Domain Names: The first step to search engine domination

By now most people realize that a crappy domain name like xytoi309.com probably is not the best choice for either the company or the new product your are launching. While I am not going to go into the importance of choosing a good company or product name (Hint: xytoi309 is probably not the best) I am going to let you into some the secrets for beating your competition with the help of strategically purchasing the right domain name.

In this post I am going to talk about two of my favorite types of domain names. First we will talk about aged domains and then we will get into exact match domains (aka EMDs). Even if you already have a corporate site, these ancillary sites can be absolutely wonderful in terms for promoting your company in either different locales or for different types of services you may offer.

So what the heck is a domain name?

A domain name is simply the website address that you type into the web browser. For example, the domain name for Paluska Group is: paluskagroup.com. Frankly, that is all that you need to know. If you want more technical details check out this Wikipedia article all about those little guys right here.

The more important thing that you need to know is that these can be a really big factor in both the effectiveness of your internet marketing campaign along with the speed in which the SEO can take affect (if at all…). You see, the major search engines keep track of the history of the domains that you own and take all of that into consideration when deciding where to rank you for certain search terms. If they find something they don’t like, you don’t rank.

Sooooo, my job and frankly anyone that cares about ranking websites is to check out the domain and make everything “behind the curtain” looks good so that you can enjoy the fruits of being on top of the search engine for those juicy keywords that bring home the bacon!

My test results…

I run many tests both internally and also keep up with colleagues that report back their results and there are a couple conclusions that I want to share with you…

  • Old domains (preferably early 2000′s) rank extremely well compared to new domains
  • Exact match domains (EMDs) DO rank (despite contrary belief)
Lets examine these a little more…

Old Growth Domain Names…

Maybe because I live in Oregon, I immediately thought about old-growth trees when thinking of domains with age, but nonetheless there is some real value in these old domains. As Google and search engines in general have matured, we have seen that one of the ranking factors that Google is paying particular attention to has to do with the age of the domain.

While some of you may have purchased domain names along time ago, either for your business and/or hobbies, if you have some age behind that domain name it can be a real boost for ranking a website.

How to check this:

Thankfully, a cool little property cal the “WHOIS” exists to tell us exactly when a domain was first created. You can check your domain here and it will tell you the background of the domain. It will tell you all sorts of things but remember, we are looking at the “Record create date” as this is what search engines like Google look at to understand the age of a domain.

Help! My site is “young”

If you have a new domain name that doesn’t have very much age, it doesn’t mean that you site will never rank. It just means that you might have to work a little harder to get those coveted top positions in comparison to an older site. But you have options…

Why you might want to buy an aged domain

Behind the scenes there are auctions that me and a lot of other people are participating in on a daily basis to find these aged domains for our projects and our clients. These auctions are absolutely fascinating to participate in and more importantly there are excellent domains that most people will never have the chance to purchase because people like me purchase them before they go back into the pool of domains.

Nevertheless, anyone can participate and I actually have a series of blog posts that I am doing at my other site called the School that is going to go through the steps that I take to find these little gems.

Fun Fact: the School was actually a domain that I purchased about a month ago but the original creation date that google recognizes is 2001. Thank you domain auctions!

Exact Domains Uncovered (EMDs)

Exact match domains are simply the search phrase converted into a domain name. So if you were a plumber in Salem, Oregon and you wanted to rank for “plumber in Salem, Oregon” then purchasing that domain name (www.plumberinsalemoregon.com) could indeed give you a quick boost in the journey of getting to the top of the search engines.

Controversy with EMDs

At the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, the new general consensus was that exact match domains (EMDs) were being penalized by the search engines. While some people still feel that this is the case I am here to tell you that I have not seen that penalty occur and frankly I think that the whole story was misrepresented.

The real issue with EMDs

I think that the real story that came about was that people who typically purchased EMDs were doing a lot of poor SEO that resulted in their sites being penalized irrespective of whether they had an EMD or not. I am having great success with EMDs and believe that I will continue to have that success because of the approach I take to SEO (slow, steady, and NO spam).

I like them and they work

Try googling “Seattle Real Estate Agent” and you will see that the top site is indeed an EMD! This is my friends site whom we share notes with. Nonetheless, I can show countless other example sites where this is occurring and have a whole group of sites that are EMDs that I am working on targeting these types of search terms that are currently climbing the ranks as we speak. And just so that we are clear, we aren’t the only two people doing this…

EMDs might make sense for you…

There are many cases that I can think of where an EMD might make perfect sense for a company. I am actually working on this exact case for a client who is looking to test out a new market for their company without altering their existing site. We have actually set up a brand new site with a good EMD to test the market and see if this is a place where they want to be. This can be a lot easier and much less work than working with an existing site.

A couple reasons why an EMD or separate site might make sense:

  • Expanding into new markets, while keeping your competition blind to your expansion
  • Your existing site has been penalized by the search engines
  • You want to rank a little faster than “normal”
I could keep going but I think you get the idea. These little sites can be extremely powerful to a business and definitely something for you to consider without worrying about the SEO “penalty” that Google supposedly implemented earlier this year.

Wrapping this up…

So if you have read this far then I must have done something correct. I find that SEO is absolutely fascinating and sometimes really frustrating. Being methodical and more importantly deliberate with your domain name choice, you can really make an impact on both at the start of a new SEO campaign and during it.

I hope that you have a better idea about what type of power that little web address can have to the success of your site. While there is SO much more I want to talk about with regards to domain names I think this is a good stopping point.

What I am planning on doing is literally going step-by-step through every piece of a website. So step one, the domain name, is now completed.

For the curious: I have written a post about the tools that I use to find great domain names at the School. If you want a little peek behind the scenes you may want to check out the post.

 

Let me know in the comments about any successes you’ve had with domain names and whether or not your results match up with mine.

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