A recent survey of small businesses from GoDaddy and Alienable found that only 9% of small business owners are satisfied with their Web sites. While the reasons for their dissatisfaction were varied, nearly half (47%) said their biggest issue was that they weren’t getting the search traffic they desired.
While the report lists several obvious tactics to improve search engine results (optimizing pages with relevant keywords and images; adding internal links, meta tags; ensuring business listings and maps are up-to-date and, crucially, optimizing for mobile), it also suggests that for some of these businesses, the domain itself may be working against them.
“Your domain is your business’s nameplate on the Web, so it’s important to choose a domain name that represents your business and is easy to remember,” according to the report. Ideally, domain availability should be a consideration when choosing a business name, but when that isn’t possible “look at registering industry- and geo-specific secondary domains that you can point to your Web site,” it suggests.
The report uses the example of a coffee shop in the Bronx using top-level domains (TLDs) such as .cafe, .house., .menu and .nyc, if a competitor has a similar name. In fact, even if your domain is your company name with a .com after, it’s probably wise to snap those other domains too. You never know when a competitor might come along. (Of the businesses surveyed for the report, 49% had only one registered domain name, an additional 40% had only two to five names.)
But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Backlinko CEO Brian Dean and Ignite Visibility CEO John Lincoln recently put together an infographic of tips to create SEO-friendly and easily navigated URL structures. Among their suggestions: using short URLs that contain only one or two keywords, make them human-readable (“my-keyword” vs. a garble of code) and limiting the number of folders per URL.
Lincoln and Dean also note that a “.com” domain is the most trusted domain, though it doesn’t have any effect on search rankings. But they add that if a .com isn’t available, using a generic TLD that can be geo-targeted is the next best option.
Even if you own the .com domain, however, it may be worthwhile to look into a TLD if you’re in a highly competitive industry in a highly populated area. In a case study published on its Web site, Globerunner tells the story of Jacksonville, Fla., attorney Eric Block, who registered an increase in search traffic (and a decrease in cost-per-click) by changing his Web site from EricBlockLaw.com to Jacksonville.Attorney.
“While Google itself has suggested that Web sites using new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) will be treated by its search algorithm just like other gTLDs (like .com & .org), we believe that new gTLDs do offer multiple traffic generation benefits,” concluded the firm. “By rebranding to Jacksonville.Attorney, Eric has generated outstanding traffic volumes to his Web site while spending far less than a traditional PPC campaign.”