The Truth About Keywords in Domain Names

By: Jeremy Biberdorf

A question that comes up often is whether a company should be using a keyword rich domain name or not. While it may be a bit easier to get rankings with keywords in your domain, it might not always be the best choice. Before you make this crucial decision, ensure you know the benefits of each choice.

Building Brand vs Building Rankings

Before you purchase your domain name, you need to make the decision of what's more important - brand awareness or search engine rankings. It's not that you won't get search engine rankings if you choose brand awareness, it's just that it might take longer to get those rankings.

If you have a short, marketable company name, you likely want that company name well known in your niche. This doesn't happen overnight - it takes many years of promoting your company name everywhere that you promote your website. The rewards are priceless though. Imagine having people automatically mention your company anytime they discuss your niche.

If you have a longer company name or one that is less marketable, your brand awareness may not be as important. For such a company, you would be very happy just to be getting search engine rankings and traffic. Brand recognition may be more of a secondary goal to you.

The Search Engine Optimization Benefits of Keyword Rich Domains

Some people are under the impression that if you use a keyword rich domain name, you will automatically get rankings for that keyword phrase. While this may be true in an uncompetitive niche, it usually isn't the case. Having keywords in your domain name just gives a small rankings boost.

It is debatable whether search engines automatically give rankings boosts for domain keywords or whether the rankings boost is an indirect result. I am more inclined to believe that it is an indirect result. When you have good keywords in your domain name, a large percentage of your links would have your keywords in the link anchor text. Normally some of your links would go to less desirable anchor text such as your company name or url. Those links only give boosts for specific keywords if you have keywords in your domain. Think of all the links that require you to use your company or website name….web directories, industry publications, press releases, etc.

Although this boost may be a small one, you should be taking every bit of help you can in the battle to get rankings. On top of the rankings help, domain keyword usage also gets your domain name bolded in the search results. This can draw more attention and improve your click through rates.

The Downside of Keyword Filled Domains

There are cases where it is less advantageous to have keywords in your domain name.

In certain niches, this could make your url blend in with other competitors with similar urls. If your domain looks the same as another well ranked site, people may think they have already visited your site. You need to stand out.

With some keywords, it can look quite spammy to use them all in your domain name. Your url might look too long or the keywords might not apply to all of your offerings. This could severely limit your click through rates and conversion rates.

By using your keywords in your domain name, you may be making it extremely tough to develop brand recognition. Instead of always seeing your company name everywhere, people might instead just be seeing your keywords.


There is no right or wrong answer about what kind of domain name is better. It just depends on your goals and the details of your circumstances. You can get search engine rankings with virtually any domain name, but what domain is going to help your company the most?

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Jeremy Biberdorf is an internet marketing professional with over 10 years of experience. Check out his website for low priced keyword research.

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