SEO Tip #105: How Important Is It To Have Keywords In A Domain Name?

Matt Cutts: What Mcdot is referring to in this question is that if you’re registering a new domain name and you want to try and compete in some particular niche in 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 in all kinds of different areas, or

People have reasonable disagreements about whether it is better to shoot for a 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 possible to succeed without having keywords in your domain.

Think about some of the big successes there are; Zinga, 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 if they are 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 tossup. It depends on what your goals are, what things you are 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, it’s going to be a little hard to remember to rise above the noise and rise above the den. Whereas if you have something that is a little more brandable then people are going to be able to remember that and people are going to come back to it.

Even sites like Techcrunch, nothing in there says Tech news. Even weird URLs, Hacker News has Reddit has nothing about this is really interesting social networking. Digg is a very brandable URL. So if you think about you are 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 weights that we give to keyword domains and some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. And so we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a little and sort of turning the nob down in the algorithm so that given two different domains it would 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 tradeoffs if you’re looking at starting a new domain and are trying to figure out which way to go.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.