Selecting an URL for SEO Optimization

Like choosing a name for a business, the selection of the URL for the website is critically important.  A business will most likely keep this URL for the entire time the business is in operation.  This means that every e-mail sent will have the URL in the e-mail address and every time a patient or potential customer who visits the website will notice the URL.  The result is that this simple string of characters will be viewed thousands, if not millions of times, over the life of the business. What’s at stake for a company when selecting a URL? A business can achieve two main benefits from their selection of a URL.  The first is name recognition.  Ideally, the URL should reinforce the brand message of the business.  For example, if a business’ name is Alex Bagden Ortho, an obvious selection of an URL would be alexbagdenortho.com.  Another example might be if a business’ name is Chemical Factory, then chemicalfactory.com would be a good candidate for a URL. The second benefit is that a domain name of a website can heavily influence search results on Google for that website.  Selecting a domain name that contains relevant search terms can dramatically increase the likelihood of the website appearing in searches for that term.  If you build a travel company in Gotham City, then you might purchase the URL gothamcitytravel.com.  In this case, website would likely perform very well in all searches related to Gotham City and travel because it contains elements of both key words. What role does SEO play in the selection of a company URL? The selection of a URL presents a unique opportunity to greatly enhance the results generated on search engines (ie Google) for specific key words.  In general, a URL containing a key word will have a stronger presence on Google for searches containing those terms.  For example, if a website URL was GothamCityTravel.com, then the website would have a higher likelihood of appearing in searches for Gotham City and Travel.  This is particularly true if the website is already optimized for search engines.  In other words, websites that have search terms in the URL get an extra advantage over websites that do not. What are some common mistakes business owners make when establishing their business via a URL? All URLs should be easy to spell and easy to type so that potential customers can find the website easily.  If a business has a difficult to spell name (cannot be easily sounded out), they may consider not using the name in the URL. It is also a good idea to avoid using hyphens “-“ in URLs since these are difficult to type and difficult to include in a verbal description of the website URL.  For example, if someone asks a doctor for their website and their website URL is Bagden-health.com, the doctor must make specific mention of the hyphen or the visitor may end up at Bagdenhealth.com. Should I change my URL to help improve my SEO? It is rarely a good idea to change your URL to help improve your SEO.  Search engines like Google base their search rankings on the quantity and quality of links that point back to a website.  If a company changes the URL of their website, all of these links will point to the wrong location and the company could potentially have to start over for their search engine optimization. Also, a little known factor for SEO is that the longer a website has existed the better it performs in search rankings.  In other words, Google tends to favor websites that have been around longer and are well-maintained compared to new websites that just entered a market.  If a company changes their URL, then Google will consider this a new website and penalize the website’s search rankings. Alex Bagden is the CEO and Founder of Rooster Gri (www.roostergrin.com), an online marketing firm specializing in web design and search engine optimization.