I used to think business names didn’t really matter.
But your company name is important for both marketing and SEO.
I want to help your company attract more prospective clients – so I want to guide you in naming your business properly.
Now that I work to improve small business web presences, I realize how important a small business naming scheme is.
It helps Google and other search engines connect our clients’ websites to the coveted search engine result pages.
Before Google, There Was PhoneBook Optimization
Our business world is marked by optimization. In this era, it’s all about search engine optimization for Google, Bing, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri, But in the previous era, it was all about the phonebook.
Take a look at how many businesses are called A1, AAA, or any other combination of the first letter of the alphabet and the first numerical digit.
It’s ironic that what used to help businesses be the first solution in the phonebook under their niche section now provides confusion in the Internet.
Every business that’s called A1 or AAA is now faced with the challenge of establishing themselves as a unique web entity against the thousands of other similarly named organizations.
Another blunder that I see is that businesses will often keep a vague name or a name that has been claimed by a bunch of other businesses.
Here’s the bottom line: the way you name your business matters for search engine optimization and marketing.
It matters to people who will attempt to interpret your brand messaging and it matters to search engines that will take their cues from the words within your company’s name.
Here are four tips to properly naming your small business so that it can dominate with SEO and rise to the top of the search engine result pages.
Four Tips to Properly Naming Your Small Business for SEO
1 – Plan Before You Launch
Trying to change your name after launching a complete digital footprint sucks.
I’ll cut to the chase here – your goal is to have every single web entity named the exact same thing; facebook, website, Google my Business Page, Twitter, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Chamber, BNI, etc.
If you launch and then try to change, it creates inconsistencies and headaches down the road.
This is the most important concept to understand: you need to do your homework around your business name and domain URL.
I am kind of a serial domain purchaser, and I’ve owned more URLs than I care to admit.
Shooting from the hip when it comes to your business name and domain is not a good idea.
Here’s how to plan your name and your URL:
A – Make a list of the different names that you like.
B – Jump into Google and search those names – find out if there are any major players dominating those keywords.
C – Work hard to find a name that is descriptive, unique, and focused.
D – Keep your domain name or URL very simple.
Google does not value your URL as much as you think it would. Having an exact phrase URL where the search term is the domain name has very little value now that machine learning has kicked into gear.
A quick story:
When I was establishing the marketing plan and business of Nuance Financial Tax and Accounting, I knew that I liked the word Nuance but I didn’t realize the impact it would have around our SEO.
There was a Fortune 500 company called Nuance, and while it didn’t destroy our local search engine results, it does place a cap on some of the public relations and broader marketing capabilities that we would have had. What I mean is, if we were to start building a name for ourselves as a thought leader, those that searched our name would continuously find that Fortune 500 company’s website rather than ours.
All this to say, spend some time planning and researching around your company name and the URL before you pull the trigger on anything.
2 – Don’t Use a Name that’s Crowded with Other Businesses
This is really reiterating the first point, but don’t choose a business name that’s incredibly crowded. You can jump onto the Secretary of State website, use Google+, or check out the Yellow Page or Yelp listings to find out if your potential business name is crowded.
Having a unique name is very valuable.
FeedbackWrench, for instance, is totally unique. There were no other organizations named this, and when I Googled it, I realized that I had landed on something that could be 100% mine.
Unique modifiers for SEO:
Think of it this way, if you were to have written an article called “How to Improve your Small Business Search Engine Results” googling that term after you published it would probably yield millions of results.
But now imagine that you started to use a unique name – it would be much easier for people to identify the content that you produce rather than what’s produced by others.
I highly respect the content and advice from SEMRUSH, MOZ, and Search Engine Land. When I have a question about search or SEO, I usually add one of their business names when i search Google in order to find their articles.
As you build up your brand and your authority as a thought leader, having a unique name is going to be really helpful.
The Real Coca-Cola
The other advantage that a unique name will give you is that once you have a good reputation, it will be harder for your competitors to crowd in on your name in the Google results.
Think about it, if you search for Coca-Cola, you are not going to find anything about Pepsi. And when you search Pepsi, you’re not going to find anything about Coca-Cola. But if you were to search cola soda, they are both going to pop up. This sounds kind of silly, but you need to think about it from a mathematical and computer perspective: Google wants to ensure that the intent of a search query is fulfilled, and if people eventually get to a point where they would search your business name, which is hard, you want to make sure that your business is what pops up.
When you have generic or unfocused business names, you can be an easier target for competitors to bid on Google Adwords, create competing content, and encroach into your space.
Finding a unique name will be helpful, don’t use something that lots of other businesses use.
3 – Put Your Primary Region and Service in Your Business Name
How does Google know what you do and where you do it?
Seriously – Don’t make Google (or worse yet, Bing) guess what you do and where you do it.
I always roll my eyes when I see a Google My Business page entitled:
“Johnson LLC” or “Brightview”
These names are going to have work harder than they should.
We have run many experiments, read from the biggest thought leaders in the industry, and seen from experiment after experiment – local SEO requires having a business name that contains a company’s primary region and service.
One of my favorite examples to use is Fredrickson Masonry, A Minnesota Chimney Repair Company. For years, Fredrickson Masonry was using a static website that communicated that he was a masonry company out of the Twin Cities. But after talking to him, we realized that his primary focus was really on chimney repair and fireplace restoration. That meant that there were about 10 different keywords that matter the most – none of them relating to masonry. And yet, everybody in the masonry industry prides themselves on being called a mason – not a chimney repairman.
After doing small business consulting, we decided that it would be appropriate to retool his website and every other web asset around the name that including chimney repair. After making this change, Fredrickson Masonry has had chimney repair jobs pouring in, showing 10 fold increase in qualified leads from the Twin Cities.
Google My Business Page Naming Scheme
Reading about Fredrickson Masonry, most people would nod their head – it would make sense to use a proper keyword on their website in order to attract the right prospective clients. But the thing that helped Fredrickson Masonry the most was updating their Google My Business page to include the words “chimney repair” and their region.
This isn’t about manipulating google with keyword stuffing in your name so that you can dominate the local snippet. This is about communicating to people and to Google about what you do and where you do it.
I’m telling you, if you want to win as a local small business, you need to get very strategic about your naming structure on your Google My Business page and support that with every other web asset you have.
4 – Be 100% Precise Across Every Web Asset
This last piece of advice is incredibly important – so pay attention.
The Internet is big. You are small.
Because there are like 100 billion web pages, you need to make sure that every single web asset and listing you have is consistent – with the exact same business name, address, phone number, and service description.
This is called NAP consistency.
Your Twitter account, Facebook page, Yellow Page listing, Yelp, Google My Business page, Bing Business page, and all the citations you can do need to align to a central naming scheme and they must be 100% identical.
Think about it:
If you don’t have identical names across every web asset, that would be like registering your name differently at every class you attend in college. How does the college know which student you are if your name’s spelling constantly changes?
Also published on Medium.