Will Your Domain Name Have an Impact on SEO?

by Stuart McHenry November 12, 2016

Search engine optimization is a heatedly debated topic with radically different approaches for the best way for your website to rank in the top of search engine results. On top of this, Google evolves its ranking algorithm at a rapid pace to the point where the right approach at any given time can be quite confusing. Unfortunately, this confusion can start before a website is even created, with many people wondering whether or not their domain name has an impact on their website’s SEO. Let’s take a look at whether or not your domain name has an impact on SEO.


What Impact Will it Have on SEO?

The pertinence of domain name keywords has shifted a lot over time as Google and other search engine’s algorithms have evolved. Although there are still benefits to adding targeted keywords into your domain name, they are simply not as important as they used to be when it comes to your site’s SEO. In fact, if you implement targeted keywords incorrectly, they can even have a negative impact on your search ranking and adversely affect the popularity of your website.


How Your Domain Name Is Used to Rank

Back in the day, search engines used to be much more trusting of sites. Although they still had an extremely complex algorithm, they used a different logic to choose the relevant websites for any given search. For example, back in the day when you searched for “cheap holiday gift ideas,” one of the first results on Google would be “cheapholidaygiftideas.com”. Although other factors would still play a part such as cheapholidaygiftideas.com’s, inbound links from other websites and the content quality, the domain name still played a huge role.


The Domain Name’s SEO Importance Now

Many people began to exploit Google’s algorithm by optimizing their site only for search engines instead of for their readers. This caused them to create long domain names filled with as many relevant keywords as possible. Due to this, Google retooled their algorithm by focusing more on the content of the website rather than the keywords in them. This means that having a keyword stuffed domain name will actually hurt your SEO more than help it as Google will likely flag your site as spam.


How Using Keywords in Your Domain Can Still Help Your SEO

You shouldn’t throw out keywords altogether, however. Although it’s not necessary to have keywords in your domain and it certainly won’t make or break your website’s success, doing so can still be beneficial. This is due to backlinks, as well as the anchor text that is used in these backlinks. For instance, let’s say your furniture store is called “awesomefurniture.com”. Whenever another website backlinks your site, they’ll likely do so by using “Awesome Furniture”. This is extremely beneficial to your SEO as your targeted keyword will be used more often in backlinks for your site, which shows search engines that your website is about selling furniture.


Make Sure Your Domain Name Focuses on Your Brand

You should only use keywords in your domain name if you can find a domain that uses those keywords in a brandable way. If not, you’ll be packing your domain with keywords and will likely come off as spammy. At the end of the day, the most important aspect of your domain name is that it is something that people will like and remember. It’s more important to focus on the content of your website and ensuring that people will want to return time and time again. Doing so will do much more for your SEO then keywords in your domain name will.

Stuart McHenry
Stuart McHenry is a US-based SEO Consultant focusing on link building, content marketing, local SEO, and reputation management. Follow Stuart on Twitter @smindsrt