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Four Domain Name Factors for SEO Rankings

How important is your domain name when it comes to search engine rankings? The search engines are run by algorithms backed by massive processing and storage capacity which delivers results to users. Users rarely venture beyond the first page of search results and achieving top page rank, or if possible, top ranking for your keywords is essential for an online business.

What impact does your domain name determines where your website will rank?

Here are some thoughts from a hands-on SEO practitioner.

Domain Name

The domain name you choose is important, because if the domain includes your keyword you will be given a natural boost in the rankings.

For instance:

Keyword for ranking is                   “Industrial Piping”

Company A’s domain name

Company B’s domain name         http://industrial

Company A uses its own name for the website, which is going to rank very highly for people searching on that name.  The problem is that it gives no SEO benefit for ranking when people are searching on the actual keyword, “industrial piping”. Now look at Company B – it has the perfect domain in that the keyword and domain name are the same.

Company B’s domain name will almost certainly rank on page one, and probably top ranking with little effort.  Company A will have to do a lot of work to associate itself with the search engine algorithm it is relevant and important enough to get top page billing for the keyword term.

Domain Name Age

Search engines view the age of the domain name as a sign of trust. If you have a domain name which has been registered last week, you are viewed as an unknown quantity compared to a domain name which was registered 5 years ago. The longer you have been around, the greater the likelihood you have established an online business.

Hosting your Domain

If you are a US business, use a hosting provider based in the US, if you are based in Europe, use a European host. This appears to play a significant role in determining search engine rankings and you should also watch out for being allocated a dedicated IP address (this is now cheaply done with cloud hosting).  Avoid cheap hosting – hosting is inexpensive to begin with, but going for the rock-bottom deal is not recommended.  How fast your host loads and serves the website pages is a factor; cheap hosts cut corners on service, such as security; cheap or free hosts are packed with spam sites which will affect your ranking if you share the same IP address (see next).

Domain Name Server & IP Addresses

GoDaddy is a popular host, but like many other providers it will pack dozens and sometimes hundreds of websites onto one server – this is known as virtual hosting. Each server has an IP address which you will share with your neighbors, and the search engines will see not one website but an IP address which is shared by all the websites operating under it.

Now what happens when one of your neighbors is a spam site?

The search engines will identify a spam source and associate it with the IP address of the server but it will not make a distinction between the spam site and the rest of the websites on the server.  Effectively, you are all tarred with the same brush as spam sources – the effect on your search engine rankings will be disastrous. Using a dedicated IP address will from your hosting provider and ensuring your hosting neighbors do not include spam sites will help protect you from the impact of badly behaved sites being associated with you.


Your domain name is one of the most important factors in determining your search engine ranking.  You can control some of these factors, such as the name you choose and where you host it, but you cannot control the age.

It is critical you choose a domain name which includes the keyword terms or some of them – but don’t make it too long because people need to use it too.

Equally important is your hosting – cheap hosting is not a good idea, but if cheap hosting is all you can really afford, you should reconsider the business – harsh but realistically fair.

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