The first thing that you are doing when starting a website is picking your domain name. What I always find funny about businesses of all sorts is that they pick domain names which are of very little value to them as far as searches are concerned. An example of this is with a dive shop I work with in Costa Rica, Rocket Frog Divers. When I came to Rocket Frog Divers, their domain name was RocketFrogDivers.com. Not too bad, you might think. It is easy to remember, no common spelling problems, and is the name of their business. The first thing I suggested that they do as they were getting no business coming in from their website, was to get a new domain name. Costa Rica turned out to be a very hard place to find a good, keyword rich domain name. I had to end up going for www.scuba-dive-costa-rica.com. Not perfect by any means. I would much rather have it with no dashes in it. It makes it longer and harder to type in, but the keywords were there and it was the best option of what was left. I didn’t really care about how hard it was to type in as I suggested they keep RocketFrogDivers.com. It was already out there on a lot of their marketing material and is a more brandable name. So what we did was set up a 301 redirect from RocketFrogDivers.com to scuba-dive-costa-rica.com. You will notice if you click on either of those links they go to the same place. In this case we are able to take advantage of both the easy to remember domain name along with the keyword rich domain name. This is a strategy I would suggest for a lot of dive shops out there who are struggling to get search engine traffic.
The thing that you have to remember is that it is going to be incredibly easy to rank for your business name. For example if you are Rocket Frog Divers, it doesn’t matter what your domain name is, there is probably only one business in the world that is called Rocket Frog Divers. If your site has that built into the page title, which it should, has it in a few places in the text of the site, has it as the alt image tag for the logo which it should and has a few back links with that as the anchor text, you will rank first for that search. A query such as “scuba diving in Costa Rica” is a much more competitive search with basically every dive shop in the country hoping to rank on the first page for that term. If you don’t have some, if not all, of those keywords in your domain name you are behind the eight ball right away.
A lot of people ask what is better between .com .net .org. etc. While the best is still generally still recognized to be .com as far as search engine optimization goes there isn’t a lot of proof to suggest one is superior to the other. If the opportunity is there, I would always go for the .com as you will get a lot more type in traffic, as well as it is generally recognized to be more trustworthy and legitimate than .net .biz .us or any of the other extensions that keep popping up. The other option that is never bad is the country specific domain name. For instance in the United Kingdom, .co.uk or in Canada to use .ca is another great choice.