5 Myths About Domain Names

Most of the businesses that I work with have an established internet presence. Normally that presence isn’t really working for them, but they’ve typically already laid the groundwork of their website. But there have been a few occasions when I’ve worked with brand new companies or companies that are launching their first website. With these new companies, I’ve often been asked to help them through the domain name purchase process.

It’s inevitable in either of these cases that I’ll hear at least one or two of these myths brought up in one form or another. Some of them are holdovers from earlier years on the internet and others are the result of marketing on the part of domain registrars.

Myth: You don’t need .com

If you’re in business and you want to be taken seriously, you need your domain to end in .com. After roughly 20 years of Internet use, .com has been cemented as the most trusted domain. If you are planning on selling products or services, collecting signups, or asking for any type of personal information, you will need a .com domain.

So while .net, .org, and .edu all have a place for Internet service companies, non-profits, and education institutions, if you are running a for-profit business that isn’t closely related to internet operations, you should really look at .com. If the .com name that you want isn’t available, you can try adding a word to the domain name. If it makes sense, adding “the” to your domain can work, or you can add your location. For example, if osostudio.com wasn’t available, I could have chosen theosostudio.com, osostudioaustin.com, or osostudio512.com. If you are just starting your business, I would recommend choosing a business name with an available .com.

Myth: You should include keywords in your domain name

This is a myth that used to be true. When the Google search algorithm was first created, it wasn’t anywhere close to as intelligent as it is today. If you wanted to rank for “Austin Cosmetic Dentistry” you could buy the domain austincosmeticdentistry.com and Google would give your website a high ranking. The theory Google used at the time was, a keyword in a domain name meant the site was about that keyword. Today the Google algorithm is a lot more advanced and doesn’t need to take clues about your website from your domain name.

When selecting a domain name it is best to choose one that reflects your business name. If you’re an established business, this could be a little more difficult as there could be another business in the world that has already purchased that domain name. Just look at Nissan.com, it’s not owned by the automaker but was instead registered by Nissan Computers. Having an exact domain match for a keyword isn’t going to help you on Google, just Google Nissan and see what comes up. (Hint: it’s not Nissan Computers even though their domain is nissan.com)

Myth: Buying a lot of domain names and redirecting them to one domain helps your Google Ranking

Just like keywords, this is something that used to be helpful in the early days of Google. You could buy keyword heavy domain names for every word or phrase you wanted to rank for and Google would automatically see that domain as an expert on the topic and give you a top ranking for searches. But instead of creating a complete site or even a landing page on that domain, you could just redirect it to an appropriate page on your main website.

This spoke and hub domain method hasn’t worked in a long time, but I still see if all the time and have had a couple of clients ask about it recently. If there’s a service that can stand on its own, you can give it a separate domain name and use that as a landing page. What you have to keep in mind though is that Google isn’t going to see this domain as an extension of your website. Instead it’s a completely new website that will have its own domain authority, needing back links, content marketing, and everything else that your main website needs to be successful. Unless you have a dedicated person to handle this, you will be best served by keeping all of your content on your main page and creating landing pages there.

Myth: Who you buy your domain from influences your domain authority

This is perhaps one of the biggest myths that has taken hold with businesses that have been online for 15 years or more. One of the companies that has profited the most from this myth is Network Solutions. To buy a .com domain name from them will cost $34.99 for one year. Their cost does become significantly cheaper when you pre-pay for 10+ years up front, but compare them with Namecheap who will sell the same domain for $11.98 for one year.

Domains are a commodity product. Every registrar is selling the same product from the same pool of available domains and the only difference between them is their price. Sure, some registrars offer better customer service or free add-ons, but the end result of doing business with them is all the same: acquiring a domain name. Where you buy that domain doesn’t matter and has no impact on your search rankings, website security, or anything else.

Myth: You should buy one of the new TLDs that’s specific to your industry

This just wraps up two of our previously disproved myths, redirects don’t help you and neither do keyword heavy keywords. The new industry specific domain names like .lawyer, .boutique, and .florist aren’t going to help you. Sure you can buy one of these domain names and build up a great site, and receive a good ranking on Google. But this will happen with any domain name you buy because Google rewards good content.

You might also be thinking about buying an industry domain targeted to your city like austin.attorney and redirecting it to your site. The truth is, the new TLDs are so new that users aren’t used to them and they haven’t built up a level of trust. Your customers expect you to have a .com domain. Having a website like austin.computer is going to make them pause when they go to visit your website for the first time. Avoid the confusion of the new TLDs and stick with a .com for your website.

Conclusion

If you’re starting a new business or taking an existing business online for the first time, selecting your domain name can be challenging. It can become confusing when you start hearing a lot of the myths about domain names. You might have heard the myths about where to purchase, that you don’t need a .com and that .anything is just as good, or that buying a lot of domains and redirecting them to one will help your search performance.

The truth is, buying a domain name shouldn’t be complicated.

  • It doesn’t matter where you buy your domain
  • Yes, you need a .com
  • Putting keywords in your domain isn’t going to help you. It’s all about the quality of your site.
  • Redirects don’t help your site gain a better ranking
  • You don’t need one of the new industry specific TLDs