Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Basics of Web Site Optimisation - Rule 3

This post is mainly aimed at small to medium businesses that are just starting out and are keen to get something going, or have just gone live. I can't tell you how many times I have taught people over the past few years just a handful of strategically important things. So...here goes again, this time in a way that I can now simply refer to. As for my credibility - I would rather not divulge that here, read my Web Site Optimisation Rules and you decide. They are, after all, common sense, and common knowledge....like most things I blog about!

My number 3 rule: Choose or move to a good web site/domain name

Reasoning:
1. A great deal of emphasis is placed on web site / domain names by search engines when they rank your site
2. A great site name is easy for visitors to remember, to type, to tell their friends about, and their friends will also be able to spell!
3. A great name does not get easily confused with another site
4. Choose carefully when choosing .com or .co.uk/.za/.ch/.etc! Where are your visitors? What are you providing? Where would your visitors EXPECT you to be? Your domain name suffix also sets up expectations for visitors who do not know you at all and are trying to distinguish you from your millions of competitors!
5. Similar to my previous rule regarding good page and sub-directory names, the closer to English and your "market speak" your site name is, the better it will do, eg, bad:
http://www.baddayatwork.com, versus
good:
http://www.good-day-at-beach.com
6. Try and make sure each of your web pages' content somehow relates to your domain name - you do this by either creating very small web sites that are very focussed, or by choosing broader domain names that can be more easily applied to the different types of content on each page
7. One day when you busy swapping links with valuable online partners, the closer your domain name is aligned with theirs (or broad enough) the better it will be,
eg, bad:
valuable partner's site is all about pencils, eg http://www.pencils.com, your site is named:
http://www.erasers.com, versus
good:
http://www.pencil-erasers.com
best:
When the search engines look back from pencils.com to your pencil-erasers.com and vice-versa, they will identify a cluster of related sites, and thus rank both your sites higher!

As a final note - it does matter, and it does not matter what domain name you eventually choose. But in the initial stages it helps to have a good one. After your site is well known, after you are receiving enough enquiries as you can cope with, then it really does not matter. How many sites have "bad" names yet are now household names - yahoo, google - these are not (or were not) common English words before they became very well known web sites! And in my industry it is common for the "guru's" to create site names based on the concatenation of their first and last names - just look at the list I read on the right of this page to see what I mean!

And that is my Rule 3. I will be uploading the others as time allows!

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