homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from
register, free tools, login, search, pro membership, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Become a Pro Member
Home / Forums Index / WebmasterWorld / Domain Names
Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: buckworks & webwork

Domain Names Forum

What's in a name?
Domain name selection

 7:40 pm on Jul 30, 2001 (gmt 0)

What's in a name?

Domain name research and selection is undoubtedly one the most important aspects of the development phase of a web site. If you miss the boat on choosing the right name, you might miss a boatload of traffic.

The process of picking the right domain name for your web site can be broken down into two parts:

  1. Researching the targeted keywords for your business.

  2. Implementing the keywords into the site.

Phase 1 - Domain Name Research

Selecting the right keywords to include in optimizing your web site text and file structure is already a well established 'must do'. Including that same attention to detail in your domain name can pay big rewards in giving you "the edge" over your competition. Several questions to discuss:

  • How much is there to be gained in having keywords in the url?
  • Are subdomains used with keywords effective in boosting a non keyword domain?

    While researching the words to use in your domain name it is critical to grasp the "essence" of what it is you're trying to accomplish. Traffic is good. Targeted traffic is even better and that's ultimately what we're after....qualified buyers.

    We are advanced web searchers. Think basic. You've got to put yourself in the buyers shoes and think..."hmmmm, I'm looking for _____. If I go to MSN and type in _____ and see what comes up." Think in basic terms. Get to know what the keywords are in the category you're optimizing in. Find the niches. Find the meat and potatoes words and as BT would say "find the keyword gold".

    Phase 2 - Implementing the Keyword Strategy

    Once the keyword strategy game plan is solidified, you can go ahead and start to select the domain name itself. Hyphenate the words unless you're going to be using the name for offline promotion as well. In that case it's a good idea to get both the hyphenated and non-hyphenated domains. Don't forget you can also use keywords as subdomains if you want to use your company name as the domain name as well. Questions to discuss:

  • Is there a difference between .com and .net in rankings?
  • Are there advantages to using other tld's such as .cc if you can get the keyword strings you're looking for?

    While having the keywords in the domain name is not absolutely critical, having the keywords as the site name is. As most of us have learned, this becomes painfully clear when applying for a listing at Dmoz, Yahoo and especially Looksmart. Using a short, descriptive , keyword rich title (including the header graphic) will ensure a much greater chance of success in slaying the evil editors who are actively blocking the pathway to your success in having great search results for your site. (Yahoo is one instance in life where the old hymn "just give me a cabin in the corner of Gloryland" applies...just be glad you made it in ;) ).

    With the "Big 3" directory listings in agreement with the keywords in your domain name and site title, you can honestly say that you have done the best you can do to target your site in the search engine results (of course the rest of the site must be done properly also). At this point, you haven't done anything underhanded (yet), except apply the skills you've gained from experience in dealing with the "system".

    So, "what's in a name"? Location. Location. Location.



     2:50 pm on Jul 31, 2001 (gmt 0)

    What about expired domains? People should know that it's possible to find domains with certain keywords in them that already have 'quality traffic' coming to them. And they can easily register them; they just have to find those expired domains.


     4:03 pm on Aug 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

    Nice post toolman indeed!
    You would not believe how much good a domain name could do your site especially in yahoo!
    Although getting the good domain names is quite hard these days especially the .coms
    Trying out a new approach and testing a rare domain extension that has an unbelievably good search phrase at the moment.

    If you would like to know how it gets on you can sticky mail me but only beginning to get in the search engines this week and its geting approx 70 uniques a day, its a .cd domain extension, maybe you can guess what it is :)
    It is very interesting though to see who will index it and who wont.


     6:16 pm on Aug 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

    Some thinking of domainname

    If you having a buiesness with
    cottages for rent
    wich adress are the best choice
    www.cottagerentals.xxx or
    i have seen a lot of companies that have a doublewords.com and i think it would be better to seperate them with - am i right or wrong


     6:40 pm on Aug 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

    Generally Ove, I've heard the 'nohyphen' version is best for most uses. Imagine yourself giving out your domain name over the phone:

    "Go to w w w dot cottage rentals dot com." (www.cottagerentals.com)

    "Go to w w w dot cottage hyphen rentals dot com." (www.cottage-rentals.com)

    There may be a slight keyword relevance boost for SEs with the hyphenated version, but I haven't seen any major advantage... unless you're doing MOST of your advertising in print, in which case www.cottage-rentals.com might look better.

    All in all, if you can buy both the hyphenated and nohyphen versions of the same name, I think that's the best way to go. You can promote one, and just have the other one pointing to the same site... that way, even if someone gets confused about the hyphen, they'll end up at the right site.


     8:31 am on Aug 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

    Yes you hit about my personal criteria Mivok: the telephone test.

    The URL [chants.com...] is a bad domain name, even though it's a "dictionary word." Why? Because 70% of the people who hear the URL will go to [chance.com...] instead!

    For the same reason I stay away from hyphens and words that are simply hard to spell.



     3:01 pm on Aug 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

    Bolotomus is right about the 'telephone test'. If the site is going to be pitched on radio then you definitely want to use a name that people can remember easily and can spell easily. But, with so many webmasters relying on the search engines nowadays for their traffic, would it really matter at all whether or not it's got a great telephone name? And whether or not it has a hyphen in it?


     4:44 pm on Aug 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

    I am most interested in choosing the right name for SEO.

    Can anyone shed any light on whether the major SEs detect the two words in:


    I would happily buy both if I think the hypen will help SEO.


     7:26 pm on Aug 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

    >>>Can anyone shed any light on whether the major SEs detect the two words in:


    They will discard the hyphens and underscores as spaces. It's just a slight edge to have the hyphenated version. You can also use subdomains as keywords too.


     8:19 am on Aug 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

    It's just a slight edge to have the hyphenated version.

    What makes you say that? I would think that either (a) they can decipher the keywords out of any domain, hyphens or not, so it doesn't matter, or (b) they can rarely decipher keywords out of non-hypenated domains, so hyphens really help a lot. Under what circumstances would they penalize the non-hyphenated version 'only a little bit.' ? Or is the penalty just that they miss out on the whole 'domain name bonus' given to sites that have keywords in their domains?

    The assumption that SE's can realise that the string cottagerentals really means 'cottage rentals' is often taken as a given, but frankly I'm skeptical.

    A hypothetical case: Suppose I start a company and call it "Arts Express." I get the URL www.artsxpress.com. Now do the SE's rank me well for the phrase 'arts express' ... or do they rank me well for the phrase 'art sx press' ? Or does the domain-name splicing routine somehow work together with the page-analyzing routine to come up with the most likely interpretation?


     6:18 am on Aug 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

    ...but frankly I'm skeptical.

    Bolotomus poses a great question here.

    Anybody have some hard info on this?

    click watcher

     10:38 am on Aug 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

    very good point bolotomus...

    >>>>> Now do the SE's rank me well for the phrase 'arts express' ... or do they rank me well for the phrase 'art sex press' ? Or does the domain-name splicing routine somehow work together with the page-analyzing routine to come up with the most likely interpretation?

    i have no hard facts, just some thoughts ... if the SE can assess a page and pages linked to it for relevance then it should be able to work out wether "arts express" or "art sex press" is relevant...

    but what about this
    (hypothetically) carroturnip.com
    now this site is about root vegatables!!

    how would the SE respond to that...
    allow carrot and turnip as "keywords"
    or just one of them and if only one which would it choose if the site was balanced between the 2 words??

    also this one arts.com
    would the se consider art arts or both
    (especially as both would probably be highly relevant to the site)


     1:38 pm on Aug 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

    Let's not overlook the obvious.

    It's generally agreed that hyphens and underscores become spaces in the se's eyes.

    With that firmly established it would then also be safe to assume that separating the words with hyphens in your domain name leaves little room for misinterpretation by an se. If there is anything to be gained from keywords in the domain name (evidence indicates a slight advantage at some engines), then why not separate them by hyphens and accept the edge with a big "Thank You" for having that little tidbit that just might help you get better position?

    It is not critical to do this as you can rank well with enormously longandobnoxiousdomainnames as well. But it must be noted that there appears to be a slight edge in using the keywords in the domain name.

    Of course there are 4000 other variables that come into play as well but since we don't understand all the finite details why hinder your possible success by not incorporating tactics that give any kind of advantage.


     4:02 pm on Aug 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

    It is my understanding that parsing out domain names is a CPU intensive task, and most SE's won't do it. cottagerentals.com would yield a "word" - actually a -character string- of cottagerentals.
    cottage-rentals.com would yeild two "words" cottage and rentals.
    A searching for "cottage rentals" , in the first case you would have two "partial matches" based on the "word" cottagerentals , "cottage" as a partial match, and "rentals" as a partial match;

    and two exact matches, on two words with the second case.

    The phone test <I call it the phonetic ambiguity test> is a good one. chants/chance is a good example. This is good logic offline also. I keep being reminded of a radio commercial being aired for a copier in my region. "Keeya-serra-meeta-copiers??" I still have no idea how it is spelled despite hearing the ad over 3 dozen times. Hence, I have no way to look it up. They really need their marketing group to give it a differnt brand, or model brand.

    My "best" choice is three domains . One corporate domain - cute and quick off the tongue - as a name for the company and domain. Use the corporate "cute" name for print materials, and brand building. Once your "brand" is built on the web, you have a unique keyword, and the sole rights to use it, if you did your legal homework. Also get two keyword loaded domains. One hyphenated, one not. Submit the hyphenated one. The none hyphenated one is to "protect" your traffic from users forgetting the hyphens when telling their friends and associates. With the cost of domains nowadays, this is not a big expense.


     8:17 pm on Aug 17, 2001 (gmt 0)

    Thanks alot guys
    intresting reading i still thinking that the www.cottage-rentals is the best one you got two keywords in it and thats very important i think


     8:31 pm on Aug 17, 2001 (gmt 0)

    It's Mita copiers, but they would probably do just as well with meeta.com.


     8:51 pm on Aug 17, 2001 (gmt 0)

    >>"Keeya-serra-meeta-copiers??" I still have no idea how it is spelled
    >It's Mita copiers

    And I bet Kyocera owns/operates Mita... But I'm only guessing because "Keeya-serra" looks like it sounds like "Kyocera" is commonly pronounced, and Kyocera makes a little bit of everything. We deal with their solar panels, for instance. They also have an electronics division, etc., etc...

    A very good point. Make it either a common word, or something who's spelling rolls off the tongue... "Yes, that's Keeya-serra, K-Y-O-C-E-R-A, Meeta, M-I-T-A..."

    I suppose you could try to turn it into another Mickey Mouse or Oscar Meyer song!


     3:41 am on Oct 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

    You have to look out for unexpected results if you aren't careful with domain names! Theres a guy over at CJ who had a site devoted to albums and their covers. He called it "analbumcover" - which can be resolved several different ways depending on how mischievous the SE feels...

    I don't think he noticed it how open to interpretation this domain name was, until he took a look at some of the sites linking to him :)


     3:45 am on Oct 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

    >>>which can be resolved several different ways

    Hyphens :)

    Welcome franczs


     10:46 pm on Oct 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

    An advantage of not having hypens is it's easier for people to remember when they type in the url in the address locator. Given, you have to do a truck-load of promotion before people start doing that. If it does not LOOK "right" hypens are great, as mentioned.


     6:56 pm on Nov 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

    IE is now hijacking misspelled URLs to MSN and auto-search. This adds another factor into deciding the domain name. If you have keyword[s] in the URL, and someone mis-types in the IE location window, then they will end up on a site related to that keyword. But, that will not necessarily be yours, unless you are on top of the pile at MSN.

    I'm wondering how all this will balance out as time rolls on. For sure, one obvious moral to the story is keep-it-simple so you avoid typos. It might now be a DIS-advantange to have the keyword in your domain name, if typos are too easy to make.

    You could be sending traffic straight to your competition with a poor choice of domain!


     7:02 am on Dec 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

    Good point, Tedster.

    So if you get all the domains in order to protect your brand, would mirroring be the best way to get everything?
    My main concern is being detected as "mirrors" and getting the sites dropped.

    Any thoughts on how best to do this?



     2:04 pm on Dec 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

    Just park (or get the alternative domains parked for you) on top of the main domain name. Easy!


     9:38 pm on Mar 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

    I created a script that would parse Google results into a table containing data for what I thought were important factors in ranking a site to determine how important a domain name is. I then took this data and did regression analysis on it with an awesome math tool that I found. However, the data did not seem to form a pattern. I believe it was because I was missing some critical information that Google regards highly, such as the quality of sites linking to a given site, the words in that link, and the actual content of the site pages. So as far as dashes, etc. goes I believe the only way to know the value of a domain name for sure is to have Google run a test on similar domain names and set all other factors the same, which we know they will not do just for us.

    (edited by: NFFC at 9:43 pm (utc) on Mar. 25, 2002)


     9:45 pm on Mar 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

    If you really want to get technical about this and dig deeper, the question should be...

    What's in a Company Name?

    Since company names may end up as a title for directory listings, it is very important to first take a look at this. I've had some clients get dba names to help bolster their online presence and it worked.

    Although these days with the lack of good keyword rich .com's available, the above approach may not work in all industries and creativity in developing a name is critical!

    P.S. Sorry, I was scanning posts and this one popped up from the grave. I didn't look at the dates!


     1:21 am on Mar 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

    I have several sites which have hyphenated domain names. I've noticed on Google for example, other sites which have the exact same domain name as mine, only difference is theirs is un-hyphenated, consistently rank ahead of mine.


     6:32 pm on Mar 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

    From a theoretical standpoint, most domain names with lots of hyphenated keywords are SEO spam. If you are talking about keyword.com, probably not, but when you start to look at keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.com, then you realize that nobody would select such a domain except to improve SEO rankings. If I were a SE engineer, i would definitely start applying a penalty after the domain has more than 1 hyphen, and even 1 hypen is borderline spam in alot of cases. I've never seen 2 hyphen domain names rank well in google, yahoo doesn't seem to care though.


     12:19 pm on Apr 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

    > yahoo doesn't seem to care though.

    Thats the problem.
    A good Yahoo position brings a lot of traffic. Is Google really penalizing multi hyphen names? I just setup two sites with multi hyphen names for keywords on Yahoo but I want Google to read the site content without any penaly.


     12:33 pm on Apr 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

    >lots of hyphenated keywords are SEO spam

    but when is it spam, and when is it not? Whilst I agree that a goodly number of multi-hyphened domains are constructed for positional purposes, there are times when a domain has been taken and the person/comapny opts for the hyphened version for branding purposes. A minority I agree, but the challenge is where do you draw the line and not punish the innocent?



     6:36 am on Apr 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

    Here's my story on hypenated and non hyphenated domain names. I was able to find a good hyphenated .com domain name and registered it and actually am getting the trademark on it because the non hyphenated name was not available. I noticed on whois that the non hyphenated name expiry was 3-3-02 and it became available on 4-3-02 and I now have both! It seems that there is an advantage in the hypenated name for SE but it is much easier now to mention my sites domain name now without having to mention the hyphen.

    Global Options:
     top home search open messages active posts  

    Home / Forums Index / WebmasterWorld / Domain Names
    rss feed

    All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
    Home ¦ Free Tools ¦ Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About ¦ Library ¦ Newsletter
    WebmasterWorld is a Developer Shed Community owned by Jim Boykin.
    © Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved