Domain Name: Brand Name vs Keyword Dilemma

Brand Name or Keyword – now that is a good question! A tough one if you are in Internet Marketing. A tougher one if you have no idea about the future of your website.

Lets say you are looking for some advice on Digital SLR cameras, which website would you go to first:
(A) a  popular website like Canon.co.uk, Nikon.com or DPReview.com  or
(B) a website like PopularDigitalSLRCameras.com ?

There is no right answer, actually. But I can tell you that your answer will reflect either of the two philosophies of choosing a domain name – Brand Name vs Keyword. To understand this better let us look at how you would arrive at a particular website.

There are a two main ways you may have arrived at SonySimon.com.

a) Direct Navigation Traffic: If you heard about my website when I bragged to you about it in person or social media, and you went to your browser and typed in SonySimon.com or clicked on a link I shared, then that is referred to as Direct Navigation Traffic.

b) Search Traffic: If you searched for “Sony Simon” or “Brand Name vs Keyword Dilemma” in Google, Bing or Yahoo and that brought you to this page, then that is referred to as Search Traffic.

Direct Navigation Traffic is promoted through using Brand Name domains and Search Traffic is promoted through Keyword domains.

Brand Name Domain

A name is one of the most valuable assets a person or business can have. It is what ultimately people will use to recognise you or your business. It will be on your website, business cards and letterheads. Using your name or the name of your company as the domain name is a way to put your brand in front of your customers. This maintains brand consistency and also will help popularise you or your company.

At the time of your website launch, most of the traffic to your website will be through type-in traffic. This can be further promoted through advertisements and social media campaigns. Although, obtaining traffic this way may sound difficult, over time the quality of your content/product will draw visitors to your website.

If you look at Technorati’s Top 100 blogs – you’ll see that most of them have their brands as domain names and not keywords. So if you are working on branding your company or yourself then that is the way to go! (http://www.seocial.com/technorati-blog-directory-deleted-may-29/).

If you already have a well-established company or product, then choose a domain name which matches your company or product name. If you are setting up a personal website, then I would recommend setting it up as YourName.com. You could go for different combinations of your name (e.g. FirstNameLastName.com or LastName.com).

If you do not already have a registered company and are planning to do so, then you have an opportunity to pick your domain name to go with your company name. Also check on other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to ensure it is available on those sites too. This will solidify your brand and make it more memorable.

Keep one thing in mind: Stay away from names that play on the reputation of an existing person or company. Generate a following that is exclusively yours! (My name is Sony and this is me speaking from experience. How I wish I could have the domain name sony.com!)

Keyword Domain

Keywords are words or phrases that visitors use on a search engine to find your website. A keyword domain, also referred to as an exact match domain (EMD), exactly matches the keyword a person uses when searching for your content (e.g. HowToLoseWeightFast.com, HowCanIBecomeAMillionaire.com).

If you rely on users to find your website from search engines (i.e. Search Traffic), then you can use keywords in your domain name.

Back in the day, it was true that a keyword domain would get a higher rank in search without much effort. However, Google has since put a stop to that. Bing and Yahoo are still a bit more lenient within the realms of EMDs.

Keyword domains are often long and impersonal. Some of them even look suspicious!  If you are trying to brand yourself as an industry expert, it could be beneficial to use a keyword domain as a landing page. Once the visitors find the landing page through search, you can redirect them to your business website. An alternative modern approach would be to choose a brand name with a keyword in it. AutoTrader is my favourite example. But there are many more examples like Hotels.com and BookMyShow.com.

Using keyword domain is a usual internet marketing strategy. Rick Schwartz bought candy.com in May 2002 for $108,000. Candy.com webpage is filled with links to candy-related products. Click on one of the ads and the advertiser pays Google, which in turn sends a share to Schwartz and the company that runs Candy.com. In 2005, an article on CNN stated that “some days Candy.com makes Schwartz $300 in profits; the site paid for itself in a year and a half.


Now going back to the question I asked you before about going to a website for some advice on Digital SLR cameras. No matter which website you go to first, which website would you buy a DSLR camera from:
(A) a  branded website like Canon.co.uk, Nikon.com or Amazon.com  or
(B) a keyword website like DSLRCamerasForUnder300Dollars.com ?

Let me know in the comments below.

If you want to know more about choosing Domain Names drop me a note about that too in the comments section.

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5 comments

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    Any tips? Appreciate it!

    • My advice is start with a free platform like WordPress so you can focus on the content. Once you have got a good amount of content and a great following you can look to move to a paid option. Please read more on my website (under Web Development http://s693581096.websitehome.co.uk/learn/webdev) about some suitable platforms and hosting options.

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