Matt Cutts Explains the Importance (or lack thereof) of Keywords in Your Domain Name

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  • SEO
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My own two cents:
Google has been talking about lessening the importance of keyword domains for sometime. What they can't seem to balance is that when you have a keyword domain name, you subsequently have great anchor text from links pointing to your site. So in many cases, it is not the domain name that is influencing a sites ranking, it is the anchor text that results from a particular domain name.

Additionally, for search terms that have a relatively low search volume, it is obvious that having a domain to match, greatly increases the speed at which you can achieve good rankings.

That being said, the best thing you can take away from this video is that if you can't get an exact match URL, you can still achieve great rankings.

*If you are building a high quality site that you have large aspirations for, then an exact match domain is less important.

If you are building a niche website, targeting some low volume keywords and don't plan to put a ton of effort in, a keyword rich domain is probably more important.

Either way, IMO the most important on-site factor is your Page Title.
#cutts #domain #explains #importance #keywords #lack #matt #thereof
  • Profile picture of the author ScottByers
    Exact match (keyword) domains will ALWAYS help you rank for the target keyword, even if Google decides to lessen the weight they're given.

    I've been using them for years, and probably always will.
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    • Profile picture of the author paulgl
      Originally Posted by ScottByers View Post

      Exact match (keyword) domains will ALWAYS help you rank for the target keyword, even if Google decides to lessen the weight they're given.

      I've been using them for years, and probably always will.
      So....what does warriorforum.com rank for? Amazon.com? Zillow.com?
      Kayak.com? Nextag.com? Plentyoffish.com? Icanhascheezburger.com?
      Digitalpoint.com? Wikipedia.org? Exactly what Matt Cutts eludes to.
      Exactly what I've said for years. People spend so much useless time
      stressing over a domain name, when they should be stressing over
      stuff that matters.

      Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author ScottByers
        Originally Posted by paulgl View Post

        So....what does warriorforum.com rank for? Amazon.com? Zillow.com?
        Kayak.com? Nextag.com? Plentyoffish.com? Icanhascheezburger.com?
        Digitalpoint.com? Wikipedia.org? Exactly what Matt Cutts eludes to.
        Exactly what I've said for years. People spend so much useless time
        stressing over a domain name, when they should be stressing over
        stuff that matters.

        Paul
        It depends what your strategy is.

        Of course you can rank any site/page for any keyword, but going after a single keyword (and it's derivatives) by getting a domain with that keyword can be an excellent strategy.
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        • Profile picture of the author Jonathan Beaton
          Originally Posted by ScottByers View Post

          It depends what your strategy is.

          Of course you can rank any site/page for any keyword, but going after a single keyword (and it's derivatives) by getting a domain with that keyword can be an excellent strategy.
          I believe you and Paul are both right.

          If you are building a high quality site that you have large aspirations for, then an exact match domain is less important.

          If you are building a niche website, targeting some low volume keywords and don't plan to put a ton of effort in, a keyword rich domain is probably more important.
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          • Profile picture of the author thegreatnapi
            Originally Posted by Jonathan Beaton View Post

            I believe you and Paul are both right.

            If you are building a high quality site that you have large aspirations for, then an exact match domain is less important.

            If you are building a niche website, targeting some low volume keywords and don't plan to put a ton of effort in, a keyword rich domain is probably more important.
            This is very helpful. Thank You.
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      • Profile picture of the author JSProjects
        Originally Posted by paulgl View Post

        So....what does warriorforum.com rank for? Amazon.com? Zillow.com?
        Kayak.com? Nextag.com? Plentyoffish.com? Icanhascheezburger.com?
        Digitalpoint.com? Wikipedia.org? Exactly what Matt Cutts eludes to.
        Exactly what I've said for years. People spend so much useless time
        stressing over a domain name, when they should be stressing over
        stuff that matters.

        Paul
        It will always be be much easier to rank "cheapautopartsonline.com" when the phrase I'm targeting is "cheap auto parts online," than it would be to rank "bluesky.com" for the same phrase.

        This will never change IMO.
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        • Profile picture of the author dgridley
          You can't have said it any better.. and, as an aside, one reason I like .info for keyword, niche domains is "info" itself is likely to be typed in as part of a search.

          Originally Posted by JSProjects View Post

          It will always be be much easier to rank "cheapautopartsonline.com" when the phrase I'm targeting is "cheap auto parts online," than it would be to rank "bluesky.com" for the same phrase.

          This will never change IMO.
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      • Profile picture of the author scaifea
        Originally Posted by paulgl View Post

        So....what does warriorforum.com rank for? Amazon.com? Zillow.com?
        Kayak.com? Nextag.com? Plentyoffish.com? Icanhascheezburger.com?
        Digitalpoint.com? Wikipedia.org? Exactly what Matt Cutts eludes to.
        Exactly what I've said for years. People spend so much useless time
        stressing over a domain name, when they should be stressing over
        stuff that matters.

        Paul
        Luckily for those sites, their strategy is to pursue brand dominance, so their brand needs to be their URL, not their keywords!
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  • Profile picture of the author bigcat1967
    If you are building a niche website, targeting some low volume keywords and don't plan to put a ton of effort in, a keyword rich domain is probably more important.
    Only thing that I have to say is: "I AGREE!"
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  • Profile picture of the author TheAnnoyingOrange
    Let's look at this from a different angle

    For me personally, If I was looking up 'train your dog' and looked that phrase up in google I would rather click on the website named trainyourdog.com or something similar rather than a website with a completely irrelevant name.

    Although I know we're talking about ranking the pages - that would just involve effort on your part but I always looks at a website name to see if it's relevant before I click-through.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jonathan Beaton
      Originally Posted by TheAnnoyingOrange View Post

      Let's look at this from a different angle

      For me personally, If I was looking up 'train your dog' and looked that phrase up in google I would rather click on the website named trainyourdog.com or something similar rather than a website with a completely irrelevant name.

      Although I know we're talking about ranking the pages - that would just involve effort on your part but I always looks at a website name to see if it's relevant before I click-through.
      Another great point.

      This would also influence CTR, which I believe also carries some weight in the algorithm.
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  • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
    Soooo.... essentially nothing is changing. Just is "THINKING" about toning it down in the algorithm. LOL.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jonathan Beaton
      Originally Posted by iAmNameLess View Post

      Soooo.... essentially nothing is changing. Just is "THINKING" about toning it down in the algorithm. LOL.
      Again, I don't see why we should wait until the change occurs before we start paying attention to it.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
        Originally Posted by Jonathan Beaton View Post

        Again, I don't see why we should wait until the change occurs before we start paying attention to it.
        Its an IM short term focus thing. Come across it all the time. Now if you hire people/ do work for companies that rely on online income rather than part timers you have to look ahead.
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  • Profile picture of the author Fraggler
    I personally beleive the EMD has more to do with branding and user expectation than simply having a keyword in the domain.

    A domain name is often seen as a trademark. If you own that trademark then there is a good chance that your site will be a specialist in that trademark.

    Users search (and type into the address bar) trademarks all the time to get to that trademark site. They aren't looking for the subject but the company's site.

    The SEO types take advantage of this and go and grab long tail trademarks which simply exploits the way Google works based on typical user behaviour.

    Now, a trademark domain can always be beaten. You just have to have a more relevant and more trusted domain (backlinks etc).

    Paul gave some examples of Amazon and plentyoffish etc. These domains don't refer to a keyword but I bet when someone is after Amazon and they Google 'Amazon', Google will provide the Amazon domain. Same with the other examples.

    Now, a dedicated SEO could technically beat these domains out for their own domain names but it would require more backlinks and better content. It would be tough.

    The same reasoning that a search for Amazon returns amazon.com is the same reason that a search for Big Red Widgets returns bigredwidgets.com.

    So yeah, that was a bit of a ramble. I just believe that EMD do work but most people doing it aren't doing it well enough to not be overtaken by a more experienced SEO marketer.
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  • Profile picture of the author BlondieWrites
    Both branded domain names and keyword domain names have their good points. Content will still play the key part in getting noticed and found when searching. A branded name is something someone will be more apt to remember.

    In short, I can't see where anything has changed as far as branded names or keyword names.



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    • Profile picture of the author Jonathan Beaton
      Originally Posted by BlondieWrites View Post

      Both branded domain names and keyword domain names have their good points. Content will still play the key part in getting noticed and found when searching. A branded name is something someone will be more apt to remember.

      In short, I can't see where anything has changed as far as branded names or keyword names.



      Cindy
      Right, in a sense nothing has changed but it is important to gain some perspective on what direction they are going.

      Who knows, they could make a significant algorithm change in the future and people relying too heavily on exact match domains could end up **** creek.

      I can see the post headlines now, "The world is ending because of the Google TLD Exact Match.com Update"

      People will act like they had no idea it was coming and that SEO is dead.

      Good SEO's are proactive, not reactive.
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  • Profile picture of the author jazbo
    My take is to stop panicking about the keywords in the domain and just get on with building a good site stuffed full of relevance.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
      A big LOL to those who say that domain names will always be good to get you great ranking. People swore that article marketing would never change too. All I am saying is never say never and the other take away?

      The only people set to continue to get rankings no matter what changes are those who build real websites that real people find useful. Doing SEO for existing companies as well I don't have the luxury of using keyword domains for them but you know what? Don't care. most times the person with a keyword domain isn't getting great links and can be beaten fairly easily.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jonathan Beaton
        Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

        A big LOL to those who say that domain names will always be good to get you great ranking. People swore that article marketing would never change too. All I am saying is never say never and the other take away?

        The only people set to continue to get rankings no matter what changes are those who build real websites that real people find useful. Doing SEO for existing companies as well I don't have the luxury of using keyword domains for them but you know what? Don't care. most times the person with a keyword domain isn't getting great links and can be beaten fairly easily.
        Could not agree more.
        Every time I post about creating websites that offer real value on the forum, I get torn apart by people talking about their scrapper sites.
        Crap does work sometimes but don't act surprised when you wake up one morning and it doesn't anymore.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jabapo
    I Agree with this, the most important is you have the right title and content in your site. People don't care about the domain name in searching, but the title itself is the main focus of it.
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  • Profile picture of the author scaifea
    Ignore keyword domains, I've never had a problem by not using them!
    without sounding like Matt Cutts, concentrate on providing the best content and experience that you can for your website visitors and ranking will come.
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    • Profile picture of the author GeorgR.
      Originally Posted by scaifea View Post

      Ignore keyword domains, I've never had a problem by not using them!
      EKMDs are the next stupid thing they need to scrap, AFTER the Google farmer content algo which already did a lot of good things.

      I see so many crappy sites simply ranking because they are on an EKMD. And every SEO spammer and bl@ckhatter gets them and its almost always a given they rank even for garbage sites. NOT GOOD.

      Google *needs* to look at content and not at utterly non important things which can be easily manipulated - the domain name is ONE of those factors.

      As of this date, EKMDs have still incredible ranking power and this needs to change...its a logical step following the farmer update.

      Webmasters with good content need to be rewarded, NOT the ones who can snag a "good domain". What criteria is that supposed to be?
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      • Profile picture of the author Jonathan Beaton
        Originally Posted by GeorgR. View Post

        EKMDs are the next stupid thing they need to scrap, AFTER the Google farmer content algo which already did a lot of good things.

        I see so many crappy sites simply ranking because they are on an EKMD. And every SEO spammer and bl@ckhatter gets them and its almost always a given they rank even for garbage sites. NOT GOOD.

        Google *needs* to look at content and not at utterly non important things which can be easily manipulated - the domain name is ONE of those factors.

        As of this date, EKMDs have still incredible ranking power and this needs to change...its a logical step following the farmer update.

        Webmasters with good content need to be rewarded, NOT the ones who can snag a "good domain". What criteria is that supposed to be?
        Could not agree more and I still think the best long term strategy will always be providing great content/adding value.

        However, I do believe there is correlation and not causation in many instances.

        If someone scoops an EKMD in an effort to rank for that specific keyword, the page title of the home page is usually identical. I would argue in many of those cases that the page title is influencing the SERPS more than the EKMD.

        I still believe the EKMD plays a significant role and what I just mentioned is not always going to be the case but it is something to think about.
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      • Profile picture of the author Fraggler
        Originally Posted by GeorgR. View Post

        EKMDs are the next stupid thing they need to scrap, AFTER the Google farmer content algo which already did a lot of good things.
        You are looking at it from a marketer's perspective and not as a general user.

        As I said earlier, the EMD boost is useful for the majority of established sites. It rewards branding. Users search for brands. Brands are domain names.

        Google can't go and punish all of the brands simply because some marketers are annoyed they can't compete against other marketers exploiting it for long tail keywords.

        If a marketer is using an EMD just for the initial boost with a long tail keyword then if you have any SEO skills you should be able to beat them...if you have better backlinks and more relevant content.

        If the domain is built as a brand then it will be a lot harder to beat, and rightfully so, because it will have a stack of great backlinks pointing to it. It will have a true web presence for that brand/keyword.

        Exact Match Domains are not an issue if you are doing any serious work with your site. They are only a problem when you keep losing in a battle for the dregs.
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        • Profile picture of the author Jonathan Beaton
          Originally Posted by Fraggler View Post

          You are looking at it from a marketer's perspective and not as a general user.

          As I said earlier, the EMD boost is useful for the majority of established sites. It rewards branding. Users search for brands. Brands are domain names.

          Google can't go and punish all of the brands simply because some marketers are annoyed they can't compete against other marketers exploiting it for long tail keywords.

          If a marketer is using an EMD just for the initial boost with a long tail keyword then if you have any SEO skills you should be able to beat them...if you have better backlinks and more relevant content.

          If the domain is built as a brand then it will be a lot harder to beat, and rightfully so, because it will have a stack of great backlinks pointing to it. It will have a true web presence for that brand/keyword.

          Exact Match Domains are not an issue if you are doing any serious work with your site. They are only a problem when you keep losing in a battle for the dregs.
          Some really great points.

          An EMD guarantees nothing and in many cases, inhibits long term success.
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  • Profile picture of the author apples2011
    the thing Matt says at the end is worrying .

    So they are going to look at reducing the power of the domain name for ranking..
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    • Profile picture of the author GeorgR.
      Originally Posted by apples2011 View Post

      the thing Matt says at the end is worrying .

      So they are going to look at reducing the power of the domain name for ranking..
      And why exactly is that worrying? The domain name shouldnt play a role AT ALL.
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  • Profile picture of the author rain21
    thanks for the share dude, I also think page tittle and description is much more improtant
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  • Profile picture of the author jitendraag
    Google has been telling people 'no single factor is very important'. They did so with PR, they started showing 'non-title' snippets in titles and now it's the domain names.
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