21 February 2023
Google’s John Mueller recently suggested that having a domain name that’s too keyword-rich may be detrimental to a website’s long-term success. While several years ago, having a domain name that contained your target keywords was a surefire way to boost your Google rankings, things have changed today. In fact, such a domain name could now hinder the development of your brand’s long-term success.
If you’re not familiar with John, he’s a prominent figure in the world of search, having been at Google since 2007. As a Search advocate, he coordinates their Search Relations and connects the Google-internal world of Search engineering to those who create and optimize public websites. Together, they help to bring an understanding of the external web ecosystem to internal teams and assist publishers in creating amazing websites that work well for users and search engines.
In the r/SEO forum on Reddit, a user asked if it’s worth paying a hefty fee for a domain that contains the exact keywords they want to rank for. Mueller responded by saying:
“I’m not a fan of keyword-rich domains, but YMMV. Random thoughts: everyone thinks you’re a spammer, changing business focus, or even expanding, is harder, you have no brand name, there’s nothing that people can search for which ‘obviously’ should show your site. You’re always competing, you’re not building value with long-term users.”
While this may seem like a personal opinion, given his role, it’s safe to assume that these ‘ideas’ would have been influenced by Google’s position on the subject. There’s no doubt that he believes that building a strong brand identity with a unique domain name is better for creating brand loyalty and growth than using a keyword-rich domain name.
A keyword-rich domain name is not a domain name strategy
In the past, having a keyword-rich domain name could give you an advantage in SEO as search engines used domain names as one of the signals to determine the relevance of a website to a particular search query. However, search engines now use hundreds of different ranking factors, and the weight given to domain names has decreased significantly.
When building a digital brand, it’s more important to focus on creating high-quality, relevant content, optimizing your website for user experience, and building an audience that engages with your content. You want your domain name to be short, and memorable, and ensure that it resonates with your target audience. Importantly, secure your brand across key domain name spaces, including cctlds and geographies that your business is targeting.
Once you have chosen your domain name, secure it across all social media platforms, IM, and other online channels. This helps to build consistency, protects your brand from bad actors and makes it easier for people to find your brand online.
Brandsec is a corporate domain name management and brand protection company that look after many of Australia, New Zealand and Asia’s top publicly listed brands. We provide monitoring and enforcement services, DNS, SSL Management, domain name brokerage and dispute management and brand security consultation services.