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.
- Keep it as short as possible. That way it’s more memorable and marketable.
- Brevity is good especially on the web. Who has time to type out 20 characters to direct access your website.
- 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!
- Go with .com. When possible, avoid using .net and always avoid using .org (non-profit designation).
- 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.
- 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.
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,