Thursday, April 28, 2011

Optimization of Domains/URLs

Optimization of Domains/URLs

Two of the most basic parts of any website are the domain name and the URLs for the pages of the website. This section will explore guidelines for optimizing these important elements.

Optimizing Domains

When a new site is being conceived or designed one of the critical items to consider is the naming of the domain, whether it is for a new blog, a company launch, or even just a friend's website. Here are 12 times that will be indispensable when helping you select a great domain name:

Brainstom for five top keywords
* When you begin your domain name search, it helps to have five terms or phrases in mind that best describe the domain that you are seeking. Once you have this list, you can start to pair them or add prefixes to create good domain ideas. For example, if you are launching a mortgage-related domain, you might start with words such as mortgage, finance, home repairs, interest rate, and house payment, and then play around until you can find a good match.

Make the domain unique
* Having your website confused with a popular site that someone else already owns is a recipe for disaster. Thus, never choose a domain that is simply the plural, hyphenated, or misspelled version of an already established domain.

Choose only dot-com available domains
* If you are not concerned with type-in traffic, branding or name recognition, you don't need to worry about this one. However, if you are at all serious about building a successful website over the long term, you should be worried about all of these elements, and although directing traffic to a .net or .org is fine, owning and 301'ing the .com is critical. With the exception of the very tech savvy, most people who use the web still make the automatic assumption that .com is all that's out there, or that these domains are more trustworthy. Don't make the mistake of locking out or losing traffic from these folks.

Make it easy to type
* If a domain name requires considerable attention to type correctly due to spelling, length, or use of unmemorable words or sounds, you've lost a good portion of your branding and marketing value. Usability folks even tout the value of having words that include easy to type letters (which we interpret as avoiding q,z,x,c, and p).

Keep the names a short as possible
* Short names are easy to type and easy to remember (see previous two rules). They also allow for more characters in the URL in the SERPs and a better fit on business cards and other offline media. Shorter URLs also get better click-through in the SERPs, according to MarketingSherpa.

Create and fulfill expectations
* When someone hears about your domain name for the first time, he should be able to instantly and accurately guess at the type of content he might find there. That's why we love domain names such as hotmail, careerbuilder, autotrader, and webmd. Domains such as monster, amazon, and zillow require far more branding because of their nonintuitive names.

Avoid trademark infringement
* This is a mistake that isn't made too often, but it can kill a great domain and a great company when it does. To be sure you are not infringing on anyone's registered trademark search at

Set yourself apart with a brand
* Using a unique moniker is a great way to build additional value with your domain name. A brand is more than just a combination of words, which is why names such as mortgageforyourhome and shoesandboots aren't as compelling as branded names such as bankrate and lendingtree.

Reject hyphens and numbers
* Both hyphens and numbers make it hard to convey your domain verbally and fall down on being easy to remember or type. Avoid spelled-out or Roman numerals in domains, as both can be confusing and mistaken for the other.

Don't follow the latest trends
* Website names that rely on odd misspellings (as do many web 2.0-style sites), multiple hyphens (such as the SEO-optimized domains of the early 2000s), or uninspiring short adjectives (such as top, best, hot) are not always the best choice. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but in the world of naming conventions in general, if everyone else is doing it, that doesn't mean it is a surefire strategy. Just look at all the people who named their businesses "AAA" over the past 50 years to be first in the phone book; how many fortune 1000s are named "AAA".

Use an AJAX domain selection tool
* Websites such as ajaxwhois and domjax make it exceptionally easy to determine the availability of a domain name. Just remember that you don't have to buy through these services. You can find an available name that you like, and then go to your registrar of choice.

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