Domain Names and Keywords

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When you bought your first domain name, you probably had no idea that the inclusion or exclusion of keywords would be such a matter of hot debate, did you? There are two schools of thought when it comes to whether to include descriptive keywords (or phrases) within your domain names. Which one are you? Read below and share your thoughts with other Website Magazine readers because we really want to know!

The Keyword IN the Domain Name:
SEO's go back and forth about whether having a keyword in the domain name plays a part (even a small part) in how you rank. Over time, the rules have  changed a bit - from carrying great importance years ago to carrying (arguably) little influence today. As you can imagine, if keywords in the domain name were the end all and be all of how to rank well on search result pages the cost of premium domain names would be thousands of times more expensive than they already are and the rest of the SEO community would routinely use every bit of the sixty three allowable characters in other domains. It's hard to argue that keywords in domains don't carry some weight, but not in the way that you may think. When users come across a domain name that includes keywords, I believe it's safe to assume that the website with a keyword (or two) in a domain name would perform equally on the search result pages (if not greater) than a domain name without a keyword included. There are too many factors included in ranking algorithms to insist that keywords in a domain name carry a great weight in influencing position. What may influence position however (thanks to greater personalization efforts by search engines) is how often items are clicked. If keywords in domain names do influence clicks, then that is a good reason to include it in you domain name.

The Keyword NOT IN the Domain Name:
While I was always taught to name things (domains included) exactly what they are, proponents of not including keywords in domain names reguarly cite popular services as proof that it's not neccessary to include keywords. Popular real estate site Trulia does not have keywords in its domain name and they still rank well - so you might too (see example below). But search for Chicago Real Estate as I did and you'll notice something interesting - a domain name with the exact keyword that i used to search. Conincidence? I think not. While the inclusion of search terms on your website (through titles and descriptions) that consumers use play an arguably much greater part than in the domain name itself, the proof might just be in the SERPs.


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DougR 09-19-2008 2:42 PM

As an adult website we are even more perplexed about key words in domain names and ranking. Our domain name is our company name. RAD Video, But rad and video are not adult specific words. So, as an adult site, we can't even purchase these key words on Yahoo!

MarlonP 09-20-2008 8:10 AM

I have seen more than just a few domains that rank well with keywords as the entire domains.  It took me almost a year to rank for the popular serach term "hoodia". (Notice does not have "hoodia" in the domain name.

On the other hand, it only took me a few weeks to rank for the serach term "Xbox Cheat Codes"

My opinion as a domainer and internet marketer, is that you should at LEAST create mini sites with as many keyword domains as you can buy in your niche to support your main site.

Kelley Mitchell 09-20-2008 1:04 PM

I agree with MarlonP on creating mini sites with keywords as domains to support your main site.   Your main domain should be your unique brand name.

The blog Dosh Dosh has a really good post on creating mini funnel websites.

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