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5 Key Things You Need To Know About Domain Names

The Domain Name of your website plays a very important part in how your site gets found. Don’t take it lightly. Here are three things you must know about Domain Names.

1. Your Domain Name should contain keywords that help describe what you do. If you are a localized business, your Domain Name should also describe where you do business. The Domain Name will be evaluated along with the folder name (where your page files are stored) and the page name to determine if the Search Engines are delivery relevant results.

So, www.keywordrichdomain.com/keywordrichfoldername/keywordrichpagename.html is much better than www.plaindomainname/plainepagename.html. Even the plainversion is better than an indistinguishable name like www.abreviations.com/index.php&id=2?cat=3?ddl=10256

Many older sites use an abbreviation for a Domain Name. The abbreviation (NRA, NCCP, ARNI) is only meaningful to people that already know who you are and what you do.

2. You short vanity Domain Name can still appear on all your business cards and company literature. By adding a “301 redirect” to the short Domain Name, you can tell the Search Engines to permanently redirect it to the longer, more keyword rich Domain Name. This way you can advertise the short easy to remember name in conversation and have that for your eMail address, while gaining the Search benefits from a keyword rich name.

For instance, one of my clients is www.industrialknivesandblades.com because this is exactly what they do. Their business cards all have email addresses at hydeblades.com.

3. If you are running, or plan on running, a Pay Per Click (i.e. Sponsored Links) advertising campaign… The display URL is limited to 35 characters. Since the Search Engines are happier when the display URL and destination URL are similar and provide end user confirmation that they have arrived at relevant results. You may not want to get too carried away with an extremely long Domain Name.

4. If you are changing to a new Domain Name on a non Content Management System site:

  • You need to ensure that the email gets delivered to whichever Domain Name will be used for email.
  • If the site was built using relative links to pages and images – you won’t need to globally search and replace the old Domain with the new Domain in your pages first.
  • You will need to build the “301 Redirects” into your .htaccess file – pointing all the old page names to the new names. If you don’t, the Search Engines will drop the history and traction that you have built up over the years on the old page names. This step is especially vital if you are changing page names to become more keyword rich at the same time.

Note: The .htaccess file is only available on Linux hosted sites. If you are on a site hosted with IIS (Internet Information Services) on a Windows platform… Move to a Linux based platform either first or during the Domain Name change.

5. If you are changing Domain Names on a Content Management System site, such as WordPress:

  • You’ll need to extract the database records from the old Domain.
  • Find a way to globally update the references to the old Domain Name to your new Domain Name inside the database records which hold all your content.
  • Import the modified data into your new site.
  • You will need to build the “301 Redirects” into your .htaccess file – pointing all the old page names to the new names. If you don’t, the Search Engines will drop the history and traction that you have built up over the years on the old page names. This step is especially vital if you are changing page names to become more keyword rich at the same time.

As you can see, the Domain Name plays a very big part of who you are and what your site is about. It shoudn’t be taken lightly. While it is possible to change Domain Names, there are several key considerations. Make a written plan. Walk through your plan several times looking for holes. Back everything up first. Then execute your plan.

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