Why SMEs need to make domain names work harder in 2024

macro view of group of color cubes with domain names on laptop or notebook keyboard
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Oleksiy Mark)

Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) come to an end of a difficult year; many are considering their growth prospects for 2023, especially when confronted with a recession.

At the core of any business is its website, an important tool used to grow and gain visibility, and with every site, a domain name is needed. Descriptive domains allow you to use meaningful words on both sides of the dot, giving entrepreneurs more opportunity to differentiate their business 

Identity Digital's Chief Marketing Officer, Rachel Sterling, can discuss how descriptive domains can increase marketing outcomes.

How can SMEs make domain names work harder in 2023?

As every entrepreneur knows, it is crucial to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Those who start up in 2023 are no different. Part of this differentiation strategy includes branding — particularly how that branding is conveyed online. The best way to ensure you stand out is with a short and memorable web address, especially one that immediately conveys not just who you are, but also what you do. 

For example, a “yourname.vet” web address instantly conveys who you are and that you are a veterinarian. This in turn makes it easier for the customer to identify you, as well as improving your SEO visibility. For SMEs, being smart about their web address is now a vital part of their marketing and branding strategy. 

What are larger enterprises doing with domain names that SMEs aren’t?

Larger enterprises approach domains in a drastically different way. For SMEs, their domain name is everything — they often have just one website that they direct customers to. For larger enterprises, they already often have a large collection of both global and local domains to rely upon — and have the resources to accumulate domains for brand protection. 

When it comes to descriptive domains, we often see them deployed for microsites and marketing campaigns that have a limited lifespan use. We’ve seen this, for instance, with Vogue’s recent 130th anniversary campaign, in which they employed the vogue.world domain to promote a special, live-streamed fashion show. 

The main issue is not necessarily that businesses are using domains incorrectly, but instead that they believe that a .com or .co.uk address are the only viable options. For many, there is a misconception that businesses have to use one of these in order to get noticed or appear legitimate. 

Today, this is simply not true. There are a wealth of new web addresses that are available to businesses of all sizes that can not just improve visibility, SEO, and customer acquisition — but also even improve legitimacy through instant recognition of your brand. 

We’ve already seen major brands adopting this approach, from mastodon.social  to go.compare. SMEs using these newer web addresses can also reap the same benefits; namely, an opportunity to appear more cutting-edge than the competition and further improved legitimacy amongst potential customers.  

How can descriptive domains increase marketing outcomes?

There are many benefits to adopting descriptive web addresses. Brand recall is a major one — by using descriptive domains, it can be easier for the customer to connect who you are to what you do. This has a major positive impact in terms of both visibility and SEO: we’ve seen small and young businesses able to scale up rankings and organically get onto the first page of a Google search after using a descriptive web address for just three months, due to the way Google views keywords in domain names. 

Ultimately, choosing a descriptive web address means that companies can make their domains work harder to achieve business results. It also means businesses can invest less into “basic” marketing requirements (such as SEO) and focus more on customer acquisition and converting customers. 

What are the benefits of having a strong domain name for SMEs?

First and foremost, a strong web address creates authority with customers by building credibility. It also separates you from competitors, as new web addresses can provide the differentiation that leads to greater visibility and awareness. 

It is also important to consider that newer, descriptive web addresses often have more availability and don’t necessarily restrict you to a specific geography. Many businesses are too focused on securing a .com or .co.uk address, which often requires a significant degree of compromise. 

This can be either in the URL itself, with many businesses having to add a prefix to their brand name — such as apps using getbrandname.com as they are unable to secure a simple brandname.com address. 

A strong domain name provides great value to a business. So it is important to get it right and think about the long term value, as opposed to just following what competitors or other businesses are doing.  

Does the choice of domain registrar have an impact on a SMEs domain?

A good domain registrar will make things easy for you; something that is especially important when starting a business. The best domain registrars will offer more than just domain purchasing, and include more robust services, such as web hosting or email

They will provide collaboration services to help build websites and provide the right tools to make your website deliver for your business. For example, Name.com curates a selection of services for startups that includes the ability to build a website with Wix and offer collaboration and email tools from Google.

What sort of meaningful words work well to create a descriptive domain that does well with SEO?

A descriptive domain — so long as it is tied to what you do — can deliver exceptional uplift in SEO impact. We have seen instances of SME customers who have been able to achieve more than 100,000 visits per month and land in the first page of Google searches. 

But it all comes down to selecting the right keywords that reflect the product or services you provide. It’s also important to use standard spelling of keywords. This will reduce potential misspellings and make it easier for people to find your site. You also want to make your web address unique to your business by including your brand name in your domain. 

Abigail Opiah
B2B Editor - Web hosting & Website builders

Abigail is a B2B Editor that specializes in web hosting and website builder news, features and reviews at TechRadar Pro. She has been a B2B journalist for more than five years covering a wide range of topics in the technology sector from colocation and cloud to data centers and telecommunications. As a B2B web hosting and website builder editor, Abigail also writes how-to guides and deals for the sector, keeping up to date with the latest trends in the hosting industry. Abigail is also extremely keen on commissioning contributed content from experts in the web hosting and website builder field.