by Krista LaRiviere
When Google crawls your web site to index and rank your content it has to start somewhere. That somewhere is the front door to your site – your domain name. It’s time to take inventory of your domain name and make sure the welcome mat is out for those Google robots.
Don’t overlook these five important SEO signals that could make a difference between a Page One and a Page Two ranking.
1. Expiration Date – Do you know when your domain name will expire? If your domain expires two weeks from now and you haven’t renewed it yet Google, might get the sense that you’re not committed to the domain and therefore the web site.
Domain names are relatively inexpensive compared to a decade ago. A dot com domain costs a couple hundred dollars for a 10-year term. If you want to signal to Google that you’re serious about your business and domain, it is a good idea to register it for a longer period of time.
2. Domain Age – How long has your domain name been in use? Less than a year, five years, or more? This matters to Google. This doesn’t mean an older domain will outrank a newer domain (there are many other variables involved), but an established domain with a solid web presence will likely rank more favorably than a newer domain with a similar presence.
3. Keywords in your Domain – Is your domain name reflective of what you sell (www.shoes.com) or is it more about who you are (www.brownshoecompany.com)? A popular topic in the SEO world is Google’s weight on keyword phrases in a domain name.
The inclusion of keywords in your domain can have some other benefits. One is that it might be easier for a prospect to remember a domain name with common words in it. Also when we take into consideration the importance of backlinking and the corresponding anchor text in backlinking, it’s easy to see how a domain packed with keywords can add a lot of punch.
If changing your domain name for your main corporate web site is unrealistic, consider mapping just your blog site to its own keyword-rich domain and then pointing blog posts back to your site.
4. Top Level Domain – What’s a Top Level Domain or TLD? This is the .com, .edu, .gov, .uk, biz, part of the domain. There are restrictions on TLDs based on your organization type. For example, .edu is reserved for educational organizations, .gov is reserved for governmental organizations, so you would have to prove that your business is registered as one of these before one could be assigned to you.
With country-specific domains (.ca, .fr, .de) you are required to be operating your business in the country in question. Dot com domains are designated for commercial use, so they are basically open to anyone in the world.
All of this becomes important when you are trying to do business in a particular country. If you are selling software in the UKand Indiathen you will want to ensure you have a proper web presence with the proper domains mapped to proper web sites. In other words, when www.google.co.uk comes to your door, it knows you want your content to be indexed and ranked.
5. 301 Redirects – Make sure you have only one active domain for your web site. When Google shows up, what it doesn’t want to see is multiple domains mapped to one web site without the proper 301 redirects. Getting this wrong in Google’s eyes indicates you are producing duplicate content, trying to potentially game their algorithm and you may even be competing against yourself for to rank for key words. You do want to have both your www.domain.com and domain.com resolve to the same web site so people will find you if they type in the www. or not.
Domain names are just one of many factors search engines considers when attempting to rank your web presence for organic search. It is worth taking inventory of your domain, so you send the best signals to the search engines and let them know your door is always open.
Krista LaRiviere is CEO and co-founder of gShift Labs Inc., a search engine optimization software company helping other businesses gain better knowledge, understanding and control of their SEO campaigns.