We Rock Your Web in the Press!
Home > Tech > SEO > Should You Have Keywords in Your Domain Name?

Should You Have Keywords in Your Domain Name?

wwwThis is a long disputed question in the search marketing community, the answer of which depends not only on how different search engines treat keywords in your domain name, or URL, but also the size of your advertising budget, and other factors. The term keyword stuffing, referring to pages that are artificially inflated with keywords, applies also to domains that are stuffed with keywords, in the fashion keyword1keyword2keyword3.com. Instead of going into a lengthy analysis of keywords in the domain name, however, we’ll point out two approaches to identifying your target audience that should help you decide how to shape your domain name. In the end you will see that the consideration of whether or not to include keywords in your domain name is not the most important one.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Who will be visiting your website? And how will you attract visitors? Large corporations that have giant branding budgets can afford to successfully market and brand made-up names such as Amazon, Google, Target, Sears, etc. These names are short, simple, and easy to remember, and supported by their large advertising budgets companies are able to spread their names in front of millions of people, and rerun advertising that burns (brands) the names into people’s minds.

How Large is Your Advertising Budget?

But what about hobbyists and smaller businesses that do not have large advertising budgets? Their advertising campaign may be largely run online, where customers are attracted through newsletters or blog postings, for example. In these instances the customer’s contact with your brand will depend largely on the effectiveness of your content (the amount of visitors you can draw in through the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)), in addition to traditional marketing methods. Since users will be clicking through to your website, the nature of your domain name may not play as big a role as you think. However, the keywords in your URL still help influence and shape your corporate identity. Branding budgets aside then, let’s see how we can successfully brand a low-budget domain name.

Selecting a Successful Domain Name

Selecting a domain name is an important and fairly permanent move (although with the advent of Google’s Webmaster Tools it has gotten easier to move and re-index your site should your domain name change). Your link popularity and branding will be based on the domain name you have chosen, so it’s important to choose right the first time and avoid having to change (and lose branding and linking popularity) once your name is firmly established in the marketplace.

How Search Engines Treat Domain Name Keywords

While it may be true that search engines take into account keywords in your domain name, it’s important to consider how much traffic that will really get you in the long run. At the time of this writing, domain names have become quite sparse, and the odds of registering a domain name that also has high search volume for its keywords is slim. Google owns the majority of the search engine market, with Bing and Yahoo trailing far behind. From our in-depth research of the effect of domain-name keywords on search engine rankings, we’ve learned that in general, search engines do credit you for the keywords in your domain name, but that’s primarily so your customers can find you (ie. by the name of your business).

However, more important is the competitiveness of those keywords. A very generic, competitive keyword domain name, such as chocolate.com, will still be very difficult to rank for. In other words, not everyone searching for “chocolate” will see your website as the #1 result. It takes lots of work to get any website, regardless of keywords, to the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for competitive, highly searched for keyword phrases.

Google’s Search Engine Updates

2013 - Google’s Keyword Tool is officially gone. Keyword Planner has replaced the Keyword Tool’s place. Keyword Planner has many of the functions that the Keyword Tool had along with many other new features. Keyword Planner can be used to find new keyword and ad group ideas, get performance estimates, and add them to your campaigns. This being said, one of Google’s oldest tools for webmaster has officially been removed.

Google page rank toolbar hasn’t been updated since February 2013. Usually this gets updated every three months. Some believe that this could be an end to the toolbar. When asked about this, Google responds with “no comment”.

Some algorithms are being updated daily instead of having one big change on a certain day. This makes it easier for people to see the small changes and gradually adapt instead of going through one large change. However, the Penguin and Panda algorithms continue to have big update releases.

Quality Content is the Bottom Line

In the end, the sites with quality content, organized in quality fashion, with quality branding, gain the highest rankings because they are quality sites. You can spend your time trying to keep up with search engine technicalities, or you can focus on your content, web design, and advertising to promote a quality brand that, because of its high quality, people and search engines alike will want to discover.

3 Keys to Choosing Your Domain Name

Our analysis of the various rumors that abound has taught us three general principles in selecting a quality domain name:

  • Easy to Remember – your domain name should be catchy, simple, and easy to remember. Remember that people will need to type in your domain name. You should therefore take into account potential misspellings and keep it short to avoid typos.
  • Makes Sense – you want your domain name to make sense, to reflect what it is you do. Since you haven’t had the money or time to make people understand what yabaloo.com means – you will need to create a name that makes sense right off the bat without having spent money on branding. An example would be bluewidgets.com – your customer automatically expects to find blue widgets.
  • .COM - ideally (unless you live outside the United States), you’ll want to register a .com (dot com) domain name, because that’s what people default to when typing in a domain name. Additionally, it helps to avoid hyphens if possible.

For more tips on finding the optimal domain name for your website, see our article on choosing a domain name.


About Alex Schenker

Alex bring a series of in-depth articles on search marketing and content management systems as well as troubleshooting tips to We Rock Your Web's collection. He is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs, Bella and Lily.
  • Larry

    I think that short-term, it makes sense to include the keyword you are targeting in the domain name you choose. This means however (especially since the EMD update) that you should limit the amount of on-page SEO that you are doing to keep from triggering an over-optimization penalty.

    The other side of this is of course, you are looking to build a brand, at which point having the keyword in your URL doesn’t make as much sense (unless of course it is part of your brand name). It’s really a matter of your business model: Are you more concerned with ranking quickly on Google for your keywords or are you more focused on building a brand around your business?

    - Larry

  • Anil Valvi

    I have to read it carefully once again to implement it. Wonderful post.

  • My Experience

    Hello guys, I’ve read all the comments and I don’t agree that Google doesn’t like domains that reach same destination. Over the past 5 years I have made 50+ domains with the same destination and mostly ranked very well on competitors keywords.

    Thanks, just my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    Imagine if your business (or website) is called “Acme“, but somebody else holds that domain name. Instead, you have some obscure domain name called, say, “mybusiness.com“. What happens when your customers, recalling that Acme has a product they want, type “acme.com“? They’ll end up at your competitor’s website. One lost sale.

  • Jeff K

    Hi, After reading your blog article on whether or not to include keywords in a domain name I wondered how something like my name (as the brand) followed by what I do, for example jondoeengineering.com or jondoe-chef.com [ed: names changed to protect confidentiality] would be considered as keyword stuffing and whether the hyphen makes the situation worse? I would appreciate your thoughts.

    • We Rock Your Web

      Hi Jeff,

      Great question. I wouldn’t worry too much about the search engines in your case. Unless you’re really “stuffing” a domain name full of keywords, you probably won’t have an issue with the examples below. Instead, I would focus on your user. A hyphen is more difficult not only to pass along on the phone, but for people to remember to type in. So we always prefer un-hyphenated (and .com extension) if possible. Bottom line, ask some friends/ coworkers and see what they think. The name should be easy for everyone to remember. Based on your specific examples, I would opt for JonDoeEngineering.com. Check out our article on choosing a domain name for more.

      Good luck, let us know what you decide on!

      • JeffK

        Thanks, really appreciate your feedback.

        Jeff

  • http://shalusharma.com Shalu Sharma

    Interesting article. But I feel that domain names are not important, what is important is the quality of content and the frequency of updates. The era of keyword stuffed domains are now gone.

  • JohnS

    I have a question which is a variation on this theme. We own a perfect keyword domain name for a popular product we sell but it is different from our company website domain name. This alternate domain name is highly searched and is the singular version of a competitor’s plural company name. At one point the competitor actually offered to buy it from us. We have created a site with the singular keyword domain name we own that is linked to our regular company website. We clearly state on the homepage for this alternate domain name who we are and show our products.

    Is this acceptable?

    • We Rock Your Web

      Great question. The first thing I’d check is to see if the competitor has any kind of trademark right on the keywords. This could be a registered trademark, or a right based on history of use.

      If not, the keywords alone will not get you a lot of traffic. Especially after Google’s recent EMD (Exact Match Domain) update which reduced the power of keywords in the domain name. Depending on how competitive the keywords are, you would need to do quite a bit content creation and marketing to rank for those keywords. The other thing to consider, is whether users type the singular or plural version more. If you’re not careful, you may end up sending traffic to your competitor.

      Finally, if you’re making the switch purely for the keywords, it’s probably not a great idea. If your customers associate your existing company name with your brand, moving content to a separate domain could just create confusion.

      I hope that helps, please let us know what you decide to do!

  • Doma Ining

    Excellent tips. I’m just starting with domains. I’ll definitely employ some of the methods to get me started.

  • Anonymous

    The first point made is that having keywords in the domain name not only depends on how search engines treat the keywords in the domain name, but on ‘a company’s advertising budget and other factors’. What sort of advice is this? If having keyword-stuffed domain name is low-budget, why would anyone do it? In this instance, ‘low-budget’ seems to equal ‘cheap’. And people can always tell when something is done the ‘cheap’ way. Plus, you have to wonder whether an advertising budget really makes a difference, since surely there are businesses or brands out there with large budgets that might still benefit from having domain name keywords, or those with small budgets that want to do things a better way. Or am I just confused at this point? The shaky beginning immediately puts me in a distrustful mode as far as reliability of the author goes. Perhaps whoever is conveying the information in this article is well-versed in search engine optimization (SEO), yet not so much for marketing or advertising.

    Not only that, but the article contradicts itself several paragraphs later, when it states that Google, which owns the majority of the search engine market share, does not give any more preference to keywords listed within the domain name. Therefore, low-budget or not, stuffing your domain name with keywords is spending extra money for no reason, right? There should definitely be an allusion to the keywords letting people know what the business is about in this section. Later, when the big reveal tells you this, the article should still have advised to not completely jam with keywords but maybe just have a few and a clever business name instead.

    I guess I just felt that there was not a hard enough line being drawn in answering the question about keywords in the domain name. The article might have done better in conveying the message to me if the authors had chosen a position on whether keyword stuffing was the best method and then drawn a hard line on that position. Certainly being able to defend a position, even if stating an opposing viewpoint and the merits of it, would have given the author additional credibility. The author seems to present you now with a resounding answer of, ‘Maybe’.

    The rest of the paragraph makes it seem like keyword stuffing is a bad idea, too. Yahoo filters out keyword-stuffed domain names because it sees them as ‘spam sites’ or sites with low-quality content, although apparently MSN allows these. Therefore it would seem obvious why MSN is not the most reliable search engine on the market, and furthermore that putting a bunch of keywords into your domain name makes your site seem low-quality. I think the article could have conveyed the message about understanding what a product is via the domain name in a simpler way. Perhaps some editing for content and readability, as well as diction choices would have been a good way to improve the article and make it seem more reliable.

  • Anonymous

    I was really intrigued and encouraged about the fact that Google continuously re-formulates their algorithm for web search functionality. As a marketing professional and a child of the information aged, I am fully aware of how endless a frontier the web still is for marketers to communicate with their targeted audiences. The internet has been a revenue pumping pipeline for well over two decades now and when it finally became mainstream all those years ago, it completely changed the game of advertising and commerce. The essential rules have remained, and will always be the same; offer a good product or service, treat your customers well, offer value in your marketing message, and then just hit as many people as you can over the head with your message again and again and again.

    What the internet changed was it basically broke down all barriers to marketing and reduced the limitations of advertising by way of making the audience less anonymous than ever and using that mined data to more systematically advertise and convert target markets directly into market share. Reducing limitations realistically meant anyone could reach vastly more people with far less investment and because so much of advertising is formulaic anyway and the internet is one big mathematic equation of sorts, if you can figure out the right mix of factors, a marketing campaign can become explosively effective.

    This is where Google comes in to play. Everyone knows they are the biggest kid on the block in terms of web search market share and economics, and if you own a business or an online storefront, you know the best real estate in the world you can own is at the top of the Google search page with the results of what your customers are looking for. You can of course pay Google to be there, in the form of pay per click or pay per view advertisements, but they do not look the same and people are apprehensive about sponsored links. The far more desirable location is to come up organically in the search results and be ahead of everyone else. Therefore, understanding how Google determines who does show up and when becomes very valuable information to have indeed.

    Over time, people have invariably cracked the code and devised methods to “cheat” the algorithm and climbed the ranks of Google searched websites even though their popularity or relevance may not necessarily have earned them that honor. I think in the name of fair competition and business ethics, it is impressive that Google continues to spend money and resources protecting the integrity of their algorithm and their service.

    The question needs be asked, what if they did not? Then the internet as we know it would be even more difficult to navigate, and the only messages we would see would be backed by even more money than they already are.

  • Anonymous

    When I heard this question posed, I had to laugh a little bit in retrospect. I have worked in marketing for over a decade and it is funny how synonymous naming a business and naming a website domain name have become. The challenges are essentially the same. You want a name that will not only readily reflect what it is that you do (See: Tires Plus, Petsmart, etc.) but also be memorable enough to make you stand out and stay on top of the customers’ minds.

    The latter part of this equation is obviously trickier than the former part and I am relieved to hear that having keywords simply plunked right in the middle of a domain name does not have more effect than it does in common web search engines. Taking that approach of cramming words in to the domain just seems like such a ham-handed approach to getting your business found and recognized via search results. I think that it insults the real talent and inspiration it takes to create an entire business concept that can truly be special in service and in brand.

    The real inspired names for businesses and web site domain names should be either directly related to the name of the store or business itself or it should be a brand-able word or phrase that can come to mean what it is you are selling. It should also be easily communicated from one person to another by the means which are most prevalent today. Nothing can be more frustrating or challenging than trying to remember an extraordinarily long and complicated domain name or email address. A single word or several word phrase should be as long as they get in either case, otherwise you run the risk of losing potential visitors because they cannot remember your address. Lastly, the name of your business or domain name should make an impression. If you have a fun and energetic corporate culture and atmosphere to your business, that should be reflected in the titling of everything you do including the name of your company. Be careful with getting too creative though, best to always speak to as large an audience as possible and some do not get as clever as others.

    So as I said before, I am glad undue weight is generally not given to keywords crammed into the domain name of its respective business. It can be annoying enough when they are shoehorned into the content of a website as it is; we definitely do not to be force fed it any more than necessary. Google seems like they are especially cognizant of this and seeing as they are basically the kings of web search right now, I’m sure others will continue to follow suit to a degree.

    I love the internet and e-commerce, it has changed the world we work and live in. But it has not changed some of the more basic tenets of business, and a good name cannot be faked.

  • Anonymous

    The key is to choose a domain name that reflects your mission statement and not just the surface products you are offering. In this case, “coolstyles.com” or “blackdesigns.com” may be more suitable; because you are really selling fashion, and though your products change you will always be selling fashion. So core competencies should always directly influence a domain name. Think about your business in two, five, and ten years. Imagine the different ways you may evolve or move to a different track entirely. Then sit down and start coming up with some domain names that tell consumers what you are really about. I suspect this also makes it a lot easier to come up with brief, effective names that aren’t a chore to type in or read in one long line of text.

    The second part of the formula is connotation, and I would say that this is far trickier to master (and so is one reason marketing consultants get paid the big bucks for doing that priceless activity, thinking). You don’t only want your domain name to reflect your true core competencies; you also want it to feel right to consumers and viewers. And as nebulous as this “feeling” is, it is also one of the most important parts of your domain name. It is one reason that Google and Amazon have such successful, memorable names. Twitter didn’t start as Twitter – it was, originally, more like twtr or something else that looked too strange to pronounce. Likewise, Google stuck because it leant a personable, slightly humorous tone to a variety of online service, while bringing to mind boggle, giggle, goggle, oodle, and similar positive words.

    When all else fails, I would say go for simplicity. Aim for a few syllables, max, and try to make it something that easily relates to your business vision. The more successful you become, the more you can make a flexible name your own, creating a brand from the bottom up. The more you try to include keywords, the less flexible the name will be, and that can be dangerous. Better to choose one universal keyword than try to cram too many irrelevant words in one name.

    Overall, the article did contain helpful gems of information about domain names, such as what Google algorithms look for and the algorithm update processes, as well as regulations regarding domain names in Yahoo!, and so forth. The fact that MSN, rather than Bing, was listed sort of dates the article, as well as the fact that the newest Google update discussed was from 2003. There also could be more substance in the article, as I felt some of the things talked about were not followed up on satisfactorily. The main points of the article were presented in the last paragraph when they would have been better-received if they were listed first and then expanded upon. This is the sort of article organization that is standard for essays. If you need advice about naming your domain, however, this article is a good place to start.

  • Anonymous

    I believe that a truly good domain name will also have a good connotation, no matter what it is. It is here that my opinion differs slightly from that of the article. I think you can have a nonsensical name for your domain, AS LONG as that name makes connotative sense. If your unique business name can bring to mind powerful, personable, or effective real words, I’d say you are free to make something up. In this case, the connotation will do a lot of your branding for your business, saving you that marketing overhead needed otherwise.

    Of course, making up a name like this is going off the deep end in many ways. It has to resonate with people, be memorable enough to stick in the mind, and hopefully not mean anything embarrassing if people read it with the wrong syllables accented. “Blooles” may combine cool, black, and clothes, but you should still not consider calling your website “blooles.com,” unless Blooles is your last name and you desperately want to make that into a fashion brand – which has worked successfully for quite a few people throughout the business world.

    Unfortunately, small business owners who don’t have enough money to brand their own names probably don’t have enough money for a marketing consultation either, which is too bad, since a good consultant can help you come up with some amazing potential domain names. In this case, the best idea may be to call a team meeting and do some old-fashioned brainstorming. If the choice is yours, you don’t need to feel pressured by what anyone else says, but some advice can come in handy. Other people can look at potential domain names with honest eyes and tell you if it’s a pain to type, or if it means something disgusting in Swedish, or if it needs to be a third shorter. Sometimes you can think so hard about one aspect of the name that other aspects fly out the window and need to be recovered by helpful peers.

  • Eurydice

    I think it is important that your domain name reflects the heart of your business, no matter what option you end of choosing. Of course, in a perfect world you could create the most pithy domain name and purchase it for only a few cents without worrying about anyone else having already grabbed it. Because this is not a perfect world, the best options for a domain name are often not available. This leads to an interesting question: What to do about competition?

    If you have a website called “coolblackclothes.com,” what are you going to do about competitors who have websites called “sweetblackclothes.com” or “coolblackshirts.com”? Will consumers be able to tell the difference? Will they even remember your domain name apart from these others? This may be a good reason to choose a different domain name, even if your top choice is still open and affordable.

    However, beyond the competitor question, I think you should try to choose a brand name that shows all potential consumers exactly who you are. I guess you could divide this idea into two different parts: core competency and connotation. Out of the two, core competency is much more simple. Your domain name should simply sum up the value you offer consumers no matter what it is. The catch is that this value is not necessarily tied to your products or services. What if you choose the domain name coolblackclothes.com but then in three years find you have moved to selling bracelets and thumb rings because they have far better profit margins? Your domain name is now misleading, but switching it has been rendered nearly impossible because of all the customers that are now accustomed to shopping for their thumb rings at coolblackclothes.com. You are, in fact, stuck in a perfect Catch-22.

  • Gerry

    Hi, Master. Now I am building a website, my product is swimsuits, and now I have prepared 2 domain names, one is the girlsswimwearsale.com, which has a traffic volume of 1000/month I checked the Google key words, and the other is swimsuitspace.com that I came up with by myself. Now, the first domain is a little longer, and the second one seems not so popular, I do not know which is better. Appreciate if you can give some suggestion.

    Thanks for your assisting. Regards, Gerry

    • Kimberly

      Hi Gerry, great question. In your situation I would opt for the second option, SwimsuitSpace.com. The meaning is a lot more clear, it’s shorter and easier to understand, and you will have an easier time branding this name with your customer base. Typically keyword-based domain names are only worthwhile if they also follow the guidelines I just mentioned and if the keyword count is significantly high (5,000 or more exact searches per month). GirlsSwimwearSale.com is not only a mouthful but the grammar is a bit confusing as well, and the length may make it more subject to typos.

      -Kimberly

  • Anonymous

    I have a site that has two keywords in the domain name. There is decent search traffic but the competition is low. I started coming up in the SERPS for this keyword phrase even when it was parked earlier this year. I also have a review site tailored to various markets with no keywords in the domain and my main pages are up against really high competition. I have had to spend quite a bit more to rank (this could be because of the domain name and competition).

    I see other websites hitting the first page much easier on some of the top industry search terms in these markets even though the competition is extreme. Google said earlier this year they will adjust their algorithm to put less emphasis on keyword domains. This tells you that they do put emphasis on it and will still put emphasis on it in the future. Just not as much as presently.

    • We Rock Your Web

      This is great insight into how domain keywords are treated and how such domains are affected by Google’s ever-changing algorithms. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with us!

  • Kroberts

    I hope you don’t edit out this comment because people need to know that YOU ARE WRONG. Keyword rich domains ALWAYS have had the advantage in ALL search engines. It would be extremely difficult not to do so. While I am sure it can be done, the SE’s are no hurry to do it. I assure you. What ever gave you this idea anyway? Obviously your new to SEO or you would never have made such an ignorant statement.

    If you would like to know more about how the SE’s work, feel free to contact me. I won’t point my finger if you ask. But if you offer your expertise in such a public manner, make sure you know what your talking about, because I will point out when your wrong. I will also point out how being THAT WRONG is a sure sign of your lack of experience and knowledge.

    Keyword Rich Domains & Supporting Optimization
    The #1 most important factor in ranking a website in the search engines is the domain name of the website. If the domain name is keyword rich (has the exact keyword your shooting for as the domain name) that’s half the battle.

    Example: OrlandoSeoConsultant.net is #1 for the key-phrase ‘Orlando SEO Consultant’. There are many other factors but this is half the battle.

    We identify and procure the best keyword rich domains for your business. We build them with your brand and use them to saturate the search engine results. This is a solid and accepted white hat technique.

    Regards,

    K. Roberts – OrlandoSeoConsultant.net

    Orlando, FL

    • Used Cars Dalton Georgia

      Exact keyword phrase as domain seemed to have worked. Its ranking can move downward but some days #1 on Google.

    • We Rock Your Web

      K. Roberts: I’m not even sure how to reply to this. If you had made this comment back in 2002, it might have made some sense. However, search algorithms have come a far way since then. To insist that domain name keywords are “half the battle” as far as SEO is concerned is an ignorant statement. If that was the case, our life would be pretty simple.

      And then there’s the fact that you are cluttering our page with a blatant advertisement for your services, instead of providing useful content for our readers.

      In the SEO world, the only way to backup the talk, is to walk it. Let me provide an example. Alexa.com is the authority on public website traffic statistics. The higher your ranking on their site, the higher your website traffic. At the time of this writing, Facebook is #1, Google #2, and Youtube #3.

      What we urge our readers to do when selecting an SEO provider is to first check their traffic ranking. After all, if they’re so good at telling others how to get traffic to their sites, they should be able to “work the magic” on their own site as well, right?

      Let’s take a look at where you rank compared to us (rankings taken at the time of this posting):

      *
      WeRockYourWeb.com (us) ranks #49,524 in the world, and #32,058 in the United States.
      *
      OrlandoSEOConsultant.net (you) ranks #4,883,503 in the world, with a ranking so low in the U.S. that it’s not being registered.

      Unless you can provide constructive/ useful feedback that adds to the conversation, please don’t waste our time posting further on our website/ spamming our readers.

  • Anonymous

    Nicely said. I would like to have your opinion about a domain name. I am trying to open an online bookstore, and, for the sake of example, let’s call my publishing company “Ocean Life”. Oceanlife.com is taken, so I would go with ocean-life.com. Should I go with E-OceanLife.com, or OceanLifeBookstore.com, or even Ocean-Life-Bookstore.com instead? I’ve read here that more than two or three hyphens are not good.

    • We Rock Your Web

      Since you are a publishing company, if you can get OceanLifeBooks.com, that would be our preferred option. If that’s not available, our next preference depends on your marketing methods. If you plan on having lots of content on your website and attracting visitors via organic search (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) and social media networks, we would probably go with Ocean-Life.com, since people clicking on links won’t need to enter the hyphen.

      This is the shortest and easiest to remember name. If you plan to do a good amount of word of mouth (hyphens are not ideal for word of mouth or traditional marketing) and traditional marketing on printed material, television or print ads, etc., then we would ditch the hyphen and go with something like OceanLifeBookstore.com.

      I hope that helps! Let us know what you decide.

  • Anonymous

    Guru,

    I have a business selling English food (ukgoods.com) in the US. Someone is trying to sell me english-food.net for a reasonable price. Do you think it is worth it? There are 90,000+ global searches for the keyword “english food”.

    Thanks!

    • We Rock Your Web

      Despite the good keywords, having both a hyphen and lacking the “.com” in english-food.net significantly devalues it. I wouldn’t pay more than $100 USD for it. You also need to take into account that keywords in the domain name alone will not get you to the top.

      The keyword phrase “English food” currently has a whopping 115,000,000 competing pages, with 1,800,000 that specifically (search with quotes) mention this phrase. That’s steep competition.

      In our opinion, don’t go buying a domain name merely for the keywords, unless of course you can get what’s called type-in traffic (users type EnglishFood.com directly into their browser’s address bar, for example). EnglishFood.com is very valuable for this reason. Typically domains with hyphens and endings besides .com are not valuable for type-in traffic.

  • Anonymous

    Hi,

    I have a question about a domain name for a business. The business is called Jane Harris Hypnotherapy and will be exclusively working in a city called Nottingham. For SEO purposes (for search terms – “nottingham hypnotherapy”) would it better for the domain name to be:

    * janeharrishypnotherapy.com OR
    * janeharrisnottinghamhypnotherapy.com OR (as that domain is getting too long)
    * jpnottinghamhypnotherapy.com

    All domains like nottinghamhypnotherapy.com and variations have been taken. It would be good to get your SEO viewpoints! I know how to setup a website with title tags/keywords/content etc., it’s just the domain I need advice on as I want to know if this would provide an advantage or not.

    Thanks,

    Christopher

    • We Rock Your Web

      Hi Christopher,

      Excellent question, sorry we didn’t get to it sooner. To answer your question, I would like to start out by saying that it’s best if you focus on your user, not the search engines. In the long run, you want to have a short, easy to remember, catchy domain name that reflects your business and is memorable and brandable.

      Don’t create the name for the search engines, as their algorithms are changing all the time. That, and search engines are also catering to the user. Trust me, if you make your users happy, the search engines will notice. The search engines are smart enough to figure this out. Always focus on your users first. As far as your specific domain suggestion, I would go with JaneHarrisHypnotherapy.com.

      Hope that helps!

  • Anonymous

    Keywords in your domain name ARE important. Why? Because Google wants small businesses to be able to locate themselves by name in the SERPs. You’ll notice that regardless of how competitive a keyword phrase is – if it’s specific, usually the domain name reflecting that keyword phrase ends up somewhere near, if not at, the top of the SERPs.

  • Anonymous

    Good article but I have to disagree that Google does not take very much interest in the domain name. In building 25 niche websites over the last couple of years, I have had several different occasions when a brand new site without content (only the WordPress start page) was ranked on the first page of Google for the long tail keywords in the domain name.

    These sites would sometimes outrank posts on other sites that had the exact same keywords in the title of an aged post! Just my personal experience.

    Cheers!

    • We Rock Your Web

      Hi there,

      You’re right. Since writing this article we’ve encountered several occasions where keywords in the domain name appear to play a more significant role. Since Google is constantly changing their search algorithms it’s difficult to tell if this was always the case, or if they’ve started weighing domain keywords more heavily.

      Another advantage to domain keywords, and this may be part of the reason for an increase in rankings, although not necessarily with a brand new page – is the fact that any links back to your site will have link text that by default, contains the keywords of your website (since they are contained in the domain name itself).

      That being said, it’s probably only worthwhile choosing a domain name for the keywords if there is a significant search volume for those keywords and their sub-phrases. You want to think long term. There’s no point sacrificing a catchy, easy to remember domain name for a keyword stuffed one if your traffic is going to max out.

      2011 update: Google ranking algorithms are being adjusted to give less weight to keywords in domain names.

  • Anonymous

    I have a great series of keywords in my domain name, but the only available variant is one that is jam-packed with hyphens. What’s your call guru? Should I dump the keywords and start over with a shorter, easier to remember name, or should I go with the keywords and the hyphens?

    • We Rock Your Web

      Good question. We tend to discourage domain names that contain more than one hyphen, and prefer domain names without hyphens (as long as the series of keywords makes sense – ie. doesn’t need a hyphen to prevent misinterpretation).

      In your case I would lean towards a domain name that is easy to remember and easy to spell, and preferably, short. If it’s a long name, you can always create an alias for people to bookmark and use so they can access the site more quickly. For example, ThisIsAVeryLongDomainName.com could have an alias LongDomain.com.

      In the search engine index, your site will get the added benefit of keywords in your domain name ([ed 2011: albeit less now that Google is granting less credit for keyword relevance in domain names]).

      I hope that helps!

  • goccine

    Great article!

    I feel like I understand the information in this article, yet I’m still confused with a few things.

    Just so we are on the same page, my initial plan is to use content and social media to drive visitors/traffic to my page. I am in the network marketing/home-based business niche. The whole idea behind what I’m doing is, educating individuals in network marketing/home-based businesses on learning the secrets for how to attract and retain their clients.

    The issue I’m coming across is – the domain names I’m trying to get for my website are definitely related, but aren’t specifically targeted to people in network marketing/home-based businesses. I feel like they are too broad. For example :

    *
    hungryprospects.com
    *
    findhungryprospects.com
    *
    gethungryprospects.com
    *
    warmmarketmagnet.com (this one was my first option, but the keyword search was low and I couldn’t find a lot of high-ranked keywords to use for “warm market” for my content.)

    Which would you recommend?

    And let’s say I figure out a domain name. Would it be ideal to focus on creating content for 1 keyword at a time. For example, I pick a highly searched, low competition word that’s relevant to what I do — “mlm”— and just create content for that word, and from there, continue on to the next word and do the same thing?

    Maybe I’m missing the big picture, which is why I would like to get some feedback from you.

    If you could please offer me some insight on how you feel about my thought process, that would be fantastic.

    Thanks a bunch.

    • We Rock Your Web

      Hi Goccine,

      All excellent questions. First off, congrats on starting your marketing business, we wish you much success.

      From your domain name list, I definitely prefer HungryProspects.com. It is the shortest, and in my opinion the easiest to remember and most brandable.

      As for your content, don’t think or worry too much about writing based on keywords. At the end of the day, if you write good content for your users, they’ll keep coming back. It’s not a bad idea to use the keyword tool for general guidance on topics people are searching for, but don’t let it box you in. Think about what you want to talk about and share with your readers. A good place to start is anything that got you interested in your niche to begin with, because you’ll have a firm grasp on that content. If you found it fascinating, I’m sure some of your readers will too.

      I hope this helps! Please let us know what you decide and if you don’t mind, give us a follow up after you’ve been running for a while.

  • Get on the First Page of Google

    you can always create an alias for people to bookmark and use so they can access the site more quickly.

  • http://1medsalud.blogspot.com Contreras

    What domain name extension is preferred: .ws or .me? wich one is the easiest to remember. ex. Medico.ws or Medico.me? (.coms and .nets are already registered)

    • We Rock Your Web

      Hi Contreras,

      That depends on what you’re using your domain name for, and really, how it sounds to you. You could also do a survey of your family, friends, and if possible, target audience, and find out what they think.

      Some background on the these domain extensions that may help:

      *
      The .WS extension is a country-code top level domain (ccTLD) extension (ie. Germany has .DE, Great Britain has .CO.UK, the United States has .US, etc.) for Western Samoa.
      *
      .WS has been marketed in MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) fashion based on its potential acronym for WebSite. Most of the registrants of .WS extensions don’t use them for their intended purpose and are not from Western Samoa.
      *
      The same goes for .ME, which is a country-code top level domain (ccTLD) extension for Montenegro. This one was marketed more highly by domain registrars because of it’s personal association (ie. me = ME, yourself, etc.).
      *
      Both of these are used often as domain hacks – ie. using a combination of subdomain, domain, and extension to form a word (the social bookmarking service delicious.com is a famous example, which began as del.icio.us).

      Some stats on usage that may help guide your decision:

      *
      There are 236,000,000 websites ending in .ME indexed by Google (simply type site:*.me into the Google search box to see).
      *
      There are 6,140,000 websites ending in .WS indexed by Google (type site:*.ws into Google search).

      Based on this, the .ME extension is way more popular, but that’s probably because it’s been marketed like crazy by domain name registrars. Personally, between the two I would probably lean towards .ME, but again, it depends on your usage.

      Would you consider an alternate version of your domain (such as MyMedico.com) so you can get the .COM extension? When we consult clients on domains, we typically advise U.S. based clients to try and get a .COM if at all possible (because that’s what people are used to typing in). Clients from other countries (such as France or Japan, for example), may actually prefer the ccTLD version of their domain (.FR or .JP in this case).

      Good luck! Let us know what you decide on :)