Is Domain Name A Google Ranking Factor?

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Keep in mind the early days of the internet?

You might invest all day talking with your pals on AOL messenger while you played solitaire on Yahoo video games. And after that your mommy picked up the phone to make a call, and you were started the web. Great times.

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

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

Sadly (or maybe fortunately, depending upon how you feel about EMDs), fraudsters and bad actors took advantage of this, snatched up many of these domains, and linked them to low-quality sites.

So, what holds true today? Does your domain name have an influence on search results?

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

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The Claim: Is Domain Call A Ranking Element?

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

In 2010, CarInsurance.com cost $49.7 million: still the most costly domain purchase of all time. So clearly, someone valued domains with that keyword.

It was (and in some cases still is) common for individuals in the SEO industry to promote for EMDs. The claims around them generally being that they instantly generate credibility and produce a competitive edge.

However keep in mind those bad stars we spoke about in the last section? Ultimately, Google got wise to their keyword-stuffing URLs and changed its algorithm to discount them. But that’s not to say your site’s domain name does not impact SEO.

The Evidence: The Effect Of Domain Names On SEO

There is a great deal of combined details about domain names and their effect on rankings.

There’s no concern that domain contributed 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 mentioned:

“Therefore, we have been thinking about changing that mix a little bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given two various domains it would not necessarily help you as much to have a domain with a bunch of keywords in it.”

And simply one year later, in 2012, Cutts tweeted that low-grade specific match domains would get reduced visibility in search results.

Lastly, in 2020, Google Web Designer Trends Expert John Mueller exposed keywords in domain names no longer play a role in figuring out search engine results rankings.

Answering a question if keywords in domain impact rankings throughout an Ask Google Webmasters video, he said, “In short, no. You don’t get a special bonus like that from having a keyword in your high-level domain.”

But this does not suggest that domain names are unimportant. They’re simply not direct ranking aspects.

Find out more about Google Ranking Factors in our second Edition ebook.

Our Verdict: Your Domain Call Is Not A Ranking Factor, But Is Still Essential

Now that we’ve developed that domain names are NOT a part of your overall search

engine rankings, SEO professionals can simply forget about

them, right? Never. Your option of a domain name can be an important aspect of your UX and public image. Your domain name must generally be the most recognizable element of your service. Often that’s not your service name but a particular brand or trademark.

You may want to think about subdomains or perhaps separate domains for various properties. If you sell products that resellers carry, this can assist your clients find you more easily.

Utilizing keywords in your domain doesn’t help in terms of search ranking; if not done properly, it could even injure your SEO.

However, if your branding is heavily focused on a specific service or product, including a keyword in the domain might assist users understand what you have to do with at a glance. A carefully put keyword could likewise help attract audiences most likely to convert.

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

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

For more help selecting a domain name, have a look at Roger Montti’s guidance.

Included Image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel

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