Is The Domain Name A Factor in Google Rankings?
Exact match domains used to be quite important. But do search rankings nowadays still take into account domain names?
Do you remember when the internet first started?
On AOL Messenger, you could talk to your pals nonstop while playing solitaire on Yahoo Games. You were immediately blocked from the internet as soon as your mother picked up the phone to make a call. Fun times.
In those days, there was a good probability that you were purchasing on a website with an exact match domain (EMD). For instance, if you were searching for a dog collar, you would likely land on a website with the domain name www.buydogcollars.com.
When search engine optimization was still in its infancy, it was normal practice for businesses to include their precise target keyword phrase in the domain URL.
Unfortunately, scammers and bad actors took advantage of this (or perhaps luckily, depending on how you feel about EMDs), scooped up many of these domains, and linked them to subpar websites.
What then is current truth? Does the name of your domain affect search engine results?
Let’s examine the argument more closely.
The Question: Does Domain Name Affect Ranking?
Exact match domains used to be quite important.
CarInsurance.com was purchased for $49.7 million in 2010 and is remains the most expensive domain name ever. It is obvious that someone valued domains containing that keyword.
EMD advocacy was, and occasionally still is, a widespread practice among those working in the SEO sector. The main claims made about them are that they instantaneously produce credibility and a competitive edge.
However, Google eventually developed an understanding of their keyword-stuffing URLs and modified its algorithm. But that does not imply that SEO is unaffected by the domain name of your website.
The Proof: How Domain Names Affect SEO
Regarding domain names and their effect on rankings, there is a lot of conflicting evidence.
There is little doubt that domain names once factored into rankings.
A software engineer for Google’s Search Quality group named Matt Cutts acknowledged the significance of EMDs in the search algorithm at a 2011 Webmaster Hangout.
However, he also stated:
“And so, we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a little bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given two different domains it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain with a bunch of keywords in it.”
A year later, in 2012, Cutts tweeted that exact match domains with low quality would have less visibility in search results.
Finally, in 2020, John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, discovered that the ranks of websites in search engine results no longer depend on the keywords in domain names.
In response to a question about whether domain names with keywords affect rankings, he replied, “In short, no. An extra benefit like that is not provided by having a keyword in your top-level domain.
However, this does not imply that domain names are not significant. Simply put, they don’t directly affect rankings.
Conclusion: Even if it’s not a ranking factor, your domain name still matters
The fact that domain names are not a factor in your total search engine results means that SEO specialists can stop worrying about them, right? Without a doubt.
Your UX and public perception may be significantly impacted by the domain name you choose. Typically, the thing that people will remember most about your company is its domain name. Sometimes, that’s a specific brand or trademark, not your company name.
For various properties, you might want to think about using subdomains or even separate domains. This may make it easier for customers to find you if you sell things that distributors also sell.
In terms of search ranking, using keywords in your domain is useless; if done incorrectly, it may even degrade your SEO.
However, if your branding is strongly tied to a specific service or item, putting a keyword in the domain could make your brand’s message more obvious to visitors. A strategically placed term could also help draw in potential customers.
If a keyword is extremely relevant or is a part of your branding, don’t be scared to use it.
The TL;DR is that while your domain name doesn’t directly affect your Google ranking, it does offer smart online marketers the chance to express their brand’s values and improve user experiences.
Source: Search Engine Journal