Ever look at your website and feel like you were so tired of your domain ? I mean lets face it.. coming up with a domain name isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. On top of that, more than likely the one that you wanted at first was probably in the hands of someone else that managed to perform a domain search long before you were contemplating the domain name that you’re interested in now. Worse yet, some of those people are domain registration squatters. You know those individuals that buy domains just to sit on them for years to wait for someone that really really wants it and will offer them some outrageous amount of money to own the domain name.
Ironically, even though we live in a time where finding a free domain isn’t hard to do, the tough part is getting a domain that suits you and is going to work out for you for the long haul. So what are some of the things that you might want to consider when it comes to the domain name ? Think about the following considerations:
- Age – Do I really have to start from scratch with my domain name ? If you do, that means zero age in the eyes of Google. That means zero backlinks in the eyes of Google. That means zero trust and zero power. That ultimately means a tougher ladder to climb and a harder path with respect to competing with your competitors.
- Domain Extension – What is going to be the best choice amongst all the available domain extensions ? The traditional, proven, and more recognized extensions such as .com, .net, .org or do I opt for something new with less saturation and less credibility and trust not only in the eyes of Google but from the visitor perspective too even if it means getting the name that I really want.
- Expired Domain – Do I buy someone else’s name and make it work for the niche that I’m trying to break into ? This means inheriting everything that’s happened to that domain before I took ownership of it. That means inheriting the good and bad including any penalties which basically means the possibility of rehabilitating the website until it’s healthy enough for my purposes.
What to do, what to do, what to do, that is the BIG question…
I know it’s a lot to think about, but the good thing is that you have insider information to think about as you come up with a gameplan for how to proceed. With that said, the first time I bought a domain, I had no idea there was so much to consider. I just blindly came up with a list of names without any thought to age, competition, extension or anything. Needless to say, there’s a lot that I’ve learned since then.
Now I know that this conversation regarding the domain name started with what happens when you get tired of it. You’ve heard me mention redirections on my blog topic ideas post and my brief post on sneaky redirects and know that I’m not a big fan of it, depending on how it's done, but either way there are certainly times when considering a redirection makes sense. The kind of redirect for a domain name that is most common and makes the most sense is called a 301 redirect. The Search Engine Journal, Matt Cutts and notably many others have talked about this type of redirect.
Nevertheless, one of the best options for this in staying in line with the purpose of this post is for a website owner to redirect their currently owned website to another domain by way of a 301 redirect. The Search Engine Journal, a very notable and respected avenue online for search engine related information notes that this is something that every SEO should know about. Beyond my own thoughts on the matter, SEJ has said in it’s advice on 301 redirects that 301’s are good for passing link juice (e.g. authority), page rank when it was still being updated by Google. Additionally I would add that it also helps in maintaining your traffic and / or traffic sources and in giving credit to links that you’d already acquired to the new domain instead of having to start all over in regards to the website authority and the backlink portfolio as long as the 301 redirect was done correctly.
However, what you want to avoid is doing this incorrectly in the way that Toys R Us did when it spent millions to acquire Toys.com only to redirect their newly acquired domain name to their already existing domain (e.g. Toys R Us). To further clarify what a 301 redirect can do to domain names can be summed up in the following:
- A 301 redirect can be done to an entire domain whereby you signal to Google that the domain name has changed and that the whole domain including it’s contents and sub-contents all need to be forwarded to the new domain or you can do this for individual pages. The best way to think of this is that the same way a person completes a change of address for their home is basically the same thing that you’re doing for your website. You’re saying hey, the old website lives here now, hence the 301 redirect to the new domain.
Just as I had mentioned before about doing this correctly, on the other hand if a 301 redirect is done incorrectly, Search Engine Journal remarks that you can lose rankings, authority and backlinks. 301’s are risky, but when they are done correctly, you can take a brand new domain (and we’re not talking about buying up an expired domain) and transfer everything you’ve been credited with in your existing domain to the new domain that you are moving to.
In the case of Toys R Us, they redirected their website to Toys.com and ran into a lot of trouble. It was truly unwise in the first place. The plan was to try to rank for a keyword phrase for which they were already enjoying a top ranking for in Google anyway. Upon doing their 301 redirect not only did their new domain get delisted from Google, they lost rankings from their existing website alongside a host of other issues associated with this poorly executed plan.
Don’t let this happen to you. Make a gameplan for your 301 redirect prior to executing it. As long as it is done correctly, the new domain name will safely receive all of your hard work, brandability, links and power.
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