Should your website domain name contain your keywords?

Will keywords in a www address give a Google advantage?

This is another very popular question asked by dentists who are just starting out on a new website project and considering a good domain name for their dental business online. It’s likely that they’ve heard comments which suggest that including one of more keywords in a domain name can give you a big boost in Google, but is this really the case?

First, let’s take a look at what Matt Cutts of Google has to say about the subject – as you’ll see in the video, the general recommendation is to opt for a “brand” based domain name rather than be tempted to stuff it with a bunch of keywords:

So some pretty clear guidance which weighs up the pros and cons and leans towards “brand” as being the way to go.

But surely a keyword rich domain will work better?

If you’d have asked this question back in 2012, I’d have said you were right. Back then, there were fairly clear indicators that a keyword rich domain name was a great starting place and would typically give you a ranking boost. But if you’ve watched the video all the way through, you’ll have noted that Google actually adjusted their ranking algorithm to minimise any advantage that may have existed historically.

In fact, a couple of years back, Google actually introduced an “exact match domain” (EMD) penalty where low quality websites published on EMDs had been used in an attempt to manipulate Google results. In this case, Google was able to recognise several low quality signals, including an EMD, and actual penalise the website concerned. So this is something to be aware of for new websites which will initially carry very little domain authority and could actually be disadvantaged by a keyword-stuffed domain name.

Can you ever profit from a keyword rich domain name?

I believe the answer here is “yes”, albeit only very slightly. If your website is large, regularly updated and “authoritative” in Google’s eyes, then there is evidence to suggest that you may get a small ranking advantage. However, the advantage is probably too small to worry about now that Google has recalibrated to minimise the effect of EMDs.

Recommendation

Whilst you could get a ranking advantage by using keyword stuffed domain names a few years back, that advantage is all but gone now. Better is to lean towards a “brand” based domain name as this will certainly be more memorable for users and more readily shareable by them. It’s also very easy to demonstrate great SEO results for lots of our clients’ dental websites which are purely brand based.

If you would like to discuss the best ways to get your dental practice started on-line, please call the Dental Media web team on 01332 672548 for a non-obligation chat.