From Google’s own John Mueller – “Keyword Domains Don’t Rank Better”


John Mueller, the Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst over at Google recently held a webinar that covered the topic of keyword domain names. In the webinar he clearly stated, “keyword domains don’t rank better” and shared a list of four insights into keyword domains and ranking. Here’s the official list from Google:

  1. Keywords domains don’t have a time advantage
  2. Keyword domains don’t rank better
  3. Keywords lost ranking influence years ago
  4. Keyword domains ranked the same as branded domains
(Source – Search Engine Journal)

This has been a very controversial subject in the domain community where many people have had a hard time letting go of the idea that keyword domains give some ranking advantage. Now that Google is officially on record stating that keyword domains don’t rank better…it’s pretty hard to argue it any other way. Of course the domain community is not alone, the search community has also had a hard time with this as well…

“The search community has had an equally hard time giving up on the idea of keyword domains ranking better and Search Engine Journal did not that while there could be a minimal signal, there’s nothing out there to prove that there is and like I said above, Google has said that there isn’t.
Nevertheless, the idea that keyword domains were better than brand domains continued in the search industry, even though Google was no longer giving a boost to parked keyword domains.
An argument can be made that there is a minimal signal. But there is nothing to lend support to that theory. It’s been a long time since any search engine has published research that included keywords in domains as any kind of signal.”
(Source – Search Engine Journal)

Where I think most people get confused is that none of this means that keyword domains don’t carry an advantage when it comes to branding, and this advantage can carry over into SEO, it’s just not a direct correlation. Here’s what happens.

If you do have a keyword domain, it could be said that people are more likely to click on your site since the domain name itself will make you look like more of an authority. Google’s ranking algorithm does take things like this into account so your site could rank better over time if more people click on it when they see it in their Google results.

So while it’s not the domain name itself that is getting an algorithmic advantage in Google’s search algorithms, people’s perception of you as an authority could certainly increase their chances of clicking on your site in search results, which could lead to a higher ranking.

Still, all that being said, I think it’s time we put the idea of keyword domains giving you a ranking advantage to bed.

“…just because keywords are in a domain name doesn’t mean that it’ll automatically rank for those keywords. And that’s something that’s been the case for a really, really long time.” (John Mueller – Google)

What do you think, is Google lying to us here or should we trust them this time?

Photo Credit: BigOakFlickr Flickr via Compfight cc
Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton