A common debate in the domain name market is whether to purchase a branded domain (zazzle.com) or a keyword domain (shoes.com). There are opportunities and potential drawbacks to each decision, and a lot of the time, buying a domain will depend on your specific circumstances. This article provides an overview of keyword domains and the benefits of owning a keyword domain name.
What is a Keyword Domain?
A keyword domain is a domain name that describes the type of business or industry. Keyword domains might include location-specific names. For example, a tourism company in Sunderland, England might be visitsunderland.co.uk. It may seem like an inconsequential decision when choosing between a keyword or branded domain. But your choice of domain name can have massive implications for the success or failure of your business to capture and retain customers. Your domain impacts the traffic you get on your website (both organic traffic and search engine traffic), and ultimately whether those potential customers stay as repeat customers.
What are the Benefits of Keyword Domains?
1. Communicate Your Business
First and foremost, not accounting for search engine optimization (SEO) considerations, keyword domains communicate what your business does to your potential customers. In other words, when a potential customer sees your website, they’ll know exactly what goods or services you provide, and maybe even where you provide them.
For example, say you’re a shoe retailer in Birmingham, Alabama. If your domain were something like birminghamshoes.com, people would know exactly what you sell AND where you are located. On the other hand, if your domain were something like brocks.com, customers would not know anything about your business. If your brand is not established (and it won’t be if you are a new business), people will not recognize the brand and will be much less likely to visit your website.
2. Increase Organic Traffic
Keyword domains (like guitars.com, guitar.com, guitarcenter.com, guitarworld.com) increase your organic search traffic, as they tend to rank higher for SEO than websites without keywords (accounting for other SEO ranking factors).
3. Increase Clicks
Keyword domains increase click rates as users are more likely to click on websites that contain the keyword they are searching for. Keep in mind, however, that this only applies if they have never visited the websites listed in the search before. For example, if they see a brand they trust, they may click that brand domain rather than the keyword domain.
4. Build Your Brand
With a keyword domain, you can come to be seen as a leader in your industry. For example, brands such as cars.com and shoes.com lend instant credibility because potential customers see that they are THE place for cars and shoes.
What are the Potential Drawbacks of Keyword Domains?
While there are many benefits to keyword domains, they aren’t without their (potential) drawbacks. For example, you can’t just throw 4 keywords at the wall and hope they stick. If you go with a keyword domain, it should still be unique, memorable, and short. That rule applies to any website domain.
See below for a situation when you might consider a branded domain as an alternative to a keyword domain:
The Industry May Be Flooded with Keyword Domains
When you start a business, you should research the market leaders in your industry and examine their domain strategies. If they all use keywords, it may be wise for you to purchase a uniquely-branded domain. To illustrate this point, imagine you’re opening a toy company. You research your competition, and all the competitors’ domains start with “toy.” If you then decided to choose a domain starting with “toy,” you’d have a difficult time setting yourself apart from the competition and get lost in the sea of “toy” domains. Instead, you may be better served to go with something a bit more brandable while still communicating that you’re a toy company.
Takeaway on Keyword Domains
Whether you go with a keyword or branded domain, the key is that it should be memorable and stand out from the competition. Having said that, if you’re a new business without an established brand, the keyword route is always a safe bet. Keyword domains are good for SEO, communicate clearly to potential customers, lend credibility to your business, and increase traffic to your website.
Additionally, a good strategy is to go for a hybrid approach and include your brand in addition to a keyword. That way, you can have the benefits of brand recognition in addition to the benefits of keyword domains. Perfect examples include taylorguitars.com, ashleyfurniture.com, mattressfirm.com, etc.
At Saw.com, we are experts in domain sales and acquisitions. With years of experience, our brokers offer free domain broker consultation on how using a keyword domain can launch your business towards industry-leading success. We can help you determine the best strategy for your business, depending on your goals and your business needs. We will then work on an acquisition strategy to purchase a domain at the best possible price. For more information, contact Saw.com broker Brooke Hernandez at Brooke@saw.com.