Domain Name Equals Prime Real Estate

by Bill Link

This is the first of seven articles that attempts to demystify important seo factors by drawing direct correlations between the steps you’d take to open a store on main street and the steps you’d take to launch a website to do business online.

In this installment, we’ll be discussing why choosing a good domain name is the same as picking out the perfect address for your new retail store, office building, or manufacturing facility.

Location, Location, Location

You want a prime location for your new business. Some place that’s easy to find and easy to give directions to. Your clients should have no trouble locating you in the busy retail/office/industrial space where you’re setting up shop and they should be able to easily guide their friends and family there when they tell them what a great experience they had doing business with you.

In online terms, this is your URL or domain name. In other words, this is what people type into the address bar to get to your website (

The trick here is deciding whether you want your domain name to reflect your brand or your business. In almost every case, I recommend you choose a domain name based on your industry rather than your name.

For example, “Grass Masters” might be an appropriate and catchy name for a lawn care company, but tells the search engines absolutely nothing about what you actually offer. A better choice would be But, of course, that address is already taken, as is just about every imaginable iteration of that name.

So you’ll have to find a compromise. One good way to do that is to include the name of your city or state in your domain name. After all, when people are looking for someone to mow their yard and trim their hedges, they are most likely to search for something like “Des Moines Lawn Care Company.” So why not make that your domain name?

Of course, even then you may find that many good domain names with your city or state and your business already belong to someone else. Don’t let that discourage you. With a bit of thought, you will be able to register a domain name that reflects who you are, where you’re at, and what you do.

One example of that is the site you’re on right now. I assure you, just about every possible version of “SEO” had been snatched up long before I started this business or launched this website, as were many other options that included “Des Moines” or “Iowa.” But eventually I came up with

In my case, it worked as both a business name and a domain name because I was launching them simultaneously. It has the advantage of being easy to remember while making it pretty clear (to both people and search engines) what service we offer as well as where we do business. In other words, it’s a good location to set up shop.

Brand Over Business

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. And I’m certainly not going to be the guy tell Jeff Bezos that is a stupid domain name because a river in Central America has nothing to do with selling books and CDs.

Thus, I offer you “The Amazon Exception,” which states quite simply: If you have Jeff Bezos’ budget and marketing savvy, you can name your company and your website anything you want.

For the rest of us, the simple recipe of where we are and what we do tends to offer the best search engine rankings and the corresponding website traffic.

In the next installment of this series on SEO factors, we’ll take a look at the parallels between a sensible web design and a tidy, well organized store.

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