How To Name a Domain for SEO

by | Feb 18, 2017 | Research

how to pick domain names for seo

How to Name a Domain for SEO

Picking a new domain name is one of the first steps for getting a website up and running. If done properly it sets your site on a solid path for earning traffic from search engines. Here’s a quick breakdown on how to do this and save yourself a ton of headaches later.

Definition: A domain is simply what you type into your browser: – often called a URL as well.

Picking the Right Domain

I’ve seen over and over that a simple domain name with a strong keyword phrase can rank well. Yet, if this is flubbed it can create headaches for building out the site and rising in the rankings.

  1. Identify what your business or service does or your brand name.
  2. Use the Keyword Tool from Google to get a sense of what people are searching on and use your User Persona to spark ideas.
  3. Go to and type in different variations to see what’s available.
  4. Consider tying domain name and site hosting through one provider like Bluehost. This makes it drastically easier for getting sites up and renewals. (Disclaimer: I’ve been on Bluehost for 6+ years and been very pleased)
  5. You can also add in geography into the URL, if you have a local focus and don’t plan on a national or global presence.

Quick Example of Picking a Domain Name

Say for example we want to build a website to sell squirt guns. We’d love to have the domain name of but it has been reserved long ago. Not to worry, we can still come up with a keyword-rich URL.

  • We brainstorm a couple phrases around “squirt guns” and “water guns”
  • A quick check of the keyword search volume on the Keyword Tool reveals that “squirt guns” has roughly 33,000 global monthly searches done. Yet, “water guns” has roughly 74,000 global searches – quite a difference.  We instantly know that there is almost 2.5 times more volume done on the keyword phrase with “water guns”. Whoa, that’s quite a difference and good to know in advance!
  • Next, we hit up and start trying out variations with the keyword Water Guns in the title.
  • A couple variations might include “” – we can get the .com, .net, .org etc.

Takeaway: Our above core URL has a very good keyword phrase and while not terribly brief, it isn’t ridiculously long like “” – that’s a horrible domain name. We have a good foundation for building out our site.

Should I get a .com?

Yes, if you can come up with a .com that’s usually best but the hardest to acquire.

Picking a solid domain name for SEO that is brief takes a bit of research and fiddling but can reap huge benefits.

Jake Cook


I'm a forever curious entrepreneur that works across ecommerce, analytics, and AI. I've been creating and teaching courses on ecommerce, design thinking, and data science at Montana State University and University of Montana since 2007. Most recently, I've been lecturing and assisting with research and case study development for Harvard Business School.


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