As any SEO (search engine optimization) specialist will tell you, it’s never too early to think about the eventual search engine presence of your business. Even such a basic choice as the name of your business should be considered from an SEO mindset.
Your company name will very often be the text used in linking to your website. It’s likely to be the single term for which you have the best chance of gaining a top rank on search engines. Conversely, it’s a term for which you are going to really, really want that #1 rank, so you shouldn’t make it too hard on yourself. Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for choosing a search-friendly company name:
- DO include keywords in your business name if possible. Suppose your name is Joe Figudacamp and you are starting a company that sells restaurant fixtures in the Salt Lake City area. You could call your business “Figudacamp Associates” or you could call it “Figudacamp Fixtures.” See how the second name includes a keyword, and is also a better description of the company? Continuing along this path, you might consider naming your company “Salt Lake City Restaurant Fixtures,” but oh, it’s so long and boring. Here’s where the fun brainstorming comes in. Can you incorporate keywords while still choosing a memorable company name that represents you nicely?
- DON’T use a word that is also a common word in the English language, especially if it’s unrelated to your business focus. Let’s say you’re a private investigator. Do you know how hard it’s going to be to rank #1 if the name of your business is “Sneakers”? This advice applies to product names too.
- DO watch out for inadvertant synonyms, especially those that could have an adult tone. Trying to do well on search engines for the private investigator’s company called “Sneakers” would be hard enough, let’s not even talk about “Dicks”!
- DON’T choose a phrase that is going to be highly competitive, unless you’re prepared for an uphill battle to that #1 spot. In our book, Search Engine Optimization: An Hour A Day, we describe the process of determining how competitive a term is. For a quick read on the level of competition, do an “allintitle” search on Google for the phrase and see how many results come up (see Handy Search Shortcuts for help with this and other special searches).
- Likewise, DO think twice before using a personal name for the business. If your business is going to be tightly aligned with one person (interior designers or other consultants come to mind), and you have a unique, easy-to-remember, and easy-to-spell name, this might be a good choice. If your name is common and you choose it as your business name, be sure to include differentiating terms: “John Miller Green Energy” will work better in the search arena than “John Miller Design.”
- DO include your location if you cater to a local market. Of course, DON’T limit yourself by including a location in your company name if you hope to expand in the future.
- DON’T go with a three letter acronym. It may work for UPS and the IRS, but it’s a tough row to hoe for the average business.
- DO make sure the business name is unique, or close to it. If there are other businesses with the same name but in different industries, consider adding a clarifying word to your name: not just “Pinkies” but “Pinkies Books.”
- DON’T go changin’. If you already have an established business name, it’s generally not a good idea to change it based on SEO reasoning alone.
We’re no fools, we know that SEO is only one small factor in choosing a business name. But let SEO play a role in the decision before anything is set in stone, and it just might pay you back with a successful search presence for your business!