Along with your company’s name, logo, and phone number, your domain name is an important identifying piece that allows people to find your company online. Plus, the right domain name is an effective way to drive traffic to your real estate website. Ideally, your domain name should be the same as your business, or as close to it as possible (more on that later). 

Whether you’re just starting out and looking to create a domain name or wanting to change your existing one, we’ve compiled some domain name best practices for real estate websites below. You’ll also find tips for what to do if the name you want is already taken and tips for making a domain name switch as seamless as possible. As one example, if you already have a domain name and are looking to change it, implementing 301 redirects is necessary to transfer as much SEO value from your current domain to your new one and to ensure the best user experience when you change your real estate website’s domain name. 

Domain Name Best Practices

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a domain name for your real estate website. The most important factors in choosing a domain name are listed below and can be summed up as memorability, usability, and relevance. Choosing a simple, memorable, and brand consistent domain is key. You want your domain to be short, easy to remember, easy to type, and representative of your company and/or brand. The best practice for domain length is 2-3 words max. for .net and .org domains, and 3-4 words max. for .com domains since there are fewer .com domains and those tend to be more memorable (as opposed to users having to remember .net and .org).

Choosing a relevant domain is also important, whether that means including real estate and location specific keywords or brand and company keywords is less important as Google doesn’t rely on exactly matching keywords the way it did years ago, so you don’t need to worry about capturing exactly the most relevant keywords to your services and area you cover, just the primary theme. There are two main benefits to choosing a relevant domain name to your business: 1) The domain name itself is still a ranking factor, though not as much as it used to be, so the more relevant the domain, the more prominence Google will give it; and 2) Your domain name is the text that other Internet users and referring websites will use as anchor text when linking so users and search engines will connect the keywords in your domain name and subsequent anchor text with what you do. Websites are also more likely to post links to user friendly sites, with easy to understand and relevant domain names, so again, keeping it simple is as important as ensuring your domain name is relevant.

When choosing a domain name for your real estate website, make sure to:

  • Keep it simple. If your real estate business has a complex name or a very long name, consider shortening or abbreviating it. If you have to use a long name, separate each word with a hyphen. 
  • Register misspelled versions. If your domain name has a commonly misspelled word in it, register the misspelled version of the domain name so you won’t miss out on traffic that’s going to the misspelling.
  • Choose a top-level domain extension. For those unfamiliar with top-level domains, they’re found at the end of the domain name. Common extensions are “.com,” which is the most popular, “.org,” which is mostly used with organizations, and “.net,” which is a popular alternative to .com and .org. Other domain extensions exist, though we don’t recommend using them unless they are highly relevant to your business, such as .realestate, which is a good option. SEO can at times be negatively or positively impacted by other domain name extensions, like .biz or .ly depending on whether Google views them as spammy, or credible (credibility is generally based on some pre-certification, a domain being country based, or a domain being keyword rich and relevant, such as being used for a NYC club website). For a business, it’s best to choose .com if it’s available although both .com and .net domain extensions are credible, so you don’t have to worry about any negative impact on SEO from the domain itself as long as you choose one of those. Other benefits of .com domain extensions are that they’re generally more memorable (users have a harder time remembering .org and .net domains). Additionally, there are fewer total .com domains than other domains, so you can generally get away with a longer domain name for .com websites because they’re more rare.
  • Register with more than one domain type. In order to protect your brand online from others registering a domain name similar to yours and using some of your popularity for themselves, it’s wise to register with multiple domains. Because registering a domain is relatively inexpensive, you can keep these domains unused and easily implement code to redirect or forward traffic to your main domain website.
  • Consider a keyword-rich domain name. To best position your website to rank online, be shared by others, and more, it’s still important to choose a domain name that has top keywords associated with your real estate business and/or represents your brand. As a result, you’ll be able to drive relevant traffic to your website and get found online easier. 

What to Do if the Domain You Want is Taken

It’s happened to many of us – you identify the perfect domain name only to realize it’s already taken and the owner either won’t sell or is asking too much. How do you know whether it’s worth it to buy the domain and are there other options? The answer is yes, there are other options and yes, there are ways to determine the value of a domain name. To determine the value of a domain name, analyze the website’s current search engine ranking, domain authority, and traffic. Also make sure to do a security check. Has the website been blacklisted? If you determine it’s not possible or not worth it to buy the domain name, other options do exist, including:

1. Use a different domain end type

One of the easiest ways to get the majority of the domain name you want is to change the ending. For example, if another company already has a domain name with the ending “.com,” consider registering your company under another ending like, “.org.” However, it’s important to note that some companies may have trademarked that name, and subsequently, any other versions of that name cannot be used, no matter the top-level domain extension.

2. Change your name slightly

Similarly, altering your name a little bit could also allow you to keep the domain name that you want. Think about how you and your customers refer to your company. Choosing a domain name that they recognize and use can also be the way to go.

3. Consider purchasing the name you want 

Domain names are bought and sold frequently. If you come across the domain name you want and it looks like that website isn’t active, you can try to reach out and purchase it. If the owner of that domain isn’t using it, there’s a better chance you’ll be able to purchase it, as opposed to a high-traffic, popular domain that’s in use.

4. Start fresh

If you’re a brand new company that doesn’t have an online presence yet, or a company that’s going through major changes, sometimes the best option for getting the best domain name is to rethink what you want your brand to be called. Do some research to find out if the name you want is already a brand name or trademark. Your domain name should be unique to you, as well as free of any potential infringements.

Ultimately, you should pick a domain name that’s easy for your customers to remember so you can get found online and continue to grow your real estate business. Want more information on domain name best practices, whether choosing the right domain name or ensuring a seamless transition to a new domain name? Contact the Union Street Media team today to discuss your needs and get personalized recommendations for how to grow your business online.