More threads by djbaxter


Jun 28, 2012
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Google on Ranking Power of Keyword Domains
by Roger Montti, Search Engine Journal
July 31, 2018

1. Keyword Domains Don’t Have a Time Advantage
There is a belief that keyword domains are able to rank better faster than branded domains. But according to Google’s John Mueller, this is not the case.

Here’s what John Mueller confirmed:

“…it takes time like any other new website. …Obviously there are lots of websites out there that do rank for the keywords in their domain name. But they worked on this maybe for years and years…”

2. Keywords in Domains Don’t Rank Better
John Mueller was quite firm in asserting that keyword domains do not rank better than branded domains.

“…just because keywords are in a domain name doesn’t mean that it’ll automatically rank for those keywords.”

There is so much that goes into ranking, like content, user intent for that content as well as links. All of that likely takes significant precedence toward something like keywords in the domain.

3. Keyword Domains Lost Influence Years Ago
John Mueller asserted that keyword domains lost influence years ago.

Here is what John Mueller stated:
“…just because keywords are in a domain name doesn’t mean that it’ll automatically rank for those keywords. And that’s something that’s been the case for a really, really long time.”

4. Keyword Domains Ranked the Same as Branded Domains
This is another statement that contradicts the idea that keywords in a domain name have a ranking benefit. John Mueller points out that the keywords in a domain are unrelated to their current ranking:

John Mueller’s statement on keywords in domains:
“…it’s kind of normal that they would rank for those keywords and that they happen to have them in their domain name is kind of unrelated to their current ranking.”

Interesting article.

The quotes he uses from Mueller, to me, don't say what the author asserts they say.

It really seemed like Mueller was skirting the issue that keywords in the domain name can actually help so businesses won't be tempted to put them in their domain name.

However, the main reason not to use keywords in your domain name is because if you do, you're forming the marketing of your entire company around SEO. It's tantamount to businesses naming themselves "AAA Auto Repair" back in the day for Yellowpages optimization or, a more relevant example, choosing a business name with keywords in it so they rank well on Google.

That is short sighted.

SEO is just one part of marketing and marketing is just one part of your business. You choose a business name that is going to work well holistically. And do the same for your domain name because at the end of the day, while Mueller didn't say that keywords in a domain don't help, I think he said enough to show they don't give a significant enough advantage to base your domain, and in effect, you entire domain marketing around SEO.

Also, thanks djb for always bringing interesting articles to the forum. I appreciate it!
keyword domains used to rank real quick for keywords but that stopped years ago.

I will say that keywords in domains are still beneficial for SEO, but you can't just throw up a keyword domain website and expect to rank anymore. You still have to do all the usual SEO stuff to get it to rank, but it does happen faster and the domain with a keyword or city in it can still be beneficial and is definitely still a ranking factor, albeit not a major one anymore.

If you were to try and rank two domains for dentist + city...and one was criagsdentalcenter and the other was dentistlosangeles - the LA domain would have an advantage over the other if you performed the same SEO work on both equally and they were both in the same area of the city.

Because the domain becomes the primary keyword that is being linked from all the directories and everything when you're creating links to the keyword domain it actually helps that specific keyword to rank higher for that domain.
I would also add that if you're relying on keywords in the domain name to be the defining edge between beating the competition and not, you probably need a better SEO strategy.

This is not in reference to adammaxum's post at all, just a reflection I had while reading this thread again and couldn't edit my old post.
I have found that keywords in the domain are more of a ranking factor for the local algorithm than the organic one. They are still a factor in both in my experience.
For local ranking I find keyword + city works quite well as in I don't have to get links as much.
I also thought the writer took a leap in the title from what Mueller said. Choosing a domain name strictly for SEO benefits has a great chance of hindering your marketing as you expand into other areas and, for multi-locations especially, can cause a huge mess.

There are a lot of great points in the article, thanks for sharing!

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