Thursday, November 13, 2008

If I Were Buying a URL For My Private Practice Today

I'm often asked for advice on domain names - what web address should I try to get for my new private practice website. Folks, this is an easy one for me.

If you're planning on laying down roots in a locality, you're going to want to try to get a URL that incorporates your locality name, and a word that describes your service.

So I'm here in Seattle. If I had graduated with my Masters in 1996, I might have been able to jump on SeattleCounseling.com. Wow that would have been great. I graduated long after that and it was taken, and because in 2002 we were not really thinking about Search Engine Optimization, I got good ole ChangingForGood.com for my Seattle-based practice.

I think the locality word is obvious (if you are in a big city, this may mean a neighborhood, like SoHo - if you are in some states, it might mean a county name - just think how people search where you are).

The service word can vary a bit. If you are a counselor, therapist, or social worker, I would try to get "counseling". It is searched much more than "counselor". If you specialize in couples, couplescounseling or marriagecounseling are about even (I'd lean to marriage counseling, I think it includes couples, but not the other way around).

If I were a psychologist, I would go for that word (never, ever "psychology", though).

Definitely go for a .com address - please do not bother with .net, .org, .edu. .us, .info, .biz or any other (if you are in the US). It will just lead to confusion for people, and seems second class to the consumer.

So, there is a great chance that your primary domain choice will be taken (HoustonCounseling.com, for instance). Here are some other ways to go.....
  • CounselinginHouston.com
  • Counseling-Houston.com
  • CounselingforHouston.com
  • YourHoustonCounselor.com
  • Counseling-in-Houston.com
  • Counseling-for-Houston.com
  • HoustonTXCounseling.com

  • Best, Peter

    PS - domain names are not case-sensitive. I add in capitals so you can see the words better (I do at in ads I place, too).

    3 comments:

    Kim said...

    Hi Peter, I recently spoke with a representative at Godaddy who told me that adding a third search word significantly increases your search ability. For example, HoustonMarriageCounseling.com would be better than HoustonCounseling.com.

    Would it increase the search power for someone looking for marriage counseling in Houston, but perhaps have no different effect on a person jsut looking for counseling in Houston to have the domain name HoustonMarriageCounseling.com?

    Thankyou!

    Peter Hannah MA LMHC
    Your Google Guy
    said...

    Kim,

    My belief is that the third word would REALLY help for searches that include that third word.

    It's also an inventive way around the "darn, houstoncounseling.com is taken" conundrum.

    The three-word solution shouldn't be better for two-word searches, though.

    Allison Rimland said...

    Hi Peter,

    I too wish I had known then what you've just imparted to me now. I assume you've decided not change your URL? Would the pain of changing everything not outweigh the benefits of the better searches? I imagine you get there well enough by other means, being the PT google expert that you are!

    Thanks,
    Allison
    www.thrivefamilyservices.com