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Are keywords in the domain name important?

Are keywords in the domain name important? - answered by Matt Cutts

Summary:

When registering a new domain name, there are basically two options: either to go for a keyword-rich domain or for one that is more brandable and likely to be remembered. Google has adjusted the algorithm so that now it's not necessarily very helpful to have a domain with a bunch of keywords in it. Both options have pros and cons – brandable domain names that are very popular get lots of backlinks, but most of them use the business name as anchor text, whereas keyword rich domain names might not be so popular, but, SEO-wise, their backlinks might use “better keywords” as anchor text.

 

Matt's answer:

How would you explain the power of keyword domains to someone looking to take a decision what kind of domain to go for?

 

If you’re registering a new domain name, if 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.

 

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.

 

Definitely possible to succeed without having keywords in your domain

Think about some of the big successes out there. For example 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.

 

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.

 

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.


by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team

 

Original video: