We were recently asked the question do keyword domain names help SEO? by one of our clients after they received an email from a company offering to sell them a keyword domain name for about $200, stating that “anytime someone types [the keyword] into their browser your site could be the first they see!”
Sounds good right? Let’s dig a bit deeper
What is a keyword domain?
For those that don’t know, a keyword domain is a domain name (URL) that contains a key search term, also known as a keyword, for your particular niche or industry. So for example, if you sell ice creams in New York, a keyword domain would be www.best-ice-cream-new-york.com.
Does having a keyword in your domain name help SEO?
If you have already established your domain name for your website or e-commerce store and it has a keyword in it, Google does take this into account as a ranking factor. So yes, this can help SEO. For example, if your domain was www.web-design-company-birmingham.com, and your website was all about your amazing web design services offered in the Birmingham area, then having the keywords “web design Birmingham” in your domain will help SEO.
Will having multiple keyword domains help my SEO?
Now let’s say you already had a domain name e.g. redhotwebsitedesign.com for your web design business in Birmingham and you wanted to purchase multiple keyword domains for your niche e.g. best-web-design-birmingham.com, leading-website-design-birmingham.com, and have all of these rankings for your business. You have two options here:
You can create a 301 redirect on each of these domains which means that anyone visiting these domains will get redirected to your main site redhotwebsitedesign.com. The problem with that is that the searcher would have to type in the full domain name e.g www.best-web-design-Brighton.com to reach the domain. The likelihood of someone doing that is low.
The reason they could only find that domain by typing the full URL into the search bar, and not just searching for the keyword in Google, is because Google will not rank a single domain without content. Meaning that it’s not enough to just register a keyword domain name and expect to rank in Google search results. You need to build a website with that domain name that has relevant content that matches that keyword. This leads us to option two.
Create a website and content for each keyword domain to help rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This means creating a whole new website for each keyword domain name you have. This means more time and effort which could have been invested in ranking more pages from your main website.
You could argue why don’t you just copy the content from the main website and upload it to the keyword domain websites? The problem with this is that Google will see multiple pages with identical content. Google will then decide that only one is the original and the rest are duplicate pages and simply not rank the duplicate pages! Yikes!
By now you’re probably starting to get the picture that having multiple keyword domain names is perhaps not such a good route to take. But wait, there’s more…
A keyword domain name could severely limit your business
E.g. if your keyword domain name was carpet-cleaning-new-york.com and your business was all about cleaning carpets in the New York area then this is fine. But let’s say you want to expand your business to more than just cleaning carpets and to other areas outside of New York? Suddenly carpet-cleaning-New-york.com which was initially purchased to help your business grow is now restricting your business from expanding into new areas.
Keyword domain names can hinder brand development
Let’s say your brand name is ABC Websites, but you have multiple keyword domains with no reference to the name “ABC Websites”, any interest you generate via the keyword domain websites will be separate from your main brand which will not help you spread awareness of your brand.
When is it good to have multiple domain names?
That said, there are times when having multiple domain names can be useful. Let’s say your brand name is Nifeblocksnewyork.com and your customers keep misspelling your domain name as knifeblocksnewyork.com. In this case, it would be worth purchasing the second domain name (knifeblocksnewyork.com) and setting up a 301 redirect to your actual domain name so that you don’t miss that traffic due to the misspelling of your brand name.
Important point: Google ranks web pages, not websites. Meaning that you can have a single domain www.redhotwebsites.com for example but have multiple pages ranking on google e.g www.redhotwebsites.com/web-design-Birmingham and www.redhotwebsites.com/best-web-design-Birmingham and both of these pages could be displayed on the same google search results page.
So our general advice to clients, when they’re offered to purchase keyword domain names, is to always do their research and decide whether or not this is the best option for their business and brand based on the points mentioned above. In our opinion, a business that already has an established domain should focus on building its current brand’s main website by implementing effective SEO.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.