SEO 101: Domains – Picking them, getting them, keeping them

SEO 101 Podcast

Ouch. Brian’s office had a cable cut or something, we’d occasionally lose Neo, and for once I was the one NOT having connection issues, but the sudden silence made me paranoid… it was a rough episode. Technical difficulties aside, there is some good information about choosing, registering and hanging onto domain names which verily I shall summarize here.

Download SEO 101: Domains: Pick It, Get It, Keep It.
Live show originally aired Webmaster Radio on 11/15/2007

Choosing a domain name for your business (key points)

  1. Keyword domains are always a safe bet, but they can be a tad on the bland side. Is it better to go for a cool brand or a dull keyword laden domain? My vote is for the cool brand… people love their brands. People do not *love* keywords. Not to mention, brandable names tend to be more readily available on the open market than awesome keyword domains.
  2. (Easy to Say + Easy to Spell) or (Clever + Easy to Say) = Easy to Remember
  3. Hyphens are okay, and in some cases good, but remember to think about the big picture. If your primary domain has a hyphen in it, make sure you also snag the non-hyphenated version and 301 it to your hyphenated domain. This way you don’t end up with gross sounding radio spots, i.e. “Visit Bob’ That’s Bobs Hyphen Tech Hypen Hut Dot Com!”
  4. Make sure you’re not stepping on someone else’s trademark before you sink your entire life’s savings into a project. You don’t want to have to change domain names after you’ve already printed your literature and spent money on producing your ads, etc. We’re not saying it can’t be done; we’re just saying it’s incurring an avoidable expense and causes avoidable pain and anguish.
  5. Domain Tools has a nice domain suggestion tool. Be prepared to jump on a domain once you find one you like… it might not be there when you come back the next day.

Getting the Domain You Want (key points)

  1. Use a reputable domain registrar, and register as many years in advance as you can comfortably afford.
  2. Check the backorder services to see if the domain you might want is going to expire soon. Backorders are generally free unless they successfully “catch” a domain for you when it drops.
  3. Check after market sites for registered, but for sale domain names… search for “domains for sale” and you’ll come up with dozens of sites offering after market domain sales.
  4. If you need to buy a domain from a broker, have a price in mind ahead of time and be prepared to walk away from the domain if the price isn’t right, or be prepared to write a really big check.
  5. Consider having a third party contact the domain registrant to negotiate a sale, or at least contact them via a throw-away email address. Sometimes sellers up the sale price if they think you’ve got deep pockets, or if they figure out what your business name is and know how desperately bad you want the domain.

Keeping Your Domain (key points)

  1. Make sure the contact information you have in the domain registration file is accurate and current.
  2. Make sure your registration is paid up.
  3. Throw some backorders on your own domains just in case… especially if you know you’re prone to bouts of forgetfulness.