Google’s John Mueller answered a question on Reddit about ranking benefits of using keywords in a domain name. Mueller emphasized that there is no keyword SEO bonus in the domain and listed his reasons for not using keyword-based domains.
Mueller lists valid reasons why keywords in domains do not provide a ranking bonus and why choosing these types of domains can backfire. However, there are still reasons (non-SEO related) why keywords in domains are still a valid option.
keywords in the domain name
There are many reasons why some SEOs recommend using an industry keyword. Some say that when someone just links to you with a URL, the keyword will act as anchor text and affect Google rankings.
But John Mueller has already made it clear that Google knows the difference between a naked URL and anchor text and that Google will not use keywords in a naked URL.
Others say that industry keywords help SEO because keywords help Google understand what the site is about. But his recent answer on Reddit discredits that notion.
There was a time when Google categorized exact match domains, including parked domains. But that The effect of the exact match field has been reduced Many years ago to reduce the effect.
However, there may be some invalid SEO reasons that make a keyword-based domain desirable.
How will Google rank domains based on keywords?
The person on Reddit asked how Google ranks different domains based on keywords.
“How does Google rank the following domains: web-design.com, web.design, web-design.net?”
Google’s John Mueller provided his insights into how Google handles keywords in domains.
“It makes no difference. Also it makes no difference if you use sabertoothed-hedgehog.com.”
Choose a domain name for the long haul
Mueller then suggested that it might make sense to choose an area that could withstand a change in focus.
A good example of this is Amazon. Amazon started as an online bookseller and managed to transition into selling just about everything because their domain name wasn’t specific to books.
Many of the first SEO agencies started out as web design companies. When they eventually moved from web design to SEO, they also had to change their domain names as well.
Another example is how trends change, so what seems trendy at the time, like adding the word “The mediaEven the end of your SEO company name can look tired or tacky after a few years.
John Mueller advised choosing a domain name that can withstand changing business models and trends.
He continued his answer:
Choose a domain name that you can build on for the long term.
You may be designing websites now, but what will you do in 5 or 10 years?
Choose something that allows you to grow, or choose a domain name that is more like a brand name that you can create and that people can find you directly through (that would be my recommendation).”
Future proof of your business
Mueller then explained how changing the domain name or restructuring the site could be a huge problem because the focus on the site had grown.
Some sites start by focusing on one topic and that’s fine. But it’s always a good idea to give yourself room to grow.
For example, a TV rating site might have trouble transitioning to becoming known as a soundbar review site if it contains the words TV and Review in its domain name.
Mueller explains why it’s a good idea to choose a domain that can grow with your website.
“Creating separate sites for subsidiary business ideas is a hassle, merging sites is more of an issue, and moving domains is a problem.
All of these things take a lot of time, some money, and more. Go with something you’ll want to keep for longer, which will give you space. “
Keyword domains have no SEO bonus
Mueller then turned to explaining how there is no SEO payoff to using a keyword-based domain name.
There is no secret (or public) SEO reward for having your keywords in a domain name.
(And for those who come up with “but there are keyword domains that rank well” – of course, you can also rank well with a domain that has keywords in it.
But you can also rank well with other domain names, and a domain won’t rank well just because it has keywords in it.)”
Can a keyword field be useful?
We know that keywords in a domain name can limit the scope of the domain in the future and limit that business to focus on a single topic.
However, in my experience having a keyword in the domain can help with conversions and this is something that can be tested using A/B and PPC tests to determine which domain name is the best performing.
The generic keyword can also be useful.
A domain keyword can indicate to a potential visitor that your site contains what they are looking for.
None of the above two reasons are directly related to SEO at this time. But they are good reasons why one might consider a keyword based field.
But these types of considerations must be weighed against the advice shared by John Mueller and the understanding that a keyword-driven domain can limit business growth.
John Mueller emphasized the following points:
- No ranking bonus for keywords in domains
- Keyword based domains can limit your business growth
- Pivoting to a new field is a big deal
- Choose an area that has the potential for growth
Ideally, when starting a business, the idea of eventually expanding into other products should be in the business plan.
So even if you started out as a pad company, giving the domain name a name of some kind will help keep the door open to the possibility of growing the business into much more than just an e-commerce website.