AskPat 328 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, hey. What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 328 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today.
All right, now let's get to today's question from Luca.
Luca: Hi Pat. It's Luca. How are you? Thanks for everything you do. I have a question for you. Let's say you are building a new website and you are looking for a domain name that contains only specific keywords but this domain name has already been taken. What is the best practice for finding a very similar domain name containing the same keyword? Would you use dash or dot or underscore? Thanks, Pat, for everything you do. Bye.
Pat Flynn: Hey, Luca. Thank you so much for this question and it's funny because if you'd asked me this question a couple of years ago it would be very easy to tell you that you know you should really, really focus on getting it right with the keywords in your domain. But here we are in 2015 and really the overall thought in the industry is you shouldn't really care about if there are keywords in the domain name. I mean the keywords help in terms of helping your audience understand what the site is about. But just think about it. There are a lot of sites out there that you probably use when if you were to just think about the domain name itself, it wouldn't necessarily describe what that site is about. It's more of a brandable term such as Twitter or even sites that we know like ViperChill. I mean, what is a ViperChill? But a lot of us know ViperChill.com as Glen Allsop's website where he talks about viral marketing and things like that. A good friend of the Smart Passive Income blog actually. I think it was episode three of the Smart Passive Income podcast Glenn was on.
But the thing is, a lot has changed in Google back of last year, I think it was, almost a year ago today, they made a change in the weight that a website would receive if there were keywords in the domain name, essentially wiping out all of that. I found an article that I had read a long time ago—a year ago actually, not a long time ago, but in terms of SEO it is kind of a long time ago. This is on NichePursuits.com by Spencer Haws, a good friend of the blog as well and also creator of Long Tail Pro, which is the key word research tool that I typically recommend nowadays. He has a post called “Goodbye Exact Match Domains, Hello Brandable Websites,” and he's been experimenting with this and he prefers where we’re heading in this way; where, yes, you still want to continue to do keyword research. I mean he even mentions us here. He says, “now I just focus on keyword research once I find a great keyword I really don't care what domains are available. I come up with a brandable sounding domain and register it’.” And he lists a number of reasons why this is actually better.
It sounds less spammy. It's a shorter URL typically if you can get a .com. It's a lot easier to get a .com for sort of a clever name. It’s more memorable and that's a big one for me actually. I mean if you want to build up a long-term business and something that gets spread around, having one of these brandable names that doesn't necessarily have three or four or five keywords in the domain name is going to be really helpful for you. It's going to be more authoritative if you have a brandable site and less sort of over-optimized and less sort of just like everybody else out there. You know Google again isn't giving much preference to exact match domains so why do it?
Now, there is still A little bit of weight in it in terms of, you know, if somebody were to link to the site that you have and there are exact match domain keywords or exact match keywords in your domain. Then they could perhaps link to it with the anchor text that matches that, which does help a little bit, but honestly it is not worth fighting for a .com if the .com is not being used. But there are still some things you can do if you are truly set on a domain name or maybe it's a brandable domain with a .com that is already taken but you want to use it still.
First of all, make sure you can use it. You don't want to use somebody else's brand that's trademarked and things like that just because it's not in the trademark office or in the patent search on the United States USPTO.gov website. You still want to be careful if you're going to use it. Just because it isn't theirs doesn't mean you can't use it. I mean there's first use and all those kinds of things so definitely check with a professional or lawyer or an attorney to make sure that you can use it. But if it's a brandable one that you know you can use but maybe the .com is being used, here's what I would recommend.
I would use a modifier. This is before using a .net, .com, .org, or another sort of domain extension. I would use a modifier. For instance, yes, I do have a number of different sites out there that do have exact match domains, here's an example of a modifier: SecurityGuardTraininghq.com. Whatever that modifier is, whether it's at the beginning or the end of a domain. But again, even just saying those out loud now, it does seem like this is not where it's headed. It’s headed towards more interesting, clever domain names that are brandable and again that's really, really important. But those modifiers do work if you really wanted something that was taken and you still wanted to use it in some way, shape, or form, I would use a modifier, a short one at the beginning or at the end.
Second priority would then be if a .com is taken to use .net. A .net works just fine, and again, as long as you brand it that way and people know to use it, it's not going to be that big a loss for you to not use the .com. There are lot of .nets out there that are great. ZenHabits.net by Leo Babauta. There is Problogger.net. Those are two of the top blogs in the world that are using .net so it can be done, yes, and there's a lot of .coms and .orgs out there as well.
Then, if that's not possible, either you might want to find another domain name to use or the dashes work fine as well. Don't use dots or underscores as I don't think you can use them in domain names actually. You can use them in domain extensions. For instance, after the root domain. But as far as the root domain itself, the dash would be the only one that you would be able to use and “entrepreneurs-journey” is one that comes to mind. A site by Yaro Starak, who was a big influence to me when I first started out back in 2008 as well.
Now, I will say it's a little bit of an inconvenience to say the dash in the middle or the hyphen. So whenever I say your site, entrepreneursjourney, I always have to say “entrepreneurs dash journey dot com,” which is a little bit confusing for people as it just adds that extra thing that definitely you don't want to do. So yeah keep that in mind but the key words in the domain aren't necessarily as important as they use to be if at all and definitely go with a brandable domain name and something that people can really memorize and spread the word about and that'll help you get the most success down the road.
So hopefully that helps out Luca. Thank you so much for the question. I really appreciate it and as a result of me having your question featured during the show we're going to send you an AskPat t-shirt. So look out for an email from my assistant in the next week or two to collect your information for that.
For those of you listening, if you have a question you would like potentially featured here on the show, head on over to AskPat.com and you can ask right there on that page.
Thank you so much for listening in today. I really appreciate your time. And as always, I like to end with a quote, and today's quote is from Jack Welch. He says, “Change before you have to.” Thanks so much, and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat.