Choosing a domain name that is voice search-friendly is an important consideration for any business in today’s increasingly voice-powered world. With the rise of voice assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, more and more people are searching for products, services and information by voice instead of typing. This means that your domain name should be short, easy to say aloud, and geared for people talking to a device rather than typing into a search bar. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about selecting an optimal domain name for voice search success.
Why Voice Search Matters for Domain Names
Voice search has exploded in popularity in recent years. Comscore estimates that 50% of all searches will be done by voice by 2020. Google also says that 20% of mobile queries on Android devices are voice searches. With voice search only becoming more ubiquitous, having a domain name suited for voice is critical for brands.
Here are some key reasons why voice search optimization should be a priority:
- Voice removes the ability to see domain names spelled out. They must be easy to say and remember aloud.
- Voice searches are typically more conversational and use natural language. Domain names should adapt to this style.
- Voice search queries are often longer and more specific. Domain names should be short and to the point.
- Local search is common in voice, so brands may want location-specific domain names.
- People often use voice while multitasking, so domains must be simple enough to grasp in these situations.
Optimizing for voice search isn’t a shortcut to better SEO, but it can provide a better overall user experience and help searchers find your brand when searching by voice.
How Voice Assistants Understand Domain Names
To choose a voice search-friendly domain name, it helps to understand how voice assistants interpret domain names when spoken aloud. Here are some key technical considerations:
- Removing punctuation and spaces. Voice assistants ignore punctuation like hyphens and underscore, as well as spaces.
- Interpreting homophones. Words that sound alike but are spelled differently may be misinterpreted. For example, “tutor” and “tudor”.
- Understanding homographs. Homographs are words spelled the same but with different meanings, like “reading” (present tense) versus “reading” (the city name). Context is required.
- Handling duplicate words. Repeated words next to each other may get filtered out, so “Bob’s Bob Shop” may become just “Bob Shop”.
- Expanding contractions and abbreviations. Shortened words get expanded, so “they’re” becomes “they are”.
- Using phonetic spelling. Software tries to interpret words based on phonetic sounds. This can produce errors.
- Identifying branding and trademarks. Brand names are processed based on phonetic components, not visual recognition of logos and stylization.
Understanding these voice assistant interpretations can help craft optimal domain names.
Characteristics of Voice Search-Friendly Domain Names
So what makes a domain name well suited for voice search? Here are the key characteristics to look for:
- Short and succinct. Voice searches are typically just a few words, so domain names should be as short as possible. 1-3 words is ideal.
- Easy to say and spell. Names with difficult pronunciation or confusing spellings don’t translate well to voice. Test your name aloud.
- Uses common words. Uncommon words or made-up words are hard for voice assistants to recognize and interpret.
- Avoids homophones and homographs. Words that sound the same or are spelled the same but have different meanings result in errors.
- Contains relevant keywords. Domains with keywords matching the brand name and industry perform better. But don’t over-optimize.
- Minimal punctuation. Periods, hyphens, and other punctuation just complicate a voice query. They get ignored by assistants.
- No spaces or camel case. Voice assistants strip out spaces and camel case gets misinterpreted as separate words.
- Unique but brandable. Don’t use domain names already in use, but make sure it fits your brand identity.
Following these best practices will give you the best chance at voice search success. But also be sure to test your top domain name ideas aloud before finalizing your decision.
Tips for Brainstorming Voice Search Domains
When brainstorming potential domain names optimized for voice search, keep these tips in mind:
- Start with your brand name or keywords. This provides relevancy while keeping it simple.
- Shorten phrases by removing articles and prepositions. For example, use “CarsSale” instead of “CarsForSale”.
- Avoid obscure pop culture references or puns. These often don’t translate without visual context.
- Use a consistent structure like [Brand][Product].com or [Location][Brand].com.
- Check that Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant understand the name. Test it out loud.
- Say domain options out loud and choose the easiest to articulate.
- Try inserting the name into conversational voice search queries to test natural language potential.
- Research to ensure your frontrunner names are actually available.
- Validate options using online naming tools like Domainr, LeanDomainSearch, and Domize to catch issues.
Putting some thought into how your domain name could perform with voice searches will pay dividends down the road as more and more search goes voice.
Ideal Domain Name Length
When it comes to optimizing domain names for voice search, shorter is generally better. The ideal length is usually between 1-3 words or 10-20 characters in total. This keeps it nice and brief for voice queries while still allowing you to insert a couple of highly relevant keywords.
Some guidelines on domain name length:
- 1 word domains are incredibly rare but extremely voice search friendly. If you can get one with your brand name, it’s ideal.
- 2 word domains strike a nice balance and allow a brand name plus descriptor like your product or location.
- 3 word domains start pushing the limits of voice friendliness but can include critical keywords.
- 4+ word domains typically contain unnecessary fluff or details. They are likely too long for seamless voice search usage.
Of course, domain name availability plays a factor as well. But in general, err on the shorter side when possible. If you need multiple words for branding reasons, consider removing articles, prepositions and pluralization to tighten it up. Just be sure to test any longer names thoroughly with voice assistants before purchase.
Avoiding Confusing Keywords
When adding keywords to your domain name, there are certain types of words and phrases you’ll want to use cautiously or avoid due to voice search interpretation issues. Be careful with:
- Homophones – Words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings. For example, “tale” and “tail”.
- Homographs – Words spelled the same but with different pronunciations and definitions. Like “bass” the fish and “bass” the low tone.
- Misinterpreted letters – Letters like V and F that can be misheard. Avoid starting words with these letters.
- Made-up words – Made up or invented words with unusual spellings and pronunciations.
- Abbreviations and initialisms – Shortened phrases like NASA and DIY that may get misheard.
- Alternative spellings – Unconventional spellings like “nite” instead of “night” that can cause errors.
- Apostrophes – Voice assistants ignore punctuation, so apostrophes just add complexity.
- Duplicated words – Repeated words next to each other get filtered as duplicates by voice tech.
By being careful about which keywords you include, you can avoid many interpretation problems. Do thorough testing of any questionable words.
Localization for Voice Search
For businesses operating in specific regions and cities, optimizing domain names for voice search may involve localization to include relevant location keywords. This helpsvoice searches pinpoint relevant local businesses.
Tips for localizing domain names:
- Use city name, state code or area as a separate domain (but only if relevant to full brand identity)
- Add location abbreviations to second half of name – [Brand]ATL.com
- Remove company type words and replace with location – ATLDentist.com
- But don’t over-optimize with unnecessary location keywords
- Be consistent – using location name in one part of domain but abbreviation in the other causes errors
- Avoid obscure neighborhood names – use broader city regions
- Ensure locations are interpreted correctly – Phoenix and Philadelphia sound alike
- Consider geo-domains like .nyc but know that come across as typing rather than voice search
With local search being common in voice, optimizing domain names accordingly can really help searchers find you more easily.
Tips for .COM Alternatives
Availability issues may force you to consider domain extensions beyond .com. There are pros and cons to alternatives:
- Can secure a shorter, cleaner name by using .io, .co etc
- Geo-domains like .nyc and .london convey location
- Some alternatives like .guide and .guru suggest niche authority
- Not as recognizable and trusted as .com
- Harder to remember and convey over voice
- Risk of confusion and misinterpretation
If using an alternative, keep these voice search tips in mind:
- Only use common extensions like .io, .co, .tech to avoid confusion
- Clearly state the extension in marketing to educate consumers
- Avoid obscure playful extensions like .ninja and .bike
- Never use more than one extension like .co.uk – causes errors
- Don’t use hyphens between words and extension
With user education, alternative domains can work, but .com remains ideal for voice search when possible.
Should You Buy Multiple Domains?
Should you buy multiple versions of your domain name to cover permutations and margins of error in voice search? It’s a approach with some benefits but also downsides to weigh:
- Controls domains that sound very similar to your brand name
- Prevents competitors from capitalizing on voice search errors
- Allows localization with regional domains
- Provides backup options if your main domain is unavailable
- Gives built-in redundancy if the domain is misinterpreted
- Adds significant cost to buy and renew multiple domains
- Splits brand identity and marketing continuity across domains
- Confuses search engines about which to index and rank
- Introduces technical challenges managing and directing multiple domains
- Doesn’t guarantee voice searchers will land on the right variation
- Establishes a poor user experience being redirected after an error
In most cases, investing in one strong domain optimized for voice is better than diluting efforts across multiple domains. But buying very close variations of your brand name for protection can make sense depending on your resources.
Voice Search-Friendly Domain Name Ideas
To spark ideas, here are examples of domain names that embody the characteristics of being voice search-friendly:
- PetSupply.com – Short, succinct, uses keywords
- SFJewelry.com – Clear location branding
- CookEZ.com – Straightforward made-up name, easy to say
- PoolCleaningServices.com – Long but uses natural language
-nexthopflights.io – Keywords with .io extension
- ezbookkeepr.co – Shortened unique made-up name
- lawclinic.biz – Simplicity over perfect .com match
- MyTravelPlannerATL.com – Localization and keywords
- searchexpertmarketing.com – No odd characters or punctuation
Look at competitors and industry leaders for more examples. The goal is be concise but relevant. Test out ideas by saying them aloud to evaluate voice search suitability.
Tools for Testing Voice Search Domain Names
Before registering any domain name, be sure to test how voice search engines handle it using these helpful tools:
- Domainr Pronounceability Score – Enter a domain to see how easy it is to pronounce based on dictionary words and syllables.
- Voice Search Test Tool – Tests how Microsoft Bing interprets your domain name when spoken aloud.
- Alexa Simulator – Allows you to speak domains aloud and see how Alexa interprets them.
- Google Assistant Simulator – Tests voice input using the Google Assistant algorithm.
- Trint Voice Check – Checks how speech recognition engines handle your phrases to catch errors.
- SpeakToIt Assistant – General voice search simulator to test pronunciation and recognition.
Testing domains with these tools allows you to identify any issues or errors before finalizing your registration. Minor tweaks may be needed to maximize voice search optimization.
Redirecting Voice Search Traffic
If you already have an established domain name not ideally suited for voice search, all is not lost. You have options to redirect voice searchers from other domains:
- Register similar domain names just to redirect traffic to your main website.
- Set up 301 redirects from your primary domain name variations.
- Use URL forwarding services to redirect domains.
- Provide voice assistant skills with proper invocation names.
- Create subdomains with alternate names just to catch voice search traffic.
- Use paid ad campaigns on voice search platforms to drive traffic directly.
- Optimize pages and content for conversational long-tail voice search queries.
While not ideal, these solutions allow you to work around an existing domain that may be prone to voice search errors. The goal is to funnel searchers to your main site smoothly.
Selecting a domain name suited for voice search is an important new factor in brand identity and online visibility. By following the guidance in this article, you can give your brand the best chance of being discovered and understood when people search by voice. The key is being brief, descriptive, and distinct. Test potential names thoroughly before making a decision. With voice search engagement only rising, brands need to be voice search-friendly now to stay competitive into the future.