Why Your Website's Domain Name Matters for SEO
Your website domain name is an important factor in website SEO that many business owners overlook. Making your website URL the same as your business name is probably the best SEO strategy, however, there may be situations where it makes more sense to use a different domain name. In this episode of Local SEO Tactics, we'll discuss some of the pros and cons of using the same domain name and business name, and we'll help you decide what's best for your business.
Got questions about SEO or digital marketing? Reach out to us today and let us know! We will answer it on the show and hopefully provide insights for you and other listeners.
Thanks for checking us out, and enjoy the show!
What you'll learn
- How your website's URL is factored into Google Search
- When to include other things in your domain other than your business name
- What you can do if your business name domain is an unavailable
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Jesse Dolan: If it's the right domain, don't be afraid of spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on it. If you think about all the time, money, and energy we're going to be putting into a website and getting ranked, how important is the domain name for SEO, how important is the domain name for relevancy to your business, all these things we talked to earlier with Bob and myself, throwing a couple thousand dollars at it, if it's the right one, can give you great ROI.
Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I'm your host, Jesse Dolan, here today with Sue Ginsburg, Bob Brennan. How you two doing?
Sue Ginsburg: Really good, thanks.
Jesse Dolan: Let's get into some SEO topics, Sue. I know you got a couple loaded up here for us today that we're going to record this episode here. What are we going to talk about?
Sue Ginsburg: Today, we are going to discuss should your domain name be the same as your business name for SEO purposes? And this question has come up recently from a client in Dallas, a client in Tennessee, client in New Jersey, and lots of others, so I figure they're not the only ones asking the question. It's a good question to hear what the experts have to say. Quote of the day today, "It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do," and that is a quote I found in the excellent book, Getting Things Done, and I think that it is really appropriate to this and every other question we come up with.
To set this up a little, we have a client in Dallas who has a great business selling dresses for quinceañera, proms, mother-of-the-bride, and other fancy dress occasions. He offers terrific customer service, a wide variety of dresses, and people love the shopping experience they have when they're shopping in his stores. He's currently considering changing the name of the store and he asked our SEO experts what they think about it from an SEO standpoint and also, if he should change the domain, should he change it to match his proposed new store name.
This question comes up all the time when we're working with a new business or a business looking to change their business name or domain name or to strengthen and/or to strengthen their SEO. We recently had a group of esteemed ENT docs in New Jersey leaving their practice to start their own, and the same question came up, should their domain name match their practice name and will that help with SEO? And also began working with a longtime client who also left his previous company to move to another state, start his own business, and had the same question, "Should my new business name match the domain name, and vice versa, for SEO purposes?"
When this many people in our universe of clients and others ask the question, it tells me there are a lot more people out there who have that question. I thought it'd be a great question to pop to you two today. Tell us what you think about this, from an SEO purpose, Bob, business owner and digital marketing purpose. Make us all smarter here.
Jesse Dolan: Bob, do you want to go first?
Bob Brennan: No, you can go first. I'm going to let it percolate in my head a little bit here.
Jesse Dolan: Percolate away. Short answer is yes, ideally, it's great to have your business name, right, be the same as your domain name. We always use the example Bob's Plumbing, right? If you're Bob's Plumbing, that's your business name, just to continually reinforce that, right, bobsplumbing.com, this is Bob's Plumbing, how easy it is to remember and just that front of mind, right, that it stays with people. They don't have to think about what it is. Bob, there's been a ton of times we've talked about businesses, whether they're our own businesses we've launched or other people, when they have to spell it out, right, or give you acronyms or mash stuff together, that just becomes more complicated and then you lose what I'm talking, that association of all of it being the same and that ease of use. Even if the words themselves aren't common, front of mind for people, having it be the same across the board here, like we're talking, I think is always something you want to strive for.
People never have to remember your website, right, was it bobsplumbing-llc.com? Just, no, it's just Bob's Plumbing. And then also, when people do a Google search for your business name, you're getting that reinforcement in there as well because, let's just say your domain is an exact match for your business name, if somebody just types in Bob's Plumbing into Google, you're sending signals to Google at the same time that people are looking for Bob's Plumbing, A, and then, B, odds of bobsplumbing.com showing up number one for that are much higher, right? Then you're sending those signals to Google when people do a Google search and the consumer, the end user, is able to find you because you're easy to rank for that term because your business matches your dot-com exactly, so the accessibility, the findability. From there, you get a double dip.
And then also, if your name can match your business name, this isn't as much SEO directly, but it does pump the same flywheel, social media, right, getting all your handles for social media, facebook.com/bobsplumbing and all these other things, the same phrase, the same keywords, the same business name, all that stuff. And then, again, from a consumer standpoint, Bob's not on Facebook as Bob's Local Plumbing, right, or some other weird version. It's just that same consistency. Taking it a little step farther, Sue, not just does your domain name want to match your business name, really, any digital property that you could think of, any handle on your socials, your website, all that should fall in line with it. And we give people advice like picking your name even, right? If you're in that luxurious space to be able to take that opportunity and run with it, you can pick a name that coincides with all this, where the domain is available, the social handles are available, and all that.
And then, last but not least, in the memory standpoint here is your email addresses. If people know, inherently, Bob's Plumbing or are familiar with your business name, you're just not going to have to spell out those email addresses as much when you're relaying it to people, right? First and last names can be things we have to spell a lot of times anyways. If we can make sure the dot-com part or the dot-net part of our email address is something that's just easy because they're familiar with your business name, that just saves time and complication there too. People get it wrong.s I've got a couple more bits of information on this, but I guess that's the quick tidbits there. Bob, do you have anything you want to follow up or piggyback on that?
Bob Brennan: No. One of the things I want to throw by you, and you need to correct me on this, but I think somebody had asked a question about photography in the Hamptons or something, where you could be Johnson Photography, but should you own the website, hamptonphotography.com, where, if somebody's going to do a search and say, "Okay. photography Hamptons," the keyword search matching the URL, right, Jess?
Jesse Dolan: Yep.
Bob Brennan: You can get tricky like that, right, because most of that business comes out of different parts of New York, right, is the idea, Manhattan and so forth. Somebody's going to have a wedding reception in the Hamptons or whatever and they're going to type in, "Photography Hamptons. The inverse of that is, let's say you're a commercial warehouse entity in Las Vegas, and a lot of people out of state are just going to like, "Hey, we should set up a distribution center in Vegas," and they're going to type in, "Warehouse Vegas, warehouse ..." You know what I mean? And your website represents that. That's another dynamic. You can still be Johnson Brothers or whatever the deal is. Is that the right logic, Jess, to some degree, that you can really get finite, I think, with the search, and effective with the search, if you're trying to land that customer that is within the demographics.
The only other thought on that is this, if you're Bob's Plumbing and you want to expand your customer geography and you are in, let's say, a suburb of the Twin Cities called Rosemont, and you want to get a website called Twin Cities Plumbing, now you're going to get a different customer because, most of us, when we need a plumber, we're going to type in that suburb that we're in. Sue, you're in Austin, there's probably a suburb you are in within Austin. Again, your sink's backed up or some other issue, you're going to type in that plumber, that suburb. Now, if you're out of not familiar with the area, you may type in plumber Austin, and you may get a plumber that's on the other side of town that's going to charge you a trip charge. Anyway, it's complicated, but it isn't, in that you can create a website that is really tailored to the search of the ideal client that you want. You just got to put a little thought to it and still retain your needs.
The only other thing, too, is we have a newer client and they created a new business and it was brilliant. It's called Twin Cities Diesel, right? You have the slang of Minneapolis-St. Paul, which is called Twin Cities, and then you have the proper name, which is either Minneapolis or St. Paul. They did a reach and got both. And that term, Twin Cities, is not going to be used by a trucker from Alabama because they don't know that it's called the Twin Cities, just like in Texas, DFW, right? Diesel repair DFW is probably a linguistical term that's used by local-
Jesse Dolan: Very local.
Bob Brennan: ... folks in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Anyway, I didn't mean to go down that rabbit hole, but those are just some thoughts in terms of how you come up with that URL.
Jesse Dolan: I think that's two sides of what you're talking there, basically, adding geographic, right, references into it. And I think, like we said, if you're on the front side and you're able to start your business, right, you're not just picking a new website to go with your business name, but you're at that point where you can decide your business name and your website, to your point, if geographic is part of it, and for most of us it is, adding that into your domain name is a great idea. It draws that local relevancy for the users, they immediately know your local, and then, for Google too, you're getting that city, that geographic reference right in your URL.
But, even if that's not your intent is to do that for those strategic SEO reasons, to call it your geographic area, you can also use it as a plan B, right? If bobsplumbing.com wasn't available and you just want it, you can do the state abbreviation, Bob's Plumbing MN, Bob's Plumbing Minnesota, if you want to type the whole state out, and you can also add other modifiers, I guess, in addition to the state, geographic type stuff, even Bob's Plumbing Company, Bob's Plumbing Service, right? You can add other modifiers on there as well. And I think all these too, aside from the SEO benefits, like you're talking Bob, to be found and tied to that geographic, there's that what's easy to remember for people.
Twin Cities for us, in that same vein, we know what that means. It's slang that's used all the time and very easy for people to remember and reference. Same thing if it's services or store or company or things like that, all great plan B's for people. I would always love to see somebody with a slightly longer URL like Bob's Plumbing Minnesota, than when we try to shorten it just for the sake of shortening it, like Bob's Plumbing, MINN, right, or things like that. Use the whole word, just find the shortest words possible, and things like that because we want to do this for reasons to be simple or easy to remember or signals to Google. And you don't want to just really overthink that too much and be too cute with what you're doing and make it something that nobody can remember. Yeah, great points. Again, whether that's on your front side or as a plan B, adding those modifiers in there can be very powerful.
Also, I guess, in that too, let's give everybody a little disclaimer, don't overdo the SEO, right? You shouldn't be bobsminnesotatwincitiesplumbing.com or whatever. It's attractive to try to throw a bunch of those things into your root dot-com, but, remember, you're creating individual webpages at the end of the day when you're trying to get found. We can target individual suburbs if you're handling multiple zones, things like that, in your individual pages. Your domain should be something that's broad and encompasses all of what you do, so don't try to overdo it by mashing too much stuff in there.
And another thing I have written down here for a note for everybody is, whether you're able to decide your name for your company or if you're just buying a domain here, do some competitive research to see what's happening with your competitors. Let's just say there is a Bob's Plumbing here that Bob is going to compete against, if there's already a name or a website that's extremely similar, maybe you want to go a different direction, even if it was something that was right to your core, because if they're already getting a lot of authority and good ranking with Google, you don't want to have the battle now with Google about making sure you two are separate or that you're different, right, or things like that.
I would much rather just fight the battle over SEO, right, and not your brand and things like that. Do a little bit of competitive research, make sure you're creating some space for yourself and you're not going to be confused with anybody else, and get out there and crush it.
Hey, everyone, just a quick message about our free SEO audit tool on localseotactics.com and we'll get right back to the show. If you haven't taken advantage of it yet, go on out to localseotactics.com/freeseoaudit or look for the yellow button up in the top right corner, click that, and it's going to take just a couple seconds. You enter in the page that you want to optimize, what you're looking for the audit to score against, enter in that page, enter in the keyword you're looking to get optimized for, and enter in your email address, click the button, and it's going to take a few seconds and then it's going to send you off a PDF report via email.
It's a great report. It's going to give you an overall score of some vital SEO areas for that page and for your website at large, even though it's auditing this page, that's going to tell you some of the good things that are happening, some of the bad things that are happening too. It can give you, basically, a checklist of some things that you need to shore up and what you can do to improve your SEO for that page, for that keyword that you're auditing. Now, you can use this as many times as you want. You can do multiple keywords, multiple pages, multiple keywords on the same page. You can even use this to check against your competitors, right, if you want to do a little reverse engineering, see how they're scoring for a certain keyword, what they may be doing good that you're not, and some things to improve there, so lots of different ways to use it completely free. Again, go on to localseotactics.com/freeseoaudit or look for the yellow button in the top right corner of the website.
Sue Ginsburg: I wanted to pick up on something else that Bob said, which was mentioning keywords, and share that, in both cases, that I spoke of, when we had clients leaving their previous business and starting it on their own, New Jersey and Tennessee, we looked at keywords and number of hits, et cetera, et cetera, as part of what we were doing to help come up with which name would be the same, what would be the best that would work for them. And then the other part that you mentioned too, Jesse, is then you got to see if the domain name is available, and if it is, at what cost and et cetera, et cetera. It's not a one-step deal.
Jesse Dolan: You bring up a quick topic too, Sue, that we've had discussions with multiple clients and domain name being available. You can go online, one of my favorites, I don't know why, probably because I've used it forever, but it's just Network Solutions, to check for available domain names. They have a bulk checker where you can just punch in a bunch of different names at once and see what's available, what's not. But sometimes that perfect domain name is not available, meaning that somebody's occupied it or owned it right now, you can't just freely buy it for 15 bucks or 20 bucks or whatever you might pay, but don't be deterred if that's the case. If you have just the perfect dot-com, it matches your business name or whatever your strategy is, if somebody else owns it, investigate it first. Number one, visit it and see, is it a live website, is Bob's Plumbing occupied, owned, and utilized by an actual plumbing company that's using it right now today?
Okay, then maybe that's a fight you got to give up. But if it looks like it's parked or available, and when I say parked, if somebody owns multiple domain names, let's just say it's GoDaddy, they may own it, but when you go visit bobsplumbing.com, it says, "Hey, whatever, this is on GoDaddy," or whatever, it just doesn't have an active website. What that means is somebody owns it, but isn't doing anything with it. Maybe they're trying to sell it for profit, which is extremely common. Maybe they have just had it for a while and are sitting on it.
Either way, if it's the right domain, don't be afraid of spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on it. If you think about all the time, money, and energy we're going to be putting into a website and getting ranked, how important is the domain name for SEO, how important is the domain name for relevancy to your business, all these things we talked earlier with Bob and myself. Throwing a couple thousand dollars at it, if it's the right one, can give you great ROI. Don't be deterred by that. Often, people just run away like, "Oh, somebody's got that." Investigate it. Sometimes you can buy it for 150 bucks, right?
Sue Ginsburg: Great point.
Jesse Dolan: But, no, I think other than that, I do have one more note here I completely skipped. We want to remind people, I know we've mentioned this a few other episodes, but, as business owners, when we start thinking about our business name and websites, we like to buy a lot of dot-coms, right? I'm going to buy bobsplumbing.com, bobsplumbingservice.com, bobsplumbingmmn.com, and then I come into an SEO like us and say, "I've got a great head start on SEO for my company. I just bought seven domain names. They all have keywords," and it's like, all right, but you only use one of those for your website. The other ones are just going to sit there.
There are some strategies to use them, but I want to remind everybody, we're talking about buying one domain name, right, one business, one domain name, and that's how you roll. All these other ones that you might buy because they're similar or you think there's SEO value, completely different topic. Don't fall into that trap. Don't waste your money unless you know what you're going to do with those. They're not going to be applicable to your website. They won't give it more value or more SEO juice, having multiple domain names.
Sue Ginsburg: It's more of a defensive measure so somebody else doesn't buy it if it's close to your name, yeah.
Jesse Dolan: Defensive. There are some things we can do with other marketing tactics for campaigns and stuff, but, generally, speaking here, just right down the pipe of business name, domain name, should they match or not? Yeah, one, just one domain name there. Don't need to spend extra.
Sue Ginsburg: That's great. Anything else to add, Bob?
Bob Brennan: No, I think Jesse's covered a lot of what really matters.
Sue Ginsburg: That's great. Okay. If you remember one thing and one thing only, remember this, yes, ideally, your name and your domain name should be the same, and all of your social entities as well. The bottom line is you want it to be as easy as possible for people to find you and, if they know your name and can type that in as the domain name, or looking for you on social and that's all they have to do, the better for you. We all have way too many things we're trying to remember, so make it easy for them.And, like Jesse said, if you have to go in and buy a domain name, if that's the stage that you're in, it's worth it. You'll get a good ROI on that and make it easier to be remembered.
Thanks, great topic, and I think really helpful for a lot of people. That was great, really good. Just to go back to the quote of the day one more time, "It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do." Elbert Hubbard is the author of that, and I found that in the excellent book, Getting Things Done.
Jesse Dolan: The book, Getting Things Done, by the way, something we read and pass around internally. Anybody listening, you want a good book on how to prioritize things and manage your time a little bit differently, pick that one up. You'll like it.
Sue, great setup as always, and, Bob, good insight. Hopefully, everybody listening, that gave you some insights, a little bit of SEO, a little bit of business owner management marketing perspective where it all ties in together there. If that caused you to have some more questions down that vein, we're here to help. Go on to localseotactics.com, scroll down to the bottom, click the button to submit a question. You can send it in in a form. You can call it in. We can play the audio on the show. Either way, we'd love to hear from you on this topic, follow-up topics, or anything else that's bugging you for SEO and broader digital marketing. Otherwise, appreciate you guys' input and questions on this episode here, everybody listening. Hopefully, you got some good value and we'll catch all on the next episode here. Bye.
Sue Ginsburg: Bye.