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Will/Should Google remove Domain Name weight from Algo?
If they haven't already

 7:00 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was going through another post [webmasterworld.com] which says, "I know exact match domain names are big in the SE's algorithms".

Does Google gives weightage to keywords in domain name?
General perception is yes, expert opinion is yes (Is there a no?).

I think search engines (esp Google, as they are the smartest so far) should not use (if they are using) keywords in domain name as a positive ranking factor. Here is my opinion on why so?

Does searchengine.com serves better than google.com as a search engine? I can think of 100s of brands without any keyphrases in their name. So if searchengine.com is getting additional 2 points for using the keyphrase in domain name then it is equivalent of removing 2 points from google.com for not using the keyphrase in their domain name. I do not think its a good equation. In other words, Is a person named "footballplayer", a better football player?

My whole point is, when domain names have nothing to do with services then why to consider it. I keep advising people not to look at SEs (please for God sake) while choosing domain names. Only think of 3 things,

  1. Memory friendly: Will a visitor remember the domain name?
  2. Conversation friendly: How easy it will be, to let a person know about it using a phone?
  3. Billboard friendly: Is it an ad friendly domain? I call it a billboard test, placing an ad mentioning the domain name, will people get it in first go, will they be able to reproduce it after 1 hr?

IMO Google should do a favor to web world by letting the world know, "DOMAIN NAME does't MATTER for GOOGLE RANKING". What is your opinion?


(My weekend post, have a nice weekend)



 7:59 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Do they really give it a lot of wieght? Things like bamzoo or other weird names unrelated to their content seem to work.

I have a site that has a name that is pretty much unrelated to the content and it dominates it's sector.

Do you have evidence that they are giving the name any weight at all currently?


 8:20 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Tis important, i think, to remember that all search engines are automated algo, to handle the billions of data pieces, they have to be,

To me, it does look like keywords in domain names are a powerfull signal to the SE of the intent of the web site

An obvious example

webmasterworld :)

Long may it continue


 8:31 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wikpedia ranks pretty well for thousands of topics without having keywords in its domain name.

If Google does give any weight to the domain name, it probably isn't much, and it's likely to be in context with other things. For example, a site named widgetville-hog-callers.com might get a little boost for the keyphrase "hog callers" if had a lot of links from pages about hog calling on high-"TrustRank" sites. And why not, if the domain name and other factors suggested that the site was a useful resource for "hog callers" or "hog callers in widgetville"?


 8:38 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Keywords in the domain can help but it's not an easy ticket to the top. You need to do a lot of other things right as well.


 8:39 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you think of this from Google's POV, looking for relevance signals is the core of organic search. A keyword in a domain name certainly can be one relevance signal - as long as it isn't there by accident, as in expertsexchange.

The domain name is certainly one place to look - but with a solid dose of critical doublechecking and lot of other algo factors needing to be lined up. The algos that Google uses today are a lot more sophisticated than the text-string-match approach of the 1990's, adding up one point for this and two points for that.


 8:48 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

By the way, I have one client whose domain name just happens to contain another brand name within its letters. Occasionally, the algo has misfired and included that brand on the SERP for a search on my client. When it happens (the last time was about two months ago) it only lasts for a couple days.


 9:28 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't mean to be cheeky here but can I quote something Brett said way back in 2002

Easily brandable. You want "google.com" and not "mykeyword.com". Keyword domains are out - branding and name recognition are in - big time in. The value of keywords in a domain name have never been less to se's. Learn the lesson of "goto.com" becomes "Overture.com" and why they did it. It's one of the most powerful gut check calls I've ever seen on the internet. That took serious resolve and nerve to blow away several years of branding. (that is a whole 'nother article, but learn the lesson as it applies to all of us).

The thing is I find this just as valid today. If your establishing a brand fair enough its completely valid that your domain should come out top based on the site domain name, but I don't think a search query such as "bluewidgits" should give any value to the keyword in domain name at all. I quoted Brett because I thought he was correct back then and still correct today. I would like to know if this opinion has shifted.


 9:45 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I still see keywords in the url as a benefit. Not that I use it myself but it is competitors I see benefiting for some keyword searches (even more in Yahoo and MSN too)


 10:27 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I find it pretty sure that keywords in the domain matter a great deal.

I'm in the widget programming field. I've been battling over the years with one website in particular that is widgetprogramming.com I beat him in all searchs other than widget programming, even though that is all my site is about. There is also another website that I have a hard time getting above - widgetconsulting.com

Could it be that those sites simply rank higher based on other factors? Sure, but I think it is the domain name.

ps. my website is a short version of my company name. Too bad I didn't pick Widget Programming, inc. back in 2000.


 10:35 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Totally keyword in domain is a benefit right now. I just don't think it should be. Keyword of a brand name in SERPS yes should carry weight. Keyword of a search term no shouldn't. Yes Yahoo and MSN are doing this but google for me was the best because cheap tricks like this didn't work.

Still I think back to the florida update where google boosted non commercial sites and I think this is a temporary boost to keyword in domain (and again non commercial have been boosted) whilst people work through there supplemental results.


 10:44 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't think a search query such as "bluewidgits" should give any value to the keyword in domain name at all. I quoted Brett because I thought he was correct back then and still correct today. I would like to know if this opinion has shifted

Maybe it's less about whether the keyword is in the domain name than whether the keyword is in the URL. Either way, the keyword [in the domain or the URL] is just one factor that Google can use in calculating whether the page is relevant for widgets, whatsits, or Honolulu hotties.

As for whether one should select a keyword when creating a brand, that depends. "Bank of America" has two keywords (one related to its business), but "Wells Fargo" doesn't. It's unlikely that traffic to either company's Web site is significantly affected by whether the first word in the name is "bank" or "wells," or that the name ends in "America" or "Fargo." What probably does matter, over the long term, is whether the brand name sounds legitimate and inspires trust. "Keyword1-keyword2-keyword3-keyword4.com" always reminds me of those Yellow Pages ads for businesses with names like "AAAA-Acme Driving School."


 11:45 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

My honest opinion europeforvisitors is keyword in url is beeing boosted at present but they are already turning down the dial. I don't believe it will be a long term thing.

[edited by: tedster at 12:56 am (utc) on May 13, 2007]


 12:30 am on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Keyword in URL should and always will have some value as a #*$! is with no other data at least somewhat more likely to be dedicated to red widgets than blueblodgets.com. It shouldn't be a big thing, but it pretty obviously should be one of many small things.


 8:52 am on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree. It should (and does) have some value. If I sell Mauve Widgets and my business name is Mauve Widgets Ltd. why shouldn't my domain name be MauveWidgets.com? Google knows that people try to manipulate this but they try to manipulate everything else too.

The benefit from inbound links seems pretty clear. In my example all inbound links to my MauveWidgets.com domain will be using the main keywords on the link. This is the main reason why an industry has been created around trading domain names.


 1:21 pm on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

After reading the answers, I see that almost everyone feels that keywords in domain helps. Let me explain the reasons why an SEO (expert, ex-p-er-t) advices for a domain name with targeted keywords:-
  1. They believe it will help through the kw in URL (or even the domain name) factor.
  2. This point is very important: You will see that every domain gets a lot of links with domain name in it, example "visit bluewidget.com". Now in the anchor text you are getting two keywords blue and widget, which helps (might) a great deal. If you choose mycompany.com then you may not get this advantage.
  3. Many marketers believe that it helps to get clicks from SERPs, a domain with related keyphrases in it has a higher chance of getting a click from SERP if there are no recognized brand name listing under the serp.
  4. May be few more factors, which I am not able to recall on a Sunday eve.


 1:34 pm on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Will/Should Google remove Domain Name weight from Algo?

No. Why? Because it is one of those factors that is "almost" a given. The Domain (www.example.com) is the first thing at the top of the list (as an example). From there, you work downwards. Okay, the domain matches, now, let's look at the other factors such as title, meta description, <h> elements, main content, internal anchor text, etc.

A keyword domain in itself is just that, a keyword domain. It is up to the owner (and/or their assigns) to make it perform as it should. With a keyword domain, you have a +1 point out of the box. ;)

P.S. This is probably one of the more frequent discussions here at WebmasterWorld and has been for as long as I can remember...


[edited by: pageoneresults at 1:36 pm (utc) on May 13, 2007]


 1:36 pm on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

G has played around with what they include in their allinanchor calculations, I know for a fact that KWs in file names were, and suspect KWs in domain names also were.

Which led to all those multi hyphenated KW domain names....


 2:42 pm on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Searchers are likely to look more kindly on a spammed keyword domain than a spammed branded domain from the engines perspective.

For example searching for "Atlanta Widget shops" and the engine returns as number one atlantawidgetshop.com which doesn't have what the searcher is looking for [at that point] the searcher is likely to think "darn owner trying to trick Google"

If number one is AjiNIMCsupergetitherebrand.com and it doesn't have what the searcher is looking for the searcher wonders what on earth Google is doing returning a spammed site like that and wonders if it would be better to look in Yahoo instead.


 3:05 pm on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Searchers are likely to look more kindly on a spammed keyword domain than a spammed branded domain from the engines perspective.

That's open to debate, but in any case, mightn't a "spammed keyword domain" increase the likelihood of an "overoptimization penalty" of the kind that have been discussed many times? And isn't a keyword-targeted domain name like "keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.com" more likely to turn off SERP users than a more legitimate-sounding domain would?

I guess a lot depends on what you're trying to achieve. Are you just trying to make hay while the sun shines (and relying solely on organic search referrals with 100% churn) or are you trying to build a business for the long term?


 4:01 pm on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

And isn't a keyword-targeted domain name like "keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.com" more likely to turn off SERP users than a more legitimate-sounding domain would?

Most probably, but with a keyword domain the searcher can make that decision without clicking the SERP entry, with a branded domain the searcher needs to actually visit the site to find out it isn't what he is looking for.


 4:16 pm on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

But with a keyword domain the searcher can make that decision without clicking the SERP entry.

Ah, but there will be other determining factors that weigh in before the URI. Your average surfer is probably not looking at that URI as closely as you and I might. What they are looking at are the titles and snippets along with their search term being bolded. Granted, a lit up URI (bolded) is surely a visual clue. But, there are other more important elements the searcher sees before that. ;)


 4:22 pm on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I always debated about service Vs information. People not only look for information they look for great services. Great services may not come from online entities with keyword stuffed domains but strong brands with great unrelated brand names.

Keyword stuffed domains are sometimes made for niche information (sometimes really great). I know few sites that are dedicated for a particular topic and the domain name reflects it too.

[edited by: tedster at 5:39 pm (utc) on May 13, 2007]


 11:49 pm on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

If I were a Google programmer, I'd take clean generic .com domains seriously. Not the hyper-extended, multi-hyphenated, designed-for-seo domains in .com, .net., or .org.

If all other key issues lined up, I'd boost the domain's value for SERPs *after* all those key things lined up.

Is it a fluke that the number one SERP for the first word of this site's dn is a clean generic .com?

Suspect two words in a clean .com could be valued by Google for exact phrase searches.

There should be a big drop off in SERP value from the perfect single-word .com to other dns, if G is going to put any value into them.

I see a lot more MFA sites and other spam sites using nasty multi-keyword creations than clean one- or two-word dns. G's trust algo could see red flags in those wild things but not in the perfect dns. Not too many spammers can afford great domains.


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