What is the Best Website Name?
Many people choose a website name without thinking of the consequences or how it is going to be used. So how do you select the best URL?
Let us look at the purpose of a website name; it is there to represent your business in a manner that is easy for your customers to use. We are going to use a fictional example of Dave Smith who runs a portrait photography business in Norfolk called beautiful portraits.
For many it is a simple choice such as www.DaveSmithPhotography or www.beautifulportraits which is great if you are an established business as people will know you or the business name, but what happens if you are not?
One way used by many people is create a search friendly URL i.e. one that contains words that you feel people will enter when searching for a business like yours without necessarily knowing who you are. People are becoming more skilled at searching the internet so a search such as “Norfolk Portrait Photographer” which would give us potential URLs such as www.norfolkportraitphotographer or www.portraitphotographernorfolk. This is OK but there is a story on the internet about www.expertsexchange which is really for a business that is “Experts Exchange”.
Google recognises hyphens and full stops as breaks between words so that site is actually www.experts-exchange and without the hyphen may appear in some interesting searches. There is however a widely held belief that spammers have used this format to generate spammy site names in the format www.keyword1-keyword2-keyword3-keyword4 etc. but there is no proof of rankings harm for sites that are not short lived. The use of hyphens then allows Google to easily recognise your keywords. Using hyphens may however not be people friendly, as in they find it harder to use.
Another fine question is .co.uk or .com – Google automatically recognises .co.uk as being located in the UK whereas a .com will have to be associated with the UK geographical area. All other factors being equal a .co.uk will rank as high, if not higher in Google if it knows you are carrying out the search from the UK.
So Dave decides to go for www.portraitphotographernorfolk.co.uk which he prints on his business cards and other stationary (because it is people friendly) and sets up his website on www.portrait-photographer-norfolk.co.uk to help get better results on Google. To ensure that everybody ends up at the right site he uses a 301 redirect to send the traffic from www.portraitphotographernorfolk.co.uk to www.portrait-photographer-norfolk.co.uk and knowing that not everybody is as clever as he is he also purchases the .com versions of both URLs and puts a 301 redirect from them to his site.