Are Domains Still An Important Ranking Factor?

Never has there been such a variety of domains on the market. Only a year ago you were stuck with .com, .net, .co.uk, etc. Now you can have .hotel, .photographer… the list goes on!

So, how important is a domain and what things should you be considering before you make a choice?

Should Your Domain Be Descriptive?

Back in November 2012 our guys at Click Submit blogged about Google’s first EMD update. EMD or Exact Match Domains were an absolutely crucial factor in getting a head start on your ranking across all the major search engines.

So how can you take advantage of an EMD domain? Let’s take a photography company as an example who’s most important search term is “Photographers in London”, they then look and see that the domain name photographersinlondon.co.uk is available. Although this domain isn’t the name of their company does it make more sense to purchase it? In short yes. It’s still a good idea to purchase a descriptive domain over a none descriptive domain, but it’s not as important as used to be.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that although we live in a very Google focused market there are many other search engines out there that still regard EMD’s as a very important ranking factor. Yahoo would be an example of one of these.

Does The Suffix Make Any Difference?

Yes! The higher perceived prestige a domain suffix has the easier it is to obtain a high ranking on. Although we think this will be watered down over the coming months / years similarly to exact match domains.

Geographical suffixes are important too. For example if you had a .com then you would have a better chance of obtaining a better ranking than someone with a .net but if your site is only targeting the UK then you would have a better chance of obtaining a higher ranking with a .co.uk or .uk domain.

If you’re a UK business then domains in order of ranking are:

.co.uk / .uk
.com, .net, .org, etc..
.photographer, etc…

Do Forwarders Help With Ranking?

No, but they’re still very important from an intellectual property point of view. If you have 100s of domains forwarding to your website it won’t make any difference to your ranking but it will stop any potential competition on a similar domain name. Protecting your intellectual property is particularly important when using an exact match domain.

Should I use spelling replacements?

A spelling replacement is when you use a number like 4 instead of the word four or maybe you spell a word incorrectly (eg. Catz, ur, etc) instead. People do this in order to get around the correctly spelt domain not being available. We don’t recommend using them for two reasons. Firstly, it can affect the search terms that you will be ranked on but also from a more practical point of view one of the most powerful methods of free marketing for a website is word of mouth. If your domain isn’t spelt correctly it makes letting someone know the web address verbally a bit awkward.

Conclusion

Although the search engines (in an attempt to level the playing field) are watering down the emphasis on domains as part of their algorithm they are still an important factor. So, if a descriptive domain with a good suffix is available then snap it up, but if you’re in a competitive market and domain availability is low then don’t worry, the playing field is a level as it’s ever been and is only going to level out further in the future.

We will update and release further posts on the subject of domains and how they’re affecting over the coming months and years.

We hope you found this post informative and if you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Cloud Next.

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