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Why does Google give so much weight to keyword domains?
setzer




msg:4188393
 9:43 pm on Aug 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's 2010, and Google still gives a considerable amount of weight to keyword domains. I have competitors with a fraction of the links I have, yet they still outrank me on certain terms. To top it off, content on these domains are usually spammy. You know, the type of content that is built around keywords rather than the reader.

From my estimates, to outrank them on a term associated with their domain name I need double the link power, on average. Has anyone else with a brandable (no generic keywords) domain experienced this?

It seems to me, SEO-wise, generic keyword laden domains are still the way to go. That may change in the future, but it hasn't yet.

 

artek




msg:4188423
 11:08 pm on Aug 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

It could be byproduct of G efforts to serve relevant results for the trademark (keywords) related searches.

Usually the trademark names (keywords) are also domain names - or other way around - popular domain names become keywords and later are trademarked.

It seems to me, SEO-wise, generic keyword laden domains are still the way to go.

I would say generic single keywords or two and more keyword search phrases.

Azimuth




msg:4188433
 12:20 am on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Have you considered that they may have a lot of links related specifically to that keyword? Sometimes we see keyword-laden domains ranking highly and assume that it is because of the domain, but it could easily be due to other factors.

My theory is this: Keyword-laden domains are an important ranking factor for only some sites. For other sites and categories it is not an important ranking factor.

Google has a lot of past history to work with for a given keyword or keyword category. I believe that ranking factors now vary considerably across the web for different keywords and site categories.

What holds true for one keyword likely does not apply to the next kewyord.

tedster




msg:4188443
 12:59 am on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

A thought just occurred to me. We often notice that keyword match domains seem to do well, but I never saw any study that surveyed all the live keyword-match domains to see how many rank well and how many don't.

My guess would be that, as a percentage, it's not really as high as our impression says. If you've ever tried to rank a keyword-match domain in a competitive market, you know it takes more than just the domain.

TheMadScientist




msg:4188445
 1:10 am on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah, I would say the generics do just fine... The search I just did for the 3 word phrase in seo spelled out showed 0 with the keyword(s). 3 with the abbreviation and 7 without the keywords even in the domain name at all.

IMO there is much more that goes into rankings these days than simply the link count... I think looking and thinking 'I have the most links, so I should rank better' are either over on definitely on their way out...

I would look closely at other factors involved, and as far as links go, it could be dependent to some extent on the age of the links involved with each site, the churn of the links involved each site, the 'power' of the links involved with each site, the internal linking of each site, the pages the links to each site go to, the topicality of the pages containing the links to each site, and on and on and on... It's not a 'one factor game' any more, IMO.

mrguy




msg:4188451
 1:25 am on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, in competitive markets there is much more than just the domain name.

People thinking they deserve to rank higher because they have more links need to re-think their SEO strategy.

McMohan




msg:4188480
 4:39 am on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sometimes we see keyword-laden domains ranking highly and assume that it is because of the domain, but it could easily be due to other factors


Still, keyword domain remains a big influencer. My observation with the experience of having keyword domains as competitors as well as having own keyword domains -

1. Having the exact keyword as the domain name gives a good launching pad and brings down the threshold to rank by several notches, "for that exact keyword"
2. Domain with hyphens between words doesn't have the same effect.
3. Even the word order counts. Domain "CaliforniaHotels.tld" is most likely to rank for "California Hotels" not "Hotels California"
4. Keyword domain only makes sense if the keyword in question is big enough and if it is big enough, it is likely that that domain would have already been booked for all major tlds.

setzer




msg:4188482
 4:59 am on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you've ever tried to rank a keyword-match domain in a competitive market, you know it takes more than just the domain.


This is true. However, one reason I'd give the edge to keyword rich domains is that the URL itself effectively serves as anchor text when linked. I figure it has to be a valuable asset when users are sharing your link across forums and such.

IMO there is much more that goes into rankings these days than simply the link count... I think looking and thinking 'I have the most links, so I should rank better' are either over on definitely on their way out...


I've considered many other factors but as far as I can see it comes down to the domain name on this one. I've noticed other competitors in a similar situation have trouble ranking against these keyword domains as well. I suppose it's possible that Google weighs certain keywords or niches differently, perhaps based on popularity of a given term.

2. Domain with hyphens between words doesn't have the same effect.


I've noticed this too.

gouri




msg:4188608
 11:49 am on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

2. Domain with hyphens between words doesn't have the same effect.


For a URL, is it better to have the keywords after the domain separated by underscores or hyphens?

widgets.tld/small_green_widgets

or

widgets.tld/small-green-widgets

FranticFish




msg:4188618
 12:32 pm on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

The more competitive the term the more likely you are to be up against people with money who pay savvy SEOs to get great links.

In the last 12 months I've taken first place for a non-competitive local small business term with an exact match non-hyphenated keyword domain with one link from its sister site (itself not a strong domain by any means). The site was top ten when launched (even with duplicate content). When re-optimised it went to first immediately.

In a more competitive sphere (information search) we launched a new site which immediately outranked Wikipedia, government advice sites, the BBC and other big names with 100s / 1000s of links, with an exact match keyword domain which had just one strong link from its household name parent site. It hovers around 40 for synonyms and related phrases which are supported by the title tag.

So I see a real and disproportionate boost. If you have the natural keyword domain I think your competitors would have to work much harder to keep up.

mrguy




msg:4188639
 1:51 pm on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

If a site is a good site about the exact match domain, then what's the big deal. Sometimes, those domains deserve top billing sometimes they don't. The same thing goes for all domains, some deserve their spot some don't.

People just gripe about both types when they can't beat them or were not quick enough to snatch up the exact match domain themeselves.

gouri




msg:4188654
 2:23 pm on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)


2. Domain with hyphens between words doesn't have the same effect.



For a URL, is it better to have the keywords after the domain separated by underscores or hyphens?

widgets.tld/small_green_widgets

or

widgets.tld/small-green-widgets


Or would it better to have the URL as

widgets.tld/smallgreenwidgets

since some members have posted above that exact match non-hyphenated keyword matches seem to have some benefit in the SERP?

HuskyPup




msg:4188659
 2:26 pm on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have posted before about these, many AdSense, keyword-stuffed sites appearing from nowhere within a few weeks of being launched.

This year has seen a plethora of them in my sphere and most of them offer no good user experience. Other sites I have seen claim to have "High Definition" widget images and not only have they directly copied most of my descriptive techinical text, their images are damned awful to go with it.

My gut feeling is that these sites will die a death in my sector when they realise that there are not huge bucks to be made and when/if they ever have to update them they will realise that there is very little to be made from them if they are paying a developer to do it.

I also wonder why they have chosen these precise trade keywords since I know from my own logs and Google's AdWords Targeting Explorer that these are not frequently searched terms at all. For sure they are popular retail products but for big volume searches fairly pointless.

tedster




msg:4188692
 3:32 pm on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

@gouri - the domain name is a separate question from keywords in the file path. In the file path, keywords seem to be noted but at a very low level of importance. Within that already low level of weight, the most likely to have problems is concatenated keywords, the second lowest is the underscore separation, and the best situation is the dash - but it's still a very small factor.

However, this discussion is about keyword domains - and I agree with the earlier comments that keyword domains benefit from natural keyword anchor text in their backlinks.

gouri




msg:4188724
 4:37 pm on Aug 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I see what you are saying about domain names and URLs not being the same thing. This thread is about keywords only in the domain.

Also, thank you for the information in your post. I do find it helpful.

Edge




msg:4189422
 7:19 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's 2010, and Google still gives a considerable amount of weight to keyword domains.


Yes, google is... I say quality before domin....

MrFewkes




msg:4189434
 7:48 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

My take - at the end of the day - and after much deliberation I might add, is that as a searcher - I key pink widget, when I see pinkwidget dot com up there - I am amazed and IF the domain owner has done a fair to good site at least, im a happy surfer and google is magic for showing me that domain.

The usual spam filters should get shut of the crud on the domain if its really that bad.

I do prefer as a searcher to click on pinkwidget dot com rather than some stupid subpage with loads of ?/p=this-643as33/content/&552331/addetect/usrclick/blahblag blah on some fat monkey corporate site.

Go for it google - giving priority to good solid keyword domains is great along with filtering out the spam.

StoutFiles




msg:4189435
 7:50 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Probably a result of most people not searching for keywords but for the actual domain.

I have a site where the domain isnt a keyword, but the top search results that get people to my site according to Google Analytics are people typing in "my_site_name" or "my_site_name.com". Some people don't bother with the URL bar, they just use Google. Odd I know, but this is what the results are telling me.

TheMadScientist




msg:4189438
 7:56 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some people don't bother with the URL bar, they just use Google.

I have relatives who do this... Yes, they've actually told me they go to a search engine and type in the site they want to visit then click the link to get there. (LOL)

bwnbwn




msg:4189439
 8:00 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I would assume that a keyword domain is usually an old domain and as several have posted the keyword being in the domain makes it an ideal link. This maybe the biggest reason he is outranking with less links then again his 10 links maybe better links than your 50. Numbers are fine quality makes all the difference in the world when comparing link profiles.

I do 100's of searches a day and really haven't seen this to be a ranking issue with other names. True it is better to have the keyword in the domain but I don't think keywordkeywordkeyword.com is gonna help ya rank without support from a proper link profile and age.

blend27




msg:4189457
 8:50 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

they go to a search engine and type in the site they want


<little OT>
And that is why it is very important to get the top 10 for domain.tld name searches to be the pages that have the most most shortest ways to get to the original domain first and not those "KeyWordSpyz and DomainTu`ls" nonesense that usualy takes up the first page(Sometimes creating couple of subdomains with a few pages helps a bit, nothing spammy, some UTILITY words, like contact.domain.tld etc...).
</little OT>

Bewenched




msg:4189462
 9:06 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes they absolutely give more weight to domain names with key phrases in them. I've seen sites with very little content on the page ranking higher than the manufacturer themselves. Not ones with dashes, but ones that have maybe one or two words

Edwin




msg:4189484
 10:02 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

A decent generic domain name is a "signal of quality". For popular commercial search phrases (especially 1-3 word ones) obtaining the exact-match generic can be an expensive proposition if you don't already own it from way-back-when... and that could be interpreted as one thing that separates the spammers from the players.

As such, these kinds of domains should be seen as prime commercial real estate in the heart of downtown. You could in theory put anything you like on the land, but in practice it will generally end up getting sold or leased to deeper pocketed businesses with a business model that "works" such that they can afford it.

And the simple fact that they are based in such a "prime location" is enough to lend real, palpable legitimacy to businesses situated there, even if they're being viewed for the first time by someone unfamiliar with the area. (Contrast your own instant gut reaction to main street vs back street stores in a town you're unfamiliar with)

It's therefore both logical and to be expected that Google would give a decent boost to high value commercial exact-match domains.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4189518
 11:27 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google has already moved away from domain importance(mayday), it seems more balanced now that before, especially for long tail.

netfleet




msg:4189609
 6:23 am on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's a huge factor in my experience especially if it's an exact match. I'd go as far as saying that an exact match KW domain will at least halve the necessary other SEO work to hit the number 1 spot.

It must be exact match though - even a plural difference doesn't give this huge boost.

The other thing is a secondary effect - a ranking boost due to CTR. Searchers are more likely to click on a domain redshoes.com.au when they are searching for 'red shoes' especially as Google emboldens the KW.

misterjinx




msg:4189658
 9:26 am on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

netfleet that's true.

I have a test domain with a blank page, no external backlinks, with a robots.txt disallow and google puts it as the 1st result in SERP.

BlazenWeb




msg:4189701
 10:52 am on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's only been touched on by a couple of people above, but we all know how important external anchor text is, isn't this where most of the advantage to having a keyword rich domain lies?

I would say the majority of the time when other websites link to your website they include branded keywords in the anchor text, usually this is because people link to your website primarily using the name of your organisation, which is helped along by having branded keywords in the domain name too. And also some people will link just using the URL/web address in the anchor text, which again contains the keyword rich anchor text.

I think it's this inclusion of keywords in the anchor text because of the domain name/branding of the website that has so much affect on rankings.

That's why if I was starting a business I would try to get the most important keyword/s in the brand name/organisation name itself and also the domain name (obviously without being spammy, it has to sit naturally with the potential audience)

Having said all that, I sometimes do feel that too much weight is given to those sites that have those important keywords in their domain name/organisation name/brand.

Edwin




msg:4190039
 9:42 pm on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Having the exact match domain also brings more clicks (all other conditions being equal). I did a case study on this a while back, testing 3 Adwords ads against each other for the search phrase "electric bicycles".

The exact match domain got significantly higher CTR and visits than the other 2 domains I used in the test - and that was the only difference as the ads were in the same ad group (back in the day that Google Adwords allowed multiple domains/adgroup) and had the same wording, the same bids and the same keywords targeted.

In other words, in a fair A/B/C test with the only variable being the presence/absence of an exact match domain, the ad with the exact match domain pulled MUCH better than the other 2 ads.

It's a combination double-whammy of the searcher seeing their own search phrase "parotted" back at them in the URL, and also seeing it "up in lights" (exact-match keywords get automatically bolded in the URL) that acts as the hook to generate the extra pulling power...

tedster




msg:4190042
 10:00 pm on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

To go back to the exact title question for a minute - why would Google give exact match domains so much weight? Putting myself in the shoes of an IR engineer, I'd say that an exact match domain would clearly be a strong relevance signal, right? Who would use an exact match domain to serve content on a completely other topic?

So with just a few other relevance signals for support, you've got a VERY high "relevance meta tag" within Google's architecture. Throw in some query-independent signals, and it's just a natural.

np2003




msg:4190104
 3:44 am on Aug 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I see this as well. 5 domains ranked on page 1, all with exact keyword domains. All 5 sites are affiliate sites selling the same content as the parent site.

This 34 message thread spans 2 pages: 34 ( [1] 2 > >
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