W arning! This article is a bit techy, infused with some SEO nerd talk, and hints of web design process. It is, however, a very interesting topic If we might say so ourselves. When starting a new web design project for our clients, a top area of discussion entails choosing a domain. Most people will want to get a branded domain name or a generic term that describes their business offerings. Prior to making your selection, there are several factors regarding branding, user experience (UI), and SEO that you should consider to avoid headaches or search engine ranking issues in the future.
The .com SEO Domain Problem
With preferred .com, .org, or .net top-level domains (TLDs) becoming less available for businesses or costing thousands to millions of dollars (Insurance.com sold for $35.6 million in 2010), it is now quite common to not get the domain name you really want. Keeping hyphens, misspellings of your brand’s name, and non-applicable location-specific TLDs (.uk for the United Kingdom) out of the equation, preferred domain name choices have become quite slim for the average business owner.
Webmasters Can Change Google’s SEO Mind
In the past what might have occurred was if you had yourcomanyname.io, you would have come up with search results targeted in the Indian ocean. Over the last few years, webmasters have turned their sights to using some of these country-specific TLDs (ccTLDs), such as .ad, io, or .me, for generic purposes. According to Matt Cutts, former software engineer at Google, some of these ccTLDs get reviewed based on use and categorized as generic due to the overwhelmingly ‘general’ application of the domains. If it is not categorized as a country code in the ICANN registry, Google may review the TLD’s majority use and categorize it as a generic TLD( gTLD) for search result purposes.
SEO Is A Forever Moving Goal Post. You Have To Be Relevant To Keep Up.
Seo Options! Hurray!
That’s great news for us SEO professionals and for you too! Why? Because businesses have more options for their domain names and gTLDs. You may not be able to get yourcompany.com but yourcompany.co could be a reality! So don’t be afraid of doing something a little different, but do check that an alternative TLD isn’t country specific as per ICANN’s registry or Google’s TLD lists to cover your assets. Also, make sure your geo-targeting options are accurate in your webmasters portal. You should probably ask your SEO company to do this for you if you’re not sure how.