When I became self-employed, I mainly targeted the Scottish market. Three years on, my design business is international, and just yesterday I began working with my first Japanese client — something I’d never have contemplated back in 2005. Throughout my short time of going it alone I’ve learnt about online marketing, and I thought I’d share the importance of keywords within domain names.
I’ll use two of my websites as examples: logodesignlove.com (LDL) and davidairey.com.
- logodesignlove.com has been live since January 2008
- davidairey.com has been live for since May 2005
In a Google search for “logo designer” here are the front page results (click image for a larger view):
davidairey.com is listed in the #5 spot, whereas LDL is just one place behind in #6 (results vary from day-to-day and across geographical locations). Remember, davidairey.com has been operating much longer than logodesignlove.com.
Lately I’ve been seeing some SEO tutorials explaining the benefit behind ‘keyword stuffing’ your domain names, and how search engines place more significance on websites with relevant domains.
Before you go rushing to a domain name registrar with your list of targeted keywords, results can be deceiving, and reflect more than a simple $10 purchase.
Update: 14 July 2008
Matt Cutts recently had this to say about keywords within domain names:
“Generic domains that users are likely to remember, will indeed carry more weight than others. There is a real value to those FuneralHomes.com for example. Google does give keywords in the URL a certain amount of weight, but you don’t need it in order to rank.”
In his Domain Name Keyword Importance article, Scott Boyd writes:
“Think about it logically. If this was such an important factor — i.e. more important than any other SEO factor, as people are saying — why would Google allow this? A keyword in a domain says nothing about the quality of the content on the site – it’s something that anyone can manipulate in an instant and at very low cost.”
Scott rightly places emphasis on quality content, however, there is one benefit to having keywords within your domain name, and that’s the “anchor text” people use when they link to your website. I’ll explain.
logodesignlove.com has significantly gained ground on davidairey.com because people use the text “logo design” within their links, as opposed to “David Airey.”
An inbound link (one coming from another website) pointing to davidairey.com is most likely to be typed as David Airey. A similar link to logodesignlove.com is most likely to appear as Logo Design Love.
Considering the importance of anchor text on inbound links, this will have a bearing on web searches for “logo designer.”
With that in mind, the main point still reverts to your content, because if it’s not good quality, you won’t create any inbound links.
There’s another reason behind LDL’s rise. The content is more focused towards the topic of the Google search, whereas here on davidairey.com, there’s a broader spectrum of blog posts, from marketing to photography, art to web development.
The real key to front-page Google rankings lies not in keyword-rich domains, but in the quality and relevance of the website content.
You can rank highly for any term you set your mind to, regardless of your domain. Short, catchy titles may help, but ultimately, you need to use your business sense to define your brand.
Search engine optimization resources
If you’re interested in boosting your search engine traffic, here are a few useful resources:
- How to grow search engine traffic to your blog
- SEO tools – web developers’ handbook
- Matt Cutts on Google / SEO
- Beginners’ guide to search engine optimization
- Top 10 URL design mistakes
- The bloggers’ guide to SEO
- SEO guide for designers
Your search ranking experiences
If you’ve had similar, or differing experiences with search engine rankings, I’d love to know. Perhaps you have a domain name tip of your own?