Despite post-Panda/Penguin spam worries, keyword (KW) rich domain names still have a place in SEO.
This analysis will outline both the positives and negatives of KW rich domains on CTR and Rankings/Traffic. The result will highlight how KW rich domain names can be used positively for SEO and show that they will never be devalued or removed completely from our search results.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
First – CTR
Positive: Bolded URLs
Setting up your search results to attract a higher CTR can ensure you get more traffic from lower rankings. Simple.
KW rich domain names can assist with improving this CTR.
The most obvious benefit is that the URL is bolded in searches that relate directly to the keyword in the URL. For example:
Search: spit hire Melbourne
Search: spit roast hire Melbourne
Search: spit hire
Having your URL bolded is just another way to differentiate your result from others in the SERP. The greater the number of bolded keywords, the greater your chance of catching someone’s attention and getting someone to click through to your site.
Negative: No Brand Awareness
Having keywords present in your domain name doesn’t do any favors for your brand.
Each search result is like a mini-advertisement, so having your business name feature as much as possible will assist with brand development. The Title Tag, URL, and Meta Description can all play a part in marketing your company name in the SERPs. Take your brand out of the domain, and you’ve got one less area to work with.
How to Overcome the Negative
Look at the silver lining: you’ve still got the Meta Description and Title Tag to work with! Fill these with worthwhile content and brand mentions, and you’ll be able to win back searchers who are wary of your keyword-filled domain name.
Credibility is a big thing online. No one wants to waste his time with spam, so having informative content wherever it’s possible is always a must, even in the SERPs!
Second – Rankings/Traffic
Positive: Historically, KW Rich Domain Names Attract High Rankings
Matt Cutts himself has said that Google has diminished the importance of keyword rich domain names in search results. Despite this, there are many examples of KW rich domains that have high rankings but poor link profiles and sub-standard, on-page SEO.
This could be for a number of reasons. In the linked video, Cutts isn’t saying that KW rich domains have been completely devalued, just that they’ve simply been reduced to a level that is more appropriate to other branded domains. They aren’t as strong as before, but they still carry strength.
Another factor could be the aforementioned strong CTRs that are associated with KW rich domains. If your KW rich domain is ranking fifth, but it has a stronger CTR than the results above it, Google is going to give more prevalence to your website, and that means higher rankings and better traffic.
Negative: Penguin Has Hit a Lot of KW Rich Domain Names
The recent Penguin update saw a lot of KW rich domains devalued. However, the reason for this isn’t because of the URL’s structure. The risk you run with having a KW rich domain name is over-optimization. Because target keywords are in your URL – essentially becoming your brand – they tend to feature too heavily throughout the website’s content. Penguin slapped sites that included these keywords too heavily, resulting in spam.
How to Overcome the Negative
Just because there are keywords in your domain, it doesn’t mean you need to go overboard with them. Write with the user in mind and ease off on the target keywords. After all, it’s already in your domain name, so Google has a fair idea of what you’re going to be talking about on your site without you mentioning it multiple times.
Google and your target audience are one and the same. Don’t set up your site to satisfy just one of them.
Why will keyword rich domains never be devalued?
It’s important to remember that a lot of companies out there just happen to be trading under a name that is keyword rich. They did it because it marketed well to clients, not because it would benefit them in search engines.
As a result, Google isn’t going to start penalizing every KW rich domain it comes across. It is an unfair assumption that every site employing this technique is trying to game the system, so we won’t see an across-the-board slap handed out to websites that do.