9 Tips for Choosing a Domain Name for Your Medical Practice
One of the most critical assets for a medical practice’s marketing efforts is its website’s domain name. Following best practices is essential whether you’re considering purchasing a new or retired domain name. Some older techniques like Exact Match Domains (EMD) no longer offer the same kind of SEO benefit they once had, but they can still drive traffic when used correctly.
The first decision you’ll need to make is what to use as a Top-Level Domain (TLD).
Should you get a .com, .org, or .doctor domain?
When selecting a domain name for your medical practice’s new website, you can choose different TLD types, depending on what’s best for you. A TLD is a part of the structure of a domain.
Generally, you can separate the sections of a domain based on the dots between different words, numbers, or letters in the domain. For instance, consider the domain name “my.domainname.com.” Each dot separating the words and letters in this particular domain comprises a different level, with the second-level domain being “domainname” and the top-level domain being “.com.” In this case, the third-level domain would be “my”, which also functions as a subdomain here.
Each level helps web browsers locate the right content based on what users are looking for online. Depending on the kind of authority you want your brand to have, you can choose between three main TLDs, including: “.com,” “.org,” or “.doctor.” TLDs split into two different subgroups of TLDs:
Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)
gTLDs consist of the most commonly used TLDs on the internet, including “.com,” “.org,” and “.net” domains. Others can include .xyz, .biz, and .info, along with more niche and branded options. As of around 2011, brands can use their own gTLDs, with a brand like Old Navy opting for a “.oldnavy” domain. You can also choose a gTLD within your specialty, such as “.doctor” for a doctor’s office.
Country Code Top-Level Domains
Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) are TLDs that represent various countries through unique codes. For example, an American website might use a “.us” ccTLD while another in the Netherlands uses “.nl.” There are around 312 ccTLDs available, with some open to the general public while others have restrictions in place regarding who can purchase them.
The best practice here is to try to secure a “.com” domain since people are used to typing it into their browsers’ uniform resource location (URL) i.e., address bar. Otherwise, they may look twice if they see a URL with an odd and unfamiliar TLD.
How to choose a new domain name for your medical practice
To help you choose the right domain name for your medical practice, consider the following best practices:
1. Shorter Over Longer
Your website’s domain should be short and easy to remember. Keep in mind that Google only displays the first 35 characters of your “display URL.” A shorter domain is also better for memorability and ease of typing into the address bar.
2. Future-Proof Your Domain
You may eventually want to sell your practice at some point in the future. However, it can be harder to sell if your website’s URL is also your name. Instead, future-proof your domain name by making it specific to your brand and specialty.
3. Simple Spelling
Remember, staff and patients will likely need to type your domain into their browser multiple times. To make it easy for them, make sure your domain is both short and easy to spell. Avoid domain names that are too complicated. For instance, if your practice specializes in a particular area, avoid including complex industry terms in your domain.
4. Avoid Hyphens
Another way to simplify your URL structure even further is to avoid using hyphens. You may be tempted to use them between words to make it more readable to users and search engines, but this will likely hinder rather than help your site. Instead, keep the domain simple and eliminate hyphens, further increasing memorability.
5. Exact-Match Domains
Exact-match domains (EMDs) are domains that completely match search terms that are more likely to get more website visitors and rank well. Before 2012, EMDs offered significant SEO benefits. As such, many businesses and webmasters used to purchase EMDs in an attempt to profit from them by selling sites with popular and SEO-optimized terms.
However, as of 2012, EMDs don’t hold the same power across the board the way they had in the past. That year, Google launched an algorithm change that prevented low-quality EMDs with spammy or poorly constructed URL structures from ranking in search engine results. This means that it’s best to select an EMD that features a high-quality term without being spammy.
6. Consider Your Brand Name
If your practice has a memorable and instantly recognizable brand, you should consider using that in your domain. At the same time, you should implement the best practices of keeping your domain short and the spelling simple. If your brand name is too long or potentially tricky to type due to unusual spelling or another reason, consider going with a simpler domain.
7. Be Unique
In addition to being memorable, concise, and well-optimized, your domain should stand apart from competitors. Make sure it’s unique enough to keep people from confusing it with another practice’s domain. You can see what kinds of domains your competitors use and get a better idea of what to avoid. This can also help you avoid inadvertently creating a domain that leads to potential legal disputes or general conflicts with competing practices.
How to choose an expired domain
In some cases, you may want to choose an expired domain. These domains are those that individuals, businesses, or organizations have registered but either neglect to renew once their contract ends or intentionally terminate. This opens the domains up to re-registration and gives you the chance to purchase it.
While expired domains can be beneficial, they are potentially double-edged swords, seeing as choosing the wrong domain means you inherit all of its historical baggage. For instance, if you purchase a domain built with spammy links or previous penalties, you will be in a worse position than you would be with a fresh domain.
To help you select the right expired domain, there are two main factors to consider:
The first item to look for is the domain’s link profile. This is the makeup of links directing to the domain. The domain’s link profile should consist of many links that all connect to high-authority websites that Google trusts. A strong link profile will go a long way in helping your website stay ahead in rankings and avoid penalties.
Websites also benefit from being around for longer periods. If your domain has existed for a long time, it’s likely to be more well-established, which will further help with rankings.
What if your favorite .com domain is already registered?
If you’re dead-set on a specific domain name, you can always offer to buy it from whoever has registered the domain. If the webmaster declines your offer, you can always look for a different TLD that isn’t registered, with many options available out there for nearly any practice.
What is next after choosing a domain name?
Once you’ve purchased a domain for your medical practice, it’s time to develop your website and maximize its appeal and performance.
Remember,your website must have a mix of functionality and stunning design. If it’s not well-designed, this will turn away prospects. On the other hand, if it’s not functional, then prospects won’t be turned into leads.
If you’re inexperienced with web design, it’s best to find an agency that understands the trade-off between design and functionality. The right agency will also be able to create a personalized website specifically for your dental practice. Additionally, it’s best if the agency has an intimate understanding of dental SEO. Having the ideal agency by your side will help you get the results you want from your website, from its domain name to its content.