How Important is Your Domain Name for Search Engine Optimisation?

Written by Michael Walmsley  |  30-04-14

You may not realise the importance that your domain name plays in search engine optimisation. It can impact upon search engine rankings in a number of ways.

1. Age of Domain
One of the factors that search engines use to help rank your website is the age of your domain name. If there are two websites and one has a domain name that was only registered in the last couple of months while the other has a domain name that is 10 years old then, all other things being equal, Google will give more weight to the older domain and it will tend to rank higher.

2. Keywords in the Domain Name
This can be as much of a curse as a blessing. At first thought you would think that by having keywords in your domain name that it would be beneficial as it is telling both users and search engines what kind of content they will find within the pages of the website. This can be the case as long as your website also has strong content to back up the domain name. In 2012 Google added a filter to its algorithm that targeted exact match domains with poor content. The problem had been caused by companies registering what were in reality spammy domain names that were keyword rich. An example would be something like bestseocompanyinuk.com.

3. Domain History
In order to try to rank more highly on Google it is common to try to buy an existing domain name that is over five years old. This has the advantage of having a domain that potentially already has some authority through its age. However, what if that domain has previously been, or still is, penalised by Google? You could then be doing more harm than good as you struggle to overcome the penalties that were accrued by a previous owner of the domain.

There are some checks that you can perform to prevent this problem arising. The simplest one is to search on Google for “site:domainname.com”, where you replace domainname.com with the name of the domain that you are thinking of using. You will then be presented with all the pages of the site that are currently indexed. If you see no results then it is likely that the domain has been penalised. Another check you might want to consider before buying a domain name is to find out the Google Page Rank of the domain. Page Rank is a measure of authority that Google attaches to that domain. Page Rank scores are 0-10 where 10 is the most trustworthy and 0 is the least trustworthy. New domains start with a Page Rank of 0. You can use a tool such as Page Rack Checker (http://checkpagerank.net/) to see how much authority you will have if you build a site using that domain.

4. Domain Extension
Many site owners believe that having a .com domain will be beneficial to having a .co.uk domain but from a search engine perspective the opposite is usually true. With local search becoming more important search engines need to try to ascertain where a website is located. If you use a co.uk domain then you are immediately saying that you are a UK business.

Final Thoughts
You may not have previously considered the merits of buying a domain name from somebody else. There are advantages and disadvantages to this strategy but if you carry out a little careful research before you make your purchase then you may find that it gives a boost to your search engine optimisation tactics.



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