Web Marketing Tips for Domain and URL Selection

How Do You Select Your Domain Name & Website Names?

How to Select Domain Names

Use this checklist to ensure your domain and URLs are both website user and search engine friendly.  This checklist outlines various aspects of the domain and site URL structure, how they should be used and how they should appear in your browser address bar.

Why Is Good Domain & Page Name Selection Important?

The domain name helps establish an important identity for your business. The URL is short for 'unique resource locator', also known as a website address. The URL you choose significantly impacts your brand identity as well as keyword ranking performance.

In addition, your site domain name and URL selection greatly influences how search engines crawl and index your website. This greatly influences overall visitor and traffic performance.

Your Domain Name & URL Selection Checklist

Make Your Domain Name Short & Memorable

It's best to keep your primary domain name short and, if possible, select a name that is easy to remember.
Not so good: best-darn-blue-widget-company-ever.com
Better: bluewidgets.com

Uses Keywords In Your Domain

Ideally you should select targeted keywords in your business name, that you can also use in your domain name.
Not so good: carter-enterprises.com
Better: vancouverhonda.com

Use Your Domain in Your Email Address

Don't use free email accounts for business. Use your business domain name for all business communications instead.
Not so good: vancouverhonda@gmail.com or vancouverhonda@hotmail.com
Better: roy@customfitonline.com
Rarely, I might suggest that if you have registered a shorter domain that compliments your main URL you can use it. For example, Custom Fit Online has registered cfit.ca. If my domain name was long I might suggest using an email like roy@cfit.ca.

Use Canonical Programming for Either www. or non-www

Use canonical programming to ensure your website redirects to either and www or non-www version. If your website shows 2 unique versions, that is both a www and non-www version, you have trouble on your hands. In this case Google will likely index your site as two different sites. This is not good as your site may get indexed as having 'duplicate content'.
Example: site.com redirects to www.site.com or www.site.com redirects to site.com
We have used www as the default website address because we thought that people 'expected' a website address to begin with this. However, Custom Fit Online is now choosing to make the non-www website address the default URL because it's shorter and seems to be more 'accepted'. If you have an established default address I wouldn't change it. Make your decision regarding which version to use for new sites only.

Uses a Favicon

Make sure your favicon shows in the address bar. It helps identify your site when a visitor has multiple tabs open in their browser. I have used FavIcon.cc to create many of our clients' favicons. It's a great online tool. Ben, our Creative Director, uses PhotoShop to create his favicons.

Alternate Domain redirects

Make sure all alternate domain names redirect to the primary domain to prevent potential duplicate site issues. This is referred to as 301 redirects.
Example: vancouverhondadealer.com or vancouverautosales.com redirects to vancouverhonda.com

Home Page Redirect to Domain Root

Your Home Page should be accessible from the domain root only, not the page file name.
Example: vancouverhonda.com/index.html or vancouverhonda.com/index.php redirects to vancouverhonda.com

Remove Page Extensions from URLs

We like to set up URLs that have extensions like .html or .php removed at the end of the page name.
Not as good: /sports-utility-vehicle.html or /sports-utility-vehicle.php
Better: /sports-utility-vehicle/

Hyphens Not Underscores Page Filenames

Don't use underscores in filenames, go with hyphens instead.
Not so good: /sports_utility_vehicles/
Better: /sports-utility-vehicles/

Keywords in Directory Names

Use keywords in directory names wherever applicable.
Not so good: /category1234/product5678/
Better: /sports-utility-vehicle/pilot/

Multiple Pages Per Directory

Don't create directories for a single page but organize directories so multiple pages fit in a single directory.
Not so good: vancouverhonda/honda-sedans-accord/
Better: vancouverhonda.com/sedans/ or vancouverhonda.com/sedans/accord/

Registered for 5+ years

Web Marketing Tips for Domain and URL Selection

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Keep your domain name registered for multiple years at a time, rather than renewing year to year. I typically recommend registering for a minimum of three to five years but preferably more. We register our domains with GoDaddy.com and a domain costs around $9 to $10 per year. So why not invest $100 for ten years, lock it in and avoid the hassle of having to re-register your domain each year? In the long run, it's worth it.

Now It's YOUR Turn

Do you have any questions or feedback as to how best to select a domain name or page URL? We'd love to hear from you. Leave your comments below.

Roy McClean
Feb 20, 2013
By Roy McClean

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