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Bing

Keyword Rich Domain Names Improving Search Rankings is a Myth, According to Bing

Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager of Bing, claims it’s a myth that keyword rich domain names improve search engine rankings in a post published yesterday on the Bing Webmaster Blog.

This came about after Forrester attended Namescon and overheard people discussing how keyword rich or exact match domain names can make or break your site. Claiming that’s just a myth, Forrester took it upon himself to debunk this theory.

Ten years ago there may have been some truth to that way of thinking, Forrester says, but today rankings depend on so many more signals that domain names alone are starting to mean less and less. This is beneficial from both the search engines’ and the searchers’ points of view because it results in better content ranking higher instead of rewarding those who are trying to manipulate the rankings.

But that doesn’t mean a keyword-centric domain name isn’t still useful, Forrester says. While they don’t necessarily give you an automatic boost in rankings, they’re still valuable because they’re easy to spell, easy to remember, and easy to pronounce. In other words they’re great for branding.

Forrester explains that you can even take irrelevant words, or make up words, and create your own brand around them–like The Onion for example. But to get to that point your site has to provide something of value to the user, such as great content.

This is another familiar argument that correlation does not equal causation. Forrester says it’s not uncommon to see keyword rich domain names ranking high, but it’s more a result of the content they provide rather than their domain name. Forrester stresses that there are no shortcuts, so don’t try to get ahead by keyword stuffing a domain name.

I know many of you reading this have a lot of opinions regarding this topic, and I’d love to hear them! Do you think it’s just a myth that keyword rich and exact match domains get favorable treatment by the search engines? Please let me know your thoughts and experiences with this in the comments section.

7e0065f1d371ee9e1d8d043e6e631e36 64 Keyword Rich Domain Names Improving Search Rankings is a Myth, According to Bing
Matt Southern is a marketing, communications and public relations professional. He provides strategic digital marketing services at an agency called Bureau in Ontario, Canada. He has a bachelors degree in communication and an unparalleled passion for helping businesses get their message out.

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31 thoughts on “Keyword Rich Domain Names Improving Search Rankings is a Myth, According to Bing

  1. Why is this beneficial from the searchers point of view? Maybe they were looking for the dot com website they typed in. Instead search engines want to steal that traffic and sell it to the highest bidder. If this traffic was not important to them why do we now have search bars instead of browser bars. They are stealing all the high quality type-in traffic and redirecting it to the highest bidder. This is what is called “The Evolution of the Internet”.

  2. I have dozens of sites with exact match domain names – back in 2007 – 2008. These domains would rank at the very top of the search engines with hardly any back links between them. Often within hours. Those were the days!
    Now, most are heavily penalized or de-indexed, I assume because they were so blatantly trying to rank in the organic searches – I never used any excessive link methods or illegal tactics.
    Now, when they expire I just let them go.
    I’m sure that if you have an excellent site for a topic that just happens to have the right domain it will still work but I wouldn’t spend long searching for a particular name as it won’t really help.

    1. David, maybe you are just ahead of me, but in my industry, I still believe that keyword domain names add noticeable value to an SEO effort for our clients. But yes, I remember 4 years ago, registering a new domain, with a new account, and on the same day as registering the site pushed out a templated site with templated content that thousands of other clients had around the country, and Google found the site on their own, and within 2 weeks of registering the domain, and in another 2 weeks it was number 1 for exact match which was simply the city and the service dot com. I don’t think we are there anymore, but a relevant domain name with relevant matching content, can still highly benefit the sites SEO. My opinion.

    2. David, May be you’re right. But if you type any keyword on Google, Bing Search then I’m sure you will get some keyword rich domain and they would not have enough backlinks but they are ranking on 1st or 2nd page.

      So I would say exact match/keyword rich domains get special treatment by search engines.

  3. Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager of Bing, needs to look at Google’s results more.
    Pick a topic, any topic and do a search on it and just LOOK at how many of the top results have the keywords in the domain name.

  4. Keyword rich domains are still doing good in Google even after EMD update. We have tried with many exact matched domains in Google and they are ranking well. all we had to do was to add good content and get quality backlinks.

  5. I agree with everything in the article, but it fails to mention that the exact match domains still have value due to the fact that most of anchor text to the back links will contain these keywords without looking spam my to the search engines. Am I wrong to think this way?

  6. Good points, but there still seems to be a benefit. To me the larger benefits are those mentioned for users. It is clear what the site claims to be about. That seems the best benefit. If it has content and UX to match, it should earn links, rank, and referral traffic.

  7. If this is so, then why do keyword-rich domains cost so much? That’s obviously why some of them rank as much a few million dollars. Otherwise, everyone would select a domain that’s only $10-$15/year.

  8. I have done some research and experiments and although I believe it helps to have a domain name that contains your keywords we can see that it is not necessary since there are so many powerful websites that are not keyword rich.

  9. I have done various trial and error on this issue. There are lots of high authority sites rank for specific keyword without having the keyword on their domain! Basically, the quality and uniqueness of your website that matters the most.

  10. Keyword rich domain name is still popular. In terms of ranking, I don’t think there won’t be any special important will be given by search engine, it cab be treated as a normal domain.

  11. If this traffic was not important to them why do we now have search bars instead of browser bars. They are stealing all the high quality type-in traffic and redirecting it to the highest bidder.
    Thanks

  12. One of my domain names is exactly the description of a very niche specialist technical product. The website is OK , very basic but covers the topic/product,for the purpose but has nothing but the most basic SEO attention and no digital marketing. It ranks 1,2 and 3 in Goggle SERP order!! It definitely works but only in very specific circumstances… wish I could identify more for my business!!

  13. Keyword rick domain name is popular and in use as well. But have your domain on the name of your company for brand the importance that domain will get from Google is the same. So according to me this is still very good tactics to have a domain with your business name etc.

  14. I am an SEO and frankly the above article isn’t too concerning to me. While some traffic comes from Bing, not a whole lot does. Most of my clients rank very well across the three major search engines so it isn’t a matter of rank it is a matter of traffic. Bing, and Yahoo for that matter, just don’t keep up with Google in sending traffic to my clients’ sites. Many times it is hard to rank in B/Y because of the placement of directories, which in many cases have keywords in the domain name and don’t have very high page rank. This makes me question the entire article above. When I am having difficulty getting one of my clients into the top 1-5 in Bing/Yahoo, it is typically because directories are they only thing standing in my way, keyword heavy domain name directories. This isn’t because they are useful, it is because they are favored. Not quite sure why this is. I am a user of the internet too and often go to a search engine to find a website that can help me, I am looking for a website, not a directory. The search engine is already a directory of results I am not looking for extra clicks, this is why I use Google as my primary search engine and why I think that the majority of people use Google, it just yields better results for search.

    I have never been one to adjust my tactics for running an seo campaign because of a B/Y update or because they say something doesn’t factor into rank. This is because the ranking reports I see every week say otherwise, Why would I choose not to have a keyword rich domain name when only 15% – 20% of the traffic coming to my sites isn’t from Google. (I typically don’t have a problem getting keyword rich domain names to rank in Google, granted they have killer content and meta data to go along with them, but the key is that I am not punished for it.) Traffic that some of my clients get from Facebook often beats out the amount of traffic coming from Bing and Yahoo combined. From what I have seen, title tags, meta descriptions, and keywords are really what helps to rank in B/Y since their algorithms are not nearly as advanced as Google’s . I am improving the content on the websites for Google, and while that might be helping out in B/Y rankings, when I really see the most improvement in B/Y it is after I have updated meta data not after I have improved content.

    So I guess to wrap it all up, the article above should not mean much for SEOs unless Bing is the only search engine you care about. Do your research across all search engines before making a major change to your campaign, but Google updates should have more influence on your campaign than any other search engine as roughly 85% of people use Google as their search engine.

  15. There you go even an SEO expert would choose a keyword rich domain, why? Because Humans remember short and sweet. Humans remember generic. Humans type in what they are looking for. Humans remember dot com. Humans trust generic dot coms. Humans reach into their pockets and spend money.

  16. interesting read – in my experience there are 2 factors that make this work – still
    geographic target in domain name
    specific term for business

    so (this is uk specific example) then:

    County – Surrey
    business – hotel
    specialist area – spa

    domain name could be – SurreySpaHotel.co.uk

    The name of the business ideally needs to reflect this domain to some degree as well but its not essential

  17. I would agree that keyword-rich domains aren’t going to make or break a site, but they do help, at very least helping people remember the site and identify what it is about, and there is still value in the search engines, even if it isn’t as much as it used to be. We use keyword rich domains primarily for our landing page system, where we buy domains that have keywords that we are looking for, and then build the content around having those pages rank well for the terms that we are targeting. We have been very successful with this tactic, and it has allowed us to get a lot more visibility for more keywords than we even would have been able to rank for from our home page. If you would like to read more about our take on keyword rich domain names for microsites we have written a blog post about it at https://www.jtechcommunications.com/blog/blog-detail-11

    1. @JTech

      What a great post. Except the very first sentence. Why do SEO guys always do this? First they chop down the value of domains then go on and on as to why they are great.

      Just my 2 cents but your article could have read better if the first sentence read.

      Keyword domains are great for

      You even wrote a blog post about it

      Keyword domains are great for at very least helping people remember the site and identify what it is about, and there is still value in the search engines, even if it isn’t as much as it used to be. We use keyword rich domains primarily for our landing page system, where we buy domains that have keywords that we are looking for, and then build the content around having those pages rank well for the terms that we are targeting. We have been very successful with this tactic, and it has allowed us to get a lot more visibility for more keywords than we even would have been able to rank for from our home page. If you would like to read more about our take on keyword rich domain names for microsites we have written a blog post about

  18. Look for big changes in the domain name space VERY SOON. Dot buzz is in preresistration as well as dot horse, dot cooking and dot ceo. You can register these domain extensions NOW at 101domain.com and mindsandmachines.com Dot Keywords, Dot Products and Dot Services domains are HERE! Domain extensions based on keywords and search. SEO guys will soon be SHOUTING domains domains domains!

  19. The content is much more important than the domain name. Rich content is key, which pleases me because it presents a new challenge – to deliver quality rather than having to focus on seo.

    1. I googled celebrity gossip. Result number 1 Celebrity-gossip.net . CelebrityGossip.com result number 5 . I had to add the .ws to find your site. All this has nothing to do with the domain? Don’t think so. All the other results had keywords in the domain and or URL.

      Lets say they find you by search. Who will they buy from first CelebrityGossip.ws or CelebrityGossip.com. Most visitors don’t buy on the first visit to a site. Guaranteed they will not remember .ws and you are RIGHT now losing traffic when they type .com. You may have saved a few bucks when you bought the .ws but your traffic and your income from that traffic now goes to .com

      1. I did not do it with that site. It was a completely different project. I only started this site a few days ago! I actually had a very nice unusual domain name and was ranking number one for my search terms. It has actually nothing to do with domain names. I have tested it.

    1. I think that in the future there will be a new dot com. Times are changing. The only reason that dot coms dominate is because people generally don’t tend to create meaningful sites on other tlds because they are afraid to try.

  20. I see your point with this. But in my own experience keyword search domain is still doing its thing and still working. Nevertheless you got my attention I will do my own study with this. Ill update you once I got my answers.