How important is it to have keywords in a domain name?
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How important is it to have keywords in a domain name?


Today’s question comes
from [? McDot ?] in Berlin. [? McDot ?] asks, “How would you explain the
power of keyword domains to someone looking to take a
decision what kind of domain to go for?” So what [? McDot ?] is referring to is that if
you’re registering a new domain name, so you want to
try to compete in some particular niche within SEO,
you can take a couple different strategies. You can go for something really
brandable, like Twitter that people will remember, but
isn’t necessarily keywords in the domain name. Or you can go for strictly the
keywords in the domain name. And people do it with all kinds
of different areas. So, buyviagraonline.org or
buyviagraonline.net. So different people have
reasonable disagreements about whether it’s better to shoot for
a keyword- laden domain or a domain that doesn’t
necessarily have the keywords in it, but is a little
more brandable. So some things to think about. It’s definitely, definitely
possible to succeed without having keywords in
your domain. Think about some of the big
successes there are. Zynga. Nothing in that domain name
says social or gaming or anything like that. Twitter, Facebook,
Google, Yahoo!. I mean, the names that are
brandable, the names that you instantly can recall when you
think about, tend not to be those keyword-laden domains. Now on the keyword side, one
advantage that they might have is that if you’re referring to
the name of the business, you might link to it and then you
might link to it with the same words that are in the keyword. So it’s a little bit of a toss
up, it depends on what your goals are, what things
you’re interested in. For me, I tend to lean a little
more towards things that are brandable because, for
example, if you have 15 sites about Android and they
all have Android, Android, Android, Android, it’s going
to be a little hard to remember to rise above the
noise, to rise above the din. Whereas if you have something
that’s a little more brandable, then people are
going to remember that, they’re going to be able
to come back to it. Even sites like TechCrunch,
nothing in there says tech news. Even weird URLs. Hacker News has
news.ycombinator.com. Reddit has nothing about
this is really interesting social news. Digg, very brandable URL. So if you think about you’re
trying to shoot for a big success, sometimes going for
something a little more brandable can be good. Now if you’re still on the fence
let me just give you a little bit of color that we have
looked at the rankings and the weights that we give
to keyword domains. Some people have complained that
we’re giving a little too much weight for keywords
in domains. And so we have been thinking
about adjusting that mix a little bit and sort of turning
the knob down within the algorithm so that given two
different domains, it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to
have a domain with a bunch of keywords in it. So those are some
of the factors. That’s how I’d explain the
trade-off, if you’re looking at starting a new domain and
you’re trying to figure out which way to go.

100 Comments

  • John Tarr

    So if I can reasonably plan on selling my business too or becoming a Fortune 500 company, choose a brand domain name.
    For people who don't have VCs knocking on their door to fund their startups, which I would assume is everybody watching this video, load your domain name like crazy with keywords. Google may reduce the value of having keywords in a domain name, but certainly not penalize.

    TL;DW Yes, you should use keywords in your domain name.

  • biznick100

    If I were Google I would look at keyword search history and domain registration history.

    For instance if someone registers CheapHosting.co you could look at the history of searches related to "Cheap Hosting". If the search count is unchanged, and the domain was registered after the keyword growth, less keyword weight should be given.

    However, in the case of something like Twitter, the keyword searches have increased after the registration, so more weight should be given to its domain name.

  • biznick100

    One note I'd add to Matt's comments is to be careful what domain you buy to brand. For instance if you buy a word that is slightly misspelled, Google will initially show users the correct spelling results and you will not get the correct placement in searches for your domain until you become more established.

    Long term branding is better, but be careful of the word you choose to brand with.

  • dicrox

    Giants not always have got a brandable domain, examples: webmaster tools, site explorer, search engine land. it seems that now is a trend to use more and more brands, as Matt have said. Let's say that using keyword in domain is a kind of "old school SEO" seonauta.com

  • SVT MATT

    It would be awesome just to lie once and see how many seo guys follow, tell them appending rubberduckie in the domain is a secret google backdoor code to ranking #1. then do a follow up vid which illustrates why you can't tell seo people anything specific…

  • Amit Patekar

    Why to turn down the knob Matt??, if some person is buying keyword rich domain name that means he is more aware of the keyword and related topic. Probably he can write good content about that topic and he is expert. So any one with good keyword rich domain name should get little advantage of course content has to be good.

  • Gordon Hudson

    @localmotionbiz I *think* that a holding page with little content that has keywords in the domain will do better thatn the same page with a random character domain. However, once a site has a lot of content, the effect of the keyword rich domain becomes less. That's anecdotal evidence from my own experience of having a domain parked for years and showing high in the rankings, yet when I started to use it it dropped way down because the content was unrelated to the keywords in it.

  • Georg Rauh

    Get rid of that power NOW, not only a "little", i mean entirely. Its ridiculous to see what power EKMDs can have. The crappiest sites can rank exceptionally only because they have a EKMD. Get rid of this and focus on CONTENT and not on idiotic things. The latest Google farmer change was good, now its time to scrap EKMDs.

  • Pareto8020

    I think it should be given weight if the domain owner shows long term dedication to helping the user understand a particular niche – with in depth understanding and knowledge that a big brand might not be capable of delivering. It would be horrible to see the big branded companies completely dominate all the search engines…

  • thehotiron

    At the end Matt said, "if you're buying a new domain name" – is this then saying Google is taking the age of the domain name into consideration along with a keyword domain? What about established Web sites or businesses that happen to have a keyword domain, will they lose ranking just because of this?

  • Georg Rauh

    @Capnwabbit, "basically" yes, but in theory not always. Who says i cannot get a domain "puppytraining dot whatever" and make the [email protected] adsense/CPA site on it? That's the problem. While that common sense might apply in many cases, "snagging" a EKMD is a really rather cheap way for spammers and low quality webmasters to ensure nice rankings for zero content. It is on Google to determine the relevancy, based on content and not assuming relevancy based on the domain name.G should be smarter.

  • Georg Rauh

    thehortitron, if they WOULD lose rankings because the value of the keyword in the domain is taken – such sites should seriously check their content 🙂 Its an unlikely scenario that a site with otherwise good and relevant content would lose ranking simply because G doesnt value the *domain* anymore. It's like..does your girlfriend/wife become less attractive if she doesn't wear lipstick?

  • Gareth Mailer

    Like Twitter or Facebook? Yes Matt, we all have the marketing budgets of Twitter or Facebook, I know I do.

    Why is it every time I watch a Matt Cutts video I feel like I'm being spoken down to from above? Maybe I am.

  • Gareth Mailer

    "How to persuade the little people to opt for a brandable domain name when I know they're better off, according to our current method for ranking exact match domains, to opt for a target keyword in the domain". Also known as we have a problem but I will use my intense publicity to provide them with counter-productive advice with a friendly face.

  • costaric100

    Thank you Mark for sharing your advice with us. My site went from 0 to 4 in three months. I have followed your advice from all your videos and it has worked for me.
    Great advice!

  • john r

    Matt my friend, you always answer around the questions people ask, not right to the question, as it would be fair. For example, what McDot asked was whether or not Google actually ranks higher a keyword rich domain or a non keyworded domain (assuming that both domains are about the same topic and have all other factors pretty much identical) . It's as simple as that. You don't need to tell us what you like.. Tell us what Google – the program wants to find so that we know how to optimize our site

  • thesimpsons2345

    "People have complained that we give too much weight to keyword domains" — Damn right you do!! Almost every keyword I search has at least one crappy site with an exact domain match.

  • SteveHoweJeffBerlin

    "Branding" is really a shot in the dark.

    What are the chances you are going to be on the the level of twitter or yahoo?

    Bottom line : if you don't appear in the google search you have no chance at all. At least with keywords, you have a better chance of at least showing up in the google listings.

    Branding = B*llsh*t for the most part.

  • Nash Fung

    recently google just dropped my ranking from N.2 to N.6 …. everyone that moved ahead of me has the keyword in their domains, and I don't … so please google, adjust it

  • Lag Donkey Poker Videos

    I honestly think that keyword laden URLS should have no more merit than urls that don't. It just invites people to buy spammy URLS that may be hard for people to remember, and doesn't really add any extra value or credibility to the site. For example, most poker gambling sites make heavy use of this tactic, and in reality they offer little or no value to users. The fact that they get any added boost in relation to any other site is realistically unfair.

  • Toros Sediri

    Matt Cutt Kafali, You give great value to %4-5 keyword stuffing and it really turns my contents to "you know". Stop acting like genius and find a solution to give value to real, natural and informative contents that make the keyword domains more valuable and natural.

  • jimjim

    Are you still thinking about not giving as much undue weight to keyword domains? It's frustrating to have to work much harder than a competitor who was just lucky in getting a generic name.

    If I cut grass in My Town, USA, for example," MyTownLawnCarecom" has an undue ranking advantage just because the keyword is included in the domain name. This is obviously not fair and only leads to other nefarious 'tricks' to get one's site to rank high.

  • Anuj Biswas

    Whatever Google says I still believe keywords in the domain name gives 50% advantage. I have experienced it. I booked a domain (not including the name here but it is true) with a targeted micro niche that got some sudden high search volume. I published only 2 articles there and the very next day it appeared in the search result. Though it was not huge(just 50+ visitors) but think of it.

  • Susanna Miles

    At about 1:35 into this video: the benefit of having a keyword in a domain is the fact that when someone links to you, the keyword will be in the link. At 2:35'ish: people are complaining that they are giving more weight to people with keywords in their domains and that they're thinking about changing that in the algo…

    Just wondering if SOME sites are lost traffic in the Penguin update because they'd have a TON of sites linking back to them with their keyword in the domain?

  • Ken Papo

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  • Kevin Collins

    Hi Matt, Great advice. I have been developing iPhone/iPad apps for more than 2 years. My biggest challenge has not been the technical aspect but the marketing aspect. Have websites for promoting/supporting the apps with minimum activity. Experimenting with YouTube and adding ad words that will grab the market's attention. Thanks and keep uploading to YouTube. It helps! KBCAppstore

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    interested in increasing sales on youtube? I use a method that uses YOUTUBE to generate more traffic and more conversions. just watch this: ===> /watch?v=NmQr04vJLLE <===

  • Larry Williams

    Matt…. What about the latest update on this of Sept 28th…about exact match domains????
    +Chris Lang +Derrick van Dyke

  • Kurt Margolis

    if you want to start creating a professional and profitable marketing website, I have the solution for you. This is the the first full featured wordpress course you'll find. get it now while it's still available. I uploaded a sample part of the training on my channel. go check it out..

  • David Bowgen

    G'day Matt,
    My wife and I run a small business that is a registered business name, Trademarked in our Company. It is an EMD. You mentioned in this video that Google would 'turning the knob down in the algorithms a little bit'. Does you realize now that it has gone way to far in 'turning it down'. To be honest, it looks like you have 'turned it right off'.
    Looking at ALL these video's nothing is mentioned about the EMD changes. Could you please give us some hope of recovery.

    Thanks mate!
    Dave

  • graphicartdude

    I am a graphic designer and noticed when I typed in "Nashville graphic design", that an old logo design contest site that has very little context and hadn't been updated in years, was showing on the top of search results simply because it had the words "Nashville and design" in it's domain. I think that's a perfect example of a keyword rich domain receiving way more pull than it deserves.

  • Toby Clements

    Too often key word urls are purchased by companies who's sole intent is to use them in spam like ways to get traffic to their sites. This can often affect searches and how the consumer finds a reliable website for the product or service they are interested in. The best option for your business is a brandable domain name.

  • MargaritaILP

    Hm, but some of the domain names that have made it big without keywords, and so to say are now super successful brands, were actually MEANT to become brand names, it was not about the domain name; sometimes you just want to build a website with information in it that helps promote, or sell, etc. and you do not want to create a BRAND name…
    So aren't the cases different when it comes to the purposes? One aims at building a brand name, the other one does not. So maybe this is why keywords matter

  • Adaptation StDenis

    Hi i got my domain, website builder with hosting for cheap from domainname911dotcom and they have best customer support try it them out…..

  • dtharap

    Have you experienced Smarter Money Maker? (do a google search for it) It is a simple way for you to make more income faster

  • Spook SEO

    The thing with keywords on domain names especially with EMD is that you tend to be locked on a specific niche. This isn't advantageous for you in the long run since you cannot really add other niches that migh tinterest you in the future on this specific blog to make it an authority. Your site almost always ends up like a micro site.

  • D Patel

    we need a domain with a price that does not change at the time of renewal
    cheap domain name price is a catch where you pay 1$ for first year and end up paying 15-18$ on renewal …. don’t fall in a trap
    I buy my domain from /domainname911/dot/com these guys don’t change the price at the time of renewal and have great technical support.

  • texxs01

    I am amazed your comment made it through Google's spam filters! I had to enter a freakin captcha for this reply! (because I used the word "spam"?)

  • Chris Tomlinson

    Did you hear that last part of that video? "We are thinking about changing up the algorithm" Well, they did. And for good reason. Keyword rich domain names have plummeted. If yours hasn't then just wait b/c it will. Be organic, do it right and brand and Google will reward you. They will eventually catch all the tricks that SEO guys do b/c they want it organic. As it should be.

  • computerguy9111

    I agree with Mitchell that keywords should count in a domain name and it can be factor in remembering the domain as well as describing the content.

  • Unique SEO Tips and Tricks

    The keywords in a domain name is a great factor in describing the total content of your page. Thanks for sharing the video.

  • j Williams

    You can also get a .ws site where short words and phrases are very much available. And is available globally. Check out gemini.ws
    dot com's are finished .ws will be the next dot com wave of the future

  • Rod Lewis

    Thanks for the video. I've always been critical of the power of keyword domains, as most reputable companies are going to be trying to further their brand using their brand name as the domain name. Good to hear that this is going to become less of a ranking factor. Better if it wasn't a ranking factor at all, but then I'd have more difficulty selling some of my domains :-0

  • bee boy

    I know this is a serious topic, and I'm very grateful of the info provided, but no one else pointed it out so I have to; he referenced viagra as an example keyword domain lol he could have chose anything at all, but he chose viagra twice, just sayin =)

  • The The

    @Google Webmasters Hello. Thanks for uploading that awesome informational video.
    Question Do you have any info or examples on what's considered a non trademark domain name?   Example…if a very popular website domain name is hotel dot com…could I create a domain name called hotel dot net? 

  • Watch My Channel

    hello everyone, how can i transfer web host from website builder to wordpress I already buy in GoDaddy? please any one can make a step-by-step video tutorial for me..  Thanks

  • MyLoveQuotes.net

    That's strange. I always thought that keyword domain is good for seo, but brand-able are better for something you want to be remembered. 

  • Iroquois Pliskin

    Welcome to 2015, let's talk about how important it is to learn how to get traffic and leads without depending on search engines. I challenge everyone here to learn that, it's good for the health.

  • Free Expired Domain Search Engine

    [This comment has been hacked. So, you can't vote it.]

    Ultimately, the most important thing for your domain name is having something that people will remember and like.
    Find a good brandable domain for your site, also using expired domains is better than new domain.

  • lamfilipos

    Cheers for this, been searching for "finding expired domain names" for a while now, and I think this has helped. Have you ever come across – Nanmily Domain Demythification – (just google it ) ? Ive heard some incredible things about it and my co-worker got cool success with it.

  • Ravi kumar

    Sir plz tell me one question.

    #ISOCERTIFCATION & #ISOCERTIFCATE both keywords was showing on 1st page ranking but after medic update both keywords is not showing. So Kindly suggest me how can I get our loss keywords.

  • sebaelkan

    Nice explanation! We would also need also to cover other neuromarketing and marketing ROI concepts when it comes to remember who you are and what you do in a single domain name. Brandables may be great to clearly differenciate, but a user and business should be very engaging and successful to be at the top of mind of a consumer. On the other side, Keyword domains have a direct industry and business understading, within 1 second brain recognition.

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