The 5 Golden Rules of Selecting Real Estate Domain Names

Do to the extreme popularity of this post, I decided to update it based on the realities of SEO in 2017.

Years ago, Brad and I were honored to be guest on a webinar hosted by our good friend and real estate trainer and social media expert Amy Chorew with The Tech Byte. The next day I received an email question from one of the participants asking a series of questions about selecting domain names for their real estate website. These questions are pretty typical of the questions we are asked from time to time and I thought, why not use the Dakno Real Estate Blog to provide some answers.

This Atlanta-based real estate agent writes; I am just beginning to build my web presence. I own several domain names and I wanted your opinion on which one to build off of. My company website is “MyName.net”. I just bought “MyNameRealEstate.com” because there is another person with my name who is a photographer. Plus, there is an attorney and I wanted people to associate my work with my name. Should I use MyNameRealEstate.com to be the hub you discussed yesterday? I like the catchy names of the other agents…Living on the Hudson but I work several counties so I thought my brand should be more general. Any suggestions are helpful. Thanks for giving your time to help. Take Care, Atlanta Area Agent

Here are My Comments and Recommendations

Regarding your question about domains, one important facet of domain selection many RE pros overlook is the one of an exit strategy. Say you embark on building a tremendous, lead generating website and you decide at some point to retire and exit the business. If the domain name is your name, who is going to buy it?

While sellers do Google your name when they are thinking about hiring you as a listing agent, buyers who make up the vast majority of site visitors.

It used to be that agents selected domains based solely on keyword phrases. Here’s the new reality. Buyers use a wide range of keyword phrases when conducting their search. In general, those keywords tend to change as the buyer moves down the click funnel.

At the top of the click funnel buyers search in broader terms like homes for sale in a county, a city or by zip code. As buyers move down to the next level in the funnel they tend to search by property type plus price, and by school district. Buyers will also search for homes based on a lifestyle. Those could include homes for sale on a golf course, homes with an in ground pool,  homes for sale based on a water feature (lakefront, oceanfront, riverfront), many buyers desire equestrian homes, estate homes in a gated community, homes with a vineyard or a home with a spectacular view. Buyers also desire to narrow down their search based a desirable neighborhood, or a condo building often with proximity playing a key role in their search.

Don’t forget buyers also search by specific architectural styles as well.

Does this mean you should go out and buy every iteration of a lifestyle keyword phrase domain name and point all of them to a specific domain? Not unless you have a legitimate strategy to go along with those domains. Does it make sense to specialize in one of these niches and build a website based on a specific niche and domain? As long as the niche isn’t over targeted, absolutely!

That being said, always try to own your vanity URL (your name). It’s just smart to own it. If you can’t don’t lose any sleep over it.

The Rule Breakers!

There are those celebrity real estate agents in areas who have built considerable name brand equity and should continue to utilize their name in their market. It doesn’t hurt to have your domain names “pointing” to your vanity domain.

If you’re not one of those celebrity agents, I recommend you consider a different strategy when deciding what domain name to use.

5 Golden Rules for Domain Name Selection

Try to adhere to these rules when choosing your domain name.

  1. Keep it as short as possible. That way it’s more memorable and marketable.
  2. Brevity is good especially on the web. Who has time to type out 20 characters to direct access your website.domain name
  3. Avoid dashes, dots, numbers and other weird characters. The simpler the better! If you tell someone to go to your website address at www.atlantahomes4sale.com, you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time explaining it’s the number 4 and not “for”, “four”, or “fore”. Get my point? Then you’re forced to buy all the iterations!
  4. Go with .com. When possible, avoid using .net and always avoid using .org (non-profit designation).
  5. Avoid using one domain for your blog and a totally different domain for your website. Why? Unless you are one of those unique “bloggers” who can elevate two different domains to the top of the search engines for your keywords, I’d say use the sub domain scenario for your blog (blog.YourURL.com). That way you can use two sites to elevate your domain to the top of the search engines instead of two (2) domains. By the way, when using the sub domain scenario, you don’t have to purchase the sub domain. You’re simply setting up a “sub folder” on the primary domain for the blog.
  6. Not every domain has to have the word “house”, “home”, or “real estate” in it. This leads to my next tip.

Be Creative When Deciding on Domain Names

It used to be that everyone had to have a domain with a keyword phrase likeRaleighrealestate.com. Guess what. Those days are gone. Be imaginative with your domain. Here are few domains that are really creative.

LivingOnTheHudson.com

TrophyHomes.com

LifeAtTheTop.com

Bonus Domain Tip

If you see a deliciously good domain name, I say buy it if for no other reason than to keep it away from your competition. 🙂

Agree or Disagree? Leave Your Tip!

Be sure to leave your comments. What tips do you have to offer?

To your success,
Bobby Carroll
@rewebcoach

16 thoughts on “The 5 Golden Rules of Selecting Real Estate Domain Names

  1. Great ideas here! I really like the sub domain idea. I’ve been meaning to implement that same idea for my posterous account. Just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  2. Hi Michael – I like the domain names however, I strongly recommend you first check with each MLS Board to see if it’s kosher with them to use the term “MLS” in your domain name. The same is true with NAR. I see lots of agents using the copywrite term “REALTOR®” in their domain name.

  3. We recently had a client that placed a website on http://www.wakeforesthomes.com because his website keyword strategy was to place well organically for the keyword combo, “Wake Forest Homes.” His site has only been live for 3 weeks and he organically ranks number 9 of 13,000,000 pages on the web that compete for the keyword, “Wake Forest Homes.” This proves that if you can place a website on a domain that contains your keywords, you have a much better chance of ranking organically for your desired keywords.

  4. Leslie, thanks for chiming in! Your example is so timely and speaks to the power of selecting (in this case “buying” a great domain name. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the content on his site is targeting his keyword “Wake Forest homes” too.

  5. Bobby, thank you for your well-thought out post. However, I have a question when it comes to blogs. For real estate blogs, WordPress is considered by many to be the best platform (for which you would have to host on a separate domain or on their server), so would this be an acceptable exception to your rule? I have a blog through wordpress which I recently launched based on the above, so I hope I didn’t make a mistake. And yes, the domain for my blog is keyword-rich, as well as my site.

  6. Alex, the point of a sub domain is to allow the site author to gain the “Google SEO Juice” from their blogging efforts. We prefer the self-hosted WordPress version (wordpress.org not .com) (meaning it can be hosted anywhere on a domain name you control). I trust that answers your question.

  7. My issue has been accumulation domain names… and then I have them all (13 right now)forward on to DougFrancis.com which I picked up in 1999. Honestly, I’m not the king of my market by a long shot… so I don’t feel like I am breaking any of your rules.

    I really don’t have the time or energy to reinvent the whole blog and have built up some decent rankings. So I am going to stick with what I have until I have a strategy to implement those other domains. Did that make sense?

  8. Sure Doug. If you are managing your online presence there is always that attraction to become a domain collector (junkie). The trouble is what do you do with all of them? If you are holding on to URLs to keep them out of the hands of your competitors, that certainly makes sense. Often the annual renewal fees can make one take a second look at that strategy.

    My advice in most cases is to simplify one’s online strategy by building your hub of your website and blog and use one really great keyword-rich domain and optimize the heck out of that URL for maximum SERPS.

  9. The last advice that you gave about buying a deliciously good domain name just so your competition doesn’t have it is a good finale! 🙂 what do you think of these domain names:
    getmemyland.com
    atlantarealtor.com
    realestatedream.com
    realestateexpert.com
    These are just suggestions though! 🙂

  10. This is music to my ears.This is really a great post! Thanks for sharing. A blog really owes its success to its loyal readers and faithful followers. Choosing the right domain name often takes some time. When you consider that the domain name you select will be one that can be on your marketing, will be submitted to search engines, and will be with you for years to come it is certainly not a decision that you should make in just a couple of minutes. When you understand what to avoid and what makes up a good domain you will easily be able to choose an address that will work hard for you for many years to come.

    Jaiden

  11. Good strategies, I like that you touched on such an important topic as your own name. By and large, it makes no sense to open the site now based on its own name. For its promotion there are social networks such as facebook, instagram, etc. But the domain name of the site needs to be approached more thoughtfully, since its main platform is just the search output, which has nothing to do with the social. Networks.

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