By Lori Sichtermann

Like choosing a name for a practice, the selection of the URL (domain name) for your website is incredibly important. A practice will most likely keep its URL throughout the life span of the office, so it’s critical to understand what’s in a name. The simple string of characters that make up a URL will be viewed thousands, if not millions, of times over the life of the practice. Orthodontics Products recently spoke with Alex Bagden, CEO of Rooster Grin, an online marketing firm for dental professionals, about the considerations to be made when selecting a URL and the impact this selection can have on a practice’s overall online presence.

Orthodontic Products: What’s at stake for a practice when selecting a URL for their practice(s)?

Alex Bagden: A website domain name can heavily influence search results on Google. Therefore, selecting a domain name that contains relevant search terms can dramatically increase the likelihood of the website appearing in searches for that term. If I build a practice in Gotham City, then I might purchase the URL In this case, my website would likely perform very well in all searches related to Gotham City and orthodontics because it contains elements of both keywords.

OP: What role does/should search engine optimization (SEO) play in the selection of a company URL?

Bagden: The selection of a URL presents a unique opportunity to greatly enhance the results generated on search engines (ie, Google) for specific keywords. In general, a URL containing a keyword will have a stronger presence on Google for searches containing those terms. For example, if my website URL was, then my website would have a higher likelihood of appearing in searches for “Gotham City and Orthodontics.” This is particularly true if the website is already optimized for search engines.

OP: What are some common mistakes practice owners make when establishing their business via a URL?

Bagden: All URLs should be easy to spell and easy to type so that potential patients can find them easily. If a doctor has a difficult-to-spell name (cannot be easily sounded out), they may consider not using it in the practice name or in the URL.

It is also a good idea to avoid using hyphens “-” in URLs, since these are difficult to type and difficult to include in a verbal description of the website URL. For example, if someone asks a doctor for their website and their URL is, the doctor must make specific mention of the hyphen or the visitor may end up at, which could be a different site altogether.

OP: Should a practice change its URL to help improve SEO?

Bagden: It is rarely a good idea to change your URL to help improve your SEO. Search engines like Google base their search rankings on the quantity and quality of links that point back to a website. If a doctor changes the URL, all of these links will point to the old location and the doctor would have to reinvest in building links to the new site for their search engine optimization.

Also, a little-known factor for SEO is that the longer a website has existed, the better it performs in search rankings. Google tends to favor sites that have been around longer and are well maintained compared to new ones that just entered a market. If a doctor changes his URL, then Google will consider this a new website and the search rankings will most likely decrease.

OP: Should a practice purchase additional URLs to align with its geographic city?

Bagden: This is a common question among orthodontists. Many orthodontists have purchased several URLs that contain key search terms for their location and hold these domain names for years. The doctors then implement redirects so that all visitors to these domains are directed to their current website. Unfortunately, these redirects do virtually nothing for a website’s search engine rankings and generate no traffic. The only use is to presumably keep their competitors from having the domain names, but I would argue that a motivated competitor would still enter a market no matter what URLs are available.

On the other hand, if these domains are put to good use, then they can be very powerful and generate significant web traffic for a doctor. I suggest building a small, 3- to 5-page website on some of the better URLs and then perform SEO on these smaller sites. The result will be that the new, smaller site will move up in the search rankings and have an advantage over some other sites because the site contains keywords in the domain name. OP