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Choosing DOMAIN NAMES For Search Engines : 1

Search engines like Google and MSN Search are powerful avenues for capturing traffic to your website. For many web-based businesses, search engines represent the most important channel for generating new visitors to their sites. Attaining a solid position in search engines is a very complex task that requires both up front planning and on-going analysis and change. Choosing your domain name can have an impact on your placement in search engines, so choose your domain name with search engine optimization in mind. This article provides some high-level tips for picking a domain name that will give you an edge in search engine placement. This article focuses on alignment of your domain name with good search engine results and not choosing a domain name from a marketing and branding perspective. It is important to balance the needs of both before you commit to a domain name.

Key Phrases are Key

Search engine results are driven by what visitors to a search engine type in as their search phrase. Before you complete the design of your website and choose the domain name, analyze which key words and phrases you want to focus on. The more targeted your key phrases, the more targeted your traffic will be. A good resource to consider which key phrases may work for your site is Overture's search term suggestion tool. Overture tracks search terms and related search terms. The search term suggestion tool can be found at the following link: http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/

For example, if you type in the word "travel", you will receive the number of times people searched on the word "travel" in the prior month and a list of 50 related search terms sorted by the number of times the word was searched on. For example, a search on "travel" will also return phrases such as "travel to Mexico", "international travel", and "AAA travel". Once you choose which key phrases best represent what your site has to offer and what target audience are hoping to receive traffic from, you can design your site and choose a domain name that will best help position your site in search engines in the future. Using the travel example, if your website provides travel services to Mexico, you may choose "travel to Mexico" as your primary key phrase.

Search Engines vs. Directories

An important point to remember is that search engines and directories are two separate animals. Search engines use automated programs called "bots" to scan or "spider" your site for search terms and then establish a position for specific search phrases. Different search engines use different searching algorithms based on word density, location, and other page-related factors. If you create a website, the major search engines will eventually crawl your site and position it in their search results. An example of a search engine is Google. Directories, on the other hand, are organized lists of links to web sites. If you create a website, you will not automatically be listed in a directory. In order to be listed, you must submit your site to an editor, who then determines whether your site belongs in the directory all together and if so, which categories your website will be belong to. Your domain name has different influences on search engines and directory placement.

Directories

Getting your site into directories such as Yahoo or the Open Directory Project (ODP) requires a submission to an editor who will decide if your site is worth retaining in the directory. Many factors contribute to the success of getting into a directory. The content richness of your site is probably the most important criteria when a directory editor reviews your site while the domain name itself has relatively little impact on the editor's analysis. However, one key domain name consideration is the alignment of your domain name to your site's title and the rest of the content in the site. An editor will likely reject your site if your domain name is misleading to the casual surfer. For example, let's assume you intent to launch a website which offer travel services to Mexico. If the title of your site is "Travel to Mexico in Style" and your domain name is "johnsmith.com" a directory editor may not choose to list your site. Or if they do, they list your site as "johnsmith.com" which will not help identify what your site offers.

Directories usually list sites in alphabetical order. So choosing a domain name that starts with the letter "A" will give you better placement. Also, placing a character such as and exclamation point "!" at the beginning will be listed before the "A"'s. However, if you use an exclamation point in the beginning of your name, it will look fairly strange to surfers. Using a letter at the beginning of the alphabet as the first letter in the name is the best approach to getting a solid position in directories.

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