How to choose a keyword rich domain?

It is evident that a great domain name is necessary or even can be considered as determining factor for a successful online project. So should we opt for a keyword rich domain that exactly describes our website’s content, or choose a shorter one which only gives a hint about our mission or should we just go for a brandable name?

The answer is simple: it depends. Of course, it is a decision based on complex factors, still, there are measurable metrics that can help us on our way of choosing the best domain name for our project.

So when to choose a brandable name?

Only if you have lots and lots of funding available that can be spent on marketing and you have really big plans for the future. This is because if your name is brandable that means that the domain name itself does not give a hint what you are doing, no relevant traffic will be driven to your website based on the domain name, and most importantly, you have to teach people what your brand name actually means – and that is expensive. As an example, now everyone knows what Yahoo is, but the domain name itself is meaningless and was originally worth of a penny – and Yahoo has probably spent millions of dollars on marketing.

How to choose the ideal keyword domain?

So if you do not plan to spend thousands, or rather tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing costs you’d better opt for a keyword domain. Of course, a short, but keyword domain. One generic single English word .com domains would be ideal – however, they are all taken and even if they are for sale, they cost a lot of money and often not well defined. So most probably you should go for a domain that contains more than one keyword. This also raises a question: what is the ideal keyword density, i.e. how keyword rich your domain should be?  How can you choose the optimum between domain price (and availability), keyword density and domain length? Well, for that there actually is a great metrics – and that is what I would like to talk about now.

For any keyword there is an exact and a broad search term defined. Exact match means how many searches a month are there by typing in the keyword only. Broad match means how many searches a month were carried out with terms containing but not limited to your keyword. Evidently, the number of broad match search is always larger or in some special cases equal to the exact match search.  There are lots of services that give you the exact and broad search volume for a keyword.  You should evaluate these search volumes in order to make a good decision for selecting a domain name for your project. Here, we define keyword uniformity (KU) as the ratio of exact and broad match search volumes. 

KU= \frac{exact\; match\; search\; volume }{broad\; match\; search\; volume}

This metric is evident: the lower the KU, the more space you have for exactly defining your website’s content.

Of course, the absolute volume of the exact search is an essential factor for a successful project. Thus, in order to get a metrics which is characteristic of our potential success, the keyword uniformity should be multiplied by the exact search volume, yielding a weighted keyword uniformity.

wKU= \frac{(exact\; match\; search\; volume)^{2} }{broad\; match\; search\; volume}

Let us see some example. The table below presents the calculated keyword uniformity values (in %, i.e. multiplied by 100) and the weighted keyword uniformity values for given projects. We examine the optimum keywords.

Domain name keywordsExact Search VolumeBroad Search VolumeKeyword Uniformity in %Weighted Keyword Uniformity
baby photos7500022690003.312479.07
cute baby photos224442492409.002021.08
pregnancy test11222018600006.036770.61
postive pregnancy test122761674007.33900.24
cytoplasm function100449176010.951099.41
web hosting6138018600003.302025.54
cheap web hosting2976750203.97118.06
mothers day quotes5022013640036.8218490.09
password generator24924083452029.8774438.69
strong password generator1984235684.211670.74

Example 1

We want to start a cheap web hosting service. Which is our ideal domain name? As “hosting” keyword’s KU is high enough, so “hosting” actually defines what the website is about. Additionally, there are much higher search volume for “hosting” than for “web hosting” or “cheap web hosting”, is the ideal choice.

Example 2

We want to start a website with cute baby photos. “Baby photos” has the highest wKU value showing that “photos” is not definitive enough for our project, however, with “cute baby photos” we would lose too much related searches, so is our ideal choice.

Example 3

Our project is about collecting quotes for mother’s day. Both “mother’s” and “mother’s day” searches are too diverse as the KU value indicates. “Mother’s day quotes” has sufficient search volume in order to make higher wKU value, thus is the best option.

Of course, choice of domain name is just the first step, we need quality content and good marketing for our project as well.