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The choice of the domain name is even more important

The choice of the domain name is even more important

Domain names have always been thought to be important, but before the spotlight has been on them from a branding / ease of use perspective. After all it is madness to have a hugely long easily misspelled domain name, or is it? Short domain names have always been thought to be great, easily remembered, they were snapped up in their hundreds by businesses and collectors (of domain names). At the time it seemed to be a good idea and even today you can’t argue that the easily remembered issue is important. However, there is a change afoot and it is being powered by the Search Engines themselves. It is of course all about linking, that is links from one site to another, as this factor is becoming increasingly important, the engines allocating as much as 50% of the “marks” they give out when deciding who is to be ranked first on the basis of links. But linking is not just about quantity or indeed relevance, there is far more to it than that today. However before we can reveal why the domain name has become more important, we must first describe what makes a good link. All links have two parts, one the actual URL and the other the text that “describes” the link. The latter is normally the bit you see and click on and is called the Anchor Text as it resides between the opening and closing anchors in the HTML code. However links from images don’t have any anchor text, instead the engines use either the ALT tag, the actual name of the image, or its title. The important thing to bear in mind is that whichever of the three sources the Engines use, they are all used by the Search Engines as an indication of what the page that is being linked to is all about. Thus a page with linking text “dog beds” would “tell” the engines that the page was about “dog beds”,whilst a link that simply said www.acme.co.uk would just re-enforce the fact that the page was a part of the acme site. Both are useful in their own right, the first one telling the engines that the site sells dog beds, whilst the latter provides a well needed “tick in the box” at the domain recognition/popularity level. There is a lot more to links than this though, but the important thing to remember as far as this article is concerned is that linking text that “tells the engines” what a site is about is more powerful than those that don’t. But what has linking got to do with the domain name, surely they are different? This is indeed correct, the URL link being totally separate from the anchor text. What is important is the “effect” a domain name has on the linking text used by other sites when deciding how to link. Now when considering this you must realise that you cannot control how people link to your site in all cases, and that left to their own devices these sites may well use words that describe your domain name and not what your site is all about. Say for instance you have a site that sells fine wines, and you have the domain name www.georgeformby.co.uk as that is the name of your business. You will find that many people will link to you using the words “George Formby”, whilst others will use www.georgeformby.co.uk. Some may well use linking text like “fine wines from George Formby” or “George Formby suppliers of fine wines”, both of which are good, but overall the “power” of these links will not be a high as for a site with a domain name like www.fine-wines.co.uk. Such a site will be linked too in a number of ways too, but all are likely to automatically choose the words “fine” and “wine”. Thus when the Search Engines come to decide which site is to be ranked first for terms like “fine wines”, “wine” or “wine suppliers” the domain name www.fine-wines.co.uk has a head start. It must be said that sites with really great domain names have always have had the edge, but today, with the Search Engines giving so much weight to text used for linking, these sites are getting harder and harder to beat. There is a whole lot more to links than has been covered here, but suffice to say, the importance of the domain name has been given an extra boost in recent months, something that is unlikely to change for a good few months (if ever). So when deciding on a domain name, do bear in mind that choosing one that says what you do (with a mind to the keywords you want to be found under) is likely to be far more powerful in Search Engine terms than one that is chosen for other reasons. The issue of the hugely long domain name can also be overcome too with the clever use of the 301 redirect tag, so don’t despair you can have the best of both worlds, just make sure you take expert advice before you decide on your domain name and linking strategies. Source: Intelligent online marketing By Graham Baylis, Internet Marketing and Promotion Specialists, www.I-O-M.com

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