Simple Answer.. Yes! But..
'Should my website address be the same as my brand name?' is a question that many businesses setting up shop will be asking themselves, whether they are in the B2C or B2B markets. The simple answer to the question is 'yes', but in this article we will take a more in depth look at what you need to consider before attempting to secure a domain name which is identical, or near identical, to your brand.
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A crowded market place
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One of the issues in today's digital age is the amount of domain names that have been registered already - over 220 million - and the challenge that poses for business founders. It can now be more of a struggle to get your hands on the URL you want, and for many this will impact on the name they choose for their business. A sub question to our original poser might be: 'Which should come first, my company name or domain name?'. Meaning, is it best to base your company name decision around a URL that is available to buy, rather than hope for the best when it comes to securing a matching domain name for your organization?
Get your priorities straight
For many, whether or not they base the decision on their organization’s name completely around available domain names will come down to the nature of their business. If they are going to focus a large part of their sales operation online, particularly for e-commerce firms, then a domain name which matches their brand could be crucial. Many internet users will simply assume that an online retailer's URL will match with their domain name, and should they navigate to the wrong site, the customer journey is at risk of being halted.
It is accepted by many experts that having a domain name which matches a brand - and incorporating exact match key words as part of a domain name, known as exact match domains (EMD)- can serve to boost search engine optimization (SEO). When a user searches for your brand on a search engine such as Google, you are likely to want it to appear first. Having your URL match your brand name is considered to help you appear as close to the top of the rankings as possible when your domain name is the search term entered.
Modification and manipulation
For other businesses, possibly those starting an enterprise with a B2B focus, having a domain name which matches their brand is not the be all and end all. In the absence of an exact match, these firms might want to consider domain names which represent their brand in a shortened, elongated or initialized form.
- For example, a consulting firm named Smith & Jones, might wish to become "smithandjonesconsulting" for the sake of their domain name.
For other organizations, shortening or initializing their name might help them find a domain name which is not a million miles away from an exact match.
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There are still a large share of businesses that do all their business offline - think high street shops, restaurants, night spots or craft shops. For these kind of organizations, failure to find a matching domain name is not the end of the world, and actually provides an opportunity to distinguish themselves further from the crowd. Adding a location to the end of their brand name can be away to elongate it for the purpose of finding a matching domain name. Tagging a simple UK or USA, or perhaps the town or city where a business is located is a nice way to find a unique domain name and still stay relevant.
Brand name or keywords
Keywords, Keywords, Keywords!
Given the choice, you might have a decision to make on whether to select a URL which matches your brand name, or one which contains targeted keywords - the EMDs we mentioned earlier in this article. There is no magic formula, and businesses should think long and hard about which suits their strategy, rather than paying attention to any golden rule.
For companies that are online-focused, with a big emphasis on buying products, there is a big argument for choosing an EMD over a brand matching domain. That seems to be exaggerated if they are dealing mainly with the sale of one particular product or service - buildingsupplies.com, for example. That's because their target audience is likely to be typing search terms related to building supplies into Google, and securing an EMD can have the effect of pushing them up in the rankings for the key phrase 'building supplies'.
Firms that place internet users looking specifically for their name, rather than a product or service, at the top of their priority list, could be more suited to having a brand name match, as opposed to a keyword match.
We might simplify the best way to think about prioritization as follows. Think about which demographic is your top online priority, and then determine how you wish to tailor your SEO techniques to their search engine habits. E.g., whether you are targeting consumers looking to buy a product or service online, or if you are targeting consumers / business contacts who are looking your organization up specifically by entering your brand name. Once you have decided these elements you can set about a domain name strategy which is aligned with your online objectives.
Search ability or credibility?
Bearing the above in mind, the chances are that along with making either your company name or product / service more searchable via Google, your domain name will also offer your organization credibility. This might apply more if you take the brand name match route, as opposed to EMDs. If you view the credibility associated with having a brand name match in your URL as outweighing any search ability considerations - this is likely to apply to those B2B focused, offline orientated firms - securing one, if you can, could be the most important thing.
As you can see, although website addresses which match to a brand name are beneficial, whether they are giving a business the most advantages will come down to the nature of a specific organization’s online agenda.