Are You the Master of Your Domain?
Back in the day, Seinfeld aired one of its most memorable episodes, titled “Master of Your Domain.”
We won’t go into the specifics but the gist was that there was a bet to see who could stick to a plan without succumbing to impulse or temptation. The person who exercised the highest amount of control would win. Of course, the show was a comedy, so it didn’t take long for most of the characters to fail miserably.
So, how in the world does this apply to your website?
Well apart from the title (which we are shamelessly capitalizing on), the idea is that unless you take charge of your domain, your website could soon find itself “out of the contest” so to speak. Every business needs to capitalize on its assets as much as possible.
5 Ways to Become the Master of Your Domain
As we said before, the domain name you use for your website has a significant impact on how your site performs. It is the first and most important decision you will make when it comes to online strategies. Your URL will affect click-through rates, search results, branding, and advertising.
#1 – Choose Your Privacy Settings
Domain privacy or WHOIS protection hides the domain registrant’s identifying information from the public WHOIS database. When you buy a domain name, you have no choice but to display registrant information so that visitors know who owns your website.
However, you can pay a third-party to supply alternate contact information for your site in the public directory. This anonymity helps you avoid spam and keeps your personal information safe. The third-party also passes along both physical mail and email that gets sent to them on your behalf.
This is great for privacy’s sake, but for a while now, SEO specialists have debated about whether or not hiding your registrant information will hurt SEO. In theory, keeping your data out of the public eye shouldn’t hurt your search rankings, but evidence often points to the contrary.
We know that Google gives precedence to verified sites. They look for referrals, backlinks, social shares, and length of domain registration. A website with a public listing makes verification that much easier and while not an actual ranking factor, could influence it indirectly.
So, if you are the Master of Your Domain, there probably isn’t much reason to hide it.
#2 – Length of Domain Registration Influences Google Rank
As we stated, Google likes established domains. It’s true that the search engines will crawl and index a new website about a week after it launches, but it takes time to show in the search results. If you have a domain name that has been registered for several years, you stand a better chance of ranking than a new site, given all other things are equal.
The takeaway is that once you commit to a domain name (or course or action), don’t change your mind. You may come up with an “amazing” idea for a domain name six months later, but unless you are prepared to start completely over, just keep the old one, or establish a second site that works in conjunction with your primary site.
#3 – Make Your Domain Name Short
In general, when it comes to the length of your domain, the shorter it is, the better it performs.
Out of the top 100 websites, none of the domains is over 17-characters and even more telling is the fact that the very top performing websites are all under ten characters. (source)
Unfortunately, it’s hard to register a new domain under ten characters. Most have been snatched up, though you may find one on the GoDaddy auction block or similar sites. Aim for a domain name under 15 characters and remember that the shorter it is, the easier it will be for people to remember.
#4 – Purchase Additional Domain Extensions
People will buy versions of your domain name to trick visitors into believing they are on your site when in fact they are not. You can take charge of all different versions of your domain by purchasing additional domain extensions:
You should also consider purchasing international extensions if you do business overseas.
#5 – Register Common Misspellings
If you purchase a domain name that has common misspellings (both accepted and unaccepted), then you should probably purchase alternate spellings. Lost traffic means lost opportunity, and the cost of the additional domain names will be far less than the cost of a lost customer.
Purchasing multiple domain spellings does not mean you have to own multiple sites. You can do a 301 redirect from all the misspelled variations to the correct one and people will end up in the right place regardless of what they type into the browser.
Take charge and become the Master of Your Domain for a more profitable website.
Thomas Digital helps businesses select domain names. We also offer a Free Mockup of a custom website that works within your business model.