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SEO and Your Domain Name

Updated on June 30, 2011

Domain names that are keyword-rich play an important role in search engine rankings, particularly for small and for new websites. In the past, the most important decision you would have had to make about your domain name, would be the choice of TLD, usually '.com', '.net' or '.org'. The internet and SEO landscape has changed somewhat in recent years, and any aspiring website owner will need to put a bit more thought into the process. Owners of new websites in particular should also take the opportunity to own multiple domain names, where this option exists. Owning several domain names related to your main site will help you to both enhance, and protect your brand.

Besides buying keyword domains related to your business or website, many webmasters also purchase the most popular misspellings of their main domain names. While in the past, such an activity was normally the preserve of spammers, many legitimate sites and web businesses not follow this practice.

Anyone seeking a single-word, English domain name is bound to be sorely disappointed today. Pretty much every single English word has been registered as a domain name, and unless you are prepared to spend significant sums of money buying a domain from a reseller, you do need to get more creative. Single word domain names can, and in recent history, have sold for large sums of money, often running into millions of dollars. For most people, a more affordable option will be to investigate two and sometimes even three-word combinations as potential names for your site. 

The more creative can try to come up with a nonsensical, or totally made up word or name. The most popular example of this, is Google, which was named after 'googol', a mathematical term referring to '1' followed by 100 zeros. Should either of these processes fail to net you a name you are happy with, you can always engage the services of a domain name broker, who might be able to get you a domain name more suited to your liking. A final choice for many aspiring website owners, is the purchase of a domain name with an intentional misspelling. 

Armed with a domain name, you can begin to explore the many website hosting options available to you today. There are many different options, available from an even larger number of suppliers, that will suit almost any requirements and budget. It must be pointed out that you should make your web hosting choices and decisions in parallel with a decision on the software or content management system (CMS) you plan to use to build and manage your website.

Picking the right CMS package will make all your subsequent SEO efforts much easier, since a lot of the readily available options come with significant SEO tools already built into the core. If you do elect to have custom software developed for your site, it will be important that both on-site and on-page SEO be considered during the design phase, and are not added on as an afterthought at the end. For most website owners though, developing custom software is really an unnecessary expense, since so much software is available for free and for sale, that you should have no trouble finding an existing package that meets your requirements.

You can change your software platform or your web hosting providers much easier than you can change your domain name. A good domain name is one you can incorporate into all the marketing your business does. In short, it should be on your business cards, on all your stationery, in corporate press releases and newsletters, and in all your advertising campaigns, both online and offline. Given that, the cost of changing this domain name quickly get prohibitive once you have invested time, energy and money into promoting it. Getting the name right *before* you begin implementing your SEO plan, is therefore quite important. 

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