Company name: SEO friendly or People friendly
A customer visited me this morning to discuss a new online shop venture. Pretty straightforward and nothing too unexpected until the company name vs the domain name issue arose.
The customer had spent some serious time looking for a cool and available company / domain name. He had found one that was a mix of words that would not go together normally and hence was available. From a brand point of view it was a good name, short and memorably but when the conversation turned to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) it was definitely not SEO-friendly. Without boring you with the details, the remainder of the conversation was the debate between SEO friendly or People friendly.
Now, brand names are a massive series of blog posts in themselves, so I will just stick with the SEO viewpoint. The bottom line is that the wackier the domain name the harder the SEO becomes. The factor that you have to take into considering is the customers rather than the search engines. If you sell ice-cream in Glasgow then the best domain name for SEO is icecreamglasgow.com of that there is no question. However, from a customer viewpoint that company name is pretty meaningless. You may be the most innovative and fun ice cream company in Glasgow but the domain name does not say that and is hence pretty forgettable. So if people are searching for ice cream in Glasgow they are likely to find you but if you are trying to get people to associate with your brand then that is a terrible company name. With the inverse, if you still sell ice cream in Glasgow but call yourself CreamandScream.com (though that does sound like a porn site 🙂 ) then people are more likely to remember the company brand name due to its uniqueness and memorable qualities.
In terms of what is best for your company, it is a question of advertising, marketing and where your customers are finding you. If you want to go down the easy route and focus solely on search traffic then your best bet is a company name / domain name that is as close to the SEO keyphrase as possible. This will make your SEO campaign easier as long as you are not too fussed with the brand name. If you advertise anywhere else to get customers (radio, TV, back of buses, etc) then a brand name makes more sense. As you already driving traffic to your site with your memorable brand name. It will make your SEO a little harder but you can incorporate all your companies zaniness into a notable and memorable domain name.
Company names / domain names are one of the first hurdles to overcome with a start-up company and need to be properly thought of. However, if you put the effort in you will find that the company name does not have to be perfect just suitable and worst case you can always re-brand.
p.s. I will not be giving out the company name of the customer unless there is monumental pressure to 🙂