Branded vs Keyword-Rich Domain Names

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Whenever I am working with a client that is looking to start a new business and website, I am almost always asked the question…should I purchase a domain name with keywords in it for SEO? Unfortunately there is not a clear cut answer to that question. Lets examine the different strategies behind purchasing a branded URL or keyword-rich URL.

Branded Domain

Personally, a brand is one of the most important aspects of a business or personal identity. Your brand is the foundation for everything you do. Your brand name and identity will be on your website, print material, business cards, letterhead, invoices, etc… This is ultimately what people will recognize and associate you with, so when you have the opportunity to purchase the URL that matches your brand name, I 99% of the time say to go with that. Of course there are exceptions to that, which I will explain below.

Some key reasons why you should choose a branded domain for your business URL:

  • Its easy to remember
  • Short and memorable
  • Another way to put your brand in front of your customers
  • Maintains brand consistency
  • Looks cleaner and less spammy (compared to keyword-rich url)
  • More professional
  • Tend to attract more loyal visitors/readers

Typically if you are looking to create a long-term brand, it is a safe bet to choose a branded domain. Just take a look at the top 100 blogs on Technorati, almost all are branded domains. It is proven that by having short and clean URLs that match your business name that people are going to trust you more than someone with the domain real-estate-agent-tampa.com

On the flip side of things, lets see when having a keyword-rich domain can be helpful.

Keyword-Rich Domain

Now there are some situations when I would recommend using a keyword-rich domain name.

If you are trying to brand yourself as an industry expert. A good example would be something like “variable home loans” or “The Product Launch Coach ” where you are trying to position your personal brand as a memorial name or tag line. In that case it could be beneficial because you are branding yourself or company, while using the main keyword/phrase at the same time.

For marketers who are setting up targeted landing pages where they are trying to capture traffic from a specific keyword/phrase. I have used this method a number of times, where I purchase a keyword-rich domain, optimize it for a specific phrase, and then route the user to the main domain once they land on the landing page.

For affiliate marketers it does make a lot of sense. The search engines do place some emphasis on having keywords in the domain, so from an organic standpoint it can increase your rankings (especially if the domain matches the search query). If you are trying to promote a product and drive people to your affiliate site, you are not necessarily worried about building a brand, since you are marketing another businesses product(s).

I would love to hear what other marketers and business owners think about this topic. Do you agree with this post? Why or why not?

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson is the creator of StayOnSearch, a blog dedicated to Marketing Professionals, SEO's, and Business Owners. He also is the President of Search Creatively,... Read Full Bio
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