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Domain Names Forum

Do domain names rank at all?
Do the spiders look at the URL?

 1:57 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

I was wondering how much, if any, weight is given to the domain name itself on a search engine. I have been reading Search engine world (for most of the day yesterday) and still have not been able to find the answer. Does anyone here know?
Thank you,



 2:24 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

I was lead to believe that they (Se's) did take in to account the URL but I have found that this tends to be incorrect.

I have had domains with no keywording or phrasing in them rise to the top of the pile while others with the same keyword or phrase in the domain have been kicked down.

Maybe some others have some ideas on this.


 2:30 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WmW, Diane. I'd say the general agreement is that domains names are not given much ranking weight by the majority of the SEs. We just had a thread on that, but I can't find it -perhaps someone will post it.


 2:37 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

Thank you very much.
I do wonder, however, why if you search the direct URL it comes up even if it does not come up any other way. There is a lot of conflicting info "out there".

Thank you for your help.


 2:57 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

This summer, I have been analyzing eight international sites kept by a client, both .com and .nation

Those that had the url formed like:
FrequentKeyword1-FrequentKeyword2.com or .nation had absolutely fantastic rankings in major search engines.

The best one had one of those ridiculous "Welcome! Click here to enter"-pages where the code broke every single SEO rule. Poor title, no description, no keywords, no header, no keywords in text or link text, no img alt:s, no nothing.

That page had 7 #1 placements and another 22 page one placements for FrequentKeyword1 involving engines like AltaVista, Fast, AOL, Direct Hit, Excite, GoTo, HotBot, iWon, LookSmart, Lycos, MSN, Netscape (ODP), Northern Light and Yahoo.

The client had other sites, whose url:s were formed in the same way, and they too had faboulous rankings, in spite of clear deficiensies in the code.

From this experience, and some systematic research to verify the finding, I have concluded that keywords in url play a major role these days.


 4:04 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

I would concur with rencke but that the URL would need to match the theme of the site and the links going into into it. Experiment by examining searches on AV and Ink and look at the URLs.


 4:28 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

Now THAT was interesting, JamesR! And YES it did, in fact the FrequentKeyword1, was the theme of both page and site in my example and YES, the same keyword did have the second highest relative weight for the site in Brett's great new WebPage Reputation Calculator (the first one being the unavoidable keyword "links"). The things you learn at this Forum... Would you mind sharing with us where you got hold of the connection between url and theme? Or is it your own research?

Would the following be a good approach in your opinion?
1. Establish the theme of your index.html page.
2. Get an address where the theme is the keyword (or the first keyword before the hyphen in case you need to construct a two word address).


 4:45 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

I'm a big believer in 1st-quality domain names. And I have sites that parallel Rencke's summer study. One of my concerns is how to account for the popularity factor that the perceived "authority" of a keyword domain generates.

Let me see if I can sort this out. I believe that Yahoo in now counting Yahoogle clicks, if my domain draws the clicks based on its 'eye-appeal' this might eventually be used in a ranking algo. SOooo, what first appears to have low ranking weight might positively affect the rank -perhaps substantially, depending on the SE- at some later date. I KNOW this happened with my site in Snap Live Directory, the public liked the domain/url/title, they clicked, and subsequently ratcheted a sizeable chunk of the site into the main directory.


 5:09 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

Hmmmmm... More interesting observations. In the example I used above, Keyword2 was a generic term. Together with Keyword1 it formed a concept from which it is chrystal clear what the site is all about. I think it is highly likely that this would have attracted lots and lots of visitors, confident that this is exactly what they were looking for - just the way rcjordan describes.

So the site draws huge crowds both due to the appeal of the url and to its great ranking. The resulting click statistics would then keep pushing it up and up, right?

(A bemused aside on the ways of the world: The reason why I was asked to analyze the sites was that an HQ type wanted to take complete control over all the far flung sites that the folks in foreign subsidiaries had opened on their own and to merge their pages into the company's main site - which places lower in SE:s than anything I have ever seen. Fortunately, the top man wanted a second opionion and brought me in.)


 5:20 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

>The resulting click statistics would then keep pushing it up and up, right?
Right. Remember some of the 'Hey, I just went up a few slots' threads back in March here and elsewhere? Some of us noticed that we were advancing with every re-indexing. I can't speak for others, but I wasn't doing anything to the site nor did I notice anything different about the competitors in the top 20 (pretty much the same group of us for 3 years now).


 5:26 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

Note that this domain "afterburner" effect is likely to be more pronounced once a site makes it to the top 30 or so. So other SEO techniques get you close, then the domain appeal starts the trickle-up effect.


 5:56 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

I have noticed that this seems to be a current trend. A lot of highly ranked pages that I have analyzed use the keyword in the domain name. Also, I've noticed that hyphens are being used more and more...That way, the spider is able to recognize the individual keywords.

This is not as appealing to the viewers and it makes the domain name harder to remember...but, so long as the domain name is not horrible, that shouldn't be a major hindrance...Especially because domain names by themselves are not as important because over 70% of internet users rely on the search engines and directories to find what they're looking for.

So, I think it's a safe strategy to choose a keyword...include it in the URL with hyphens...and then have the site revolve around this theme and its major keyword...while, if possible, incorporating 4 or 5 other keywords in the text.


 9:33 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

My most current research indicates that the domain names are indeed used in the algos at the directories, if not at all of the engines. My theory, condensed from others speaking on this, is that the words are indeed indexed, if they are separated by hyphens. Without the hyphens, at best they are a "partial match" versus an additional word. They are weighted as simple body text. Subdomains count also, however long domain names containing more than one word are of less help. There is too much firepower needed to parse out all possible words. Use the hyphens, or go with subdomains. Directory and page names to the right don't appear to be worth as much.
The editors at the directories cannot edit out your domain name can they?

Beyond the engines, there is something to be said for the surfer seeing the appropriate words in your domain name. Somehow I think that a surfer faced with buying baby shoes would rather go the baby-shoes.com, or baby.shoes.com than click over to www.heresamallthatsellseverything.com



 9:38 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

>The editors at the directories cannot edit out your domain name can they?
Another excellent point.


 10:40 pm on Sep 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

Ok, I'll let you in on another not-so-secret secret. You want high placement? Find a keyword phrase alot of people are using. Get the domain name (hyphenated or not), name the site and the business the keyword phrase exactly. Every directory will list your title as the keyword phrase (a powerful ranking position I believe we would all agree with). Beyond that, every site linking to you will use that keyword phrase in the link or description. People searching on the phrase are more likely to go to an "official sounding site" with the URL than some unrelated or funky domain name.

Here is the thing: search engines are becoming (or have become) spidering-directories. They are building vectors and organizing sites into term categories just like directories do but their system is automated to allow for a greater number of sites. The problem for most sites is that they want to show up under alot of keyword phrases that are sometimes unrelated. That is real tough. SEs don't care how many terms you show up under, they just want to satisfy queries right? Of course they want to give the authority on a topic top position to give the searcher the most information possible. What kind of site will they choose for keyword search, say "mp3"? Joe blow's site that lists his favorite mp3s along with video games, nostalgic toys, and past girlfriends or will they post first a site with the most information possible on mp3s? This is the same for corporations that sell alot of unrelated products but why would any search engine want to put up a site in the top 10 with 1 page about mp3 products versus a site with 1000 pages about mp3s? Back to the url, no company is going to name their URL after only one product, that is foolish. Sites that have the keyword as the URL are mostly focusing just on that term throughout the site. However, this can be scammed and checks and balances must be implemented. In come titles, body text, in and out going links and voila, themes and the perfect check against the domain name.

Rencke, this info came from following up on the hints Brett has dropped in the past few months and reading a whole lot of SE engineer papers. Know what the engineers are thinking and it gives you a much tighter box to work with and eliminates a lot of conjecture. The rest is all about testing (which is my weak point). You don't have to have the perfect domain name, themes can work on their own but the site with the more consistent, focused phrase throughout and links to match will beat you.

Sorry to post so much...better stop writing so much on company time (glad my boss doesn't read here often ;))


 12:22 am on Sep 22, 2000 (gmt 0)

Thank you all very much. I have learned a lot.


 4:57 pm on Sep 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

I agree with James in theory. It certianly used to be much more important than it is now. This last year, I've registered many (50+) hyphenated sites, and the keywords just don't pull like they used too. Part of it is that there are so many people doing it now, and part of it is that se's are cracking down on the value of a domain name.

Right now, I think a filename itself is more important than the domain name with Alta and Google.


 5:04 pm on Sep 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

>filename itself is more important
and would that be filename or file-name??


 5:46 pm on Sep 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

Try file_name.htm (dash isn't of much use, underline still works).


 5:55 pm on Sep 25, 2000 (gmt 0)

I have also been getting some pretty good results still with subdirectory and file name keywords (i.e. keyword_phrase/similar_phrase.htm) with all things else considered (links, themes). Keep the sub dir. on theme of course.

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