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Do Domain Names Even Matter Anymore?

Using any old domain name for a project.

     
5:31 am on Dec 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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OK, stay with me here. At least for a bit...

I have a few unused domain names hanging around that I never got around to using for one reason or another. I also have a couple of web projects that I want to start. These will not be company brand linked web sites and will also be starting small and hopefully growing so, rather than buying more domain names with 'on-topic' keywords, I thought I would have a look at crowbaring my two websites into some of my existing domain names.

Obviously, I am not going to use redwidgets dot com for a site about blue widgets. That would be silly. (On the other hand...)

But a couple of my domains are generic enough to be used for pretty much anything, so I thought I might add the content, with a flippant/humorous 'About Us' page and see how it goes.

Is this a daft idea? Should I be spending time researching keyword relevant domains? Or is that all sooooo last year? Does anyone really care about the name of the domain, as long as it has a snappy or memorable title/url and good content?

9:20 am on Dec 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If you're trying to target a keyword that's really competitive then a domain (if available) with your keyword should do well but if you have a domain thats easy to remember and good content it should work as well.
Just remember that a site is like wine, it gets better with age. the only way to see if it works is to try it and see what happens.getting a site to rank in google takes time so make sure whatever domain you plan to use, you should stick with it and not change it after six months because all the work you have done to get it to rank will have been for nothing
5:11 am on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks. But I'm generally OK with the keyword, optimisation side of things.

What I am harking after is more of a branding issue than anything else. Do visitors/searchers expect web sites to have keyword relevant domains, or are trends changing in that regard? Leaving aside the 'Googles' of this world, are smaller websites setting themselves up for failure by not using keyword driven domains, or is there even an advantage in having a more generic domain name that is not keyword dependent.

For example, would it allow you to expand and diversify later on?

7:32 am on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If you know what you're doing, the domain is meaningless when it comes to ranking and marketing as long as it's memorable.

I can tell you for a FACT that if the content is structured properly the domain doesn't mean beans in Google.

Some of my main competitors have generic domains that meant nothing in my topic yet they are giving me a run for my money against my niche specific domain as we alternate in the top 10 results for many thousands of keywords.

As a matter of fact, one competitor with the silliest of made up names like "ExampleWhizBangSite" or some nonsense which is easy to remember and it ranks like crazy because the content is properly structured.

[edited by: incrediBILL at 7:34 am (utc) on Jan. 1, 2009]

7:42 am on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks incrediBILL.

Indeed, that is kind of the way I am beginning to think more and more. I am soooo bored with keyword specific domain names - especially when they sound so clumsy, because someone has advised the webmaster to stick loads of keywords in their domain.

6:41 pm on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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i still find that relevant domain names have an in built advantage over irrelevant names, in all 3 major search engines.

Okay, when the sites are massively developed, have an enomous number of incomming links, then it does seem to matter less, but I don't think the in built advantage ever really goes away

Anyway, thats just my limited 2 c

6:47 pm on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think there's an argument to be made both ways. Of the three biggest online travel-agency sites, only one has the word "travel" in its domain name. On the other hand, users might expect the Widgetville Convention & Visitors Bureau to have a domain like "visitwidgetville.com" or "widgetville-cvb.org." I'd say your best strategy is to use common sense and judge each case on its own merits.
8:25 pm on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Personally I wouldn't use a keyword rich domain name for long term results anyway. Tough to brand a domain name like that - the keywords as a company don't mean anything to consumers.

I tend to use keyword rich domain names to target mid or long tail search terms. they're nice easy ways to get the odd bit of traffic on specific search terms. So I own a number of them along with some typos; just because they seem to be easy to rank for specific terms.

But I wouldn't try and build a company or brand around them. For that I want unique and memorable.

DXL

11:16 pm on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Seems like no one has yet mentioned one of the biggest advantages of keyword-rich domain names, and that is easy inclusion of your target keywords as anchor text when getting links. That doesn't always reflect the site name, but it will certainly pass the sniff test if a directory editor or webmaster notices that your suggested title matches the site's domain name.
11:19 pm on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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well

I think even a keyword in a domain name is good (or search engines wont highlight the keyword from the domain name when searching).

But think about it in this way, how do search engines deal with other languages!? no domains with any language else than English, websites with other languages are still doing great!

i think you will rank for your keywords, even if its not included in your domain name, but i think the highlight thing is an enough evidence of the keyword domain names importance.

while since the name is good and easy to remember for returning visitors, and since you asked to keep Google and SE aside, then i think it do not matter if there is no keyword in the name!

12:42 am on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Domain is one of many variables. It does not make or break a ranking but as a variable it can give an edge when all other variables are equal
3:10 am on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Do Domain Names Even Matter Anymore?

Same as they always have:

  • They offer curb appeal, instilling a sense that "this will be good" even before you get in for a ride: Cars.tld? I'll take it.
  • They offer street cred, the wow factor: LosAngeles.tld? I'll take it.
  • They lower upfront costs of branding a name/domain to a service/product: Diamonds.tld? I'll take it.
  • They come equipped with built in traffic: News.tld? I'll take it.
  • They have an easier time capturing repeat visits: Sex.tld? I'll take it.
  • They facilitate word of mouth referrals: History.com? I'll take it.

Anyone who says an industry defining domain isn't an asset that can yield steady dividends is full of Bologna.com [Bologna.com].

[edited by: Webwork at 2:43 pm (utc) on Jan. 2, 2009]

6:28 am on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Few of us ordinary mortals would have the budget to obtain an "industry defining" domain name; we'd have to settle for something like some-convoluted-keyword-phrase.tld if we want a keyword rich domain.

The latter might convey some advantages for specific SEO goals, but in many cases such a domain would be seriously limiting for broader business goals.

My opinion: go for a domain name that would be brandable and memorable, and learn how to use keywords effectively in directory names, file names, subdomains, etc.

6:47 am on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think that's my sticking point. The only relevant keyword domain names available to me would involve me crowbarring the keyword into the domain name in such an awkward manner, that it would look ugly.
1:26 pm on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Interesting question.

Do the domain name matters?

Well, remember there was a time when people booked domains like

Keyword1-Keyword2-Keyword3.com

And…. It worked.

NO MORE!

They are now considered spammy domains.

But… having a keyword in the domain makes it slightly “easier” for ranking for that particular keyword.

Actually, you have to take a call. Remember that in the long run Branding of the domain name will be more important than the presence of a keyword in the domain.

Which is more important? You decide...

Dilip Shaw

4:49 pm on Jan 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Do Domain Names Even Matter Anymore?

They matter "very much" to those who have them. Don't let anyone tell you any different either. :)

Having the "perfect domain name" can big a +5 points out of the gate. I work on a 100 point scale.

Many things occur when you have the ultimate domain. There are both internal and external "relevancy" factors that come into play.

The ultimate scenario would be to have a company name that contains the primary word and or words that you are targeting, that is by far the best from a "in the trenches" perspective. And if you don't have the company name but do have the domain then set up a /d/b/a/, you'll thank me later and so will your CPA. ;)

Is this a daft idea? Should I be spending time researching keyword relevant domains?

No, not a daft idea at all. Let's talk about the keyword relevant domains. If you have or can obtain one that makes perfect sense to your visitors, go for it. If they are all taken and you've tried a more creative approach and still can't find one, then maybe you are sitting on the perfect one already and just don't know it. Brand is a large factor in domain names. If you've got something that is brandable, rolls off the tongue and can be easily remembered, that is a +5 points too. But, you've now got to invest the resources to establish the Brand and that may not be an easy task.

Or is that all sooooo last year? Does anyone really care about the name of the domain, as long as it has a snappy or memorable title/url and good content?

Memorable is the keyword there. As long as the visitor can remember it, that is really what counts. If you've got something that is memorable and the resources to brand it, I say take that and run with it. Are they short? Can they be typed easily on a QWERTY keyboard? How do they look in Pascal? Do they exceed the Display URI limit for ads? All sorts of questions would be running through me mind...

 

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