Is Domain Name A Google Ranking Factor?

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Keep in mind the early days of the internet?

You could invest all day talking with your pals on AOL messenger while you played solitaire on Yahoo video games. And then your mama got the phone to phone, and you were kicked off the web. Great times.

In those days, if you were doing some shopping, there was a good chance you were doing it on a site with a specific match domain (EMD). For instance, if you required a pet collar, you ‘d most likely wind up on a site with an address like www.buydogcollars.com.

In those primitive days of seo, it was common for companies to put their precise target keyword expression right in their domain URL.

Sadly (or possibly luckily, depending upon how you feel about EMDs), fraudsters and bad stars made the most of this, nabbed up a number of these domains, and connected them to low-quality websites.

So, what’s true today? Does your domain have an effect on search engine result?

Let’s take a more detailed look at the debate.

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The Claim: Is Domain Call A Ranking Factor?

Having a specific match domain used to be a big deal.

In 2010, CarInsurance.com cost $49.7 million: still the most expensive domain name purchase of all time. So plainly, somebody valued domains with that keyword.

It was (and often still is) typical for people in the SEO market to promote for EMDs. The claims around them typically being that they immediately produce credibility and create an one-upmanship.

But remember those bad actors we discussed in the last section? Eventually, Google got smart to their keyword-stuffing URLs and changed its algorithm to discount them. However that’s not to state your website’s domain name does not affect SEO.

The Evidence: The Effect Of Domain Names On SEO

There is a lot of blended details about domain names and their impact on rankings.

There’s no concern that domain played a role in rankings at one point.

In a 2011 Web Designer Hangout, Matt Cutts, a software engineer on Google’s Search Quality group, acknowledged the role EMDs played in the tech giant’s search algorithm.

Nevertheless, he also specified:

“And so, we have actually been thinking about changing that mix a little bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that provided 2 various domains it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain with a lot of keywords in it.”

And just one year later, in 2012, Cutts tweeted that low-quality exact match domains would get minimized exposure in search engine result.

Lastly, in 2020, Google Webmaster Trends Expert John Mueller exposed keywords in domain names no longer play a role in determining search engine results rankings.

Responding to a concern if keywords in domain effect rankings during an Ask Google Webmasters video, he said, “Simply put, no. You do not get an unique perk like that from having a keyword in your top-level domain.”

However this doesn’t indicate that domain names are unimportant. They’re simply not direct ranking aspects.

Discover more about Google Ranking Factors in our 2nd Edition ebook.

Our Decision: Your Domain Call Is Not A Ranking Aspect, However Is Still Essential

Now that we’ve developed that domain are NOT a part of your overall online search engine rankings, SEO specialists can simply forget about them, right?

Absolutely not.

Your option of a domain name can be a crucial element of your UX and public image. Your domain should usually be the most recognizable element of your company. In some cases that’s not your company name but a specific brand name or hallmark.

You may wish to think about subdomains and even different domains for different residential or commercial properties. If you offer items that resellers carry, this can help your clients discover you more easily.

Using keywords in your domain doesn’t assist in terms of search ranking; if not done correctly, it might even injure your SEO.

However, if your branding is greatly focused on a particular service or product, consisting of a keyword in the domain could assist users comprehend what you have to do with at a look. A carefully put keyword might likewise assist bring in audiences most likely to convert.

Do not be afraid to use a keyword if it’s highly appropriate or part of your branding.

So, here’s the TL; DR: Your domain name doesn’t directly affect your Google ranking but provides chances for smart web marketers to reflect their brand’s values and create more favorable user experiences.

For more assistance picking a domain, have a look at Roger Montti’s guidance.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel