Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the domains/URLs Category

Avoid Free Web Hosting for Your Business Site

Renee Shupe, the Redhead Virtual AssistantRenee Shupe, the Redhead Virtual Assistant, recently ranted about the dangers of using free web hosting sites for a business website. Of particular note are these:

  • Your site is a sub-domain at the hosting site. So instead of, you become That’s a killer for SEO.
  • Most of these require advertising on your pages. That’s likely to either be ads for stuff that’s totally irrelevant to you business or (worse yet!) ads for competitors.
  • You have little control over the look & feel of your site — you’re  forced to use their templates (some are just horrible-looking).
  • You lose rights to your site — if they shut down their service or go out of business, you don’t have a copy of your site that you can put up elsewhere.

Never skimp on your web hosting. Select a reputable hosting provider who will protect your interests in your web site and provide full value. Ask us to recommend some.

A Few Google Notes From Matt Cutts

Matt CuttsMatt Cutts (“The Google Guy”) spoke at an industry meeting a few months ago, and as reported by Search Engine Land, there was news in what he had to say. Here are the most important points to note, in our opinion:

  • Spam reports now get 4 times as much priority as before in the spam queue at Google. If your competitors are using spammy SEO techniques, it can’t hurt to report them. (Your competitors can report you, too, of course, so remember to avoid black hat SEO tactics yourself.) And if you find really spammy web sites like link farms and MFA sites showing up for your keywords, by all means report them to Google.
  • Users are more likely to click on the first link in an article as opposed to a link at the bottom of the article. He suggested you put your most important links at the top of the page. They may not count more for SEO purposes, but will help in driving visitors to click on the links, especially call-to-action links that encourage visitors to buy.
  • Google will be looking at why exact domain matches rank so well. For example, if you have a site at it may rank too well for the keyword phrase blue widgets. Expect the importance of keywords in your domain name to be reduced. We’ve always encouraged different criteria for choosing your domain name.
  • When doing Keyword research, start with keywords your customer base is likely to use, and avoid industry jargon. The rule of thumb is called Ask 10 Taxi Drivers (meaning people NOT in the same business as yours).


Protect Your Domain Name — A Cautionary Tale

Two cautionary notes here about protecting your domain name.

Make Sure You Own Your Own Domain Name

Own your own domain nameYou need to be listed as the Registrant (owner) of your domain name. Otherwise your business is at the mercy of someone else.

Case in point: a client of ours has had their domain name (roughly equal to their company name) for the past 3 years. They had the person who hosts their web site register it for them. Now that they’re thinking of moving to a different hosting service, they find they can’t access their domain to do that because they’re not the registrant. Their web hosting company is the registrant.

Irritated to be losing a customer, the web hosting company wants a sizable monetary payment to relinquish ownership of the domain name — so much that our client feels the need to hire a lawyer and sue to get possession.

Not sure if you own your domain? Go to and enter your domain. You should be listed as both the Registrant and the Administrative Contact. If you’re not, ask whoever is listed as the registrant to make that change for you. Do it before you have any sort of falling out with them.

Don’t Let Your Domain Name Expire

Beware Domain Squatters or Cybersquatters. A client of ours had a compelling domain name and hadn’t started to use it yet, but it was the perfect domain name for his business. Sadly, he forgot to renew it one year. and the registrar he’d used neglected to tell him it was expiring. By the time he noticed, and wanted to use it for his website, he discovered that a cybersquatter had registered it themselves, and wanted a premium payment to give it up. Our client had to spend $2,000 just to get their domain name back.

Whoever you use as a domain registrar, always make sure they give you plenty of notice when it’s time to renew.

Don’t make either of these costly mistakes!

Google Dispels Myth About Domain Expiration

Matt Cutts says your domain expiration date doesn't affect your search engine rankings.Matt Cutts, “The Google Guy”, has released a video addressing a misconception many SEO consultants had about the effects of domain expiration. The expiration date of your domain name regtistration had been believed to be a ranking factor for your web site.

Search engines don’t want to give prominent listings to websites that may be “flash in the pan” websites that exist for a few months or a year and then go away. It was believed that if you register your domain name for at least two or three years, the search engines would conclude that you are in business for the long haul and consider you eligible for higher rankings.

That belief was based on a provision in one of Google’s patents, but Matt says this is not a ranking factor and you shouldn’t worry about it having any effect on your overall search engine optimization.

Watch the Matt Cutts video.

Is It Worth Investing in Multiple Domain Names?

Buying up lots of domain names that are vaguely similar to your primary domain is common practice and lots of online business owners will have a stash of domains that they have invested in rather than simply buying just one.

In most cases where clients simply want to have multiple domains with keyword variations in the domain name, we usually suggest that’s not an effective strategy. But there are some valid reasons for registering multiple domain names.

Search Marketing Standard lists four specific reasons it might make sense to do so:

  1. Owning multiple domains can lead to more traffic
  2. Owning certain domain variations can be a strategic decision
  3. They can help you leverage domain complaints or domain reviews
  4. Multiple domains can handle misspellings of your domain

See the article in Search Marketing Standard for an elaboration of each of those.