Google claims that it uses around two-hundred different metrics for ranking websites and their content in the search engine results. Although the search engine giant has never published an official list of these ranking methods, there are many which are widely known. As an Internet marketer, it is important to familiarize yourself with the basics of search engine optimization in order to drive targeted traffic to your website. Typically the first step to establishing an online presence for your business is choosing your domain name. You will likely only do this once, so it is extremely important that you get it right the first time. The following takes a look at the various domain name characteristics which play a part in your standing in the search engines.



1 – Keywords in Domains


Keywords have been at the very heart of search engine optimization ever since its inception. While having a relevant keyword in your domain name is not as effective as it used to be, it is still advisable. After all, if you search for a keyword in Google, any instance of it appearing in a Web address will be bolded. Using a key word or phrase in your domain name is an important relevancy signal, but it is more important to ensure that the address sounds natural and easy to remember. For best results, try to have the keyword in the first part of the domain.



2 – Domain Age and Registration Length


According to Google's Matt Cutts, the age of a domain plays only a very minor part in its SEO ranking, with older domain names favoured slightly over younger ones. A more important factor is the length of registration. If a domain name is registered and paid for in advance for a period of a few years, it indicates that the owner is more committed to establishing an authoritative website rather than a spam site. Again, however, this is still not a particularly influential factor.



3 – Country Code Top Level Domain


Most online businesses register a .com domain, since these tend to be the most valuable as they rank globally. Country code TLDs such as (United Kingdom), .ca (Canada) or .au (Australia) are primarily ranked for their individual countries, making them more likely to appear in local search results. For example, a site ending in is much more likely to appear in the search results when using If you are a local business or organization catering your website only towards an audience within a specific country, this may be exactly what you want to achieve. However, if your business seeks a more global reach, a .com address is a must-have.



4 – Keywords in Subdomain Names


Keywords in subdomain names or permanent links are also useful for ranking purposes and for indicating to people what the link leads to. This is why it is important to ensure that your permanent links contain relevant keywords or better still, the title of that particular webpage. The title itself should also have the relevant key word or phrase in it, so using the same permalink should not be a problem.



5 – Remaining Anonymous


Using the WHOIS query and response protocol, people can find out the owner of a website, the name of the registrar and hosting company and various other information about the domain. Some webmasters, however, use a privacy protection service in order to hide their true identity. When someone performs a WHOIS query on such a website, they will only be provided with the details of the privacy protection service. While there is nothing wrong with this as such, it can adversely affect your rankings. After all, such services are widely used by spammers and content thieves in order to cover their tracks.



6 – Exact Match Domains


An exact match domain is one which is identical to the key word or phrase which you are targeting. When used for a high quality website, they can be highly effective. However, many spammers and owners of poor quality websites use exact match domains in the hopes of manipulating their standings with Google and other search engines. Because of this, Google has introduced penalties for EMDs such as this.