The Impact of Domain Names on SEO: 5 Myths
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Guest Post by Brandon.
There are a few myths about domain names. Some people will tell you that having keywords in your domain name is the most important thing you can do, others will tell you it doesn’t matter anymore. Others still suggest that you purchase a bunch of keyword rich domains and point them to your main site, which will cause keyword rich domains to show up in search results and help your rankings. This article will hopefully clear some of the big myths up for you.
Myth #1: Keyword Rich Domains are the Most Important Factor in SEO
False. Maybe. I would be wary of anyone who tells you that they know what the most important SEO factor is. The truth is, search engines don’t tell us how they prioritize different elements in their ranking algorithm. Domain names matter, certainly, but how much they matter we’ll never know.
Myth #2: Keyword Rich Domains Don’t Matter
False. A domain name is the first thing a search engine looks at when indexing your page. What it contains certainly does matter. This rumor originated after Google’s Panda update since a bunch of made for Adsense sites were penalized. One of the biggest techniques these sites used to ensure high rankings was keyword-rich domains. To give a purely hypothetical example, owners would purchase something like “best-bars.com” and make a page for every city they could think of, so “best-bars.com/los-angeles” and then fill these pages with text about different bars in these cities. Surrounding the text would be as many advertisements as they could get away with fitting on the page. All of this worked very well – you could rank for “best bars in Los Angeles” fairly easily if four of the five words appeared in the URL (especially the domain) and all of them appeared as a heading on the page. With each page optimized for each city, you could get decent traffic. (I just checked, Google estimates over six thousand monthly searches for “best bars in Los Angeles.” The domain best-bars.com is for sale by the owner if you think this is a winning move for you.) The reason these sites were penalized was not because the use of keyword rich domains was seen as spammy, but because they would copy and paste text from other sites into their own. It’s true that Google is placing more of an emphasis on brands than just words, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to forego keywords in your domains.
Myth #3: Buying Keyword Rich Domains and Pointing Them at My Site Helps Me
False. If this is all you’re doing. Unless you’re expecting direct traffic from a domain or using a domain in an advertisement, this tactic won’t do much by itself. Now, if you have backlinks leading to the domain you’d like to redirect, the benefit of those backlinks will help the page you point the site to. But absent anything else, it won’t do you much good. I advise people to purchase domains that they think might be useful to their business and, instead of just parking them, redirecting them to their main website until they decide to branch them off into microsites.
Myth #4: If I Redirect a Keyword Rich Domain to My Site, the Keyword Rich Domain Will Appear in SERPs
False. The only way this happens is with a masked redirect, which is HTML code that loads the real page in a frame. Visitors see the URL that you want them to see, but they really end up browsing the other site. I advise against doing something like this; all backlinks to the keyword rich domain will end up pointing to the home page and you can risk getting penalized for cloaking or duplicate content.
Myth #5: TLD’s Matter
True. For rankings, not so much. For advertising, they matter a great deal. If you want to include your website in any oral advertisement (radio, television) then you should stick with .com. People usually think of most sites as ending with .com so they will default to it, even if you say something different. If you’re focused on blogging or doing work that won’t employ traditional advertising, you can use whichever TLD you prefer.
What’s your experience with domain names? Have you have any challenges or misconceptions you’ve discovered?
Author bio: Brandon is the owner of Boomajoom.com a San Jose SEO company that has helped clients reach more customers online. One such client is Susan Goulding, a realtor in Tracy, California who is finding success in real estate despite the odds. The opinions contained within this article are not necessarily her’s.
Originally posted on: Written on June 26, 2011, Sunday