Your dental practice’s online presence is extremely important in today’s tech-oriented world. More and more people are relying on the Internet to find a new dentist, and the result is an ever-competitive online marketplace of dentists vying for those coveted top spots in the search results. It’s kind of like a food fight! One of the most important things you can do to give your business an edge over your competition online is to get a great domain name.
If you have an amazing website with enviable branding but lack an appropriate domain name, you aren’t maximizing your online presence to its fullest. Think of it kind of like having a weak foundation for your nice home. Our team at Practice Cafe is here to help you choose the best available domain name for your dental practice. A strong foundation for your branding efforts is one of the keys to marketing success!
Keep What You Have
First, if you’re here because you’re rebranding your practice and would like a new domain name to go with your brand update, we might recommend otherwise. Domain names accrue value over time, so tossing one out for a new domain that simply sounds better may not be in your best interest. If you don’t have an option and must rename, for instance if you’re acquiring a practice for which the domain is the previous doctor’s name, then there are steps you can take to avoid suffering a major hit. Want to know if your domain has value? We’re happy to offer some insight! Just give us a call or send an email.
Those of you who are domain-less, read on!
Branding Over Keywords
Is keyword matching still important for my domain name?
This is a question we get asked a lot, and the short answer is not usually. Most of the time, having a branded domain, meaning a web address that corresponds with your practice name, is far better than a solely keyword domain. (A keyword domain would be one taken from exact keyword searches.) The main reason is because you’re looking to build long-term brand recognition that isn’t contingent upon the success of a single keyword phrase. After all, trending keyword searches change over time! Focusing marketing efforts on building a quality, well-rounded SEO campaign for your online practice brand is a much better recipe for long-term success. The smartest choice is often a domain that exactly matches the name of your practice or something close to it. There are certainly exceptions (keep reading). For starters, that might not even be an option for you if it’s not available! Domain availability is a good thing to keep an eye on if you’re still choosing a dental practice name.
If a great keyword domain is available and compelling, it may be worth considering. For example, “denverdentist.com” would be a stellar location-based keyword domain name because it’s memorable and very related to the person searching for a dentist in Denver. But even then, Google isn’t necessarily ranking the keywords in the domain, it’s choosing to display the web address above others because that domain makes the website just a tiny bit more relevant based on a number of factors. Keywords alone are not enough. Consider the domain “dentist.com.” Sure, that’s a rock star keyword domain, but that doesn’t mean Google ranks it well for the average person searching “dentist.” The prize-winning ingredients for a worthy keyword domain are “city” and “dentist,” “dental,” or “dentistry.” If that combo isn’t available, move on to the next course.
Having a good keyword domain could help increase the number of people who click on your site from the search results. When someone searches a keyword phrase, matching keywords are bolded throughout the results page, thus drawing eyeball attention. This can improve your click-through rate (CTR); however, it must be balanced by not sounding too generic and spammy, which will turn people off from clicking. Keyword-stuffed domains can end up lowering your clicks, doing the opposite of what you intended to do.
That’s about as far as it goes, though, and Google has been vocal about keywords in the domain trending down as an influential factor for search rankings. If you know of a keyword domain that’s doing well, it probably has a lot to do with the overall SEO efforts behind that website as well as the age of the site, rather than merely their keyword domain. Keep in mind that a host of factors influence an individual’s search results, including but not limited to their specific physical location, their browsing history, and other available digital data.
Avoid Hyphens & Numbers
Some more tips for registering domains… Avoid using hyphens, numbers, or oddly placed periods in your domain name. They aren’t easy to remember, and they are never easy to say out loud. You don’t want to get stuck saying, “You can find us online at www.forever-smiles.com. No, the dash isn’t spelled out, it’s just a hyphen in between the words. Yes, that’s right – Forever… hyphen… Smiles.” That will get old real fast! On top of that, if the domain without the dash is taken, you risk confusing patients trying to reach your site.
Hyphenated domain names are also generally associated with spam. Search engines are really good at filtering out spam, and you don’t want your website to be penalized over a silly thing like a hyphen.
Easy to Spell
Avoid choosing a domain that contains commonly misspelled words. Need a list? Here are the most commonly
mispelled misspelled words in the English language. If this is unavoidable, you should also purchase the domain that includes the most common variation of the tricky word in it and forward that to your main domain.
Extensions Are Important
There are many different options you can chose for your extension (.com, .net, .org, .info, etc). You can even purchase industry-specific extensions like .dentist or .pizza. Regardless of the many options, it is almost always best to go with .com. The .com extension is vastly more popular than the others, so people will assume your domain ends with .com anyway. It is guaranteed to stay relevant in the future, it is easier to remember, and it is most common. What can we say, we’re sort of “safe side” kind of people.
Using an extension like .org or .info, for example, won’t send the right message about your business. The .org extension is most often associated with non-profit organizations or government groups. The .info extension is usually a content-only website, designed to help users answer a question, but not to find or contact a business. Take the examples below. You are given search results for “dentist in Shreveport ” with the following results:
The first option — shreveportdentist.org — may seem like a club or continuing education group in Shreveport exclusively for dentists. The second option — dentistinshreveportla.com — seems like a website belonging to a dentist in Shreveport. The third option — shreveportdentistry.info — seems like a website containing information that would be relevant to those who wish to practice dentistry in Shreveport, such as board regulations or ways to connect with the community or others in the industry.
Extensions have been around for a while, and even though search engines can still rank these various extensions well, humans will probably see them as they have been conditioned to. Don’t give searchers (read: potential patients) the opportunity to mentally miscategorize your website!
We get a lot of dentists asking us if they should use a .dentist extension. An emphatic no! Well, there’s no harm in buying one as an investment or as a move to protect your brand from competitors, but forward it to your .com and sit tight. To make your domain as easy as possible to find, choose the .com extension.
The Shorter, The Better
Last but certainly not least, it’s a good idea to have a domain name that is short, memorable, and easy to type. The longer the web address, the higher the likelihood of typos and that people will forget what it is. A domain name that is short and memorable will stick with people for a long time, contributing to you building a strong brand. Here is our biggest exception to our recommendation that your practice name is the best option for your domain. If your practice name is overly long, for example Happy Smiles Family & Pediatric Dentistry of Summerville, you should find a shorter, snappier domain for your marketing. And no, that’s not a real dental practice. We checked!
Another thing to consider is that your domain name is part of your branding. Not only does it connect users with your business, but it will also be used in correlation with all of your other marketing materials. If you’re doing print or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, choose a domain name that will fit in well with these endeavors. Your business cards may look odd if your domain name is so long that it needs two lines. PPC advertising has strict character count guidelines that can be a hassle to work around with a long domain. So, keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
Get a domain with solid branding that benefits organic ranking, and do it today!We can help