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Branding, Domain Basics, Domains, Online Marketing

How important is your domain for online marketing?

Everyone wants a good domain name for their website. A good domain name is also helpful when marketing your business.

Let’s take a look at the importance of a good domain name for both offline and online marketing, and how to use multiple domain names to drive a better return on investment for your advertising spend.

Chicken typing a domain into her phone

Offline marketing

Your domain name is important if you market your business offline. 

Examples of offline marketing include billboards, magazines, TV ads, radio spots, and flyers. Offline marketing also includes a big thing that almost all businesses depend on, even if they don’t spend a dime on offline marketing: word of mouth.

For all of these forms of marketing, your domain name needs to be simple, easy to remember, and easy to spell.

There’s a time gap between when people hear or see your website’s domain and actually type it into a browser. They must be able to remember it. Shorter is usually better, too.

Names also need to be easy to spell. No missing vowels, no tricky words that people need a dictionary to figure out how to spell. Even if someone wants to remember your business, they won’t be able to find it if they don’t know how to spell it.

Many people refer to easy-to-remember and spell domains as ones that “pass the radio test.” 

No matter what type of offline marketing you do, having a domain that passes the radio test is critical to your success.

Online marketing 

Many of the challenges of offline marketing don’t carry over directly to online marketing. With online marketing, most of the time people are clicking a link that goes to your website. So people can land on your website even if your domain is long or difficult to spell.

But that doesn’t mean your choice of domain doesn’t matter for online marketing. In fact, it might matter even more.

Credibility

One of the key benefits of a good domain name is that it lends credibility. A long, convoluted domain name doesn’t instill confidence in potential customers. Meanwhile, a short, valuable domain name conveys instant credibility in consumers’ minds. 

This doesn’t mean you need to fork over $100,000 for a one-word domain. But it does mean that you should try to get a relatively short, high-quality domain. Avoid something like JimsDrivewaySealing4You.com.

row of keys under search bar

Keywords

Consider the keywords in your domain name. The value of having keywords related to your business in your domain has changed over time. It used to be that Google used the keywords in the domain as a clue to the site’s topic and gave a boost to domain names that matched queries. 

Google has changed its algorithm because people tried to take advantage of this. Still, it seems that Google gives some credence to a domain’s words. If nothing else, when people refer to your business online, they will likely link to it by its name, which might give a signal to Google about what the site is about. This is especially handy if you want to expand the click-through rate of your eCommerce website or business page.

And even if Google gives less weight to the keywords in a domain these days, there are still lots of examples of sites quickly ranking for search queries that exactly match their domain. This is particularly the case with left-right combinations in new top level domains. 

People have been able to rank quickly for terms like “Montgomery Attorney” by using the domain montgomery.attorney. Home.loans ranks well for “Home Loans.” And for a while, the owner of vacation.rentals ranked on the first page of Google for “Vacation Rentals.”

But this search ranking success has been fleeting. And whether or not these sites are ranking highly due to their domain name is up for debate. Lately, there has been a move away from domain names that describe the business to more brandable names. 

The takeaway is that you shouldn’t choose a domain just because of a perceived keyword SEO value. But it might be worth using relevant keywords in your domain name depending on how you market your site.

To sum it up, having a good-quality domain name is key to building trust online and telling visitors what your site is about.

graphs showing business trends

A multi-domain strategy

Most businesses use one domain name for their website. Whether you market online or offline, you should consider a multi-domain approach to get the most out of your advertising spend. Use multiple domain names that forward to your main domain name to track results and test response rates.

For offline marketing, using multiple domains can help you track which ads are working for you. Use a slightly different domain name for each ad campaign and track web traffic to each domain name. This helps you understand if your new customers are coming from a particular radio station, billboard, or another offline medium.

For online marketing, hyper-targeted domain names can help drive more clicks. Someone looking for a window washer in Tacoma, Washington might be more inclined to click on a Google Adwords link for TacomaWindowWasher.com than a generic term that looks like a national company.

There have been some small studies that show that right-left combinations in new top level domain names can perform better than the same keywords on a .com when advertising on Google Adwords. For example, montgomery.attorney might bet more clicks than MontgomeryAttorney.com when the ad has the same message. These studies have been very small, however. 

The key is to test, test, test. Split test with multiple domains to see what drives the best results.

So start with a great domain name for your website. The best domain name you can afford. Then use a multi-domain strategy to drive the best results from both your offline and online marketing.

And if you haven’t registered a domain with Namecheap yet, now’s a great time to do so!

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by .

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