Whether you are launching a new website or thinking about changing domain names, there are some key factors you should take into consideration. Search engines, branding, long-term effects, and domain history should all be taken into account when selecting a domain name for your law firm’s website.
An often-debated topic is the value of including keywords in your domain name. While having an exact match domain has been shown to be beneficial for search engine results in the past, it does not always mean high conversion and the benefits are limited to that one exact match term. Keyword-centric domains like “caraccidentlawyeratlanta.com” are more closely associated with short-term results and lend a generic connotation to the user. As we’ve learned—or as Google has thrown in our faces—making decisions for your website based on SEO trends or for the purpose of obtaining immediate results is not always the best course of action. It leaves you vulnerable when the next wave of search algorithm changes occurs.
With the recent Google Penguin update, I feel we'll hear more about exact match domain names taking a hit due to a combination of over-optimization and repetitive anchor text where the website name is used as the anchor text.
Your website is an obvious extension of your business; therefore, it should effectively reflect your brand. Building brand value through your domain name is a long-term investment, but promoting your brand in your domain name increases your brand’s visibility to the search engines, which can be beneficial for long term success—think Amazon.com or eBay.
While reading up on the topic among current industry blogs, I came across a gem in a post on seo-theory.com that brought on an “I couldn’t have said it better myself” moment: If you think of your Website as a business, you tend to pay more attention to things like traffic, conversions, brand value, visitor/user experience, and long-term prospects for revenue. If you think of your Website as an asset, possibly one to be flipped, you’re not really motivated to create much value there.
Along with building brand value, some additional factors to consider when thinking about the long-term effects of selecting your domain are name recognition, length, and content structure of the domain name itself. Although these factors may have little effect on your website’s overall success, creating a user-friendly URL that is easy to remember can help direct traffic numbers. I really liked some of Jeff Korhan’s suggestions regarding “The Crowded Bar Test,” which emphasize the importance of being memorable. Your domain doesn’t have to consist of only one word to be easily remembered, but trying to stuff in keywords, hyphens, numbers, or using an extension other than .com can lead to an awkward and lengthy combination. Many web users will not be too gung-ho about typing in a complex URL, or will easily mess up...which could easily lead them to one of your competitor's sites. There are a lot of domains for sale out there.
If you’re considering purchasing an existing domain, make sure to do your research. Find out when the domain was created. Since older domains tend to have a leg up in the search engines, an older domain shouldn’t be immediately rejected. Also, a domain’s negative history can follow it, so make sure there aren’t past search engine penalties that were caused by the previous owners. Tools like WhoIs and Google Banned Checker can help you determine the history of a prospective domain.
Do you need help selecting the best domain name for your attorney website? Give us a call.