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Google: No SEO Bonus For Keyword-Based Domains

John Mueller says keyword-based domains are limiting and provide no SEO bonus. He then offered ideas for the best domains

Google’s John Mueller answered a question on Reddit about ranking advantages of utilizing the keywords in the domain name. Mueller confirmed that there is no Search engine optimization bonus for keywords in the field and numerous reasons why not to use keyword based domains.

Mueller lists numerous reasons why keywords in domains do not offer a ranking bonus and why choosing those kinds of domains can backfire. Nevertheless, there are still numerous reasons why keywords in domains might still be a valid choice. Keywords in Domain Name. There are various reasons why some SEOs recommend utilizing a keyword in the domain.

Keywords in Domain Name

Some say that whenever someone links to you with only simple URL, the keyword will act like an anchor text and influence Google’s rankings. But John Mueller has already explained that Google knows the distinction between bare URL and anchor text and that Google won’t use the keywords in bare URL. Others say that keywords in the domain helps Search engine optimization because keywords help Google understand what your site is about. But his latest answer on Reddit discredits that idea. There was a time when Google ranked exactly matching domains, including parked domains. But that exact match domain effect was dampened several years ago to reduce the impact. However there might be some valid non numerous reasons why keyword based domain could be desirable.

How Would Google Rank Keyword-Based Domains?

The person on Reddit asked how Google would rank various keyword-based domains.

“How would Google rank the following domains: web-design.com, web.design, web-design.net?”

Google’s John Mueller offered his insight into how Google handles keywords in domains.

Mueller answered:

“No difference. Also no difference if you used sabertoothed-hedgehog.com. “

Choose a Domain Name For the Long Term

Mueller next suggested that it might make sense to pick up a domain that could outlast a change in focus. An example of this is Amazon. Amazon started as an on-line book seller and was able to transition to selling almost everything because its domain name was non specific to books. A lot of the first Search engine optimization agencies started as web site design companies. When they eventually transitioned away from web site design toward Search engine optimization they also had to change their domain name like well. Another example is how trends change so what sounds fashionable at the time, like adding the word media, to the end of a SEO company name, can sound tired or cliched a few years later. John Mueller advised to choose a website domain name that may survive a modification in the company model and trends.

He continues to answer

“Pick a domain name you can build on for the long run.

Maybe you’re doing web-design now, but what will you do in 5, 10 years?

Pick something that lets you grow, or go with a domain name that’s more like a brand which you can build out & which people can find you with directly (that would be my recommendation).”

Could a Keyword Domain Be Worthwhile?

We know that the keywords in a website domain name may limit the scope of a domain in the future and locks that business into focusing on one topic. However in my experience, having a keyword in the domain could help conversions and that’s something that can be tested using A\/B tests and PPC to identify which domain name performs best.

A general keyword might be useful as well. A keyword in the domain can signal to a potential visitor that your site has what they are looking for. Not one of the above numerous reasons are directly related to Search engine optimization currently. But they’re numerous reasons why one might consider a keyword based domain.

John Mueller emphasized the following points:

  • No ranking bonus for keywords in domains
  • Keyword-based domains can limit your business growth
  • Pivoting to a new domain is a huge hassle
  • Choose a domain that has the potential to grow

Citation:

How would Google rank the following domains: web-design.com, web.design, web-design.net? Assume people google “web design”.

Read John Mueller’s Answer

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