What is a domain name - SEO?
The SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a vast concept with a lot of things to understand and execute. We will go step by step as always so that you don't get confused over terminologies and other various strategies of SEO. At first, we will talk about the importance of a domain, the very first step to make a website online. Let's start-
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What is a web Domain?
We all have heard about domain, some of us know what it is, some don't. So in simple terms, we can say that a domain is just a name, it is the name of any website. We all have names through which people remember us or call us. It's our identity. In the same way every website has a name which is in terms of the internet called as a domain. Our website's domain is coderepublics.com, yes this is a domain and that's it.
Why do we Need a Domain Name ?
Well, it's a legit question and the answer is quite simple. On the internet, the websites are identified by the
IP addresses which looks like this-
184.108.40.206, yes, kind of scary to remember. We cannot memorize these numbers as every website has a different IP address. So, to make it easy for the users of the internet to access these websites, the IP addresses got connected to the Domain name.
Domain names are easy to remember because they are in English language and English language words are easy to remember than some random numbers. Every domain name is connected with a website's unique IP address and vice versa.
Let's take the example of Google and its IP address. Google's IP address is 220.127.116.11, i.e. if you enter this in your browser's address bar then Google's homepage will open. But as you can see these numbers are hard to remember but a simple domain google.com is much easier to recall rather than a long string of numbers. This is the importance of domain names on the internet.
There are many terms related to domains which you should remember. Some of them are root domain, top-level domain, second-level domain, subdomain, etc. We will cover these in brief but let just get a bit familiar with them-
- Root Domain: It is a combination of the Second-level domain and the Top-level domain. We will talk about it in brief later.
- Top-Level Domain (TLD): It is the last part of the domain after the dot(.) i.e.,
.com, .netand more.
- Second-Level Domain (SLD): It is the middle part of the domain name i.e., the part before the TLD such as coderepublics, google, etc.
- Protocol: It specifies the set of rules followed by a website. Like,
https://is part of a page's URL but not its domain name and is known as the protocol.
Note: A domain name can contain letters and numbers but cannot have more than sixty-three characters. The minimum length for a domain name is one character excluding the TLD.Example:
https: is a Protocol,
www. (Subdomain) and
google.com (SLD and TLD)
TLD and SLD Domain Levels
TLD: Top Level Domain as we have discussed earlier is the main domain name around the web. These are pre-defined and has a separate registry managed by a designated organization under the direction of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). So, that means no one can just make their own TLDs. People just can choose from the available ones. The most popular TLDs are:
com, org, net.
SLD: A Second Level domain is the domain name that we usually purchase. These are not pre-specified and not controlled by any organization. The user searches for the available SLD in websites like Godaddy, hostinger, bigrock, bluehost, etc and then chooses one from them. For our site coderepublics is the SLD. SLD is not a big matter of discussion but TLD is so let's talk about that again-
Types of TLDs
As we all know that a Top-level domain (TLD) is the suffix that appears at the end of a domain name, here are some examples of it:
- com - used for commercial purposes.
- org - used by non-profit organizations.
- edu - used by educational institutions like schools or universities.
- gov - used by government websites.
- .co.in - India
- .ca - Canada
- .nl - Netherlands
- .de - Germany
- .pk - Pakistan
- .us - United States
- .eu - European Union
Root domain is the technical term in the context of the Domain Name System, which is a combination of a unique domain name (also called Second-level Domain) and a top-level domain (extensions) to form a complete and unique address for the website.
Whenever you search and register a domain name, you are registering a root domain. This root domain the highest page in your site's hierarchy and the most important one also. It would be probably your homepage. It also means that if you want to create some subdomains then it's URL must include the root domain of the website in order to be called as a subdomain of that website. Also, every individual page's URL will also have root domain, like you can check our root domain coderepublics.com in this page's URL in the address bar.
Examples of root domains include:
You can search and buy root domains in websites like godaddy, bluehost, hostinger, bigrock, whois, etc. If you want to know some information about an already registered domain, you can go to whois.net. Whois is a website which gives informaiton about the domains like their registration date, expiry date, etc. and also help you find new ones.
Note: As we have discussed earlier, all the webpages on a single website have the same root domain and no two different websites can have the same root domain.
A Subdomain is nothing but a part of the url of the website which is added in front of the root domain. They are separated from the root domain with a period(.). For example. blog.abcde.com, here blog is the subdomain and abcde.com is the root domain.
You can create a number of subdomains under any root domain. In our website's URL as you can see our subdomain is www and our root domain is coderepublics.com. Some other examples of subdomains are store.abcde.com, analytics.google.com.
Subdomains are useful in a way that it can help you to categorize different segments of your website under different URL. Like for example, If you have a subdomain gallery.abcde.com, then it would be much easier to remember it than a normal URL abcde.com/media/gallery and it looks professional too.
How to choose a SEO-friendly domain name ?
So, how do you choose a domain name? It is an important question which needs to be answered if you want to take full advantage of your domain name. A domain name represents your website and it should be relatable and attractive to get the most of it. Here are some tips that you can use to find a suitable domain for your website.
Picking extension (TLD) – As we have discussed above under the TLDs, the most used TLDs-
- .com - used for commercial purposes.
- .org - used by non-profit organizations.
- .edu - used by educational institutions like schools or universities.
- .gov - used by government websites.
The minimum requirement about a TLD is that you should choose it according to the purpose of your website like discussed above. But there can be some exceptions to this rule due to the growing importance of brands. For example, if you mention your website to any person, their first assumption will be a .com extension, as it is a widely used TLD. The .com extension has the most influence over Google search and keyword ranking. So, no matter what is the purpose of your site if there is a suitable .com TLD available, take it.
Suppose you are not able to get a commercial TLD then you still have many options left. Like .org, if you have a charity or non-profit organization's site. Although you can still use this in a for-profit site also because this TLD gives a sense of reliability to the user as internet users see .org sites as trustworthy sites. But remember to brand the .org TLD with your site name because as discussed above users will always go for a .com extension first.
Apart from all these two, there is a .net TLD, which is also widely used but this extension has a lower google ranking weight than the two discussed above. And there are nation particular TLDs also, which are used in a website where targeted audience is mostly within a particular country.
Go for short length domain –
A short length domain always helps as it is easy to remember. An ideal length of a domain is considered as less than 15 characters. In a short domain misspelled words are less common. So, always try to make it as short as possible.
Avoid Exact Match Domains (EMDs) –
A domain is called an Exact Match Domain if it precisely matches any keyword phrase. Partial matches with keywords or any search query can be effective, but you should know that these tactics can affect your brand value. Search engines nowadays give less priority to EMD based websites and also mostly spam websites do these kinds of tricks, so you better stay away from this.
Some examples of EMDs:
As you can see these domains exactly matches some search queries. If you want to make a reputation for your websites don't choose an EMD.
Easy to type –
The domain should be easy to remember and also easy to type i.e., you should avoid special characters and numbers. In case of numbers in domain, if you mention your website domain to someone, they won't know whether to use it like numeral or spell it. For example, there is a website way2sms.com, but if someone hears it then they could confuse it with waytwosms.com, which is not correct. So, try to avoid the numerals, hyphen and special characters.
Why is a Domain Important to SEO?
We have discussed this since the start of this article and I think you already know the answer to this question above. A domain name is the brand of your website, your business on the internet. If your domain gets popular, it will benefit you immensely and yes, the search engines will keep your website at the top if you don't violate any rules and regulations.
A domain name directly affects the SEO rankings of your website. It should be SEO optimized like it should tell internet users about what your website is all about, what are the services you offer, etc. For example, it shouldn't be like you have a domain name pcmatters.com and you are giving PHP tutorials in it, it will not work. An appropriate domain name always pays well.
We have talked about EMDs earlier and advised not to use them in the domain if you want to create a brand name for your website. It is also a big setback for the website in the SEO rankings. These keyword-based domain create trust issues because everyone who uses the internet would have been in a spam site at least once and almost all spam sites have keyword-based domains. So, always keep it in mind that a domain name is much more than just a name, it is your brand and you should not do anything to lower its reputation.
Now let's talk about the domain extensions(TLD). The cheap extensions can make a website look spammy because spammers use those low budget domains whereas some decent or the expensive TLDs can yield better results because these are less likely to be used in a spammy website. So, it creates a psychological impact on the user's mind and helps you to gain their trust to visit your domain. Some of the most spammed TLDs are .world, .life, .click and many more. Try to avoid these kinds of sites.
Free Subdomains vs Custom Domains
You would have heard about free subdomains, as the name suggests they are free to use so why people don't use them very often as compared to custom domains which are paid. The answer is that although you don't have to pay anything in a free subdomain but it comes with limitations. A free subdomain like Weebly website builder can be helpful if your website is new and you are just getting started, but it will limit the SEO capabilities of your website as compared to a custom domain. The search engines don't give much priority to free subdomains so your site will underperform. With a custom domain, there are no limitations, if you have good content your website doesn't even need daily SEO, search engines will prioritize it just for the content.
We have shared so much information on domains with you and we think now you can choose a domain effectively. We all know how important a domain name is and choosing and its advantages in the SEO. Just try to keep in mind about your brand and then choose the most appropriate domain for your precious website. And also don't forget that in SEO, domain is not the sole factor to rank a website. A domain surely helps, but there are many other things you have to keep in mind to get a good rank on the world wide web. We will study different SEO strategies and factors in the upcoming tutorials, so stay with us.