Is it okay to have a Long URL or Domain Name?
Last Update: Oct 20, 2014
I've come across my first 'stumbling' block which is holding me up a little.
Choosing a domain name.
Right, off I go to 'search' and start brainstorming. I made a list of around 25 possibilities. Now, they are all rather long with four words on average?
So I ask myself, is this too long? Will it affect or help my site rank? Will I be penalised or will it be beneficial, as the crucial keywords I keep hearing everyone mention will be included?
Should I just guess and pick anyone so I can get on with building my website?
So many questions so I decided to Google and find some answers. This is what I found:
In a nutshell:
The long domains vs short argument still exists, however, because there are benefits to all lengths and types of URLs. Not every business will find that a very short URL is viable for them, especially if it doesn’t accurately sum up what they do or offer to customers. So in some cases, you may have no choice but to invest in a longer URL.
To elaborate and clarify further:
If you can’t really “sum up” what your company does in just one word, or if your brand name is a little vague, you may want to purchase a longer URL to better explain what your purpose is. Let’s say you sell children’s clothing online, and the name of your business is “Pink Boutique.” To make your purpose and store identity a little clearer, you may choose something like pink-boutique-clothing.com instead of something shorter.
Long domain names don’t really prohibit any kind of online sharing as they might have once done: since many popular services now shorten URLs, they don’t take up room in Twitter, or lengthen your shares on Facebook or Google+, so there’s no need to worry about your domain being too long... unless, of course, it’s more than three or four words.
Longer domain names also have a better chance at being unique, especially if they combine words in a different way, so you may have better luck getting your URL of choice registered somewhere.
The Benefits of Short URLs
Shorter URLs, usually two words or less, or consisting only of a brand name, also have some very specific advantages. Short domain names are easier to read, since they’re so concise, and are also easier to remember. Also, since they take up less room, they are easier to include on any printed material, like business cards or brochures.
Short URLs have a better chance at being “catchy,” and are more likely to “stick” in someone’s head. For example, if you choose the simple URL “pinkbt” for your children’s clothing boutique, it’s easier to recall when a previous visitor wants to come back.
The only disadvantage to a short URL is that it’s more likely to be taken already, especially if your brand name isn’t 100% unique, a made-up word, or contains a common word or phrase. This may require some creative registering, or could even mean that you have to pay a little more for a domain name with a different extension.
Do Keywords in a URL Affect a Site’s Ranking?
One of the most common questions out there is whether a webmaster can boost their site’s performance by utilizing a longer URL with one or more keywords in it. For example, a site owner may want to purchase a domain with their brand name and a keyword in it, thinking that the keyword will help them rank better for it in searches.
To answer that question, let’s learn a little about EMDs, and how Google feels about their usage as part of a SEO strategy.
ABOUT EXACT MATCH DOMAINS (EMDS)
Exact match domains, or EMDs, were once an often-used tactic to increase rankings. An EMD is a URL that has one or more keywords in it that the site wants to rank for. If you search for “kids clothes” and the top result is “kidsclothes.com,” that is an EMD.
Before late 2012, EMDs had been able to consistently rank on the first page of Google (if not in the top spot) on the basis of the searched keywords being in their domain names. This led to some very spammy techniques – such as the utilization of keyword-stuffed domains – as well as some complaints by other webmasters that their link building, content strategies, and on-page SEO were being overlooked because competitors simply got better domain names.
In October of 2012, Google rolled out an update that lessened the ability of EMDs to rank on the basis of their domains alone. This also penalized sites that participated in obvious domain keyword stuffing. This meant that EMDs had to earn their place just like everyone else – and that the URL “buychildrenskidsbabiesclothing.com” was no longer more powerful than “kidsboutique.com.”
Do you need your most important keyword in your domain name? It may not be a bad idea, because it will at least establish some level of trust. However, it will no longer help you rank. So if you prefer a short domain name with your brand in it vs a long URL with a keyword or two, know that you really won’t be at a disadvantage.
ARE THERE ANY SEO BENEFITS TO A URL?
Yes! However, they don’t really have all that much to do with keywords.
Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines prefer simple, easy-to-understand URLs that deliver what they promise. URLs that are filled with item numbers, special codes, or jargon may actually hurt the ranking for a specific page. This is because a simple URL – like /clothes/babies/age-2-to-4.html – is far easier for a user to read and understand than a complex one – like /baby/ID8247494839/KDW-34893849/landing-page.html. You know what you’re getting out of that first link, right?
URLs that are clear and easy to understand at a glance are more likely to be clicked than complicated ones. Additionally, a URL with clear keywords in it that is provided as a link on a homepage can provide a little bit of a boost, SEO-wise, because it has anchor text in it.
Essentially, the biggest SEO benefits you will get out of a shorter, clearer URL is from the increased click rate and reduced bounce rate. User experience definitely matters, and it impacts SEO in a bigger way than you might expect.
Having taken this 'on board', I'm going back to my list and will choose one without deliberating further!
I hope this clarifies 'long vs short urls' somewhat?
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