Keyword versus Branded Domains debate

Last Updated On: August 10, 2018

As a long-running dogma, marketing agencies would agree that having keywords with your domain is a great choice. The search engine algorithms have improved over time, and now we can say that they literally “read” through the content of our website and know exactly what our website relevant industry and niche is. Because of this, there is a question if now the keyword or branded domain names are better.

The difference between branded and keyword domains is that keyword domains contain human and search engine readable words which may describe product or business niche in which the website is involved, while branded domain names are a perfect match to a specific product brand or a company brand.

Going back in time, we can recall a time when most people used search engines by typing in a service or a product they were looking for also know as Direct Navigation. This was the time when keyword domain names did hold significant value and owners would often pack them with adds, profiting from the visitor’s traffic.

Today websites parked with ads are removed from search engine results, and a crucial insight has been provided by Google’s John Muller stating that:

  • Long-running keyword domains do not have a time advantage.
  • Keyword domains do not rank better and are not favored by search engines over other domain names.
  • Ranking influence of the keywords in the domain name is removed for some years now.
  • Branded domains are ranked the same as branded domains.

The perceptual advantage that keyword domains may be able to rank-up faster than branded domains is not the case. The perceived advantage of a keyword domain is only in their respective human readability and how they can be easily remembered by visitors.

If the domain name has a keyword present in itself, the website may not get rank for that keyword, unless the overall website content is relevant to that keyword.

The statement that keyword domains no longer influence the website ranking by John Mueller may be referring to the Google search engine algorithm update from late 2011. This was the time when a new algorithm was introduced that will detect parked domains with little unique content and mostly ads.

This does not mean having keywords in the domain name is bad. Actually, as previously stated, a short and memorable domain name with a keyword is still an excellent choice as it will tell the visitor exactly what the website is about.

Finally, the choice for having or not having a keyword in your domain name should be made on a case-specific basis. For example, if the majority of your business competition is using a generic term keyword in their domain names, then you can stand out from them by having a branded domain name without one. Alternatively, you should choose a branded domain name with a keyword if most of your competition is using branded domains without the keyword.

We can conclude that while it may not be crucial, having a keyword in a domain name may hold a benefit in some cases. To be able to make the choice, be sure to research your industry or business niche, and take Google’s experts advice to heart – for your website to be able to rank and stay relevant be sure to add fresh content on a regular basis.

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