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Google Recommends Against Keyword Domains—Adds “YMMV”

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Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by SERP Kingz

The art of domain name selection—it has the potential to make or break a website’s success in the digital world. (Though perhaps not always as much as your website design, content, and user experience).

Compared to some other aspects of technical SEO, finding a perfect domain name isn’t an exact science—but some people definitely try to make it one.

And like all things SEO, the debate ends up being handed to John Mueller.

@JohnMu, Google’s SEO expert and “search advocate,” was recently interrogated by Redditors about the effectiveness of shelling out the big bucks for domains that contain exact-match keywords they wish to rank for.

Mueller expressed his general disinterest in using keyword-keyword domains and provided a few “random thoughts” (his words) for this perspective*.

*Though he did add “YMMV”—which I’ll get to further down.

Spammy Association

A picture of Google Recommends Against Keyword Domains—Adds "YMMV" with The King Of Search

Mueller suggests that some websites with keyword-rich domain names are viewed as spammy and unprofessional.

Many spammers use keyword-rich domains to manipulate search rankings, and as a result, a website with a similar domain name could be viewed as less trustworthy and less professional by potential customers.

And when you throw hyphens into the mix, the spammy look really gets out of hand.

Limited Business Focus

A domain that contains specific keywords could limit a business’s ability to change its focus or expand its offerings.

If a company has a domain name like “cheap-football-gloves” or “best-baseball-bats” and decides to sell other athletic products, it might be difficult to convince customers that the website is a reliable source for those products.

A brand name domain offers more flexibility for expanding the business’s offerings while maintaining its brand identity.

Weak Branding

A website with an exact keyword domain name generally lacks strong branding, making it harder for customers to recognize and remember the business.

A picture of Google Recommends Against Keyword Domains—Adds "YMMV" with The King Of Search

Without a brand name, a website could be easily forgotten or confused with similar websites, which could harm its reputation and customer loyalty.

Plus, when customers search for a business by name, they’re more likely to find and remember it than if they search for a generic keyword like “running shoes.” A website with a keyword-rich domain name may struggle to attract long-term customers looking for a specific business name.

A site with a keyword-rich domain name is also always competing with other websites that use the same exact keywords.

In contrast, a website with a unique brand name can build a loyal customer base that returns to the website regardless of its search ranking.

Final Thoughts

While exact match keyword domains may have been effective in the past—and many sites that are on keyword domains are still ranking just fine (hence the “YMMV”)—it’s not necessarily the “optimal” way to start a brand new site on the right foot.

Focusing on cultivating a strong brand identity with a unique domain name is a better strategy for building customer loyalty and growing a business, which is ultimately more important for long-term success.

Again, while it may not be the only factor that determines the success of a website, a poorly chosen domain name can certainly hinder it. If you’re having trouble coming up with the perfect domain name for your website, or need any other assistance with digital marketing for your business, The King of Search is here to help.

Our team of digital marketing experts can assist you in selecting the best domain name for your business and help you with all your other digital marketing needs. Click here to get in touch with us.

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