Does a Keyword Rich Domain Name Help Boost Google Rankings?

Keywords in Domains

Anyone interested in online entrepreneurship and SEO wonders if a domain name can help boost Google rankings… a billion-dollar question. The networked world is swamped with billions of domain names. How can a website attract high rankings in one of the largest and most popular search engines?

According to Verisgn Inc., “the first quarter of 2012 closed with a base of more than 233 million domain name registrations across all Top-Level Domains (TLDs), an increase of 7.5 million domain names, or 3.3 percent, over the fourth quarter of 2011.”

Regardless of Google Panda and Penguin updates, keyword-rich domain names are still frantically being pursued by SEO spinners and Internet entrepreneurs.  Despite numerous updates by Google, keyword-rich domains still remain the most popular and continue to be ranked highly. Domains are still included in search results outlined on rankings/traffic and click through rate (CTR). Above all, this principle shows two sides of the coin.

Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, said the search engine giant had diminished the importance of keyword rich domain names in search results. He explained the pros and cons of this principle and answered this question, “How would you explain ‘The Power of Keyword Domains’ to someone looking to take a decision what kind of domain to go for?”

Watch the video and read our take below:


Enhanced CTR
Despite the Panda and Penguin crackdown, gearing your site keyword rich domain name can pull the trigger to enhance CTR. One thing’s for sure, the clearest advantage manifests on bold appearance of URL related to your site’s keyword.

Historical records showed keyword rich domain attract high ranking
According to Cutts, “[Google has] adjusted the mix and, sort of, turning the knob down within the algorithm.” Although Google had done some tweaks, there are keyword rich domains that have high rankings but lack link profiles and insufficient on-page SEO.

There is no direct implication from Cutts that keyword rich domain names are devalued, Cutts said they reduced the level, “turned the knob within the algorithm,” to a level that is more appropriate to other domains. Although they are not that strong, they still carry some weight.


No Brand Awareness
It depends on the company’s goals. Some brands would like to optimize the site with a keyword-rich domain name that sets aside brand awareness. Other companies choose to build a brand that’s easily remembered, while others overlook the latter and focus on search engine optimization keywords. Tweaking keywords on domain names doesn’t do any favor to your brand.

Penguin update slapped the keyword rich domain names as spam
The reason behind this update is not because of URL structure but the risk of running an over-optimized site. The targeted keywords are already in the URL that scans too heavily in addition to the page’s content.

Overall, it boils down to the company’s goals. There are a lot of brands out there that don’t have keyword rich domain names. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Digg, Mashable, etc.

Which do you prefer, rankings or brand awareness?

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