark Corp. – cabinetry.com
  3. British Sky Broadcasting Group – sky.com

5. Choose the Right Domain Extension

Yes, you will need to choose a domain extension along with your domain name.

Extensions aren’t random, by the way. Each extension is meant to apply to a specific kind of business, organization, or entity. (They’re not always used this way, however.)

In general, here are the most common options and what they’re intended for:

  • .com – for commercial businesses, e.g. Apple.com
  • .net – for sites related to networking, e.g. Behance.net, Slideshare.net
  • .org – for nonprofit organizations, e.g. Diabetes.org, stjude.org
  • .edu – for educational institutions, e.g. Mayo.edu, Yale.edu

So, if you see a site with the .edu extension, you know that site probably belongs to an education-related institution. If you see a .org site, you can assume it’s probably a nonprofit. (Again, not always, but usually!)

So, which extension should you choose for your business?

It’s generally a good idea to stick with the most popular one – .com – simply because most people use it and assume that’s how a web address will end.

However, if your desired domain name is unavailable with the .com extension, going with an alternative could be a good solution so you get the name you want.

Note: Most domain name generators will help you figure out if your preferred name is taken and offer alternatives, including different extensions to use in combination with your name.

For instance, GoDaddy’s name search feature is super helpful:

godaddy domain name alternatives

6. Carefully Consider How Words Look Pushed Together in a Domain Name

The nature of domain names is that, if you use more than one word, they need to be squished together.

Don’t just do this blindly, though. Ensure those words actually look good smooshed together and are easy to type.

And don’t make gaffes like these, either:

  • Teacherstalking.com – Nope, this was not a hub for teacher stalkers. 👀 This was once the home base for the Teacher’s Association.
  • Itscrap.com – This site sold IT scrap parts. Not crap.
  • Speedofart.com – An unfortunately-named art site. 🤦‍♀️

7. Avoid Repeated Letters, Numbers, or Anything Hard to Type or Remember

When prospects type in your domain name, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to get it right with no typos, inaccuracies, or second-guessing.

That means, generally, you should avoid repeated letters, numbers, symbols like dashes, and other additions.

So, names like “content-writing-123.com” or “contentteacherr.com” or something similar are going to be difficult for your prospects to remember and type correctly.

You want short, simple, sweet, and memorable – not long, complicated, and finicky.

free class

Get Hosting for Your Domain Name with GoDaddy

Once you have your domain name in hand, you’ll need a place to host it. 🏡

GoDaddy is a great option for this. I have hosted all 40 of my domains there and have nothing but good things to say.

I’m not alone, either. Over 20 million people have trusted their domain hosting to GoDaddy (with over 84 million sites worldwide). It’s all-in-one, too: Find your domain name, purchase it, and host it. Here’s how that shakes out, price-wise:

  1. Find + purchase your domain name: This varies, but most .com domain names start at $0.01 per year.
  2. Host your site with GoDaddy (including your WordPress website): Starts at $5.99/month for a 3-year term

Get started today and get up to 30% off your first year using GoDaddy. 

Choosing a Domain Name for SEO Is Step One… What’s Next?

If you’re choosing a domain name for SEO right now, you’re probably in the baby stages of brand-building.

What else do you need to start your business on the right foot? 👣

Strategies for solidifying your brand and offers, not to mention hiring, delegating, and growing.

Systems for managing your business.

The right business skills you can take confidently into each task, each goal, and each new endeavor.

If you know this, and you’re ready to invest in yourself and your brand…

The Content Transformation System is here. 🎈

My 12-month program is built for the burned-out business owner or entrepreneur who needs clarity, redirection, and support.

You can just learn the basics, one thing or two…

OR you can learn how to build an entire, sustainable business strategy that will get you out of burnout and into the impact you crave.

Learn more and apply if building a sustainable business is one of your big goals.

content transformation

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an entrepreneur, 6x author, and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and brand presence that lasts online. At 19 years old, in 2011, she used her last $75 to build a 7-figure agency, Express Writers, which she grew to $5M and sold ten years later. In the 2020s, she's devoted to running The Content Hacker, where she teaches creative entrepreneurs the strategy, skills, and systems they need to build a self-sustaining business, so they are finally freed up to create lasting legacy and generational impact.