Getting the correct Domain Name for a Website is critical for numerous reasons. Below are discussed a few of the most common questions arising when organizations and businesses choose Domain Names:
What TLD should be used?
Top Level Domains (sometimes called TLD or Domain extension) look like .com and .org etc. There are also Country Code TLD’s which look like .co.uk (England), .com.au (Australia) and so on. Some TLDs are restricted (such as .edu) but it is always advisable to get at least the .com TLD for your chosen Domain Name. .com is by far the most popular and is generally accepted as the ‘default’ TLD.
Should the SLD be the same as the Trading Name?
The Second Level Domain (SLD) is the text immediately to the left of the TLD e.g. in http://www.example.com the SLD is example. The combination of SLD and TLD is unique which means that when you buy a SLD and TLD combination you have sole use of that combination. As an example, If you have a Travel Store called Harry’s Travel there is no limitation to what Domain Name you may buy (providing no-one else has purchased the name). You may therefore get the name harrys-travel.com, harrystravel.com, the-travel-expert.com or anything else. Remember however that people must be able to remember your Domain Name so if you have a Domain Name which differs from your trading name people may not remember the Domain Name.
Should a Domain Name contain keywords?
This is a hotly contested issue. Generally in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) circles it is acknowledged that there is likely some benefit in having a keyword or two in the Domain Name (or URL). A keyword is a word that a person will use to Search on Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other Search Engine. Have you noticed that the Search Engines highlight the words you searched if they appear in the URL? A keyword in the URL also may give people the confidence that they are accessing an appropriate Site e.g. a person searching for ‘travel information’ will have more confidence in a Domain Name such as http://www.harrys-travel.com than http://www.harrys-business.com .
Should words be hyphenated?
Google recommends that separate words are hyphenated rather than combined or an underscore character used (i.e. harrys-travel is better than harrystravel or harrys_travel). When entering a URL into a browser people most often combine words i.e. people will enter harrystravel.com rather than harrys-travel.com. There is therefore a conflict between what the Search Engines require and what people naturally do. The safest option is to get as many related Domain Names as possible as discussed below.
Is one URL sufficient?
The answer here is simple; no, one URL is not enough. Although it is best to have a single Website and use sub-domains
or pages for sub-sections it is very important to buy as many similar Domain Names as possible. These names should all have a permanent redirect to the primary Domain Name. The reason for this is that, say for example your primary Domain Name is http://www.example.com and you expand your business into England, you don’t want a competitor to have the name http://www.example.co.uk and to take business from you.
Unfortunately there are few definitive answers when it comes to SEO and choosing Domain Names. The safest option is to consider how your target customers will find your business on the Web.