Every website has a domain, which acts as your website address. Believe it or not, your choice of domain, as well as the history of the domain, can positively or negatively affect your SEO results.
We’re not focusing on the website itself, but only its digital address for now.
In order to analyze a website’s domain name, you need to know what Google looks for as far as domain names are concerned. Keep in mind that you’re not just analyzing the actual name – the word or words that come before the dot – you are also gauging domain meta-data. This includes the following elements.
Most experts put forth the idea that domain age doesn’t matter all that much when it comes to search rankings. Do a Whois search to determine the age of the domain, if only to conduct a thorough audit.
Google previously bolded keywords that appeared in the domain in the SERPs. While Google no longer does this, it is still important to have a keyword-rich URL.
If your current URL isn’t keyword-optimized, it might be best to start fresh with a new domain. Some clients are reluctant to switch domains for a new SEO campaign, but I highly recommend it.
This is one of those common-sense techniques. If a user is searching using a keyword, it makes sense that a URL with that keyword contained within would show up prominently in the SERPs.
If you’re going to secure a new domain, try to search for one that front-loads your keyword term. The earlier your keyword is mentioned, the better. Likewise, keep the same habit when writing headlines, web content, meta tags, and other elements where keywords are used.
The longer you own a website, the more “Authority” your site will hold, and this could bode well for your search rankings (provided everything else is on-point). How long you register the domain for also matters.
When you secure a domain, you have the option of registering the URL for one year, two years, or longer. This matters for SEO, and it makes sense why. Domains that are registered for the short-term are more likely to be get-rich-quick schemes, trickster sites, or otherwise web profiles of low quality.
Google actually included verbiage in its patent long ago that websites that have registered for years in advance tend to be more legitimate. This is a metric that some auditors skip over, but it makes sense to go for maximum registration length.
If you are auditing your own site domain, you are likely well-familiar with the URL’s history. On the other hand, if you are intent on auditing a client’s site, you will want to ask plenty of questions. For instance, has the client ever engaged in black-hat SEO, even inadvertently, or anything else that may trigger a Google penalty?
If you’re unsure, use the Barracuda tool we mentioned earlier, as even black-hat methods that were used years ago can still reflect poorly on the domain where Google’s algorithms are concerned.
If a website has a poor history, those shady works should be cleaned up first and foremost before any aggressive action is taken to try and overcome the competition.
Disavowing dirty backlinks and regaining Google’s trust will take time, but that’s what an audit is for. It’s about uncovering possible holes in your SEO campaign that can be patched up to ensure a proper foundation for growth.
Once the domain is analyzed, it’s time to complete the rest of the on-site SEO audit.