How to Choose a Domain Name

Today I was talking to a client who was registering a domain for her new website. She wanted some tips on how to choose a domain name and what is good for SEO, so I thought I’d share my top five domain name choosing tips with you:

  1. Choose a domain name that is avaliable with your countrys TLD. For example if you’re in the UK then .uk, in spain .es and italy .it
  2. Choose a domain name that has the .com equivalent available (you should then 301 redirect this to your other domain).
  3. Include a keyword in your domain- for example if you sell children’s toys a domain like samstoystore.co.uk is much better for SEO than samsonline.co.uk
  4. Don’t make your domain too long- the domain should be memorable but not long, customers simply won’t type it and the search engines will truncate it.
  5. Don’t use hyphens or numbers- just use letters, hyphens don’t make a difference for SEO and make the domain hard for people to remember.

URL Canonicalisation Fix

One of the most basic SEO checks is to see if the website suffers from canonicalisation problems. A site suffers from this if it can be accessed at both http://domain.com and www.domain.com this is because the search engines see the www as a subdomain and therefore considers the two sites to be duplicates of each other.

Thankfully if your website is on an Apache server it is easy to fix.

Simply add the following code to your .htaccess file in the root directory:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^domain.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Another canonicalisation problem is when you can access both http://www.domain.com and http://www.domain.com/index.php, again the search engines can see these pages as duplicate.

This can also be fixed easily by adding the following rewrite rule to your .htaccess file in the root directory.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9} /index.php
RewriteRule ^index.php$ http://www.domain.com/ [R=301,L]