Getting the High Ground with Domains

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Most aspects of SEO work on “equal” ground.

No matter how exclusive and high quality a backlink is, your competitor can always get a backlink of equal value.

No matter how relevant an article is, your competitor can always write an article of similar keyword relevance.

Almost every aspect of SEO can be duplicated by your opposition.

So when you find an aspect of SEO that is entirely unbalanced – and effective enough that it can tip the scales against the sites of multi-million dollar companies – it’s worth knowing how to use this aspect to your advantage.

A picture’s worth a thousand words.

Open up Market Samurai and look at the SEO Competition matrix for “Credit Cards”.

You’ll see 10 results that look a lot like this:

Notice anything strange?

It might be something that you’ve seen in your own niche. You might even notice it practically every time you do a Google search.

These 10 results reveal important story about one of Google’s great biases.

Let’s start looking at the 2nd result, and continue through the results immediately below it.

Visa, MasterCard, American Express – all huge names, synonymous with the term “credit cards”.

In terms of search engine relevance – these sites (synonymous with the term “credit cards” itself) are some of the most relevant credit card sites online.

Below those, there are some credit card comparison services, and smaller credit card providers such as Discover Card, Citi and Chase – the sort of “mix” of sites that you’d typically expect to find on a search engine results page… All relevant sites, but with lower levels of authority and relevance.

But the first result…

Here’s where things get interesting…

The first result on the page is www.creditcards.com

It sits ahead of Visa, MasterCard, and American Express – all multi-billion dollar companies with marketing budgets that could buy a small country…

Their names are synonymous with the words “credit cards”…

They have plenty of high PageRank links, including links from some of the largest and most reputable sites online…

And 100,000′s more links than their smaller rival…

…And yet they’ve been beaten to the punch – they’ve met a real David versus Goliath scenario with this “creditcards.com”.

This story repeats itself…

It’s something you can see in practically any keyword niche you analyze.

Smaller sites with keyword-optimized domains are seeing their SEO efforts magnified over time – giving them an unfair advantage that allows them to outrank competitors who boast more links, better content, higher PageRanks and more.

Let’s look deeper into the SEO analysis to see it in action…

Here are the off-page results again from Market Samurai’s SEO Competition module.

www.creditcards.com has lowest PageRank (PR) of all domains on the first page of results, and fewer Backlinks to the Page (BLP) and Backlinks to the Domain (BLD) than most of its competitors.

Its domain age is roughly on par with most of the domains there (some are higher, some are lower).

But it has one clear feature almost exclusively absent from the competition – it has the keyword “credit cards” in the domain name.

This demonstrates just how valuable it can be to get a good keyword-optimized domain.

Good domain names make SEO a whole lot easier.

They leverage or magnify your SEO efforts – so that each link you build, or article you create, counts more heavily towards your rankings – so you can put in less work than your competitors and still get the same (or better) effect.

This gives you a strong advantage over your opponents.

Think about the value of getting better results, with less time and effort.

Could it mean you have more time on your hands to devote to improving your site in other ways? Could it mean you get more visitors? Could it mean more sales? Could it mean bigger profits?

These opportunities to leverage your results in SEO are rare.

Using keyword optimized domains is one of the few “jiu-jitsu” SEO techniques that still remain effective, allowing you to use the search engines’ heavy bias towards keyword optimized domains to your advantage.

So what should you do now?

4 Action Points for Using Domains Effectively

  1. Use Keyword Domains for SEO – Obviously if you’re setting up a new site, and you aim to invest in SEO to attract visitors, get a keyword optimized domain.
  2. Consider Moving to a Keyword Domain – If you’ve just set up a site, and it’s still in its early phase, consider moving to a keyword optimized domain. If you have an older site, the decision might not be so clear-cut though, because moving to a new domain name usually means starting afresh in the eyes of the search engines.
  3. Keep Your Competitiors Out – Check for, and get, any high-value keyword domains in your market. Remember: no matter how successful you come to be you can always be unseated by a competitor bearing a keyword.com domain – so even if you don’t use the domains immediately yourself, protect yourself and keep potential competitors out of your niche by holding onto dangerous domains yourself.
  4. Just Wait For What’s Up Next… – Over the next week, we’re going to drill deeper and deeper into how to find, select and utilize domains effectively for SEO, and look at some of the advanced techniques that professional domainers use to secure dynamite domains, and outrank established high-PageRank competitors like they were taking candy from babies.

Remember to watch the blog, and your email, for the next instalment on using domains for SEO.

Again, over the next week we’ve going be covering some little-known advanced strategies for domain names, with nuts-and-bolts how-to examples – and it’s something you won’t want to miss.

Brent Hodgson a co-founder of Noble Samurai, and an internet marketing specialist.

Brent has written 68 post(s) for Noble Samurai

208 Responses to “Getting the High Ground with Domains”

  1. Hey Brent,

    Yep, there’s definitely proof that a domain name matching your keyword gets results.

    By the way, I recently attended SMX West in Santa Clara, California, where high-ups from Google, Yahoo! and Bing were also in attendance and speaking on Q&A panels; it was noted that Bing is (at least for now) putting a lot of weight in their ranking algorithm on domain name.

    Let’s face it, a domain name that IS your top-level keyword almost HAS to be an indication of “what is this site about?” when the spiders/bots show up to crawl and index.

    It’s not “gaming they system” to make your entire site revolve around your domain name; in fact, in purely white-hat SEO terms, if your entire site DOES revolve around a specific keyword AND you use standard “Google approved” SEO techniques, AND your content is fresh and yes – USEFUL AND RELEVANT to the visitor, then your site is a blessing on the “cesspool of the internet” (to paraphrase Google’s own Eric Schmidt).

    Some things you might consider talking about, Brent, with respect to domain names and clearing the air on:

    1. If you can’t get your exact match domain name, and you want to modify it, what are the best practices with respect to:
    A. hyphens or no hyphens between the words in the keyphrase
    B. adding a word to the beginning or end of the domain/phrase – which is better (at the end, correct?)
    C. TLD choices: .com vs. .org, .net, etc.

    Of course, SEO is a moving target and those who seek final answers will be disappointed as algorithms change over time, and as how the SE’s display results also changes.

    Keep the posts coming, Brent, always good to see you! When’s your next superb training video coming out?-my girlfriend wants to know! ;-)

    Best,
    David

  2. Great article and point. We are therefore assuming that our keyword tool will soon have the built-in ability to check on the availability of a keyword rich domain name as we are working inside market samurai. Hopefully, this will be an upgrade to the tool soon.

    Thanks,
    Bob

    On
    Web ECommerce replied:

    This would be a great feature

  3. How does Google value it if you have a domain name that contains the keywords, but it is pointing to another domain? For example, you have a generic domain that has content on lots of types of jewellry. One of the topics is, say, “5 carat diamonds”. You buy the domain “5caratdiamonds.com” and point it to the relevant page on your overall jewellry site. Impact?

    On
    SEO Company Guildford replied:

    Tema,

    Thats called a 301 redirect and is commonly used in SEO. Google has stated recently (about 6month-1 year ago) that it is not 100% happy with this practice, and there are reports that it can have a negative impact if carried out on a large scale.

    You would be better off getting the keyword rich domain and using it as a kind of squeeze page to get people to click through to the main one.

    That way you main site gets links and traffic from the keyword dense one, and you dont anger Google.

    On
    Ty Hallsted replied:

    A related question…

    If you host a URL (say http://www.keywordrichdomain.com) and the site contains a single php line such as header(“Location: http://www.myrealsite.com/“), will google index http://www.keywordrichdomain.com or completely overlook it?

    On
    SEO Company Guildford replied:

    Hey Ty,

    It will index the keywordrichdomain.com – however, it is not a completely ethical tactic.

    It is much better to put some form of content on keywordrichdomain.com and then simply link through to mainsite.com. Users and Google will both see it as a legitimate site, it will index well, and the users will still end up buying from mainsite.com

  4. 4

    Does this format have the same effect?
    http://Www.domain.com/main-keyword.html

    On
    Article Submission Services replied:

    nope, you have to have the exact keyword as your main domain name

    On
    Gareth replied:

    yes fred, if you can optimize it right, google just looks in the URL for the keywords, the only advantage having a keyword.com is every other single aspect of SEO was the same however in the case of credit cards I would assume that many parts of the SEO are not the same, remember multi million $$ companies don’t really worry about organic traffic, they just up the adwords bid and tweak there sites for that purpose, the organic search is really affiliate playground. and the majority of the time it is simply an affiliate who outranked the big guys, so why are they going to pay twice? the affiliate is usually cheaper than an SEO specialist.

    any website can rank for any keyword in theory, and in the example above, the domain age is 12 years, yet mastercard is in third with no domain age, give it a year and which one will be first?

  5. I wrote a similar post title “Domain Name SEO Power” – also using Market Samurai to Analise check it out here http://vincesamios.com/internetmarketing/domain-name-seo-power

    On
    Kenneth Holk replied:

    Vince,

    you seems to know domains. I have a question for you or someone else who knows: if I have a domain name com-bestbuy.com and I create a subdomain , lets say books it will look like this books.com-bestbuy.com
    Will that domainname getting good result in the search ?
    I think it must be better than a long keyword like
    buymybestbooks.com

    And THANK YOU Noble Samurai for a werry good article!!

  6. 6
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 2:42 am
    Peter Rose said:

    Thanks for a very informative article. Two things that spring to mind…to get a great domain/keyword for one’s niche, does google give more credence to a dot com extension rather than .net or .org?

    Also would it be prudent to register a domain name in the top three TLD’s just to keep the competitors at bay?

    I have collected various keyword domains over the last 2 years so I had better put them to good use.

  7. We’ve seen some impressive results with keyword rich domains, but we’ve also seen some failures. However, on balance it seems to help.

    d

  8. I agree with Tema Frank, I too would like ot know the impact of heavily keyworded domain pointing at my current domain. Would this work or give me an advantage over my competitors?

  9. 9

    The ability to be able to locate available keyword-focused domain URLs through Marketer Samurai would be an AMAZING new tool to have!

    I know some software programs (KR) can do this, so its def. doable…

    ~Dexx

  10. 10

    This is interesting. See in many blogs/articles/newsletters I’ve read, the one constant in these ‘informative’ articles is that the domain name has the least relevance in optimizing your site. Obviously this software is hard copy evidence to prove that idea wrong.

    Thank you for your time Brent.

  11. Keywords before the .com carry a lot more weight. I wonder if http://www.credit-cards.com carries the same or better weight. I have seen negative results by adding keywords in the sub-pages…like http://www.yourwebsite.com/creditcards.html. The apparant ease of this might have Google thinking twice about giving you credit.

    I’d also appreciate any input on the relative value of forwarded domains. Let’s say you have an established site but want to also have a keyword rich domain. Do you get any credit for it (by forwarding it to the root domain?)

  12. This is a VERY powerful technique that I use to help local businesses rank higher for Geotargeted terms.

    The best part about the domain name and keyword combo is that it is virtually limitless as new products / ideas and terms are born everyday.

    Sure, some classic ones such as “credit cards” wont change.. I bet you could make a run at “health care reform” and turn that into an insurance driven site.

    -rs

  13. Agree with your analysis. However, Google is interested in best user experience — it’s how they maintain market share. So, my prediction in 2010 is that there will be a “Google Domain Slap” — they will adjust their algorithm to prevent this bias in the future. Mark my words, the “Google Domain Slap” is coming.

  14. Does this concept carry thru to sub-domains ?

  15. What about sub-domains? My understanding is that the search engines treat them as a separate domain, so lets say you wanted to do a product review site on credit cards. Would creditcards.yourproductsearch.com rank well?

  16. Brent, I have been able to observe this directly with a new client site. I keyword researched using Market Samurai to determine a viable keyword rich domain. The rankings are moving up daily although we are still adding content.

  17. Absolutely right on the money. I did exactly that, changed a new website with no keywords in the domain to a keyword optimized domain (it was a lot of work) and sure enough – instantly at the top of Bing, Yahoo following shortly after, and marching straight up the ranks on Google. Of course I employed all the other SEO best practices as well. However, this is not a good strategy for older, well established domains even if they don’t have keywords in them. I tend to think that Google values age and popularity much more than keywords – all else being equal.

  18. This is a known information but thanks for the update Brent. If MarketSamurai would integrate such feature in the tool it would be an added value for search engine marketeers.

    Regards,
    Erdal

  19. 19

    The question is…

    Should we go with one big authority site or hundreds of niche sites like you recommend. I think there are pros and cons in both ways. Sure in keyword rich domain you get some love for that keyword, but with authority page and with directory keyword name (so still in url) you get more love for getting new articles accepted faster, you get some link juice from main domain authority, and maybe one of the most important thing, you are not risking a google slap to this micro sites, as it will happen sooner or later, as SERPs are getting spammed with them like hell…

    My opinion is still to go with one nice big authority site and in your case study, if visa would put visa.com/creditcards, I think they would get on first place in no time. Just my opinion though.

    Cheers!

  20. Is that it? Every SEO monkey knows that trick :-)

    Google has heavily weighted keywords in the domain for a long time, not just .coms – also .nets and .orgs (can rank higher in some instances)

    Keyword Rockstar can find all the keywords for your niche and then check all the domain registrations as well.

    Keywords at the start rather than the end if possible – hypens are ok, i’ve seen high results with hyphens, although users don’t tend to click them as much.

    Google uses over 200 different factors to rank domains, so this is only one piece of the puzzle, you need to do all the other things as well, like good keyword-rich backlinks from high PR sites for a keyword like this.

    On
    Fundraising Cards replied:

    Dave I think you missed the point …. You are correct getting good backlinks is good… BUT ANYONE CAN DO THAT anyone can NOT buy the domain keyword.com… only 1 person can

    Only 1 person can…..

    only one person can ….

  21. Market Samurai does give us a lot of information. this blog gives us even more good info.

    i still hate getting beaten in local search by companies that do not even have a web site!

    On
    high search engine ranking replied:

    How does one get beaten in local search by a company without a website?

  22. This is assuming that google will always value the name of a domain as part of the search. We all know the DO currently value the domain name… What I see out there are a lot of keyword domain names and the sites themselves are awful. For the most part, it seems that a matching domain name for a keyword is almost always NOT the site that is the most valuable and relevant.

    Knowing Google, this is something that will change when/if they realize they are ‘valuing’ sites that really have little value.

  23. I have heard of this stragety before, but still not very versitle in figuring out what are good keywords and what are not. I also had the same question as Tema. How does Google look on a site that has a good keyword DNS, but is redirected to another site?

  24. This would seem to be a reasonable argument but having the keyword rich domain name is only one part of it there is much more to it if you think not go get any domain with ” Dog ” in it and try and rank in your life time you may not rank competition for that niche is just as important sure you may rank some day but are you willing to work on it for the next two or three years to break top ten Credit Cards is another that you will never break into the competition is just too great better off looking in a niche not so dominated

  25. 25
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 3:08 am
    Jon Porter said:

    I knew keywords in the domain name were important, but I never realized the magnifying effect they have. Great info!

  26. I have the domain thephotographyartist.com

    When ever my keyword for “photography artist” reaches a 2nd page listing I kicked way back – like down to 400 sometimes.

    Why does Google hate me?

  27. I got some good result by adding keyword in domain name. But it is really very difficult to get a domain with only keyword. The example you shown is really great. Could you please write one post on How to get good result with a new domain? Can I build more links to a new domain? For example – my competitor has 200 backlinks and domain is 1 year old. Now can I outrank my competitor by building more backlinks in a short time? This will be really great help for me.

    Thanks,
    Chandan

  28. 28

    Hmmm TemaFrank – has an excellent question! One I’ve wondered about myself. Love to get the answer on that one.

  29. Thanks for sharing,

    Great advice, I firmly believe having a keyword rich domain helps and allows you to overpower larger more established sites.

    Peter in regards to your question, I believe having a .com helps much more than a .net or .org, and I would buy them in that order, however you should test it for yourself. My .org’s never seem to do as well as the .com’s.

    Good luck!

  30. What about a subdomain keyword, especially for a well established site that can’t change easily. Would this still bring good results in Google?

    Thanks,

    Steve

  31. Does it make a difference whether it is .com, .net or .org?

  32. I’ve noticed the importance of having a domain that is an exact match to the keyword search term you are trying to target for a while. The best part is that most great keyword rich domain names are parked and can be purchased for a few hundred or thousand dollars. Some can even be scooped up on the drop if you are persistent in your search and look hard enough.

    Also, I think .orgs and .nets might be just as effective as .coms, but this is difficult to verify.

  33. 33

    Yes, exact match domains are huge leverage for a new site. I use a little app that goes though my target keywords in bulk to tell me if the domains are available. I’ve seen faster rankings using this strategy.

    On
    Joe Watson replied:

    I would be really interested in using your app. Any chance. You can reach me at joewatsonATfastmail.fm where the AT is the symbol@ if you do not want to publicize this.

    Thanks in advance

    Joe

    On
    Vanessa replied:

    Hi Joe,

    It’s not fancy at all. But it does work and its a free resource.

    Open your exported MS keyword list in a text editor. Remove spaces between words, one keyword per line. I do a search and replace for space with no space in Notepad.

    Copy your modified kw list into this site:
    http://www.databasepower.net/domsearch/bulksearch.asp

    and select the com/org/net extensions to search. (I’ve found all 3 work well as Exact Match domains for low comp kws)

    The site will return which options are available for purchase. I usually only search <100 keywords at a time and manually buy the domains available that I want in a separate browser window at my domain registrar of choice –whichever one is having a sale.

    There are some fancier/prettier options that do this same process but this has worked out well for me.

    Hope you find this tip useful! Would love to see this in MS one day.

    Vanessa

    On
    Joe Watson replied:

    Hi Vanessa

    Many thanks for your info. I am definitely going to use this as I think it’s an excellent idea.

    Joe

  34. I neever really knew how important this was til today. That explains the price of good domain names.

    Thanks
    Lynsey

  35. 35

    Great post!!

    Keywords rich domain…

    Does it matter if it’s .com, .net, .info, .biz?

  36. Awesome article. It makes me want to definitely look into getting a key word optimized domain. I recently got involved in SEO and do find it to be a little competitive in my niche market, but it’s doable. With the use of MS, it has made it a little easier going after certain keywords and creating the right articles.

  37. Brent,
    Yes, as you can see from my domain, this is something I put into practice. In fact, out of the last 127 domains/sites Ive put up, they are all keyworded domain names. The new challenge is now competing against those who have the same.
    Of course it’s a massive advantage, however, I still get beat out by some sites that are horrible quality, but have more than 500 backlinks.

  38. Thanks for more great information, as always. Market Samurai is by far the best research tool that I’ve seen online. And the training here in the dojo is top notch. This is an important step for anyone who is starting a new site. One that a lot of people may not think of. And us little guys need all the extra advantages we can get to compete with the big companies.

    Thanks for the tips,
    Greg

  39. I’ve heard so many say “it doesn’t matter.” Somehow I never truly believed that. I have one domain which is as you suggest. It does better in the search engines than my other site without a proper domain name. Both sell the same products.

    Thanks so much for clearing this up. I am a true fan and I own Market Samurai so my next domain will be selected with this post in mind.

  40. Brent,

    What you are saying is very correct. It’s very simple to dominate the rankings with exact match domain names. Currently I’m playing with a few different strategies and am ranking in the top 5 SERPs within 4 days on an exact match keywords with over 2400 local (Australia) searches and 80000 monthly searches (worldwide).

    Nice couple of posts you have written in the last few days.

  41. 41

    How many examples have you analyzed before drawing the conclusion that keyword-rich domain names are responsible for ranking on top of the competition?

    In the case of creditcards.com, I could imagine that Google ranked them #1 manually simply because they happen to be the most credibly independent of the review websites out there and click data showed that people searching for credit cards primarily want to compare offers.

    Also, if visa or MC was first, people would go directly to either website when doing a lucky search. That would seem like Google is biased towards one of the two giants.

    On
    Kyle Richey replied:

    That’s a fantastic point, Frank!

    I agree that Google tends to do a decent job of providing variety and removing bias in the SERPs.

    That said, this is what convinced me of the power of keyword-rich domains:
    http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors#ranking-factors

    According to 72 of the World’s most highly-regarded SEO experts, having the keyword in the domain name itself is the 3rd most important on-site factor.

    I believe that in this particular case it’s a combination of exactly what you brought up and the domain name.

    Thanks guys!
    Kyle

  42. Great post. I’m glad that in a number of my niche markets I reserved a TON of domain names that fit the bill! The question I always have is how much should one PAY to get a domain name that fits the bill. Any idea on a metric that would help me to compute that? I realize the answer may have MANY components, but what do you think they are? Best, Fred

  43. Obviously I’ve been at this to long and, evidently, seriously underestimate my knowledge. I haven’t bought a domain name without my main keywords in it since 1997.

    How important it is can be debatable but I know I almost always outrank other sites that don’t have it. Friends complain that they outrank me by 4 PR points yet I rank above them. It may not mean much but it’s always worth doing.

    I’d say equally important is a robots.txt, site map, favicon, about, contact and privacy policy page. Google does requst the robots.tct and the favicon the first visit to the page and all visits after. To be considered professional by google you should use all 6 things. All of my sites that have them are easier to rank than those that don’t. Google just loves proessionaism but I don’t know for sure if they give better rank because of it. Makes sense that they would tho.

    Lol, now if someone could just tell me why this south dakota fishing reports page has a PR of 4. It’s an old, old page that was abandoned about 4 years ago. Then it had PR 0 and I was surprised to find it the other day let alone it had a PR 4 and I’ve never promoted it. Did add on link to the page after I found it. Just can’t figure out why it has such a high PR for a little dumb page.

  44. Hi Brent

    Many thanks for that informative article.

    I know this is a practice that many programs are recommending and I am working on the same principles for all new domains that I register.

    Seems to work like Gang busters even if there is almost no contant on the page.

    It would be great to see domain availability feature in yoru software -
    I know you guys have added some incredible functionality and tutorials as well.

    This would be a great addition.

    I presently use Micro Niche Finder to do that for me.

    Thanks Brent

    Hamant

  45. Another great article to the point on seo. I have several new sites up that contain the keyword in the domain. They are slowly gaining ground in googles eyes but I sure appreciate the seo lessons that can help me move them up the ladder. Thanks for your great product and all the help using it. I will be looking forward to the next lesson.

  46. Hey Brent,

    I agree that keyword domain names have a huge advantage because I’ve seen blank pages with nothing but a keyword rich title tag rank on the first page of Google for a term that gets 20k monthly searches.

    Google “laptop computers” and you’ll see the #2 result is LaptopComputers.org That term gets 2,000,000 searches per month and it’s a pretty thin site. They’re killing the big retailers and computer manufacturers.

    Leslie Rohde and Dan Thies have discussed the value of keywords in a domain name and (if I recall correctly) they say it’s probably only 5% of Google’s ranking algorithm. They say that it may be useful because when you build links back to your site, the URL already has the keywords in there. So it’s not that Google values keyword rich domain names, it’s just that the links that point back to the site have the keywords, resulting in better anchor text links.

    On the flip side I’ve read Aaron Wall say that keyword rich domain names are valued pretty high by Google.

    Who am I to argue with these experts? I personally prefer keyword domain names and will keep testing with my sites to see the results.

    Glad to see you’re blogging again. I hope the StomperNet partnership brought you lots of success!

    Best,
    Raza
    SoftwareSweatshop.com

    On
    Lasse Kristiansen replied:

    “So it’s not that Google values keyword rich domain names, it’s just that the links that point back to the site have the keywords, resulting in better anchor text links.”

    Don’t mistake hear-say for facts. Stick to your tests. :)

    Normally, there’s a limit to how many backlinks you can attain with one keyword/keyword phrase. You need to diversify the anchor text, because otherwise there will be red flags waving in front of Google & Co.

    However, if you have an exact match domain, having an overweight of incoming links with the exact match keyword phrase as anchor text is natural and won’t cause red flags to appear. There’s also the added benefit of having the keywords in the anchor text even if the anchor text is just the URL (http://www.credit-cards.com works better than http://www.creditcards.com in these cases nowadays when it comes to this, but the space means less in the bigger picture… much less than it did a year ago).

    With that said, a 20+ (random amount picked) character domain name with heeps of exact match incoming links doesn’t seem natural at all. Strategies like that are often times shortlived, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid – at least for the time being.

    I currently have 4 exact match one word keyword domains ranking on page one without any (serious/targeted) optimization done and nearly no content (~40 words on each and a simple one-page HTML page). We’re not talking .com’s though, but CC TLD’s ranking in specific country. Some of the keywords do have a bit of competition going with almost only +PR 5 sites filling up the spots on the first page (no, I don’t imagine PR to be of great importance, but it’s worthy of consideration when drilling deeper). I’ve built very few links to these “sites” and still they outrank sites with heeps of pages and targeted backlinks.

    Lasse

  47. Hi Brent
    don’t you think google might change the algorithm if domain names start to get spammy?

    Brent, if the main keyword has gone, what is the impact of using hyphens or other modifier words, like “now” and so forth?

    With launch affiliate offers, where there is the most competition with this technique, I’ve seen all sorts of modifiers, still in the top 5.

    So what is the score difference between a domain being keyword
    “exact match” “broad match” or “phrase match” in the way the actual domain name matches the targetted keyword?

    thanks
    peter

  48. The power of an exact match keyword domain name is huge. Check out our Type In Traffic Finder Tool that uses real time data from the Google Adwords API to find exact match keyword domains like you mentioned that are available to register or buy.

  49. I have noticed this among the results in MS, but have also noticed that these keyword rich domain sites are in the top 10 fairly quickly when built but then go away for a while. It is when Google has a chance to see what they are up to, do they get back up in the rankings again.

  50. What about having http://www.domain.com/keyword? I’ve heard this is just as strong? Is this true?

    On
    Andre Kibbe replied:

    Not as nearly as strong as an exact match, but it’s better to have the keyword in the url than to not.

  51. I love this tool and the continuing educational value that you guys provide. I look forward to testing this suggestion given

  52. I agree. This key word domain technique has allowed me to squash my competition in some pretty big markets. But the key word domains are disappearing pretty fast!

  53. For older sites not already using keyword-rich domains, simply create additional domains, build them up and send the traffic to the original site! It’s not that hard.

  54. OK, So most every “worthwhile”keyword in my niche is already in use. What do you do then? http://www.keyworda.com .org or http://www.keyword-.org .com ?

    Can’t wait for the next installment for getting keyword domains that are currently registered.

    Dan

  55. 55
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 3:42 am
    Andre Kibbe said:

    @Frank: I’m a full-time keyword researcher. I look at competing sites for keywords every day, and trust me, exact domain matches are very common. Try putting in a dozen less competitive keywords into G and see if you don’t find an exact domain match on serp 1 for each keyword.

    @Peter Rose: Google gives more weight to .com TLDs vs. .org and .net exact matches, but the latter TLDs still work relative to non-exact matches (e.g. words in different order, broken with dashes, appended or prepended with other words)

    On
    Frank replied:

    Actually I don’t doubt the advantage of exact match keywords in the domain for low competition keys. My only issue with this post is that credit cards is a highly competitive key.

  56. Main word ” domain ”

    Would

    http://www.domain.ca
    http://www.domain.info
    http://www.domain.us

    Be as effective

    If we are going against a 1 st ranked

    http://www.do-main.com

    For the word “domain”

    On
    Andre Kibbe replied:

    Only .com, .net and .org TLDs work for exact matches. But “do-main” wouldn’t count as the keyword “domain” in any case. Once you split up a keyword, it’s no longer the keyword. If do-main.com is ranking, it’s either because it happens to be parsable as two English words, or they’re doing some ninja SEO on other factors. You’re better off getting a .com with something added to the beginning or end, like “mydomain.com” or “domainspot.com”.

    I have my doubts that .ca would be effective for SEO, but Google’s own reports (according to Matt Cutts) are that at least 50% of .info or .us domains are considered spam according to their internal criteria. I’d only use the for PPC testing.

  57. I agree with Dexx…

    You guys really need to add a domain finder tool to samurai. Steve Juth’s tools both have it but I rather do it all in samurai.

    The ideal domain finder tool would let us enter up to three columns of terms and then run all the permutations of those terms along with all the domain variation tricks like www- or double hyphens to see if they are available. It would also show us the number of searches for the term in the domain and expand to show the seo competition for the keyword being targeted in the domain.

    God that would be awesome! PLEASE add it.

  58. This has definitely been proven to work for low competition phrases, but much less so for high demand situations. I’ve had a look again at your specific example to see why you’ve got the answer that you have with such a very high demand phrase. The answer becomes obvious when you look at the backlinks, a very high proportion of which are for CreditCards.com, which contains the keyphrase of course.

    In fact, the backlinks for CreditCards.com nearly all contain the keyphrase in one form or another, way, way more so than any of the other sites in the results. That would match up with what I’ve before – provided the page title contains the keyphrase, with all else being equal it’s the amount of backlinks containing the keyphrase that govern the ranking in Google.

    The effect of the keyphrase in the domain name is no greater than having it in the page title.

  59. 59
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 3:46 am
    mattb348 said:

    Couldn’t it just be that domains with the actual keyword in them, have had more relevant anchor texts used for their backlinks etc.?? :)

    Perhaps big companies like visa/mastercard just have a couple million “click here” anchor texts or domain.com anchor texts?

    Surely anyone with an actual keyword in thier domain will be SEO’ing for that keyword with a LOT of focus on relevancy and more importantly, relevant anchor text (IE: “credit cards” as the anchor text for most of thier back links).

    In other words, cases like the one dipicted above, very well may have NOTHING to do with the fact that the keyword is in the actual domain. And good luck ever proving otherwise :(

  60. 60
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 3:47 am
    michael mccall said:

    I don’t understand all these numbers and how to use them.Can you break the module down and explain it a little bit?

  61. 61
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 3:50 am
    Steve Malley said:

    Another great tip and suggestion Brent. As always,very helpful and timely. Keep then coming. Massachusetts Drunk Driving

  62. Very valid points! I will be following the blog more closely… I know its one of the most important tasks getting the right keyword and must admit! To not giving that task enought time and research.

  63. Great article. I am wondering for those of us that have ties to MLM companies, ho we can use the company name if it is against the company rules. For example if it was Amway for example and they say that we can’t use there company name in a domain. Would it be ok in the eyes of Google to use http://www.A-M-W-A-Y.com? Would the Serps see that as Amway or just a bogus domain?

  64. 64

    It seems that people that trade domains knew this for years but somehow many developers refused to listen. You have two options when starting a website and choosing a name – go for a nifty catchy short and memorable one or opt for a keyword or keyword phrase. The latter works well in SEO but the first one is a stronger brand, it sticks in your visitors head and he comes back easier. It’s a tough choice, especially if your keywords are complex expressions. I was using Samurai for few weeks now in domaining and it works like a charm when picking keywords for domains. Stack up keywords/phrases in research tab to compare them and play around with broad/phrase/exact function to see the fine difference. Now, it seems that only two word phrases add up in domaining, anything beyond that is causing the loss in value, not sure how it affects SEO…

    Thanks for making this clear Brent, I was wondering if I’m on a right track as I’m new in domaining, but it helped me snatching some sweet domains. Looking forward to next weeks article.

  65. 65

    What about using a dash ( – ) in the name if the original .com is gone? So credit-cards.com instead of creditcards.com?

  66. Thank you for a great bit of info and an important one at that. Your article is to the point and easy to understand. I love Market Samurai and this will make me rethink a couple of domains I have.

    Thanks again

  67. Great point, but many are scooping these up and targeting long tail as well. Keyword domains are an important long term strategy for sure. Not to mention Bing loves these as well…

  68. Great article and an important point. Thanks for a easy to understand and to the point article. I will have to rethink a couple of my website domains now.

    Thanks guys

  69. Just like the article pointed out, I have noticed many niches will have at least 1 site that has much weaker seo, but has a keyword relevant domain name and ranks in the top 10. At least for now, it seems, Google sees domain names as a very important ranking factor.

    I wonder how the extension (.com, .net, etc..) plays a role? Is .info just as good as .com? If so, buying cheap .info domains may not be a bad way to go to setup a batch of new affiliate sites.

  70. 70
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 4:15 am
    L_R_Sexton said:

    There is some validity in what was written here. domains can have seo benefit. Unfortunately there are other reasons besides the domain to account for why Google is ranking creditcards.com higher than visa.com.

    Yes older trusted domains get a boost, but even with that boost a page still needs solid SEO foundations to reliably rank. Look at the pages themselves and you will see some very basic SEO mistakes made by the visa web site.

  71. Very good analysis about this. I would like to know about how to convert existing sites to one’s that are keyword rich. Could you have a product page for a site like http://www.widgets.com/specificwidget and create a seperate keyword rich domain like http://www.keywordrichdomain.com redirect to the other domain’s product page?

    On
    Isha replied:

    Don’t redirect. Have all your links from keywordrichdomain.com go to the product page.

  72. Guys I appologize as I’m new to all this SEO, does
    extension play a important role in the keyword domain
    itself?

    if so why would dot com be more important than dot org or
    dot us, also anyone know which is easier to run multiple
    domains for startup worpress MU or Standard WP? abit
    overwhelmed and sitting with a few domains. enough with
    parking networks, wanting to develop my domains now!

    thanks,
    -B-

  73. I have to agree with the Brent as I see weak sites out-rank more optimized sites in this situation pretty often. But I wonder how many of keyword-rich domains do not rank well.

    Every time you do a search and don’t see the keyword domain ranking in the top 10, should it be bought if it’s of value, or is it already bought and not ranking or maybe it’s just a placeholder page.

    Jerry West has said as early as January of this year that, “Using a keyword-rich domain name is still very overrated. Branding with a
    good domain is still a better option. In testing, the increase in a keyword rich domain is so slight that it is barely measurable for the ‘money keyword phrases’.”

    I don’t do near the amount of testing Jerry does, but have often wondered how accurate this statement really is especially when coming across keyword domains ranking at or near the top pretty often.

  74. With good, solid SEO, it almost always comes back down to the basics… A keyword rich domain name, and links. It always falls into place then, especially if you get the rest of it right, like incoming link text to match your domain name, then page title, H1 and first text on page, and throughout the page copy… Domain title and links are the basics, and Market Samurai is killer… one of the basics on the back end…

  75. Good article,

    but i am not sure whether to agree with what you’re saying about “keyword in domain name”.

    I personally do NOT think that keywords in the domain name play such a big role as some SEOs assume. You cannot simple come to this conclusion and say the main factor for the site ranking is the keyword in the domain name.

    The #1 site is indeed relevant to the subject…but in how far the KW in the name plays a role here is simply speculation.

    G.

  76. 76

    Excellent posts recently. Keep ‘em coming!

    Any ideas on if subdomains have the same effect? any effect? for example (using the good old fashioned classic “dog training” as a target keyword)::

    dogtraining.someotherurl.com

    any positive ranking effect with this?

    Jesse

  77. I know things are ever changing for the Netentrepreneur, and for newbies starting up it’s as overwhelming today as it ever was.

    I remember when I first started online some 6 years ago now, and the early advice I got from the so called ‘Gurus’ was to use generic dot com domain names. That way you could add content to, delete from, or change the entire theme of the site as the times warranted, and your domain name would not become irrelevant or redundant.

    I had a lot of domains once made up with Latin words for various birds, all which have long since gone! But I am a firm believer in variables and still to this day believe that content is king, and especially if written with authority and the on and off page has good optimisation as taught by the guys here.

    But I wonder how Mr G and all the rest of them get on with the zillions of foreign domain names? A good friend of mine operates a site called Ajarn dot com. Ajarn is Thai and translates into English as teacher or more specifically professor.

    His website is the leader over here as an English teacher’s resource for those expats living and teaching in the kingdom, and apart from having age (10 years), pages and pages of unique content, tens of thousands of back links, and regular updates, I just can’t see that if I created a similar site and named it http://www.teaching-english-in-thailand.com (or similar), I would knock them off the top slots in the SERPs.

    I’m not saying you guys are wrong (of course not), and I’m sure that using theme rich or keywords/phrases in a domain is helpful, but it’s one of those things that once again, was considered a very minor point scorer with regards to SEO in the recent past.

    I have a bunch of domains (over 26) and all between 3-5 years old now, and there’s no way I would ditch them or neglect them because the domain name is not quite as good as it might be. That said, I would think carefully about the name for any newly purchased domains, but I personally don’t think the variable is strong enough to start a new, but more of a tip for buying fresh.

    Hey, I’m no SEO, but I am in training and have been learning a lot of late, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be some other article well written from another respected name in the SEO game that will tell you that the domain name is not as important as X, and he or she will have their examples too.

    I love MS and it’s the best piece of SEO SW and training that I’ve come across in all my time online, but I’m still worthy of having my say, hence the comments system here ;-)

    Andii

  78. We made a project with a keyword rich domain we haven’t made much on backlinks we almost abandonned this project but we are always in top of yahoo search for this particular keywords.

    For us Keywords rich domain seems to help a lot on the yahoo ranking.

    You can view the results for the site: http://www.battery-drill.com/

    KW: Battery Drill

    The yahoo Search Result: Yahoo search result for Battery Drill

    Hope it helps

  79. I have always been a fan of such keyword rich domain names.
    It has always seemed natural and logical to aim for a “does what it says on the tin” type domain name.

    I think they make getting good keyphrase links more natural as well.
    eg in a classic link swap type situation if your site is http://www.abc.com and you ask another webmaster to link to you using the keyphrase “abc”, they will be more prone to agree to that key phrase usage than if your site is actually http://www.xyz.com .

    Just had a vision of the future.

    It may pan out it may not.

    If you assume that:

    1 -domain names are a finite resource
    2 – domain names can be bought and sold
    3 – better companies will be able to afford to pay more for better domains
    4 – therefore the best domain names for a niche will gravitate towards being owned by good / succesful companies in that niche.

    Add all that up and think 20 years of that going on and a plausable assumption for google to make at some point in the future (if not now ) is that “does what it says on the tin” type domain names are likely to be owned by good companies people will want to find.

    Google wanting to direct people to where they want to go so they continue to use google, is therefore going to give said domains favorable bias.

    I don’t think a key word rich domain name it is the be all.
    If you are reading this you are at noblesamurai.com for example. Not a key word in sight in that domain name. Google itself managed to do ok as a search engine with a domain called google.

    It is far from crucial.

    Every little edge you can scrape helps however in my book.

    Best wishes
    Mick

  80. I’ve been doing this since I bought my first domain last August. My sites march up the ranks of google, bing, and yahoo pretty fast. I love it when I run an SEOC check on my main theme keywords and I have a big “YES” under URL, Title, Description, and Head and the other sites don’t!I also do this with my long tail keywords for my Posts to see where I stand in comparison to other sites using the same keyword, and to make sure I haven’t forgotten to use the long tail keyword correctly. Thanks, Brent, for another great article on the benefits of using Market Samurai.

  81. 81

    creditcards.com does not appear on the first page of google at all. nor in the first 10 pages. a subdomin is placed mid of page 5 – uk.creditcards.com

    I am wondering how long ago this was written, and whether given the lack of relevance to the real world how useful any or all other aspects of your software or advice would be.

    On
    Shawn replied:

    That’s interesting, because I just did a search for “credit cards” on google and the results came up exactly as Brent has shown, creditcards.com is shown as the first result, visa.com the second, mastercard.com the third and so on. This article’s given me a lot to think about, thanks guys…

    On
    Jaco replied:

    Your search results are based on a few factors, including your locale (are you UK based perhaps?) and your Google preference settings. You will find the same results as shown in the example above by doing the relevant search on google.com – a link has been provided on your google homepage, incase you have not noticed it yet.

    Market Samurai does also allow for keyword research based on options you specify based on your specific locale and thus you will get much “relevance to the real world” as you say.

    I have personally worked through many Market Samurai tutorials and I have found the product to be extremely helpful and I will be including the software into my seo/sem arsenal without a doubt. Perhaps you should try it as well.

  82. I have to admit I have noticed this as well very recently. One of my sites was on page 1 over the Christmas period but is now on P5. I’ve noticed that a good portion of the top 10 are keyword rich. Love the idea of using a keyword domain as a squeeze page to drive traffic to an ol site.
    Many thanks for sharin ur findings.

  83. I have been using keyword rich domains for a couple of years, and for sure it is possible to obtain quite good rankings.

    The search engines also seems to be quite happy for social bookmarking and Twitter – so a combination of a keyword rich domain, social bookmarking, relevant blog posting and a twitter account and you are on your way.

  84. Brent, you are the only one who ever used the term “jiu-jitsu SEO techniques” – I love it! LOL

    OSS!!!

  85. Although I have your Samurai tool, I am still learning how to best use it and your information here clarifies quite a few questions. Thanks.

  86. Excellent blog post. But is it possible to tell exactly what this site is doing right that the big organizations are not? What about the age of the site and the PR of the links?

    If you were do an in-depth analysis of these 10 sites – including historical placement and other factors – could you determine exactly what Google is looking for?

  87. I have used this method several times and always had great success outranking larger SEO companies in the local market.

  88. Thank you for the support and backup with this article. Been preaching this for a few years now to blank stares. Now I have someone backing me up. Forget the cutesy domains, go for the keyword and take a day off once in awhile.

  89. Great post. I’ve often wondered how much emphasis Google places on keywords in domain names. Now I know

  90. We took ownership of these domains due to chargebacks.

  91. This is so true, just a pity that we never understood this when we chose domain names in the past.

  92. In reference to the 5caratdiamonds example…

    If I wanted to rank for the keyword 5caratdiamonds and 5caratdiamonds.com was already taken, would the search engines still reward me for having a domain name like buy5caratdiamonds.com?

    I’m not in that niche, but curious to know if adding a small word like that in order to get the keyword in your domain is worth while. Thanks.

    On
    Isha replied:

    It would be better to have 5carat-diamonds.com. If that was taken and 5-caratdiamonds.com was taken, it’s better to have something like 5caratdiamondsblog.com, where the keywords are right at the beginning of the domain’s url.

  93. You guys are the font of all SEO knowledge!

    Thanks again.

  94. very informative. I thought the advantage of having the keywords in the domain had disappeared but I guess not!
    I have http://www.Nashvilles-Real-Estate.com as I’m a realtor in Nashville and this has managed to retain some great rankings for the condo market but has slipped recently for the key words actually in the name.
    I’ll be working to get the site back up there using all the advice from MS

    Thx again

    Gary :)

  95. Hi Brent:

    Thank you for offering a ray of hope in what has been a dark world.

    A number of years ago, I began to acquire .com domain names related to the graphic arts/printing industry. When possible I bought singular and plural, hyphenated and non hyphenated domains.

    I now own approximately 250 domains and spend $2,500.00 USD each year to keep them registered.

    I have talked to companies about developing a website around one (or a grouping) of these domains. I believed that the additional traffic from having an easily recognizable and memorable domain name would be of interest to them. This did not factor in traffic they would get when people searching typed in a keyword set and added .com when they hit search button. They reacted as if I was speaking Swahili and they were speaking Icelandic.

    I will again endeavor to get some clients interested in the prospect of a .com domain name that perfectly reflects the products that they market.

    I look forward to your next posting.

    Ken Stein
    http://www.graphic-equipment.com

  96. Why’d you have to let this secret out of the bag Brent? It’s been a weapon of mine since the day my testing revealed it to be true. And I was hoping to corner the market by buying every hot keyword rich domain before everyone else figured it out… :)

    Oh well – I guess I will have to just dominate in the niche’s I’m already competing in… thanks for a great article…

    SD

  97. 97

    Does this work on sub domains?

    keywords.domain.com

  98. So you should forward all domains to one domain

    On
    Isha replied:

    No, Google doesn’t see forwards very favorably seo-wise. But you can link through to the one domain.

  99. Hey that’s great Brent. Very useful information and I can’t wait to read the next tips.

    Look forward thnx

  100. Great post. I am still learning this SEO stuff and this post is quite helpful.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Dave

  101. Thanks for this article. It validates my own experiences of using keyword-rich domain names.

    Cheers.

  102. Brilliant, thanks for the article guys!
    Lara

  103. This article is totally correct from my research into some new domains.

    I noticed top 10 results for sites that had just 1 page of very poor content.

    It was clearly down to the domain – now getting the domain then really working the site = powerful rankings.

  104. Great article, guys!

    Although I couldn’t help but notice the domain age for creditcards.com If you’re going to swap to to a new, keyword rich domain, you’d need to take into consideration that you have a low DA and that you need to start building links again. In that case it might be better to optimise the pages on the site through the permalink structure.

    But buying a keyword rich domain name is definitely the way to go when starting from scratch.

  105. Great analysis!!!!

    ps I love MS

  106. Thanks for sharing the “facts.” I LOVE your software and I’m so glad that you also offer solid advice. I am innundated with information from every guru out there. Thanks for keeping it real and helping us sift out whats beneficial vs. what’s a waste of time.

  107. my investigation also says that hypenation doesn’t seem to concern google. so for seo / online work where you dont care if a real (pun intended) person can’t remember or type in the 3 or 4 word hypenated name. ((the sort of name you’d never want to describe on a talkback radio show) what you want is a high position on the serp and the directly corresponding hyphenated domain name is far better than any name such as flyfishingreelssite.com for instant where the added word site just confuses the poor little alogarithimic works inside google. The point: look for a domain that matches exactly your main keyword and don’t overlook using a hyphenated name. (but only for online work not a real business name.)

  108. A great revelation. One point How would having more than the keyword in the domain. e.g. in a subdomain.

    If I had say http://www.become-psychic.mirboo.net Would this have as much strenth as http://www.become-psychic.com

    Wilf.

    On
    Market Samurai Resources replied:

    A .net is not as good as a .com, and it’s possible that by having a meaningful domain-name such as mirboo would dilute the seo juice, but become-psychic.prmblmfz.com (or other meaningless domain name) would be good.

  109. Thanks Guys,

    Another interesting post. Having a keyword rich domain name is certainly a great place to start, but it is not the “magic bullet” to high rankings.

    In my experience keyword rich domain names achieve higher rankings, not because of the domain itself, but because people tend to naturally include those keywords as anchor text when they link to the site.

    I’ve not (yet) done the analysis but suspect that the term “credit card” is much more prevalent is anchor text in the backlinks to creditcards.com than it is to the other sites.

    Keyword rich domains can certainly give you a boost – but only as part of a properly optimised site and an ongoing link building strategy.

  110. also dont overlook wierd sounding names which youd never choose as a business name but which have search engine traffic.
    Trust MSam and go with the keyword research. patiofurniture bistro is very wierd i know but it has traffic and does convert.

    Chose Patio Furniture Bistro style for a wonderful furniture choice for your patio or porch

  111. 111
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 7:30 am
    Maggie Bergman said:

    Great article guys, I have changed my domain after going through the ‘Dojo’ training videos, easy change to make when the site is fairly new, might pay off in the long run!

  112. This article has just cleared up certain dilemma I had. After trying to check how tough the competition is for a keyword phrase I noticed that some rank very high with fewer links and lower PR. Thanks for this eye opener and can’t wait for the next post. By the way, my SEO efforts are now easier since I started using Market Samurai. Thanks for the great product.

  113. Awesome tip, been using this for a little while following a course I went on and it really does pay dividends! Enjoy! :)

  114. Domains rule local search. You can easily get the first page with billions of results by making your domain the keyword you want. Those domains are usually available too.

  115. 115

    Can someone tell me if having the keyword in a subdomain will do the trick too? keywod.domain.com

    On
    Market Samurai Resources replied:

    A subdomain is seen as being a domain by Google for SEO purposes, so keyword.domain.com is just as good.

  116. This is why i use market samuri, thanks for the great tools and ideas.

  117. What about the plural of the keyword, is that as effective? For example, the keyword was ‘personal injury lawyer’, if you got the domain personalinjusrylawyers.com is that as still effective?

    On
    tomartomartini replied:

    plural of the keyword:these are treated as a completely DIFFERRNT KW!

    On
    Rob replied:

    I am struggling with the same issue. I’ve found that the prime company has registered ALL the singluar domains for that keyword, i.e. motorbikehelmet.com, motorbikehelmet.net, motorbikehelmet.info and so on. So what you say is if I were to register motorbikehelmets.net (which is available under my keyword) google would not see this as relevant? What if I did all my SEO work for the singular version ‘motorbikehelmet’, would G then put two and two together and realise there is a strong link between motorbikehelmet.com and motorbikehelmets.net?

    How does Google deal with hyphens, so ‘motorbike-heltmet.com’?

    On
    tomartomartini replied:

    .com > are good….always work to get a .com first ;if you cant get motorbikehelmet.com,…: your next step is the dashes

    motorbike-heltmet.com or motor-bike-heltmet.com ,
    To rank a hyphen , eg motorbike-heltmet.com do appreciate this will be more demanding but from my stand point worth it.

    On
    Rob replied:

    Hey thanks for the reply. I just wanted to clarify that I’m only interested in this from an SEO perspective, not people searching fomr my site, that will come later. For now all I want is rank. Would that change your advice above?

  118. Very timely advice. I’ve been considering changing my domain name. It’s three years old and getting some solid traffic to page one on Google – it has my two keywords in it but doesnt have the appeal of another domain name I registered. But based on your article and some suggestions from other comments on here, I will be keeping the domain in place. Thanks for the valuable info.

    Jules

  119. Spot on Brent!

    As a matter of fact, one of the many uses I have for Market Samurai is to research domain names.

    I start with a general relative keyword, have MS get some more for me, and check the competition on those keywords. Then I move on to see what domain names with those keywords are available. If my top choices are not available, I use an online thesaurus to give me some more ideas. Then I run these through MS and analyze them.

    Never takes me more than an hour or two to come up with very relevant domain names to my chozen niche.

    This way, I not only know that my domain name has a good chance of generating the traffic I need, but also lets me know that the competition is manageable.

    The longer I use Market Samurai while thinking outside the box, the more I get out of it. Brilliant peice of software!

    Thanks!
    Ken

  120. Very good. I reading the blog step by step I was expecting something huge and groundbreaking but the fact that it is so simple is astonishing, yet common sense…in a way :-)

  121. As much as I thought I understood the value of a keyword optimised Domain, I have to say that Credit Card Domain’s screenshot was a real eye opener.

    I never realised just HOW MUCH effect the Domain name had. The disparity in BLD’s was just incredible.

    Great example of the concept Brent.

  122. I believe that having the keyword in the sub domain qualifies it as well in Googles eyes, ie. ‘www.myrabbitcare.com/rabbithealth’if my targeted keyword is ‘rabbit health’ and that is what I am trying to optimize the page for. If you look in any serp on any topic/niche, or in the market samurai tool competition page, it will show that this qualifies if it is in any part of the URL for that keyword. I dont think it needs to be only the main part of the URL before the .com). Is this correct…SEO is for the individual pages, not the entire domain.

  123. Hi Brent

    Someone who understands domains. I researched all this in 1998 and 1999 in the National Library of Australia which, at that time, had just four online computers. I used the Overture search term suggestion site, which has now gone. As a result I’ve registered and maintained over 170 top-level dot-com domains. I’m interested only in key cityprofession.com portals. I’ve registered over 70 domains for all the major professions for my city of Canberra, e.g. Canberradoctor.com etc, and over 45 citybuilder.coms for major cities and towns throughout the US and internationally, e.g. SanFranciscobuilder.com and NewOrleansbuilder.com. My plans are to set up these domains as online communities for all the professionals concerned, thereby accrediting them, and to provide dynamic search experiences for users. I could give a four-hour lecture on the benefits of independent registration of such domains. One major benefit is succession in the long-term. These domains should pass to all these professionals concerned to create proper online professionals associations.

  124. keywords in urls works pretty good in wordpress blogs posts (when you have permalinks set to custom and use /%postname%/) and pages. Then I use multiple related keywords in the content and this works pretty well.

  125. This is an important SEO factor that has been around for a while now, but it’s nice to see it getting a wider airing.

    You may be interested in my case study, which showed the importance of a generic domain name on Google, Yahoo and Bing results (I started from the search terms and worked backwards to avoid sample bias)
    http://www.memorabledomains.co.uk/bingyahoogoogle.pdf

    Note that while nobody can predict the future accurately, it’s a pretty good bet that the domain “bonus” given by the search engines for exact-match domains will remain (or even be increased) since for competitive keyphrases the mere act of securing the domain name represents a big “effort” (large financial outlay) so it is an inherent “signal of quality” against spam since the would-be spammer simply can’t afford to secure that domain name.

    In fact, owning a domain name like CreditCards.com sends a message loud and clear to the search engines that “here’s a company that takes its online presence very seriously and is willing to pay accordingly”. The principle remains true even if in practice the company has owned the domain for a couple of decades and hand-registered it from scratch since that doesn’t negate the POTENTIAL value of the domain name in any way.

    The right domain name will bring other dividends as well. For example, another case study I did showed that you’re likely to see a boost in PPC traffic using an exact-match generic because people are more likely to click on the ad (and therefore Google rewards you by displaying it higher while charging you less)
    http://www.memorabledomains.co.uk/ppc-generic-domains.html

    And of course, if you own a domain like CreditCards.com you’ve just slashed your ad budget compared to the competition since people will only have to see that URL once to remember it. After all, it matches their train of thought exactly.

    It’s worth noting that the search engines give some boost to keywords in the URL, but it’s nothing like the rocket you’ll light under your rankings if you own the exact-match .com or .ccTLD (country code domain name for the region you’re targeting, e.g. .co.uk for the UK or .de for Germany) domain name.

  126. Great advice, yes, but how to make your website or blog as “old” as competitor’s.

  127. Anyone know if having a keyword in a broad match domain name has as much value as an exact match and do hyphens make a difference? If this has already been covered please excuse me for missing it as there are so many comments!

  128. Great article.
    I also believe, the closer the keyword is to the Left-Hand side of the URL, can add more weight as well.

  129. Good post Brett – but now you’ve really let the cat out of the bag.

    We put up one keyword focused domain early 2009 for an offline company and this one basic little website has generated $984k in sales in 13 months. All the site does is get people to call the company.

    Interestingly, the site is always ranked # 1 on google local/maps results plus # 1 in natural search results for it’s ‘domain keyword’. Also, there are less than 15 external links to the site.

    Yep, you’re preaching to the converted :-)

  130. So here are all the questions summarized about what to do if your keyword-rich domain is already taken (which it almost certainly is):

    - Are only .com, .net and .org beneficial?
    - What about subdomains: keyword.domain.com
    - What about subdirectories: domain.com/keyword.html
    - What about adding stop words: the, for, to etc. or e,i,a, etc.
    - What about adding other words: review, info, best, etc.
    - How about hyphens?

  131. Well, nothing really new in this article but it had to be said. Domain names have always influenced search engine rankings right from the start. What amazes me is how few people actually know about this fact. Most companies prefer to use their company or brand name as main domain for their site while using their “brand domain” as a parked domain would be the far better choice. But there is more to it than meets the eye…. a lot more.

  132. Thanks, guys,

    I’m a newbie and having a helluva time driving traffic to my Energizing Your Health website, MattinglyMD.com.
    I appreciate all the help I can get.
    Question: How about using keyword-sensitive domains with applicable content to feed in to the master domain – kindof the FedEx concept. Does that make sense or work ?

    Thanks again,

    Jay

  133. 133
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 12:22 pm
    Joe Watson said:

    Brent
    I would be interested on your observations to the comments by Matt348 and Chris|ReviewFAQ

    Joe

  134. 134
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 12:24 pm
    Joe Watson said:

    Vanessa

    I replied to your comment in which you spoke about your app. You may have missed the reply as your comment was a while ago. Hope you can reply to me.

    Joe

  135. Would like to get some feedback on this site and how i can make it work for me..pls .Kev

  136. I am also new at this and I have a optin page under the domain name url affiliatemarketingmindmap.com/mindmap.html

    I went and typed in the kw phrase – (affiliate marketing mind map) into google search and my optin page came up at no 7 on the serps first page.
    To me that is amazing but I dont why that happens.
    Can some one hear explain…….thanks

    On
    Victor replied:

    Anyone interested in why this phenomenon occurs ?

    If you want to understand how Google works one of the best ways to do that is imagine yourself in their shoes, what would you include in the algorithm if you where a Google Engineer – they are just software programmers after all – to provide the best possible results to searchers requests which is their programming “intent”

    The algorithm is not black magic or witchcraft like all other software algorithms its 100% pure engineering logic.

    So lets imagine that your goal is to provide the best possible search experience for a random Google User that has entered the search string

    “Mikes Used Cars”

    1, Might you have a bias that kicks in to assist micro companies in getting a leg up against the mega corporates if the phrase typed in was a 100% perfect match for that domain.

    Eg you have “Mikes Used Cars” ranking number one for mikesusedcars.net – that BTW is a real example of a #1 SERP in Google – yes there is less than 1000 searches a month but that is not the point here.

    So Mike’s tiny used cars PR1 website is able to rank #1 for the phrase in the used car niche – read MEGA competitive – because it is a 100% keyword match.

    The bias is there to provide the best chance of the right return result for the user and given the likelihood that they are actually looking for “Mike Used Cars” anything that is a 100% perfect match is pushed up the list of possible matches for further scrutiny – this is the most important concept here.

    Having the exact match is NOT the end of the story and the reason your ranked its the start of the algorithm gate logic. when “credit cards” is entered all the domains that are 100% exact match are pushed into the bias pool and then based on meeting other criteria they held or discarded.

    Note that in this real world example the following

    1, Its a .net NOT a .com

    All TLD’s are “considered” for further scrutiny and based on that one is given bias – it does not have to be a .com the algo throws ALL TLD’s into the bias pool and the one with the most merit at that point is given the bias.

    So why do you see the .com’s more that say .CC simple – generally generic .coms where registered many years ago and have the advantage of an aged domain, but if you do everything else right you get the bias on ALL TLD’s and if the search is conducted from say Google.co.uk the country specific domain bias kicks in there.

    One of the things that I find interesting is no one has mentioned that ranking for just one keyword because of the bias is nice but its just one keyword and we arent sitting in “credit card” traffic streams. You can get past this with very careful selection of your domain name but that’s another story for another time.

    Interesting read thanks.

  137. I was thinking along the same lines. Does this mean I have the mind of a Samurai? So upon further inspection of a competitors site, it appears as though he redirected his landing page to URL optimized page. Hence his ranking improved while I disappeared. Ha…two can play that game. And I will win.

  138. Thanks for posting what we in the domain industry have known for many many years. Hopefully more people will now understand this. :)

    An exact keyword matching domain one of the easiest ways to get an edge on the competition for a term, especially if you are otherwise on an equal playing field. Even with parked pages, which Google has notoriously been against and given penalties to in SERPs, I’ve at times achieved page 1 rankings for 5+ figure searches/mo terms that are fairly competitive simply because I had an exact keyword matching domain for the term. In many cases it doesn’t even need to be .com (though you generally shouldn’t go outside .com, .net, or .org).

    One thing to remember – the owner of CreditCards.com spent millions of dollars to be the owners of it. A term that major isn’t exactly a small expense to go after with an exact keyword matching domain.

    -Steve

  139. Great article with excellent examples of domain name keyword usage. Although its not the first time I have heard of the concept any software package you guys could make to compliment my Market Samurai software it a definite must buy in my book.

  140. [...] a good keyword rich domain name can be to a site’s search engine optimization efforts. Getting the High Ground With Domains shows how a smaller website with fewer backlinks can beat out bigger and highly financed [...]

  141. 141

    OK, I see your point, but I think you’re also coming to wrong conclusion. I know probably nobody will ready this but I’ll say it anyway.

    Do you see that chase.com/creditcards got into the top ten with significantly less backlinks to the page? That’s because credit cards is IN the domain, not IS the domain.

    The #1 ranker here is an exact match domain, and that may boost it a little. But chase could beat it out if it built more backlinks, simply by having it in the domain. Visa is synonymous to credit cards in human terms, but not in robot terms. And they don’t have the phrase credit cards in their domain, that’s why they’re not #1. If they had the exact same amount of backlinks to visa.com/creditcards, they would be #1. They just don’t know what they’re doing so they backlink to their homepage.

    The point is, you want to put your target keyword somewhere in the domain, it doesn’t need to be the exact domain. And then you need to backlink to that inner page with that keyword’s anchor text. That’s how you get visa.com to rank #1 instead of #2 and it’s also how you score a double listing. Too bad it’s too late now.

    On
    Matej replied:

    This is exactly my way of thinking and something I stated in my comment here. Keyword domain probably means something, maybe 3-5% in whole SEO thing, but it is not a magic bullet! visa.com/creditcards would smash this page in no time.

    I still think one big page is better, with subdirectories, but seems that I am one of the few hehe :)

  142. Great Article, but with reference to the above, we have to re-invest years of hard work again for the new domain. But, I think, its worth the investment.

  143. Brent,

    this is so simple, a no brainer. Thank you. Saying that, it took me quite some time to get to that realisation. 30DC was the place I’ve learned to optimize domain/site. One of my sites is less than 2 months old. I was indexed after 2 days and on the page one in less than a week. Now, I am holding spot 1.

    Looking forward to next instalment

    Cheers
    Alex

  144. Thanks guys, I am new to this and pretty much started with the 30DC. I simply love all the free info that’s available and can’t believe how great a product Market Samurai is for such a low cost. SEOC is very exciting! : )

  145. Marvelous articles.

    Lots of tools out there providing us with lots of backlinks, but if you forget how to maximize your keywords… then it would go nowhere.

    I have experience this my self, thanks to market samurai! awesome tool.

  146. Everybody is entitled to his/her opinion. I tried keyword domains and got nowhere.

    If you want proof that keyword domains do not work, just go and google “best online casinos” and check around the position number 8 (on 23/3/10). There will be a site http://www.onlinexcasinos.com (not mine).

    This site is, at a time of writing, not keyword domain, site is under construction ( 0 content, blank page ), but the guy already has 1,500 back links!!! That is phenomenal result for a site that has nothing else going for it.

    So if you have three factors: domain name, content and back-links. And back links won hands down.

    On
    Jaco replied:

    Its not so much that keyword rich domain names dont matter here, but rather that the online gambling industry has been one of the most competitive online markets for many years and the competitors in this niche have moved beyond the elementary seo issues.

    This search does however reveal a lot of relevance in the domain names (90% of the results) to the search term you specified and is a perfect example of this thread and the many questions being raised here, including the relevance of phrase to broad matching search terms which Market Samurai is excellent at.

    Insofar your comment that the mentioned site has nothing else going for it, I suggest you do more in-depth analysis of the website. This will reveal that the site is a couple of years old, has thousands of pages indexed in all 3 major search engines, much more than 1500 backlinks (relevancy not checked, but nevertheless), appears in serp’s for various other relevant keyword phrases in top 20 positions, and the site does have an external marketing programme working for it as well. This is just scratching the surface.

    In my opinion, this is a valid “under construction” notice for a site that has been doing well in search marketing for a long time.

  147. This SEO strategy is amazing. You’ve always taught us the value of having a optimized domain based on keywords; but these charts really bring it to life. Great illustration of what works in SEO.

  148. This is a strategy I followed with my site and cannot believe the sites that I am ahead of.

    I have really struggled (as I’m sure many have) with trying to work out which are the the most important factors to list well with the search engines – undoubtedly (I think) a keyword rich domain is one of them along with the other onpage page factors.

    Once again Brent – a great article, really well written. Keep up the good work.

  149. Great post! I’ve got the domain EuroMillionsResults, but am struggling to get on the first page of Google for those keywords. The domain was previously ‘parked’ on a spammy website, so I think it’s taking Google a long time to realise it’s now a different website.
    Oh well, back to the SEO and we’ll get there one day!

  150. 150
    On March 23rd, 2010 at 8:09 pm
    John Lawson said:

    What about anchor text?

    Would you not expect to see these results based purely on the anchor text of backlinks? Surely most of the backlinks to visa and mastercard are “visa” and “mastercard” rather than “credit card”.

  151. This is a very interesting phenomena, but I have a question. If for example I have a domain such as..www.credit-cards-scam-review.com would it be optimized for any of the words within the title or just the keywords in succession to one another. I.E. If you searched for “credit card review” or “credit card scam” would it not be optimized for those keywords due to the omission of the 4th term or having the term “scam” out of succession in the 1st example? Thanks!

  152. My experience is that a .net can outrank a .com if the .net site has more content. I have used this technique in product launch affiliate campaigns where the domain name is equal to the product name. The merchant has bought the .com domain but has only thrown up a sales page. I have bought the .net domain and created a WordPress blog with relevant articles and posts. It doesn’t take much backlinking for the .net to get to #1.

  153. 153

    “..Some things you might consider talking about, Brent, with respect to domain names and clearing the air on:

    1. If you can’t get your exact match domain name, and you want to modify it, what are the best practices with respect to:
    A. hyphens or no hyphens between the words in the keyphrase
    B. adding a word to the beginning or end of the domain/phrase – which is better (at the end, correct?)
    C. TLD choices: .com vs. .org, .net, etc..”

    I’d like to hear your opinion on this as well guys.

  154. Another great article! Great advice for all who want to get high rankings in Google.

  155. Brent

    Another solid post from the team at Market Samurai!

    Thanks,

    Andy

  156. From scanning through the huge number of posts here, I’ve noticed a lot of debate about whether it is enough to simply have one keyword as part of your domain name or whether your domain has to be an exact match to a keyword phrase.

    I’ve tried it both ways, and based on my own experience I think it has to be an EXACT match to a popular keyword phrase.

    I have also noticed that the results do NOT necessarily happen immediately upon the next visit by the Googlebot. It sometimes takes time for Google to reward you for using this tactic.

    Example: For one of my domain names (an exact match to a 3-word search term) I debuted in spot 104, and then kept losing ground over a two month period. As I continued to add quality backlinks, the decline in position reversed and I clawed my way back up to page 10. I sat there for a few weeks, and was ready to conclude that this strategy did NOT work … then without doing anything, Google one day bumped me up to page 4. A few weeks later I was on page 2. And a few weeks after that, I was on the first page. I’ve been there for two months now, but I’m still NOT #1.

    So, I’m guessing that if you are in a highly competitive category (which I am), that along with relevant page content, Google does want to see a MINIMUM number of quality backlinks, and you probably have to have a MINIMUM page age before you get looked at seriously (each of my websites that have exact match domain names are less than a year old).

    Has anybody else found this to be true? Any data to back up these observations?

    Thanks,

    Ken

  157. Great article.
    I’m a graphic designer and managed to buy eobokdesign.co.uk and ebookdesigner.co.uk with the intention of doing well on Google as you suggest. Rather than host it as a separate domain I was advised to just have the site in a folder as part of my main design site http://www.promo-design.co.uk and include within its sitemap.

    After a week or so http://www.ebookdesigner.co.uk appeared as no. 6 on Google for ‘ebook designer’… but two weeks later it’s just listed as …promo-design.co.uk/ebookdesigner.

    Would it be better to host separately?

    John

  158. [...] Source: Market Samuari Blog [...]

  159. Good article, although having the keyword in your domain name will benefit your SEO it isn’t a quick win, in less competitive industries you will see it work more and more but a little bit of on page and off page SEO will beat just a domain.
    As always you need to put the effort in to get the results and if you can get the keyword rich domain you may as well make things easier for yourself.
    Google is always cutting down on this and that we are still waiting for paid link to stop being counted and spam but I can’t see them changing the algorithm to domain slap any time soon.
    Although the manchester SEO guy who bought the domain and spammed his website up to be number two for manchester SEO is another example on how if you only have one keyword and have the domain you can get what you want – however the user is faced with a terrible website!

  160. I have been using keyword rich domains for years it makes perfect sense to me.

    However sometimes it is not easy to get those domains

    Danny

  161. A friend recommmend me to this product and really see the value of this product i see his site went up in top 4 in search engine because of this product and very realiable so now i’m also planning to purchase this product…

    On
    Sean replied:

    what product are your reffing to?

  162. What is the best way to start a new domain?
    I’ve worked a few methods and it can take months to get indexed

    On
    SEO Company Guildford replied:

    1) submit it manually to google and yahoo (i include the html code on the site for validation)
    2) Add links to it on your facebook page! and also a few other large social networks (Google loves these sites and will pick your site up quick)
    3) Build backlinks (I have had a site indexed at position 5 in less than 24hours from building around 100 high pr links)
    4) Include it in the local business centre

    There are lots of things to do, but you need to make sure google finds you. It should never take months to get indexed.

    On
    SEO Company Guildford replied:

    5) Oh, and dont forget to submit an xml sitemap!

  163. Great info. I’m new to the game, so every little tidbit helps.

    I’ll definitely be using this technique on my next niche site.

    Cheers

  164. It’s now clear to me why it’s very hard to compete with competitor that includes keyword in domain name.

  165. I certainly wish I chose a more SEO friendly URL for my website. My website has now been in operation for nearly two years and I would think that a move to a new URL would be too late.

  166. I couldn’t agree more:) All of my domains are keyword rich, researched well using Market Samurai and the ranking results are incredibly good!! It all depends of course on how competitive the chosen market is, so that I need to build more or less links pointing to them.

    Great post. Thanks

  167. There are always multiple factors involved with ranking.

    For quick ranking in a small niche – a keyword domain does wonders:
    I built this tool to find tons of keyword domains: http://www.domainNameTool.com . It uses google suggest and amazon suggest to find top natural search keyword domains – as well as a small dictionary.

    But age, backlinking, and the same factors that google looks at for PPC are in play. For PPC – google wants to make sure your site/landing page is completely relevant for the keyword searched for.

    If your domain has on site SEO (title, h1, keyword in content) for the keyword/phrase that is searched for you get a tremendous push.

    Having a keyword domain is a great jump start, but if the other stuff isn’t done, you will be overtaken sooner or later.

    So:
    - Keyword domain is great start.
    - backlinking with keyword & related link text(articles, social bookmarking)
    - ON site SEO – every page for one main keyword gives best advantage
    - Regular content updates (especially on home page offer a great long term boost toward ‘authority’ (subject matter site, versus one page only)
    - and age of domain – (I have heard also that google looks at how long a domain is registered for (2+ years vs 1 year). All domains age, so this happens anyway over time.

    All of these alone help, but together they almost guarantee high organic placement and longevity.

    This is for 2 reasons: 1 Google wants to give the BEST results – so relevancy(domain, on page seo), authority(time and related subject matter), and credibility(backlinks) is part of wht they look for.
    And 2 – Most people quit after putting up a one page keyword domain with 1 or no backlinks. While some one page keyword domain sites last for a while, they will often be overtaken in time if not maintained since they usually don’t gain credibility and authority.

    Just my experience, but I don’t need any competition, so just ignore the above if you are not serious :)

  168. Sometimes buying domain names with your brand name combined with other SEO keywords can be a good strategy…

  169. I agree, great article and great thread.

  170. 170

    So if I own a plant nursery named Fine Plants along with fineplants.com and I primarily sell purple roses and want to go after the keyword phrase “purple roses”, should I buy purpleroses.com and have that be location of my web site even though the name of my business is Fine Plants? It seems from a branding point of view its negative to have your domain name say one thing and your business name say another. Also if I did use this strategy….should I put my content on purpleroses.com and then do a 301 redirect of fineplants.com to purpleroses.com?

  171. Great arcticle and subsequent posts Brent. Seemed to have stirred up a hornet nest of debate.

    Look forward to reading more

  172. So glad to get this information. Last year I bought an 8 year old domain as a marketing guru said that age was the key. Well I found out the hard way that it is only part of the equation. My competitors have far surpassed me with their younger domains because they are keyword rich,

    So guys, what took you so long to give us this? Just kidding, thank you so much. I am looking forward to better results.

  173. Agree re domain names for SEO.

    We are heavy users of Market Samurai and always glad we made the decision to use the domain name Traffic Cafe TV – it has the word ‘traffic’ in it – for the reasons you outline here.

    Jonathan

  174. 174

    what’s the story with selling .com.au or .net.au domain names, can you sell them?