There is a great podcast interview with Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz.com and SparkToro on the Domain Name Wire website. In it, the lays out his thoughts on to select a domain name and more importantly how to think about creating a brand name for your company or product.
According to Fishkin (and this is a pretty well documented fact), the role of domain in search has changes drastically over the years. In the early years of search and Google, there was a good 10 to 15 year period where popular keywords in domain names could have a really positive beneficial impact on search ranking.
Today it is very minimally beneficial. Today, keyword-rich domain names have minimal impact on a website’s ranking potential. It could even work against you, as there are indications that Google favors brandable domains over generic domain names.
Short, pronounceable names that don’t have any meaning constitutes a cheap and vacant search real estate. Especially domain names that are memorable and readable have the potential to become great brand names. These domains are inherently more valuable than exact word matching domains. As an example, Zappos.com is more valuable than Shoes.com as a domain name as well as a brand name.
Some brands have used generic words that have no relation to their industry and use that as a brand name. Amazon is the biggest example of that. Lemon is another. If you are trying to do this today as a startup, the problem you are faced with is that you would need to outrank the existing term of the word. Lemonade Insurance had to out-rank the drink lemonade on Google.
Domain Name Checklist
- The Audible Test. Can people understand the name and its spelling if you say it outloud?
- Does it work in different languages?
- Does the name have existing Google result? If you search the name on Google, will it be easy to rank?
- Is the name pivot proof? Many companies pivot.
Domain Name Criteria
- Unique names
- Catchy names
- Combination words
- Short names
- Business name generators
- Generic versus unique