myth of using keyword-rich domains for SEO purposes
has been perpetuated for way too long, and quite frankly
I'm tired of seeing it written about as if it's an all-important
some searches in any spidering search engine and sure,
you may very well find keyword-rich domains in the top
spots. But upon closer inspection, you'll see that the
same keywords are also in the Title tags of those sites.
Title tags *are* very important to high rankings; I
daresay that they're as important as body copy. Many
see the keyword-rich domain name, and assume that's
what is causing the high ranking. Yet it's much more
likely that the high ranking is a direct result of the
Title tag and/or the body text, along with the other
usual SEO suspects.
at the Links
let's not forget about off-the-page criteria. The reason
why some sites are in the top of the results isn't always
readily apparent by just looking at the site in question.
Some rank highly simply because there are keywords in
the hyperlinks pointing to the site. Google is especially
susceptible to this phenomenon, which has been dubbed
"Google Bombing" in the Web Blog world. If
enough sites link to a site using the specific keyword
phrase in the hyperlink, it can have a dramatic effect
on rankings. David Gallagher recently interviewed me
for his Business 2.0 article entitled "Top of the
Heap," where he wrote about his quest to become
the number-one site in Google for the phrase "David
Gallagher." All he did was ask everyone who read
his Web Blog to link to his site using his name in the
hyperlink. Once the "Google Dance" for that
month was finished, he was number one!
no, his site does not have "David Gallagher"
in the domain name. (As an aside, the sites he was up
against were fan sites for the actor David Gallagher
from the TV show "Seventh Heaven." You can
read David's article -- and my quotes -- in the July
2002 Business 2.0 print magazine.)
directories such as Yahoo!, it may appear as if keywords
in the domain name make a big difference to rankings.
After all, the directories are not spidering the words
on your pages and don't have much to go on to determine
your position. But you know what? My very unscientific
research shows that in actuality, keywords in the Yahoo!
title are the more likely reason for top rankings. Remember,
those that purchase keyword-rich domain names very often
name their site the same thing as their domain name,
and submit that phrase to Yahoo! as their title. For
instance, a site with the domain of keyword-domains-r-us.com
would probably be titled, "Keyword Domains R Us."
As with the spidering engines, the words in the title
are likely to be what's boosting those sites in the
Yahoo! results, not the domain name.
the Engines Say
to be sure I wasn't leading you down the wrong path,
I asked Tom Wilde, General Manager of Search Services
at Lycos, if domain names factored into their ranking
algorithm. He told me that they are a factor in the
Lycos algorithm, but since they're so open to being
abused, they're a very small factor. He confirmed that
the Title tag and the body text copy were given much
more weight than the domain name. However, for those
of you who just don't feel comfortable unless you have
keywords in your domain name, Tom did tell me that using
a hyphen between the keywords would be your best bet
for getting them recognized as separate words.
Worry About It
I've optimized hundreds of sites without ever purchasing
keyword-rich domain names (and always get high rankings),
I'm sticking with my "don't worry about it"
stance! Like the Meta keyword tag, domain names are
definitely not something to obsess over. I recommend
purchasing the domain names that work best for branding
reasons. To me, YourCompany.com name makes a whole lot
more sense than your-keywords-here-so-you-can-rank-high.com,
no matter how you slice it!
Jill Whalen by e-mail at email@example.com,
or by phone at 508-309-3037
Whalen of High
Rankings is an internationally recognized search
engine optimization consultant and editor of the free
Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter
specializes in search engine optimization, SEO consultations
and seminars. Jill's handbook, "The
Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines"
teaches business owners how and where to place relevant
keyword phrases on their Web sites so that they make
sense to users and gain high rankings in the major search
also Six Ways
To Create a Keyword-Rich Domain Name, and ideas