2020 was the year of the great consumer shift. We witnessed a flurry of new habits, perspectives, and customer needs.
According to McKinsey, the number of digital interactions between brands and consumers tripled in 2020. Some 65% of a brand’s interactions with its customers now occur digitally.
Most industries also saw between a 15 and 30% increase in online sales – and that increase is here to stay.
If you’re shifting toward ecommerce and building your online store, you’re in good company.
You may have noticed, especially if you’ve been having trouble finding the perfect domain name.
What if we told you there’s an easier way than spending hours trying different combinations of words in that domain registration box?
Online stores have their own domain extension. It’s called .STORE.
Here’s what a .STORE domain is, why it’s a solid choice from both SEO and branding perspectives, and how to choose the perfect one.
What Is a .STORE Domain? Domain Extensions Explained
A domain name is your online store’s Internet address. Think of it like digital real estate. And just like your physical storefront creates first impressions that may influence who shops with you, your domain name may attract traffic – or drive it away.
For example, have you ever shied away from a website because its domain name was full of numbers and dashes (for example, www.the-newsneakerz-store.com)?
That was the result of a brand’s attempt to cleverly squeeze itself into a crowded space. It didn’t work. It might have been a perfectly legitimate online business… but it didn’t look like it to their web-savvy customer.
It’s a common problem. The .com and .net domain extensions were launched in 1985, well before anyone knew the internet would attain the level of prominence in our lives that it has today.
Since then, finding short, meaningful, and relevant domain names under these extensions has gotten harder. And harder.
It eventually led to an explosion of creative domain names from legitimate businesses vying for top spots in Google that were indistinguishable from spam sites.
That was a problem.
The Rise of New Domain Extensions
Beginning in 2013, ICANN (the organization that oversees domain extension creation) attempted to address this problem by drafting guidelines for the creation of new domain extensions. It became possible to have not just a .com or .net extension, but a .tech, .site, .online, or anything else.
Today, just over 1,500 domain extensions exist. (You can view the whole list here.) You can now register a domain name related to geographic areas, industries, interests, and specific services. This makes the internet much more organized, helping both people and search engines understand exactly what a site is about.
Industry-specific domain names have important implications, especially for brands with online stores.
For example, ecommerce jumped by 68% in 2020. Brands without an online store scrambled to carve out a presence for themselves online.
The process of choosing domain names is often associated with a lack of availability of good domain names – leading to compromises and frustration.
But thanks to ICANN’s efforts, brands need not compromise on their domain name anymore. They have an alternative.
The .STORE domain was launched in 2016. It has since become the preferred choice for more than 475,000 successful businesses.
Best of all? Ecommerce newcomers can still get in on the short, snappy, attractive titles – and still, rank in Google search.
A domain extension that reflects your exact industry or service is better than a string of characters with a .com attached to it. That’s because Store and St0re might be the same to a human reader, but they aren’t to Google.
Why a .STORE Domain Is Good for SEO
Remember back in the day when you learned about which domain extensions were “more credible” than others? Those days are gone. Google has stated on the record that they treat all domain extensions the same. You won’t get penalized if you don’t have a .com at the end of your domain name.
“There are a lot of online stores using .STORE domain names and many are very successful. They’ve set up their online stores properly, adhering to SEO best practices. They’re ranking well for their keywords, and the search engines like .STORE websites just as much as they do websites on other TLDs.”
Bill Hartzer, SEO Consultant & Domain Name Expert
That makes a .STORE domain valuable for any brand with an online store. Here are eight reasons why a .STORE domain is very good for SEO.
1. On-Topic Backlinks
Link building strategies help website owners acquire hyperlinks from other sites back to their own. It remains an important part of any SEO strategy in the 2020s. That’s because developing high-quality backlinks functions as a form of social proof to Google. When a well-ranking site links to you, it signals to Google that you’re also a credible, authoritative site.
That’s not all.
One key aspect of backlinks involves the anchor text of the link itself. For example, by using the anchor text “link building strategies” to a blog about the topic, we’re sending a strong signal to Google that this page is relevant to others who may search this term. Over time, this will help boost the page’s rank.
The closer in language that the anchor text is to the focus keyword of a page, the stronger the backlink.
Imagine if you ran a site called www.halloween.store and you acquired backlinks with the anchor text “Halloween store.” It’s an almost perfect match that will boost your rank over time.
2. Better Rankings
Relevant backlinks aren’t the only thing that will improve your rank in Google search over time. When you use a relevant domain extension, you may find a boost in your organic traffic. That happens for two reasons:
- You’ll get more relevant traffic. People searching for a “Halloween store” will come across your site as they’re literally typing your URL into Google. They’ll be more likely to click on your link because you’re what they’re looking for.
- Your domain is semantically identical to its .com alternative. Although Google once claimed that domain extensions don’t count in keywords, the search engine clearly doesn’t ignore them. Check out what happens when we search “cabinet door store” and “cabinet door store com”
3. Better Keyword Opportunities
The screenshot above also reveals another interesting feature about more specific domain extensions: they can double as a keyword.
Google highlights in bold keywords related to your query. In our case, “cabinet doors” is one of them:
In this case, the metadata is seeded with the keyword “store.” However, once we included “com” in the search, we still ranked on the top because Google assumed our search intent involved shopping for cabinet doors (not the .STORE domain necessarily).
The .com domain name doesn’t have this advantage. That’s clever, isn’t it?
If you’re not convinced, here’s another example of it occurring that has nothing to do with registering domain names:
Emirates has an online store on a .STORE domain name and its commercial website on a .com domain name. When you search for “emirates merchandise”, guess which domain name ranks on the top?
4. Improved User Perception
- Clearer. Part of the reason that www.emirates.store ended up in first place was because the URL was more specific. Customers clicked and Google took note.
- Seen as hip and higher end. The .STORE domain extension works well with Emirates’ branding. Whereas the .com extension is established and old-school, the .STORE extension evokes freshness and the sense that the brand keeps with the times.
World-class football player, Cristiano Ronaldo, leverages these two points nicely with his brand as well.
For example, www.cr7denim.store not only tells us exactly what lies behind that link but also establishes the vibe of the brand. By the time the page is loading, we already know we’re going to get something fresh and modern.
5. Enhanced Memorability
The availability of .STORE domain names mean there’s a better chance for you to create a truly memorable domain name that will boost your branding.
In general, it’s good practice to choose domain names that are easy to read, type, and say. But a .STORE domain lets you take it a step further. For example:
- www.yummybakery.org vs. www.yummybake.store
- www.southernstyle.com vs. www.southernstyle.store
- www.goodvibestore.net vs. www.goodvibes.store
6. Optimized for Voice Search
Voice search has come to play a bigger and bigger role in the search engines, and domain name extensions can help you adapt.
For example, think about these two domain names:
While the former might be a visually clever way of spelling “curious,” it also has no chance of ranking in a voice search because that first word isn’t “curious” to Google.
If you wanted to get to the first domain using voice, you’d need to spell it out. That’s not a great user experience.
7. More Savings
The availability of .STORE domain names mean they’re also frequently inexpensive compared to their .com or .net alternatives.
For example, have you ever tried to register a domain name and been greeted with this?
This happens because people (or companies) called domain prospectors buy valuable domain names then resell them at a profit.
But imagine if you did this:
8. No Geographical Limitations
Some companies attempt to get around the crowded .com or .net spaces by using country-specific domain extensions. For example, you may have seen a site with a .com.au extension – that’s Australia.
Every country has one, and it can be a viable option for many companies. However, if you’re doing business globally, it doesn’t work.
The main problem with country-specific domain extensions lies in user perception. Your business might not be limited to Australia, but an Australian domain extension suggests that it does. That can easily be enough to drive off a potential sale.
Online Store Domain Name Ideas: How to Choose the Best Domain for Your Online Store
Using a .STORE domain is good for SEO and branding, but you still need to do it correctly. Here are five things to consider when brainstorming online store domain name ideas.
1. Do a Competitive Analysis First
The main advantage of a .STORE domain is the chance to compete for keywords alongside a competitor with a .com domain. As such, make sure to do a competitive analysis first. Include things like:
- What are the domain names of your competitors?
- What keywords are they ranking for?
- What keywords are they not ranking for that could help you win organic traffic?
2. Think About What Your Customers Will Search
Google places heavy emphasis on search intent, so spend time thinking about what your customers are most likely to search. If you can identify exactly what they’ll type into Google and turn it into a domain name, you’ll land right in their path. For example, www.babyclothes.store. Do:
- Remember that .STORE will double as a keyword
- Search potential keywords to see what’s currently ranking
- Find a middle ground between general and specific words
Bill Hartzer, SEO Consultant & Domain Name Expert
3. Keep It Short, Meaningful & Relevant
With so many .STORE domain names still available, coming up with a good name is easy. Keep it short, meaningful, and relevant to draw the maximum traffic. We recommend:
- Being descriptive. Make sure it’s clear from the name alone what your store is about.
- Avoiding dashes or numbers. These things are hard to type, say, and remember.
- Avoiding copyrighted terms. Using copyrighted or trademarked terms can get you in trouble.
4. Make It Brandable
Your domain name is digital real estate, so make it brandable. That means when someone encounters your domain name, it immediately evokes a sense of what you’re about.
It’s the difference between www.zappos.com and www.shoes.com, for example.
A brandable .STORE domain name:
- Leverages “empty vessel” words rather than a string of generic terms.
- Rolls off the tongue.
- Makes .STORE part of the brand.
5. Look for Similar .STORE Domain Names
Last but not least, remember to do due diligence. While it’s unlikely that you’ll stumble across a taken .STORE domain name, you might unknowingly register a name that’s similar to an established business.
To avoid this, look for:
- Domains that use synonyms. For example, www.bakerysupply.store and www.bakerysupplies.store.
- Known alternative spellings of words or names. For example, www.zurichshoes.store and www.zuerichshoes.store.
- Domains with the same words in a different combination. For example, www.smartsweater.store and www.sweatersmart.store.
A .STORE Domain Is Great for SEO – Get Yours Today
Goodbye crowded domain extensions and paying hundreds of dollars for a domain name. The expansion of domain extensions means that it’s easier than ever to get a highly customized domain name that’s perfectly suited to your brand.
If you’ve got an online store, registering a .STORE domain is a great first step to carving out your place in the search engines.
We’ve covered what a .STORE domain is, why it’s good for SEO, and how to choose the best one for your business. It’s everything you need to know to get started with an extension that sets you apart from the competition.
Source: Search Engine Journal