There are many ways your domain name can help or hurt your search engine ranking. You can use a few of the following tips when registering your domain, or registering domains for micro-sites or campaigns for your business.
Keywords in domain name
Placing the most important keywords in your domain name can significantly contribute to a page ranking. There are many ways you can incorporate a keyword in a domain name.
Exact match domain
This is great for a campaign or a micro-site. If a customer is searching for ‘recycled shoes’, recycledshoes.com will have an advantage over other domains since the domain name matches the search query exactly. Beware that spammy sites do this all the time, and many exact matches might be hard to obtain. If you find one that works for you, make sure you provide useful content on the site. This is where creating a useful micro-site based around a single product, or subset of products will help. Redirecting the domain to your main business domain is likely to gain you nothing.
Keyword in domain
Just having one of your main business focus keywords in your domain will help your ranking. If your company is named ‘Acme’, and you focus on tools, acmetools.com will be a better domain than just Acme.
Making the keyword the first word in the domain name is also a popular strategy. There is evidence that this technique may be more beneficial than placing a targeted anywhere else. In this example we could try: toolsbyacme.com.
There is also evidence that keywords as sub-domains are factored into rankings. This is great for micro-sites as well. You might run a campaign to push anvils, so you would set up a site at anvils.acme.com targeting anvil sales.
Domain age and registration length is also known to be a factor. Both have been mentioned by Google’s resident webspam team member Matt Cutts.
There isn’t much you can do about domain age except to register early and never let your domain expire. Spend the extra money and register your domain for longer than a year at least. There is controversy around whether the registration length is really a factor, but if you plan to stay around for a few years it makes sense to go ahead and register long term.
Private domain registration has been mentioned as a factor by Matt Cutts before. There are legitimate reasons to have a private domain. If you’re running a solo home based business and you don’t want to broadcast your address and phone number on WHOIS it you may want to stay private. Most small businesses with a phone number and a PO box should list it publicly on their domain WHOIS. This lets Google and everyone else know you’re a legitimate business.
If you operate specifically out of a certain country, or provide a local service, consider using a country specific TLD, like .uk, .ca, .jp, etc… This helps search engines know what country you operate out of, although it’s not the only way they determine your locality. Consider registering multiple TLD’s localized to each area you operate.
Your domain name is just a small factor in your overall search engine ranking, some of these tips will help push you above the competition. This is all provided you have actual useful content on your site. Content is always king, but every little optimization helps.