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Nashville SEO - A Case Study in Choosing The Right Domain Name for Your Business

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Author: Matthew Freeman

Many factors go in to achieving high rankings on the major search engines—but any business that achieves high rankings know how valuable it can be to a business. One important factor is choosing the proper domain name. So this article documents the process of choosing a proper domain, for maximizing ranking potential.


The first step is to locate your audience. Specifically, looking for what phrases your potential customers or clients are typing in, when looking for the products and services your company offers.

In my case, I am a Nashville SEO. Since search engine optimization can be performed for clients in any city, I could consider going after a nationwide audience. But going so broad based in an area that is already saturated on the search engines wouldn't be a wise decision. I am also a Christian, so I could also look in to targeting potential Christian SEO clients.

So to find my audience and figure out what phrases they re using, I simply went to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and did a search for the most generic phrases I could think of—allowing the search to come up with synonyms of my searches. Remember, you may know the buzzwords for your industry, but most don't use them when looking for your company.

As it turned out, there weren't a lot of average monthly searches for a Search Engine Optimization Nashville expert, nor for a Christian SEO; but there were some, enough to start honing the choices.

So here are the raw numbers. On average, every thirty days, 1,600 people are going to Google and typing in the phrase "nashville seo" (without the quotes). Interestingly, none of them are typing in "nashville seo firm". Only 390 are searching for "christian seo" nationwide. Since I want to target local clients, I was glad to know there are a solid base of searches locally each month.

The only other phrases that returned results were "search engine optimization nashville" with 210 searches per month and "internet marketing nashville" with 170 searches. The phrases containing forms of Tennessee or TN, like "Nashville SEO Firm in Tennessee" returned zero results. So for me, the clear choice emerged. It isn't always wise to go completely generic for your domain name; but in an industry as competitive as mine, it made sense to do so.

II. Choosing the Domain Name

If possible, it is always best to get a domain name that mimics the keyphrase you are targeting. Having a dot com is the best bet; but in my case, it was already taken. So I was left with two choices: either go the hyphen route "Nashville-SEO" or go with the available domain name "" without the hyphen.

I have never been a fan of the hyphen. It is tacky and is often times used by websites that end up being somewhat spammy. I wanted quality. Plus, I was planning on using the site to offer helpful free advice. So was a perfect choice for me.

III. Climbing the Rankings

How to achieve high rankings is a topic for another...well, hundred or so articles. But I will give a key factor that is typically overlooked in these types of informational articles and is a common mistake made by amateur web developers, trying to raise their own sites in the rankings.

Be warned, I am about to drop some Ninja SEO on you that even Chuck Norris would be proud of: Decide your path and walk your path decisively.

That sounds vague enough to be deep or meaningless; but here is what I mean. A lot of people will create a website and find out that there are twenty different similar phrases that relate to their product. So they enter in all twenty phrases in their keywords and stuff their site with too many phrases. Can you say spammy?

In addition, they will create links with anchor text for a few phrases and when the search engines don't raise them to page one, they change their strategy and begin targeting other phrases. It takes months of dedicated focus to demonstrate your site to be relevant for its category and related phrases.

So a wise decision would be to choose two or three phrases and target them and only them. Do so for anywhere from three to nine months, depending upon the competition of whether it is a local phrase or national phrase. Then and only then should you reassess your direction. It takes months to raise up a new site in the SERPs. Why months? To raise up in the rankings takes establishing a reputation of quality and consistent in the eyes of the Google Algorithm. It is no different than the time it takes to gain respect from a colleague, a new friend, or someone you begin dating.

IV. NASHVILLE SEO - One Year Later

I decided to focus on three phrases and only three phrases. I went with Nashville SEO (since it is my domain name and has the highest searches), Christian SEO (to target at least one nationwide phrase—one that was also attainable within a year), and Nashville SEO Firm (since my goal was to drive business to my firm). I focused most on the two local phrases and am now ranked either at the top or in the top three results, at all times. I personally don't put much time in to my own site; I prefer to focus most of my time into raising up my client's sites in the rankings. Word of mouth is still my primary source of new clients—which tells me I'm doing something right.

About the author: Matthew Freeman is a Nashville SEO who serves clients in Tennessee and all across the US. He is also a Christian SEO who offers free and reduced rate services to non-profits, Christian ministries, missions, and other social outreach programs.

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