In a recent active Reddit discussion, Google’s John Mueller shed light on significant aspects of SEO, particularly regarding keyword-based domains. Does including your primary target keyword in your website’s domain offer any SEO benefits? John’s response was a resounding “No.” Not only did he refute any SEO advantages, but he also emphasized the limited scope and several drawbacks associated with keyword-based domains.
John cautioned that such domains can often backfire from an SEO perspective, despite some SEOs advocating for their use as they purportedly help Google understand the site’s content. John swiftly dismissed the notion of their effectiveness in this regard.
However, it’s worth noting that there are still valid reasons for considering a keyword-based domain that extends beyond the realm of SEO and its associated benefits.
How does Google handle keyword-based domains?
One of Reddit users asked, “How would Google rank the following domains: web-design.com, web.design, web-design.net?” To which John replied, “No difference. Also no difference if you used sabertoothed-hedgehog.com.”
Furthermore, John Mueller emphasized the importance of selecting a domain name that can withstand the test of time, even if the company’s focus evolves over the years. Businesses may expand, refine their scope, or merge with other brands, rendering keyword-based domains ineffective in such scenarios. According to John, the crucial strategy is to opt for a domain name that has the potential to endure and remain relevant regardless of the changes the brand may encounter.
“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).”
Domain should be built to last. Think decades, not weeks, not months.
Changing a website’s domain and site structure can be an intricate and challenging process, as anyone who has experienced it can attest. Unless you are a sizable company with substantial financial and resource capabilities, it can be cumbersome. It’s advisable to leave ample room for future growth rather than adopting a rigid approach immediately. John elucidated the reasons behind this prudent approach, stating:
“Creating separate sites for sub-business-ideas is a hassle, merging sites is a bigger hassle, moving domains is a hassle. All of these things take a lot of time, some money, and more. Go with something you want to keep for longer, which gives you room.”
No, there isn’t any SEO bonus in having a keyword-based domain.
John further went on to explain.
“There’s no secret (or public) SEO-bonus for having your keywords in the domain name. (and for those coming with “but there are keyword domains ranking well” — of course, you can also rank well with a domain that has keywords in it. But you can rank well with other domain names too, and a domain won’t rank well just because it has keywords in it.)”
That clarifies the matter: merely having a keyword in a domain does not guarantee a higher ranking. While a website can achieve a higher ranking, the presence of a keyword in the domain is not the primary reason for it.
Furthermore, beyond the SEO aspect, there are numerous other valid reasons to consider. Firstly, it can assure potential visitors that the site offers what they are seeking, potentially increasing conversion rates. Ultimately, the choice of how you want your brand to be perceived rests with you, and it’s a decision you can make based on your unique circumstances and goals.
Source: Search Engine Journal