Is shoving keywords into your domain name really worth it?

Written on January 21, 2008 – 4:39 pm | by Shell Harris |

What are the costs and benefits of having keyword-rich domain names?Does having the keywords you wish to rank for in the domain name really give you an advantage over your competition?All things being equal, yes.But before you throw down $7.95 on, consider what your goals are with the domain.

High rankings are great; “brandibility” is better.A catchy domain name will increase brand awareness and is worth infinitely more than a domain name picked solely for SEO, especially if it’s difficult to remember and loaded with hyphens and underscores. The ultimate goal should be to have a domain name that is both catchy and filled with your keywords.When this isn’t achievable, you should pick a domain name based on how memorable it is.You can still attain domain names with keywords shoved in them and either redirect them to your primary website or use them to market your main site.

One advantage to having keywords in your domain name is that you don’t have to worry about using targeted anchor text when building links.This can come in handy in your quests to parse links on high PageRank pages that do not allow the use of anchor text, such as Digg comment pages.Links without targeted anchor text always look the most natural to Google, but be forewarned that rapidly link-injecting your keyword-rich domain name across sites like Digg will look unnatural in the eyes of Google and will not help you in any way, shape or form.

While acquiring a domain name for branding purposes reigns supreme, if you have an opportunity to snatch a keyword-rich domain name, do not hesitate to grab it and use it to push the agenda of your primary domain.

Do any of you consistently use this strategy?


Shell Harris co-founded Big Oak on January 1, 2004. In a previous career he was a print & web designer and often developed the sites he designed before focusing on his current passion for search engine optimization and Internet marketing. He is an avid researcher, SEO specialist, company mouthpiece and is always looking for the next big thing in Internet Marketing.

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  1. 23 Responses to “Is shoving keywords into your domain name really worth it?”

  2. By DNL on Jan 22, 2008 | Reply

    I believe both approaches are fine depending on the site’s goal. If you are not interested in branding but rank for a bunch of keywords, then a keyword stuffed domain will help a lot and it makes sense using one.

  3. By Eric on Jan 23, 2008 | Reply

    I’ve been buying domains for years. Some keyword rich, others not. Some with -, _, or no space between words.

    My experience shows that keywords can help in SEs, but it can actually hurt to have overly long domains with humans.

    I’ve recently started using James Brausch’s Nemeas to help me choose relevant domains that will rank better and have had good success. It does a statistical check against what ranks well and doesn’t rank well to give a potential domain name a score. Works well for me.

    Cheers and thanks for the good points on domain names.


  4. By SEO Solutions on Jan 23, 2008 | Reply

    I think that there’d be no difference between domain w/ keywords than those without in SE spiders eyes though we can’t just ignore the fact that there’s a lil bit advantage of using it

  5. By Dave @ Seo Blog on Jan 23, 2008 | Reply

    I used both and in terms of ranking, the didn’t really help…with a good linking campaign you can get them equal in the serps. If you’re not actively searching for links it will help, like you said.

    That being said, at the moment I prefer branding above stuffing for a serious e-commerce biz, especially if you’re doing off line advertising too.


  6. By Megan on Jan 24, 2008 | Reply

    Choosing a domain that includes the primary keyword (if it’s not too long, makes sense to do so, is a part of the business name, etc.) is just good business practice, and yes, Google does favor sites with a keyword in the domain. However, domain keyword stuffing with hyphens or underscores raises HUGE flags in Google. File names however, is a different story, and something that’s ‘warmly’ contested still.

    Eric, what you pose is intriguing. Can you offer more insight?

  7. By Will on Jan 24, 2008 | Reply

    @Eric: I’ll have to check out Nemeas. Sounds useful.

  8. By Piper on Jan 24, 2008 | Reply

    When you can make a good-sounding, keyword-rich domain name without too many dashes, I say go for it. I’ve had plenty of success without doing it, though, especially when you use the keywords in the specific page URLs. It might be easier with the keywords in the domain, but does that matter if no one trusts your site because the domain name is so questionable?

  9. By eFengShui on Jan 25, 2008 | Reply

    Domains with keywords will help a lot for exact matches. Especially with Google. I notice everyday parked and MFA’s ranking above good and clean sites just because of the domain name.

  10. By Betty on Jan 31, 2008 | Reply

    How about this: I use my company name as the domain name, I buy 100 keyword-rich domains and I redirect all to the main domain? :D

  11. By Meer bezoekers on Mar 24, 2008 | Reply

    There are even more benefits with a brand name filled with keywords you wish to rank for.
    This comes in handy when linkbuilding. Even if your are only allowed to use your brand name as anchor text, your still getting an backlink that is keyword rich.

  12. By TC3 on Mar 28, 2008 | Reply

    >> I buy 100 keyword-rich domains and I redirect all to the main domain?

    And does that work well?

  13. By Matt on Apr 23, 2008 | Reply

    In terms of SEO what would be the best approach:

    1. Simply 301 redirecting a key phrase rich domain to the main site domain e.g. to

    2. Writing some key phrase rich content on that is actually useful (not spammed) and providing a link to

    I understand that redirecting a large number of key phrase rich domains to the single company domain isn’t a particularly good idea. Is that true?

    Also on a separate issue regarding hyphens would Google recognise the key phrase “red paint” in or just I was led to believe it was.

    Thanks in advance.

  14. By Shell Harris on Apr 25, 2008 | Reply

    A simple redirect will pass all link love and page rank. That is almost always best if the original url has similar content to the url you are redirecting to. Don’t try to redirect to a page that hasn’t nothing to do with the old page. Bad SEO, bad!

    Redirecting shouldn’t be a tactic in SEO. Use it as it was directed to be used.

    Hyphens are better, don’t let anyone tell you different. redpaint is seen as redpaint.

  15. By James Weir on Aug 2, 2008 | Reply

    hey guys, what i did here was this:

    my company name is Xpirt Website Design located at
    (original url)

    i just registered the domain name because my main target keyword is “affordable website design”

    i did a 301 redirect from to my original domain

    what do you guys think about that?

    my content is good as far as humans are concered, but i did throw a few h1 and h2 tags, bolded each keyword once, and used the keyword in the title, ect, appropriately.

    also, i used the keyword in my urls i.e (

    i do understand that most of your rankings will come from other sites linking to your site using the keyword anchor tag (as far as google is concerned).

    the the real question for me here is… Am I on the right track? I dont check this blog often but I would like some comments or advice, Feel free to email me at

    Thanks alot!

  16. By Latterkursus Peter on Nov 16, 2008 | Reply

    There are some good questions in the comments. I am wondering the same thing as james. Does it work to buy the keyword rich url and redict ? should i out content on the keyword rich url ?

    appriciate the help

  17. By Ejvind on Dec 9, 2008 | Reply

    I recently bought at domain name with the keyword I wanted to optimize for. At first it soared to the top, but then apparantly others started to do their SEO, so I went further down on the search results.

    In my experience you cannot rely solely on the domain name, you also have to do some serious SEO.

    One of the things to do is posting comments on blogs, and even though you have taken away that option, it still works :-)

  18. By UK hosting on Feb 23, 2009 | Reply

    I read somewhere that google dropped the relevancy of keywords in domain names circa 2003. Does anybody have any experience / evidence to the contrary?

  19. By Guru of Search on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    I would have to agree that focusing too much on keywords is not worth it. For the search engines, focus on quality content, and for your users, focus on making the domain name easy to remember.

  20. By NIKHIL AGARWAL on May 7, 2009 | Reply

    hey guys…
    I am also having same query as James…
    Please reply to this query… I will be grateful to you..

  21. By Domain Superstar on May 18, 2009 | Reply

    “I would have to agree that focusing too much on keywords is not worth it. For the search engines, focus on quality content, and for your users, focus on making the domain name easy to remember.”

    Those are indeed both good things but having a great keyword domain name not only helps you rank higher but they are also proven to increase click through by users.

    It’s only natural that a domain name that is an exact match keyword .com domain name would rank higher than an unrelated domain name everything else being equal and it’s only natural that a user would view an exact match domain as an authority domain (i.e. for the keyword “cars” is definitely an authority domain).

  22. By Ejvind on May 20, 2009 | Reply

    You stated that having a keyword domain name means higher indexing. In my experience that is not the case. I have a website with the domain name that equals a competitive search term, and I am indexed 5-6 on the term/word.

    So I conclude that there is more to it than that. Other things must influence the ranking.

  23. By vijay on Sep 13, 2009 | Reply

    Thats true having a keyword rich domain brings up serp’s quickly.

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