No SEO bonus for keyword-based domains

Google’s John Mueller answered a question on Reddit about ranking the benefits of using keywords in a domain name. Mueller confirmed that there is no SEO bonus for domain keywords and listed reasons not to use keyword-based domains.

Mueller lists the valid reasons why keywords in domains do not provide a ranking bonus and why choosing these types of domains can be counterproductive. However, there are still reasons (non-SEO related) why domain keywords are still a valid option.

Keywords in the domain name

There are many reasons why some SEOs recommend a domain keyword. Some say that when someone only links you to a URL, the keyword will act as anchor text and affect Google rankings.

But John Mueller has already made it clear that Google knows the difference between a naked URL and anchor text and that Google will not use keywords in a naked URL.

Others say domain keywords help SEO because keywords help Google understand what the site is about. But his latest answer on Reddit distorts that idea.

There was a time when Google ranked exact match domains, including parked ones. But this exact match field effect was installed many years ago to reduce the effect.

However, there may be some valid, non-SEO-related reasons why a keyword-based domain is desirable.

How will Google rank domains based on keywords?

The person on Reddit asked how Google ranks different domains based on keywords.

“How does Google rank the following domains: web-design.com, web.design, web-design.net?”

Google’s John Mueller provided his insights into how Google handles keywords in domains.

Mueller replied:

“No difference. Also no difference if you use sabertoothed-hedgehog.com.”

Choose a domain name for the long term

Muller then suggested that it might make sense to choose an area that could withstand a change in focus.

A good example of this is Amazon. Amazon started as an online bookseller and was able to move into selling just about everything because its domain name wasn’t specific to books.

Many of the first SEO agencies started as website design companies. When they finally moved from web design to SEO, they also had to change their domain names.

Another example is how trends have changed, so what seemed trendy at the time, like adding the word “The mediaTo the end of an SEO company name, it can sound tired or tacky after a few years.

John Mueller advised choosing a domain name that can withstand the change in business model and trends.

He continued his answer:

Pick a domain name that you can build on for the long-term.

You might be designing websites now, but what are you going to do in 5 or 10 years?

Choose something that will allow you to grow, or choose a domain name that is a lot like a brand you can create and that people can find you directly through (that would be my recommendation). “

A guide to the future of your business

Mueller then explained how changing the domain name or restructuring the site could be a huge problem because the focus on the site grew.

Some sites start out focusing on one topic and that’s fine. But it is always good to give one room to grow.

For example, a TV rating website might have a hard time navigating to become known as a soundbar review site if it had the words TV and Review in its domain name.

Mueller explains why it is a good idea to choose a domain that can grow with your website.

John continued:

“Creating separate sites for subsidiary business ideas is tedious, merging sites is a bigger problem, and moving domains is a problem.

All of these things take a lot of time, some money, and more. Go with something you want to keep longer, which gives you space. “

Keyword domains have no SEO bonus

Mueller then turned to explaining how there is no SEO bonus for using a keyword-based domain name.

John explained:

There is no secret (or public) SEO bonus for having your keywords in the domain name.

(And for those who come up with “but there are well-ranked keyword domains” – of course, you can also rank well with a domain that has keywords in it.

But you can also rank well with other domain names, and a domain won’t rank well just because it has keywords.)”

Could the keyword domain be helpful?

We know that keywords in a domain name can limit the domain’s scope in the future and limit this business to focusing on one topic.

However, in my experience, having a domain keyword can help with conversions and this is something that can be tested using A/B and PPC tests to determine which domain name is best performing.

The generic keyword can also be useful.

A domain keyword can indicate to a potential visitor that your site has what they are looking for.

None of the above two reasons are directly related to SEO at this time. But they are good reasons why one might consider a keyword based domain.

But these kinds of considerations must be weighed against the advice shared by John Mueller and the understanding that a keyword-based domain can limit business growth.

John Mueller emphasized the following points:

  • No ranking bonus for keywords in domains
  • Keyword-based domains can limit your business growth
  • Pivoting to a new field is a big problem
  • Choose the field that has the potential to grow

Ideally, when starting a business, the idea of ​​eventually expanding into other products should be in the business plan.

So, even if you start out as a pad company, giving the domain name a type of branding will help keep the door open to the possibility of growing the business into much more than just an e-commerce website.

the quote

Read the Reddit discussion

How does Google rank the following domains: web-design.com, web.design, web-design.net? Suppose Google is “web design”.

Read John Mueller’s answer

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