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Back in the day, your choice of domain name was an important direct contributor to your results. The search engines would give you “bonus points” if the phrase you were targeting was included in the domain name.

This resulted in a proliferation of keyword1-keyword2.com style websites, many of which still survive today. A quick search for “digital camera” today revealed digital-cameras.com, thedigitalcamerashop.co.uk, and thedigitalcamera.org.

Had I done the same search three years ago I might have found these and many others such as digital-camera.co.uk, cheap-digital-cameras.net, cheap-digital-cameras.org etc etc.

Most people (OK most people who think about these sort of things) wrongly assumed that the reason these sites ranked well was because the afore mentioned “bonus points” were significant.

Whilst this may have been the case in the very early days (the heyday of AltaVista et al), in more recent times the good ranks resulted (and still do, to some extent) from the “inbound anchor text”.

A quick translation: inbound anchor text is the text inside a link from another site. For example, when linking to GeorgieBarlow.com I might (as per here) include GeorgieBarlow.com in the text I want people to click on.

On another occasion I may say something along the lines of “read blah blah on my daughter’s website” where the anchor text in this case is “my daughter’s website”. Of course for Attacat this is outbound anchor text but for GeorgieBarlow.com it is inbound! Phew

These keyword1-keyword2.com websites did well as a result of the natural tendency of website owners to include the site name in the link text when referring to them. E.g. “good prices at Digital-Cameras.com” (I have no idea if they are by the way)

So coming back to GeorgieBarlow.com. For maximum SEO benefit I probably should have nabbed Georgie-Barlow.com as the hyphen may help the search engines see the two words in my target phrase. But it looks naff, so I didn’t. Which brings me round to branding.

Look at the list of digital camera sites above again. Now try to picture yourself visiting one of them. Fast forward a few days and try to remember the domain name of the site you visited. What are your chances of finding that same site again? Pretty slim.

Aren’t you much more likely to remember (or at least recognise) Jessops, Pixmania or Black & Lizzars even if you have never heard of them before?

In summary choose your domain name on the basis of brand, not keyphrase. You may have to work a little harder at ranking but, with all else being equal, you will make much more of every visitor that Google gives you.

GeorgieBarlow.com was chosen simply because it was memorable. I would have preferred Barlow.com even though it would be (marginally!) more difficult to rank for Georgie Barlow. Sadly I was still in internet nappies when that went.

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