Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to selecting a domain name:
- The sooner you select your domain name, the better. When it comes to domain authority and your ranking with search engines like Google and Bing, the longer your domain name has been attached to your website, the higher your ranking is (all other things being equal).
- Before selecting your domain name, do some research to find out the domain names of similar businesses in your area. For example, what domain endings are they using? If everyone else around you is using .com domain names, do you really want to use a .net or a .org domain? What are your target audience’s ideas surrounding the different domain name endings (e.g. is .net considered archaic?)?
- Short and memorable is key. Generally speaking, the shorter your domain name is, the better. Try to avoid frequently misspelled words and extremely long domain names whenever possible. If you’ve already selected a domain name and have already built significant domain authority (check your DA here), it may be worth it for you to just stick with your current domain name.
- If you use key words or location words in your domain name, it will be easier for clients to find you. For example, our clinic is called Focus Integrative Healthcare and our domain name is focusih.com. Had we known where we would have ended up (we selected this domain name when I was still in medical school and we didn’t know where we would actually set up practice at the time), we would have probably selected FocusKC.com, the KC being an abbreviation for Kansas City, since having that in our URL would be helpful in increasing our ranking when potential patients perform a Google search looking for “functional medicine doctors KC” or “Kansas City holistic doctors.”
On building domain authority:
- Search Engine Optimization or SEO. This is an essential part of increasing your ranking with search engines like Google and Bing. First, you’ll need to do some keyword research and then you’ll need to optimize for those keywords. We joined Facebook groups where our target audience hangs out and saw what words they were using to describe the services we provide, then we optimized our website for those keywords so that when our target audience searched Google for those keywords, our website would be more likely to come up. To help with SEO, I recommend using an SEO plugin like Yoast.
- Blogging. Blogging is important for building domain authority. When people spend a long time on your site and click through a lot of different pages, it convinces search engines that the content on your site is actually valuable information and that people are genuinely interested in your content. This leads to an increased ranking.
- Backlinks. To build your domain authority and improve your chances of showing up on Google, you need backlinks. In other words, you need websites that rank well with Google to link to your website (you specifically need “follow” links; “nofollow” links do not help you build domain authority). A great place to find reporters and authors who are willing to give you backlinks is on HARO.
- Guest posting. You can also find other bloggers in groups on Facebook (e.g. just search health bloggers and join relevant groups) who have pretty good DA and who are looking for guest posts. This means that you write a blog post for their site, and they will link back to you. This is a great way to gain followers as well, as bloggers frequently link to your business’ or ministry’s social media pages and their followers then have the opportunity to follow you, sign up for your free opt-in, and/or join your email list.
- Local citations. If you open up a physical location such as a treatment room, clinic, restaurant, lifestyle center, etc., then local citations will be of great benefit to you. You can pay someone on Fiverr to create local citations for you (make sure they only put them on legitimate websites, because if spammy websites link to you, it can hurt your domain authority) or you can do it yourself. Local citations show Google and other search engines that you are a legitimate business. This includes making sure that your business appears on places like GoogleMyBusiness, Yelp, Foursquare, BingPlaces, and smaller local citations (e.g. do a search for whatever your business is and add your business to all databases of similar businesses that you find).
- Google Maps. Also if you start a business that operates from a commercial location, embedding a live Google map on the homepage of your website helps to show Google that you are the legitimate owner of the business that is located at that address and this REALLY improves your ranking on Google maps (e.g. the map that shows up if you do a Google search of vegan restaurants in San Francisco or anything else for that matter).
- GoogleMyBusiness Categories. Again, if you choose to set up a physical location for your business or ministry, making sure that you have selected all appropriate categories for your business on your GoogleMyBusiness listing really helps to improve your search ranking, specifically on the Google Map. For a while, our clinic was only showing up on the map for a few of our keywords. When we did some research to find out why (we had called Google to find out why and they were not helpful at all, so we took matters into our own hands), we found that this was one of the reasons why.