HomeNewsDecoding Domain Names: Google’s Experts Weigh In

Decoding Domain Names: Google’s Experts Weigh In

Decoding domain names - google’s experts weigh in - redzo. Digital

Key Concepts:

  1. Long-term Thinking in Domain Name Selection: According to John Mueller, it’s important to choose a domain name that you’re willing to stick with for the long term, as changing your domain name can be a hassle.
  2. ‘www’ Vs ‘Naked’ Domains: There’s no significant difference between using “www.something.topleveldomain” and “something.topleveldomain.” However, for user convenience, it’s important to ensure both versions are accessible.
  3. The Role of ‘M-dot’ Domains: The use of ‘m-dot’ domains, typically used for mobile versions of sites, is discouraged by the team.
  4. The ‘Coming Soon’ Page Problem: Using a “Coming Soon” page can lead search engines to perceive the site as having no valuable content and potentially stop crawling it.
  5. Keywords in Domain Names: The presence of keywords in domain names might not directly impact search engine rankings but could influence user behavior. Incorporating keywords should be more of a strategic business decision rather than solely an SEO strategy.

Keywords in Domain Names: Google’s Perspective

In an episode of the ‘Search Off The Record’ Podcast, the Google Search Relations Team, featuring John Mueller, Gary Illyes, and Martin Splitt, put their thoughts on a much-debated issue: the influence of keywords in domain names on search engine rankings. The question, presented by Mueller was, “Should I embed keywords in my domain name, or should I go for a brand?”

Gary Illyes addressed the question with a light-hearted laugh, implying the answer is not quite straightforward. From Google’s viewpoint, or perhaps more accurately from Illyes’s perspective, the inclusion of keywords doesn’t seem to make a significant difference.

Keywords: Impact on User Behavior

Illyes further clarified that while keywords might not directly affect search engine rankings, they could sway user behavior. He used an example to illustrate his point: a user in search of passport photos may be more inclined to click on passportphoto.com over other generic photo sites. The keyword in the domain, in this case, seems to inspire trust or relevance in the mind of the user.

Dashes & Exact Match Domains: Do They Matter?

Martin Splitt brought up another aspect of domain names, questioning whether dashes or exact match domains make a difference. Illyes responded by stating that anything in the URL can technically be manipulated by the site owner, and so Google may not want to place much emphasis on such factors for ranking.

In layman’s terms, whether or not a domain name contains a dash doesn’t hold much weight in search engine rankings. That being said, Illyes added that a domain name with a dash might be more readable, indicating a potential benefit from a user experience perspective.

Branding Over Keywords: A Long-term Vision

As the discussion veered towards the long-term implications of selecting domain names, Mueller stressed the importance of focusing more on the brand than the keywords. He reasoned that a website’s offerings would likely evolve over time, which could make a keyword-specific domain name seem odd if the product range expands or changes.

Taking his example, a website selling potato peelers initially might branch out into avocado peelers in the future. If the site is called bestpotatopeeler2023.com, it would feel quite awkward selling avocado peelers under that domain name.

The suggestion from Google’s Search Relations team, thus, is that the decision to include keywords in domain names should be more of a business decision than a purely SEO strategy.

Mueller advised thinking long-term when it comes to domain names because changing them can be quite a hassle. You’d want to choose a domain that you can stick with for a long time.

For more valuable insights and best practices on domain name selection, you can listen to the full episode of Google’s podcast here.

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