If you’ve never been involved in building a website before, it’s easy to get confused between a couple of key terms. ‘Domain’ is one of them.
In relation to web development, your domain name is the address that users type into the browser URL to visit your website. Domain names were invented to make it easier for people to find their favourite websites. Words, after all, are a lot easier to remember than random combinations of numbers and letters.
Your choice in domain also plays a key role in your website’s SEO performance. As a leading provider of search engine optimisation in Melbourne, a website’s domain name is one of the factors we recommend our clients spend some time thinking about, particularly if they’re setting up an entirely new site.
A domain name is different to a website and a web hosting server. The term website refers to all the individual elements that come together to form an interactive digital experience. If your website is a house, your domain name is the address. A web hosting server is where your website files are actually stored — maybe think of it like the attic or the basement.
People often get confused between a domain and a web hosting server as both are third party services that require payment to access. You can use the same company to purchase both or go with different businesses — it’s up to you.
The domain itself is made up of two parts, also known as labels. You have the website name and the domain name extension. In the case of www.newpathweb.com.au, “newpathweb” is the domain name and “.com.au” is the extension. Certain extensions are more highly sought after than others. You probably already know this — a website with the extension “.com.au” is generally considered to be more trustworthy than one with “.news”.
Common extensions include:
- .com: By far the most common extension, with an estimated 52 percent of the market share. “Com” stands for commercial.
- .org: “Org” stands for organisation and “.org” tends to be used by non-for-profit organisations and charities.
- .net: People often go with “.net” if the domain name they are trying to purchase with the extension “.com” is already in use. “Net” stands for network.
- .com.au: A country-specific iteration of “.com”, “.com.au” is for Australian websites.
There are plenty of other extensions out there. For example, Google recently made the “.day” extension available as a top-level domain. This could be great for any business looking to capitalise on a certain day, like Black Friday.
Why is my choice of domain important?
Your choice of domain name is important for several reasons. From a user perspective, your domain name needs to be very closely linked to your business name. In fact, it pretty much needs to be identical. Any variation of your company name can cause confusion and looks rather unprofessional. Your choice in domain is an extension of your company brand.
Secondly, a domain name has a significant impact on SEO performance. This does not mean that you need to include targeted keywords in your domain name. In fact, Google doesn’t look upon this practice too fondly. Their goal is to help users find exactly what they need. If a user already knows they are searching for “Bob’s Plumbing” then Bob having the domain name “www.best-plumber-melbourne.com.au” doesn’t exactly provide a seamless user experience.
In that sense, having the right domain name is much more about creating brand awareness and increasing click through rate than it is about optimisation.
How to create the perfect domain
Creating the perfect domain name can take time for a number of reasons. To start with, with over 1.8 billion websites out there, there’s every chance that your first preference has already been taken — along with your second, third, and fourth.
Your domain name isn’t exactly something that can be altered. If you change your mind, you’ll essentially need to set up an entire new website. You risk losing your SEO rankings and negatively impacting your online branding.
So, you need to make the right decision the first time. Consider the following points when creating your domain name:
- Shorter is better: If your domain name is any longer than around 15 characters, your customers are going to struggle to remember it.
- Avoid special characters: While you can include hyphens and numbers, they’re not considered particularly SEO or user-friendly. Stick to letters wherever possible.
- Consider keywords: Google has been known to penalise websites for having exact-match keywords in their domain name. However, if you can subtly work them in — for example, “www.bobsplumbingmelbourne.com.au” you can improve your SEO rankings.
- Use a top-level domain: A top-level domain will help improve user trust and your SEO performance. If you can, try to purchase either a “.com” or “.com.au” extension. Avoid anything that looks too spammy, because it probably is.
If you’re looking to build a new website entirely from scratch, it’s best to first consult the professionals before purchasing a domain name. Newpath Web is a leading provider of search engine optimisation in Melbourne and has helped countless clients across all industries establish and expand their online presence. Contact the friendly team at Newpath Web today to find out more about our SEO and web development services.