in a Domain Name
Robert Skelton, IDE, SearchEngineZ.com
Do search engines care?
Of course they do. Think of all the things you can easily do to tweak your
ranking once Google has indexed your site, a few other sites have linked to it,
and it is listed in Open Directory. Want to change a paragraph of text, or a page
title? Dead easy. Change the background color, the font? Done.
to change is your domain name. A domain name is as close to a commitment you will
ever get from a webmaster. Everything starts with the domain name, and the words
you choose for it are important to you, and they reflect either the name of your
site, or its topic. Search engines know this, and they give weight to the words
in your domain name.
Keywords or Brand Names?
If your business already has a real world presence, you should normally continue
using the same name. If it is a new, internet-only business, you have to choose
between a brand name and a keyword name. Brett Tabke has been advocating brand
names, and says that domain names should be...
"Easily brandable. You
want "google.com" and not "mykeyword.com". Keyword domains
are out - branding and name recognition are in - big time in. The value of keywords
in a domain name have never been less to se's. Learn the lesson of "goto.com"
becomes "Overture.com" and why they did it. It's one of the powerful
gut check calls I've ever seen on the internet. That took resolve and nerve to
blow away several years of branding. (that's a whole 'nuther article, but learn
the lesson as it applies to all of us)."
"26steps to 15k a Day"
I have problems with Brett's argument...
1) He runs some
hugely popular websites: searchengineworld.com and webmasterworld.com. He could
change them to tabke.com tomorrow and get away with it, but that's different from
trying to get started from scratch as tabke.com
2) Overture got to
where they are today as goto.com. If they had started as overture.com, it would've
confused visitors, because it sounds like a classical music site.
Google is a freak - it should never be used as an example to follow. For every
freak like Google and Apple there is a Microsoft and IBM - brand names that describe
a product, before search engines even existed.
4) Unless your site
is unique and wonderful in the extreme, a made-up brand name won't be much use
without a large advertising campaign.
Brand names look great in retrospect,
when you have a zillion visitors. But they are much harder to get quick results
I'm not against brand names if you have the marketing budget. And
I don't mind a mix of the two either, like Burger King, Pizza Hut and Red Lobster.
Hyphens or not?
For SEO purposes, a hyphen is only advantageous if searchers inlcude the
hyphen between their keywords when they search. So for hyphenated surnames, or
words that are often hyphenated, it's the way to go. Otherwise don't use them.
A strong case against them is the difficulty in saying the domain name. It is
far easier to say "bluewidget (all one word) dot com" than "blue
hyphen widget dot com". The second way will often get a response like "so
it's b l u e h y p...." or "what is a hyphen". Computer novices
tend to have problems sorting out the difference between a dash, a hyphen, underscore,
and a slash.
To put it another way, try thinking of a famous website that
uses a hyphen!
And while I'm knocking hyphens, keep in mind that web surfers
keep on maturing. With time they will learn that URLs looking like buy-cd-cheap-cd-now.com
are not worth visiting, because they tend to have no original content or products,
and more often than not will bombard you with pop-ups.
Unless you launch two identical sites, and get
the same links to them and the only difference is the domain name, it is an impossible
thing to 100% prove the value of keywords in domains (such is the nature of the
SEO business). And even if you did, Google would penalize one of them for having
I know just from scrolling through SERPs (search engine
results pages) every day that there is a tendency for keyword optimized domain
names to do well. Seeing as no-one else seems to have done it, I decided to try
and find some evidence....
I wasn't feeling
particularly inspired so searched for "search" in the Google Directory.
Why Google Directory? Because is evens the playing field a little (usually you
get a PR4 just for being listed) and it shouldn't have too many fly-by-night cloaked
or spammy sites in the results.
What site should come up first for "search"?
Google, Yahoo, MSN, AltaVista?
7. Search Engine
9. MSN Search
11. Northern Light
12. AOL Search
13. Open Directory
17. Google Groups
Ok, then, how about "search engine"
9. Search Engine Watch
10. Northern Light
13. Search Engine Colussus
16. Search Engine Guide
17. Search Engine Showdown
- Search.com gets an undeserved #1 position
in the first search, but it drop to #15 when it's domain name is less of a match
with the search query.
- MSN Search, AOL Search, FamilySearch.org and Netscape
Search all do better in the first search, because they have the keyword "search"
in their domain.
- Search Engine Colossus, Search Engine Guide and Search
Engine Showdown all do better in the second search, because they have a closer
match to the keywords in their domain name.
- Search Engine Watch was the
only site to buck the trend, and only by a couple of positions.
Widget is a much loved and used word in the SEO world.
And seeing as it is something you can sell, the results should be devoid of spam.
These are the top 20 results for a Google web search for "widget":
5. archive.ncsa.uiuc.edu/SDG/Software/ Mosaic/Docs/htmlwidget.html
3rd Party Thoughts?
Is Your Domain Name Optimized?
By Andy Beal, Vice President
Joe should also register a domain name that contains keywords that relate to the
products he sells.
By having keywords in a domain name, Joe will do a lot
more to help his site rank higher on the search engines than using his own name
alone. What Joe needs to do is also register "plasticwidgets.com" or
"plastic-widgets.com" and have those domain names point to the same
site. A domain name with keywords embedded will do wonders, not only in achieving
higher positioning on the search engines, but also in becoming more effective
at informing a potential customer what the Web site sells. Now when a search is
carried out for plastic widgets, Joe's Web site is more likely to be displayed,
as the domain name contains a match for the searched item. "
Copyright © Robert Skelton 2003.
About the Author:
Skelton is the IDE of SearchEngineZ - a collection of web searching resources.
You have permission to
publish this article electronically, in print, in your ebook or on your web site,
free of charge, as long as the author bylines are included.