Keyword Domains – An Analysis

There are myriads of discussions online debating the effect of selecting domains which are keyword rich. “Ann Smarty” recently made a post on SearchEngineJournal which, while recognizing the effectiveness of this in past practice, suggests that it is becoming less successful. This theory of hers is based on two points:

  1. this has been abused by spammers registering hundreds of “long-tail” domains to rank them for exact match;
  2. today it is almost impossible to get hold of any “exact match” domains that wouldn’t be too long or pointless.

I’m not an expert in SEO or as experienced as “Ann” is, but I find some serious flaws in the two points she provided above. The first really really really obvious mistake is point #2. I found a domain just today which contained two words, eleven letters, and I was able to pick up the .org version with a dash between the two words. Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool showed that the two word keyword combination had over 110,000 searches in the US during the month of May, and over 240,000 on average global searches. I was able to repeat this several times with different 2 word combinations, and while the .com was consistently taken, it was rarely developed. In all of my examples there were at least one possible match for the two keywords, using one of the three top domains, .com, .net, and .org. While my selection of an .org domain is less then desirable, especially if it applies to a commercial product, it does refute her claims of whether they are still available. She did after all use the words “almost impossible.”

The first point she provides is unsubstantiated, but, it does hold some merit. Spammers have abused the long-tail domain market; however, as with most things, spammers have abused all domain names whether long-tail or not. Let’s face it, if spammers would just go away, the whole world would be better off. As long as they can make a penny where you and I make a dollar, however, they’ll continue to spam in such bulk as to make up the difference. Google doesn’t need to punish domain names in order to punish a site which is clearly being used for no purpose other then spamming for search traffic. Their secret algorithm is fined tuned enough that a website designed solely around a name will lack sufficient weight to get it high enough in Google’s serps to be seen by the average browser.

I believe that keywording a domain does help you. While the effectiveness may be diminishing, it isn’t because Google is punishing it. And a good website developer can still find sufficient long-tail keywords to develop legitimate websites around. The usage of this method doesn’t insure you instant wealth. But it does give you a leg up on your competition.

To read the actual article by “Ann” and the indepth followup conversation visit: How Much Weight Do Keywords in the Domain Name Still Have (Poll)?

2 thoughts on “Keyword Domains – An Analysis”

  1. Hi Dennis
    You raise some intersting points here. I work with a number of smaller businesses in the UK and recommend that they buy a domain name around their keyword. This seems to work really well and as you say is not always as difficult as people make out.
    My self I own a domain in a very competitive niche and am no 2 and 3 with 23 million competing pages.

    The one question I have is about dashes in the domain name? does that still work? I have avoided suggesting this.
    If it does this would give more flexibility to some of the clients I work with.
    Best Wishes


  2. Hi Denise,

    Thanks for stopping by. I see evidence it can work, but I personally wouldn’t do more then one dash… I think the key to making this work for you, is finding a niche keyword combination, with minimal competition. In the case of the example I gave I see 0 results on the first page with the keyword in the domain. Zilch. And the results considering the combination of words, simply weren’t impressive.


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