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No SEO Bonus For Keyword-Based Domains

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No SEO Bonus For Keyword-Based Domains


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

Mueller lists valid reasons why keywords in domains don’t provide a ranking bonus and why choosing those kinds of domains can backfire. However there are still (non-SEO) related reasons why keywords in domains may still be a valid choice.

Keywords in Domain Name

There are many reasons why some SEOs recommend using a keyword in the domain. Some say that when someone links to you with just the bare URL, the keyword will act like an anchor text and influence Google’s rankings.

But John Mueller has already explained that Google knows the difference between a bare URL and an anchor text and that Google will not use the keywords in a bare URL.

Others say that keywords in the domain helps SEO because keywords help Google understand what the site is about. But his recent answer in Reddit discredits that idea.

Something to consider is that the idea that keywords in domains help for SEO is not supported by any research paper or a patent.

The idea that keywords in the domain name are  useful for SEO is just an opinion with no actual basis (aside from anecdotal statements) to support it.

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Yet there may be some valid non-SEO reasons why a keyword-based domain might be desirable.

How Would Google Rank Keyword-Based Domains?

The person on Reddit asked how Google would rank various keyword-based domains.

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

Google’s John Mueller offered his insight into how Google handles keywords in domains.

Mueller answered:

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

Pick a Domain Name For the Long Term

Mueller next suggested that it might make sense to pick up a domain that could outlast a change in focus.

A good example of this is Amazon. Amazon started as an online book seller and was able to transition to selling nearly everything because its domain name was non-specific to books.

Many of the very first SEO agencies started as web design companies. When they eventually transitioned away from web design toward SEO they also had to change their domain names as well.

Another example is how trends change so what sounds trendy at the time, like adding the word “media” to the end of an SEO company name, can sound tired or cliched a few years later.

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John Mueller advised to pick a domain name that can survive a change in the business model and trends.

He continued his answer:

“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).”

Future Proof Your Business

Mueller next explained how it can be a big hassle to change a domain name or restructure a site because the focus of the site grew.

Some sites begin by focusing on one topic and that’s fine. But it’s always a good idea to give oneself room to grow.

For example, a TV rating website might have a hard time transitioning to becoming known as a soundbar reviewing website if they have the words TV and Review in their domain name.

Mueller explains why choosing a domain that can grow with your website is a good idea.

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John continued:

“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.”

Keyword Domains Have No SEO Bonus

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

John explained:

“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.)”

Could a Keyword Domain Be Worthwhile?

We know that keywords in a domain name can limit the scope of a domain in the future and locks that business into focusing on one topic.

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However in my experience, if you’re building an affiliate site that is based on PPC traffic, then having a keyword in the domain could help conversions and that’s something that can be scientifically tested using A/B tests to identify which domain name performs best.

A general keyword could be useful as well.

A keyword in the domain can signal to a potential visitor that your site has what they’re looking for.

None of the above two reasons are directly related to SEO. But they are valid reasons why one may consider a keyword-based domain.

But those kinds of considerations have to be balanced out by the advice that John Mueller shared and the understanding that a keyword-based domain could 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 domain is a huge hassle
  • Choose a domain that has the potential to grow

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

So even if you start as a pillow company, giving the domain name a brand type name will help keep the door open to the potential to grow the business into so much more than just a pillow ecommerce website.

Citation

Read the Reddit Discussion

How would Google rank the following domains: web-design.com, web.design, web-design.net? Assume people google “web design”.

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Read John Mueller’s Answer





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SEO

Fact Checking: Get Your Facts Right

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Fact Checking: Get Your Facts Right

In the last decade or so, the concept of “fake news” has become a major thorn in the side of consumers and content writers alike.

Digital marketing experts who write SEO content at the enterprise level might not consider themselves journalists or news reporters – but there’s a greater overlap between the roles than many people realize.

Like journos, enterprise SEO content writers need to earn the trust of their audience by demonstrating authority, relevance, and experience.

And while you might think that, as a content marketing specialist, the only person you’re serving is your client or employer, the truth is that good SEO content provides just as much service to consumers.

You’re not just advertising to people; you’re helping them find answers, information, and solutions to their problems.

That’s why, for SEO content writers, getting the facts right is crucial.

“Fake news” has eroded a lot of people’s trust in media. Online content, in particular, is always fighting an uphill battle due to the oversaturation of the digital space – and the sheer amount of misinformation that finds its way into blogs and social media sites with little quality control.

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Today, fact-checking is arguably more important than ever before.

One little mistake is all it takes to lose a consumer’s trust forever.

But what does it mean to get your facts right? Is it just ensuring every name is spelled correctly, and every claim has an attributed source?

Both of these things are an important part of SEO fact-checking, but they’re only a small piece of a large puzzle.

Enterprise SEO Fact Checking Best Practices

Fun fact: Even when consumers don’t know you’re lying, Google does.

Web pages with deceptive, inaccurate, or poorly vetted content are penalized and less likely to appear in search results.

Want to avoid the wrath of the almighty algorithm? Here’s what you need to do:

Get The Basics Right

A few paragraphs back, I mentioned that fact-checking isn’t limited to correctly writing people’s names, ages, positions, and pronouns.

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Nevertheless, getting the basics right is still important. If you can’t do at least that much, then you won’t be prepared to do more in-depth fact-checking.

It’s especially important to get this information right when you’re quoting multiple people.

Not only do you need to attribute quotes and ideas to the proper sources, but you also have to make sure the information they shared with you is accurately reproduced.

Double Check Everything

If you get a quote from someone that says the sky is blue, go outside and look up, just to be sure.

Okay, that might be an exaggerated example – but you get the point.

Double and triple-check everything.

If you find a useful quote or statistic online, track down the original source. See if you can find other reliable web pages with the same information.

Don’t be afraid to do a little research yourself. Crunch the numbers and try to find corroborating evidence.

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Never take anything at face value.

Go To The Source

Speaking of tracking down the sources of stats and quotes: That’s a cornerstone of fact-checking so important, it merits expanding on now.

Have you ever had a teacher or professor tell you, in no uncertain terms, never to use Wikipedia as a source?

Well, that’s just as true when writing enterprise-level SEO content. Wikipedia might be useful in pointing you toward helpful sources, but it shouldn’t be your primary text.

Nor should any second-hand source. If another web page states something as a fact, confirm where it got that fact.

If it’s a disreputable source and you parrot it, then you become a disreputable source, too.

Understand The Information

Content writing – especially at the enterprise level and especially in an agency (rather than in-house PR team) context – often requires authors to cover many different areas of expertise in many different industries.

It can be tempting to regurgitate and plagiarize information that already exists, but if you do that, you won’t be able to offer any meaningful insights.

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You have to understand the information you’re relaying.

That will help you spot contradictions and factual errors and demonstrate genuine authority.

Is AI Automation The Future Of Fact Checking?

Enterprise-level content fact-checking requires a lot of time and effort, but cutting corners is a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, just as it has with many other aspects of SEO, AI automation may soon be able to simplify the process.

U.K.-based independent fact-checking organization, Full Fact, has been leading the charge in recent years to develop scalable, automated fact-checking tools.

Full Fact’s efforts have already garnered the attention of the biggest names in search engine technology.

In 2019, the non-profit organization was one of the winners of the 2019 Google AI Impact Challenge, which provides funding for potentially revolutionary automation research projects.

Full Fact’s stated goal is to develop AI software capable of breaking down long content pieces into individual sentences, then identifying the types of claims those sentences represent, before finally cross-referencing those claims in real-time with the most up-to-date factual news data.

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Though Full Fact is still years away from achieving its goal, the benefits of such a breakthrough for SEO content writing are self-evident.

That said, you don’t have to wait for the future to use AI automation and other software tools to help you fact-check.

For example, the Grammarly Plagiarism Checker not only identifies duplicate content taken from another source but also highlights portions of text requiring attribution.

Commonly used enterprise SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz, meanwhile, can be used to investigate a domain’s authority, helping you decide which sources are considered reputable.

Fact-checking in today’s oversaturated news and information marketplace can be intimidating at first glance. But the number of resources available to content writers is growing by leaps and bounds every day.

Making full use of these resources better enables you to win consumer trust in an age when that kind of trust is a very delicate, precious, and valuable commodity.

More resources:


Featured Image: redgreystock/Shutterstock

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